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The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Killing yourself at any age is a seriously tricky business. But when I was seven, the odds felt insurmountable.

As a young girl, Terri Cheney's life looked perfect. Her family lived in a lovely house in a tranquil Los Angeles suburb where the geraniums never once failed to bloom. She was pretty and smart, an academic superstar and popular cheerleader whose father doted on h

Kindle Edition
Published (first published March 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,560 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, health
Wow. At first I kept thinking that from what I've read, people with bipolar disorder have too much intelligence for their own dang good, and just use it to hurt themselves and others. I was going to rate the book at three stars though, because I found it interesting (my scale is mostly based on how hard it is for me to put the book down).

As I continued reading, Terry Cheney's descriptions of how her bipolar disorder manifested riveted me.

page 2: "When I was depressed, I was completely paralyzed,
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a compelling memoir by an author who is able to pull readers right inside her head, she writes with such intensity and intimacy. It is about her childhood and teenage years and is ostensibly about growing up with childhood bipolar disorder, though it is just as much about growing up in a very dysfunctional family, to the point that I wondered how much the atmosphere contributed to her mental health issues. The parents are obsessed with keeping up appearances, their relationship is fractu ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: good, holy-shit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate Wyer
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
This seemed like a money grab. What I mean by that is, this book did not add anything to my knowledge about children with bi-polar. Actually, even her title is out of touch with current mental health standards of talk-- you don't define someone by their illness. "growing up bi-polar" should be "growing up with bi-polar." It's incredible how much difference one word makes between being sensational and stigmatizing and being respectful of the whole person.

I'm not gonna say that she's lying about
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I had a hard time with this one. Having been diagnosed as bi-polar I was curious to read someone else's take on life. I could not relate very well. She speaks of her childhood but it comes across as overly diagnosed and analyzed as an adult. When reading about the experience of a young child I want to understand how they felt THEN. Not what the comprehend us a more mature, educated adult who has had time to come to terms with their behavior. So that was the first disconnect.
The second was how dr
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Nothing really new here when it comes to memoirs about bi polar disorder. I found myself growing impatient with her story and wondering how much of it was honest. Hmm - that's not very kind it it? If the author is a true believer of "chemical imbalance theory" then why rip into one's history. Everyone is an individual and each personal history is theirs and theirs alone.
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was one I found myself trudging through, only in hopes that it would get better as Cheney aged throughout each section.

The early chapters are largely focused on Cheney's family dynamic. So much so, that I was starting to feel like this book should have been entitled "growing up in a dysfunctional family" as opposed to "growing up bipolar".

As I was reading the beginning I couldn't help but feel like the book would become interesting for a few pages and then slowly dim out—every time I
Beth Nienow
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Better written, I thought, than Manic, which I found disjointed, though possibly reflective of a manic personality. Now I feel I should read Manic again
Kris Van Emburgh
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am tempted to compile my life into a joural of stories called "Raising a household Bipolar Positively and Meaninfuly":-)
My faith is what holds together our family and continuously learning and trying new communication methods as everyone ages and their needs change. Add in the child school setting, after school programs, home life, life with family and friends, life with our church community, and my relationship strength and forgiveness with my husband. Always alert and on my toes with my nee
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I seem to be on a growing-up-with-undiagnosed-mental-disorder book kick lately, for which I have no explanation except that I find it to be a heart-wrenching, yet fascinating topic. I think what makes this so captivating is that it makes me reflect on how many children must be out there suffering, feeling alone, and living with these unexplainable demons within them. It’s nothing less than tragic.

Growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles, Cheney’s life looked peachy from the outside. She earned good
Ginnie Grant
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely chilling. I suffer from Bipolar disorder and mine was early onset like Ms. Cheney's so I could relate a lot to her story. The way it's written, it reads like fast and edgy fiction but it is the absolute truth. for anyone who has ever felt like "something was wrong with them" or their children, I would suggest this book.
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
This book was excellent. I enjoyed "Manic" and the window it gave into what it's like to live with bipolar disorder. However, this book gave an even more raw account as it focused on what it was like growing up as a child and teen with undiagnosed manic depression. Very well-written. I'm glad I picked it up.
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not nearly as interesting as I expected it to be. Nevertheless, the epilogue is definitely worth reading if only because it asks the critical question - why did no one see how troubled this child was and how desperately she needed help.
Holly Vine
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent inside view of the "Beast" that drives the actions of those suffering from Bipolar Disorder.
remarkable. I was truly touched by her struggle. very courageous and brutally honest.
Claudia Putnam
I didn't get as much out of this, personally, as I did out of Cheney's other book, Manic. It was still worth reading.

There are a couple of aspects to this story that make it hard to review/assess, and they may just be the nature of the beast. Cheney, deliberately, I think, keeps her own assessments out of the story. She does not try to insert much of her adult sensibility into the story, instead attempting to tell the story as if she were filming it. This must have been extraordinarily hard to
Susan Burke
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes all we want is just to be seen. But if you have a disorder known as "bi-polar", then what you really want is hard for you to even know. Sometimes being seen is the last thing on earth you really want. What you really want is to "get the heck out of here". Terri's battle is just that, caught in the complex world of highs and lows, ups and downs, love and hate, over-elated and severely depressed. How much of the outside world do you want to allow into your private life? What parts of us ...more
Lea Taranto
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Terri-Lynn does an eloquent and emotion fraught job in this introspective journey of her earliest struggles with bipolar. As with many folks who struggle with mood disorders, everyone around her feels less during their most passionate moments than she does on any given Tuesday. She cycles between crushing depression that leaves her bedridden for weeks at a time to mania that feels good at first but slips quickly into frenetic risk taking. So much compassion and recognition flowed through me as s ...more
Aleesha Wood
May 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm shocked at how many positive reviews there are! This book just couldn't do it for me.. I'm not entirely sure how genuine of a portrayl this is of a childs mind who suffers from bi-polar. She uses large words for her age and has such an adult way of processing things, it feels awkward trying to imagine this as a 6 year old. An example is her odd jeaousy of her mother, watching her dress and describing her full body and curves. She's perplexed at how unfair it is, compared to her scrawny body, ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very informative look inside the past experience of a child in the grips of serious mental illness. The story is relatable even if you did not experience something similar growing up. It did not pick apart situations or angles it merely told the stories as they unfolded for the child. Definitely a great read for anyone who has been through a tough time and wants to know how others have felt during a serious struggle in their mind. Parents can also use this to see how someone else's child fought ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is not only insightful, but amazing and grappling. The prose is extremely satisfying, and it is easy to breeze through the book, realizing you've read 100 pages when you feel like you've only been reading for five minutes. The build-up to certain scenes leaves the heart pounding, the suspense done in such a way where you echo the emotions of Terri in the moment. Cheney phrases things so intently, and you can tell every sentence has affection and attention poured into it. Every detail w ...more
Candace Thomas
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mental illness is such a stigma for many societies around the world. I believe in educating our population since a very young age and this book might fit in that educational category.
The way Terri shares her illness with the world takes a lot of courage, being so young and hunted by the Beast must have been hard.
It had been a while since I had a book that actually made it hard for me to put it down, and this was it.
There is nothing else to say but to thank the writer for her extraordinary wor
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This took me quite awhile to slog through unfortunately. I wish I had read it closer to Cheney’s first book Manic as I had some difficulty recalling her overall life story. I would have liked for it to be broken up into more chapters as parts were really engaging and parts were slower. It was also really sad to see the amount of people who interacted with her and never helped her from a mental health perspective. If anything, it is a clear warning that parents should ask and talk with their chil ...more
Deborah Castellanos
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't read her first book so it may have been better if I had. It was alot of the same situations over and over. The act is all these things were happening and no-one noticed. Teachers,friends and her family swept her behavior under the rug. Because of her ability to keep her feelings in check when it was necessary. Her intelligence overshadowed her outrageous acts. Very brave person to lay it all out there.
Wendy Hughes
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
There has been a 40 times increase since the mid-1990s in bipolar children- fact.
While reading this book I felt many people have experienced bipolar symptoms.
In some instances it’s how we act on them, how they become us, how much response we get and if there is early intervention.
As was stated in the book: Mental illness is not a character flaw it is a disease. We must listen, love and help as we can.
Rebecca Morgan
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone deals with or knows someone who deals with mental illness. This book answers questions and provides individual insight into an illness that can root itself in someone's life beginning in childhood.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
This memoir is startling and disturbing and insightful, helping one understand the deep feelings and lack of control (Terri Cheney’s secret “Black Beast”) that young people with bipolar disorder experience in their daily lives.
Alaina Meares
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting and insightful! It gave a glimpse of the life of a girl who lives with a bipolar disorder. I am very interested to read her other book about her adulthood life in the future.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful read. A raw, heavy look at growing up bipolar. I am eager to read her other book,"Manic".
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children with bipolar 3 16 Jun 11, 2013 01:26AM  

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After graduating Vassar College with honors, Ms. Cheney attended UCLA School of Law. After years of secretly struggling with manic depression, Ms. Cheney decided to leave the law and devote her advocacy skills toward a cause that is closer to her heart: writing about her illness, and encouraging the mentally ill to tell their own stories.

--from the author's website

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