— Terri Cheney, The Dark Side of Innocence
I just finished reading The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar and had to immediately write a post to tell you about it. This is a memoir by Terri Cheney who wrote the New York Times best seller Manic, a memoir that revealed her adult struggle with bipolar disorder. After the books release, Cheney got an overwhelming response from parents of bipolar children wanting to know about the author’s childhood. Thus the motivation for her second book, The Dark Side of Innocence.
So of course I had to read this book, though I’ll admit I haven’t read Manic yet, but I couldn’t resist finding out what her childhood was like. I think a part of me is always researching, trying to find the answer to my son’s symptoms. I don’t know that I’ll ever find one, but I’m certain that I’ll learn something along the way.
I’m excited to share that I loved this book! I’m not a writer, but speaking from a “Mom” perspective, I found her words to be eloquent, smart and painfully honest. She successfully brings the reader into the tortured mind of a bipolar child, while bravely bringing public awareness to this awful disorder.
Having lived her entire childhood undiagnosed, even hidden from her parents, she faced what she called “The Black Beast” all alone. From hopeless depression to bouts of mania, she found herself controlled in every aspect of her life. Unfortunately, her remarkable grades and success in school camouflaged the pain she was living in and her desperate need to be rescued.
Like so many undiagnosed individuals who suffer from mental illness, Cheney turned to alcohol from a very early age, just so she could “tame” the beast and used self harm to appease it’s cravings. She also battled obsessive hypersexuality and attempted suicide at the age of 7. Like many children, her rages were only seen by her mother, remaining a dark secret from the rest of the world.
What moved me the most was her final 3 pages, when she faces the reality that she was surrounded by so many adults that never came to her rescue. She gives what I like to think of as a “gift of words” to us parents who may be questioning the medical treatment of our children. I’ll let you read it for yourself because for me, it’s the crescendo of the book. So if you’re one of those parents, questioning if only for a second if you’re doing the right thing for your child, drop everything and go read this book today!
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Find her book here:
The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing up Bipolar