02: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michaelangelo, & Me by Ellen Forney

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me by Ellen Forney  (US) - (Canada)

Pages:  248
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jan. 1, 2013
First Published: Nov. 6, 2012

Publisher: Gotham Books
Genre: Graphic memoir, mental illness, bi-polar, artist, comic industry
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence: "Every time Owen traced a new line with his needle, I could see the sensation - a bright white light, an electrical charge, up & to the right."
Publisher's Summary: "Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between “crazy” and “creative” in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers. 
Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.  
Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose."

Acquired:  Received a review copy from the publisher, Penguin Books, US.

Reason for Reading:  This book talked to me and I had to read it.  I'm bi-polar and had always been creative in various media.  I had expanded into what I finally called "art" but since my various diagnoses and meds, I have not done my art or any form of creative expression besides my current so-called book reviews.

This gripped me right from the beginning.  Ellen is Bipolar I, while I am a milder diagnosis but still I could relate to her in every way.  I ended up taking notes while reading this at it really hit home with the connection between mood swings and creativity.  I found myself crying during her description of her depression as she expressed it so well.  The scene where she gets out of bed to make it to the couch to go back to sleep is heart-wrenching and was very emotional for me.  That is a place I never want to find myself in ever again.  The combination of Ellen's story mixed with the medical information she discovers and her own journey of finding just the right dosage of which medications is entertaining and informational.  The book is going to be of much interest to those both familiar with the disorder and those coming to it with no previous knowledge.  Forney also has a dark sense of humour which adds light to much of the darkness of the story.  There are plenty of episodes and one-liners to laugh at.  This was a brave book to write and a challenging book to read.  When I realized how "real" it was going to be I wasn't sure I wanted to go there but I'm so glad I did.  I have been getting back to my art in my head for the last year or so, even getting out the supplies, collecting canvases but haven't put pen, brush or glue to paper yet.  Ellen has started me thinking I might just take the step and get the creativity out of my head again.  A very personal book that spoke to me.  A caveat.  The book does contain full frontal nudity and Forney speaks openly of her bi-s*xuality, plus she is in her late 20's as the story starts so it is indeed a mature book for adults.