Biographies of Hope

A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-depressive Illness by Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman, Bantam Books, 1992. Television and film actress Patty Duke shares her personal experience with bipolar disease.

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry L. Sittser, Zondervan Publishing, 2004. Author and Book Sketch: “Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life–one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.”

A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life by Jerry L. Sittser, Zondervan Publishing, 2012. Author and Book Sketch: “While A Grace Disguised (2004 prequel) explored how the soul grows through loss, A Grace Revealed brings the story of Sittser’s family full circle, revealing God’s redeeming work in the midst of circumstances that could easily have destroyed them. As Sittser reminds us, our lives tell a good story after all. A Grace Revealed will help us understand and trust that God is writing a beautiful story in our own lives.

All the Things We Never Knew by Sheila Hamilton, Seal Press, 2015, guide. Author and Book Sketch: “Sheila Hamilton’s business is getting the story. She does it very well — as a television reporter, she’s won five Emmys. In Portland, Oregon, where she hosts the morning drive-time show on KINK FM, she uses her celebrity to promote good causes and creative people. But there is a story she missed, and it’s huge … Sheila … lost her “once brilliant and passionate” husband to suicide within six weeks of a bipolar diagnosis. This book is a memoir, but it is also a guide for families in crisis, with dozens of resources to help figure out where to turn for care and treatment.”

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison, First Edition Vintage Books, 1996, A Division of Random House. Dr. Jamison is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is an authority on bipolar disease and in this book transparently, and vulnerably but hopefully shares her own struggles with the disease.

Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke by Patty Duke and Kenneth Turan, Bantam, 1987.

Dancing with Bipolar Bears / Living in Joy Despite Illness by Dr. James E. McReynolds, New York, Lincoln, Shanghai: iUniverse, Inc, 2003. Dr. McReynolds as a young minister was dubbed by the positive thinker/author/preacher, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, as the “minister of joy to the world.” This is his story about living for over four decades with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. For more information go to the web site:

Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness by Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Brazos Press; Revised edition, June 16, 2015. Where is God in the suffering of a mentally ill person? What happens to the soul when the mind is ill? How are Christians to respond to mental illness? In this brave and compassionate book, theologian and priest Kathryn Greene-McCreight confronts these difficult questions raised by her own mental illness–bipolar disorder. With brutal honesty, she tackles often avoided topics such as suicide, mental hospitals, and electroconvulsive therapy. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron, First Vintage Books Edition, 1992, A Division of Random House. William Styron is a renowned author probably most famous for “Sophie’s Choice.” This is his own personal account of dealing with debilitating depression.

Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering Paperback by Kelly M. Kapic, Published by IVP Academic, June 6, 2017). Book Sketch: This book was Christianity Today’s 2018 Book of the Year Winner. Aimee Byrd, blogger, and author of Housewife Theologian, writes that this book “is a breath of fresh air and a source of hope, as Kapic takes a holistic approach to pain and suffering. Rather than downplaying orthodoxy in order to be practical and compassionate, he gives us a rich teaching of Christian anthropology, Christ’s person and work, and an eternal perspective. He takes care to deal with the physical aspects of suffering as well as its connection with the spiritual. This approach directs our gaze to Christ while not ignoring the hard questions that sufferers and caretakers must face.”

Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton, Dey Street Books, 2015. Author and Subject Sketch: Olympic distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton confronts her experience with bipolar mania with brutal honesty. “In my case, my bipolar was driving me toward sex. It could have just as easily been driving me toward drugs and alcohol or gambling, the way it does many people. The message, though, is that it can be treated if diagnosed correctly, with the help of medical people and family and friends. There is hope, and I’m living proof.’’

Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story by Jim Piersall and Al Hirshberg, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1955. The story of Jim Piersall, the major-league baseball player, who became overtly manic in the middle of the season and no lithium or other mood stabilizer was available? Involuntarily hospitalized for seven weeks and treated with ETC. Became probably the first out-of-the-closet, ex-mental-patient athlete.*

The Four of Us: A Family Memoir by Elizabeth Swados, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1991. Paperback by Penguin Books, 1993. A family experience. The son was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia but appears to have schizoaffective type or even manic-depressive illness. A young man spirals downward from a drastic and failed suicide attempt into homelessness. While beautifully written, it is a brutally honest and profoundly depressing account. Underscores the potentially life-threatening seriousness of the mental illness.*

His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina by Danielle Steel, New York: Dell Publishing, 1998. The story of Danielle Steel’s son who developed a manic-depressive illness in his teens. The author/mother painfully details her on-the-job training experience of trying to understand what she was dealing with–trying to help her son. The story exposes her experience with the incompetence of most of the mental health professionals she tuned to. Nick committed suicide at age 19.

In The Shadow of God’s Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression by Susan Gregg-Schroeder, Upper Room Books, 1997. Reviewer: “Susan Gregg-Schroeder is an ordained minister who has suffered from depression, however, she notes the importance of living with depression, not simply having it or recovering from it. This book is very different from books that address depression as something to overcome. Instead of offering a victory scenario, Gregg-Schroeder invites readers to sit with God in the midst of our pain and to notice that spiritual gifts are also present in the midst of that depression.”

Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher, Houghton Mifflin, 2009. Author and Subject Sketch: “On the heels of her Pulitzer-nominated memoir Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (1998) Mary Hornbacher shows a triumphant effort to refocus her life’s narrative through the lens of her diagnosis. She once again considers her erratic behavior, crippling depression, suicide attempt, fits of rage and joy, and her arduous battle with an eating disorder, but with new clarity. The result, she says, is an assured story of a woman who has grown into her illness, but also a writer who has grown into her craft.”

Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney, Harper Publishing, 2009. Author and Subject Sketch: “Once a successful entertainment attorney representing the likes of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, Cheney has chronicled her lifelong battle with bipolar disorder in this bestseller. She pulls no punches in Manic: A Memoir as she recounts the despair, the suicide attempts, flirting recklessly with men, and the dramatic side effects of treatment.”

More than Bipolar: A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope by Lizabeth D. Schuch, iUniverse, November 1, 2012. Until she experienced her first manic episode at the age of seventeen, Lizabeth D. Schuch had little knowledge of the mental illness. From that point on, her life would never be the same. In her memoir she discusses her twenty-five years of experience with bipolar disorder, sharing the wisdom attained to break the hold of stigma, shame, and fear surrounding this illness. Schuch reveals the full reality of what living with this illness looks like. She shares the truth, from its manic and depressive extremes to the life lessons of understanding and maturity necessary to live well in recovery. More Than Bipolar also provides information about the importance of getting a proper diagnosis, working with the medical providers, trusting your own instincts about your care, and having the insight to know when the warning signs are leading you in the wrong direction. More Than Bipolar focuses on knowledge gained and strength restored on the path of a complete bipolar journey. It shows that living well with bipolar disorder is possible and may indeed be a part of the diagnostic picture.

On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations About Conquering Depression by Kathy Cronkite, New York: Doubleday, 1994. Paperback by Delta Books, 1995. These are brief essays where “famous” people share their stories.*

Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness by Jessie Close and Pete Earley who is a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Grand Central Publishing; Lrg edition, January 13, 2015. Jessie Close is the sister of famed actress Glenn Close. At a young age, she struggled with symptoms that would transform into severe bipolar disorder in her early twenties, but she was not properly diagnosed until the age of fifty. Jessie and her three siblings spent many years in the Moral Re-Armament cult. Her life became unmanageable by fifteen years of age. Jessie’s emerging mental illness led her into a life of addictions, five failed marriages, and to the brink of suicide. In RESILIENCE, Jessie dives into the dark and dangerous shadows of mental illness without shying away from its horror and turmoil. She tells of finally discovering the treatment she needs and, with the encouragement of her sister and others, the emotional fortitude to bring herself back from the edge.

Skywriting / a Life Out Of The Blue by Jane Pauley, New York: Random House, 2004. Renowned broadcaster, Jane Pauley, shares her personal process of discovery (“skywriting”) and includes her experience with bipolar illness. She was diagnosed in 2001. The disorder was induced by treatment with steroids for seemingly innocuous, but persistent, cases of hives. A courageous, inspiring, informative, and educational out-of-the-closet presentation. A good two-page appendix written by Frank Miller, M.D. discusses bipolar illness.

Spiders, Vampires and Jail keys: Bipolar disorder: A story of hope, recovery, and inspiration by Brooke O’Neill, Independently published, 2020. Author and Book Sketch: “Hi my name is Brooke. I was born and raised in Auckland New Zealand. I had my first experience of depression at the age of 12. Following this, I experienced high levels of anxiety but no obvious fluctuating mood states. … At the age of 29, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Five days following her birth I started to experience hallucinations and delusions. … I felt terrified, confused and I felt I had lost my identity. Six weeks later I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It rocked my world and everyone around me. I refused to accept it and spent the next 13 years on a roller coaster ride of mental instability. … My illness became so severe that I tried to take my own life. Following this, I had to decide whether I should choose life or death. I chose life and acceptance of my diagnosis. I have accepted medication and work as a registered nurse in an acute alternative mental health facility. … My book chronicles my 13 years of instability with depression and mania and my rise to stability and health again. It provides hope and inspiration that recovery from mental illness is possible. I currently live on a farm with my husband, daughter, and many animals!”

Undercurrents: A Therapist’s Reckoning with Her Own Depression by Martha Manning, New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Martha Manning describes her slow descent from normalcy and assumed invincibility into what she refers to as a “room in hell with only your name on the door.” Failing to respond to all available antidepressant medications, she concluded that there were left only two options: suicide or the trial of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), she chose the latter. She describes her positive response to a short course of ECT and her slow recovery. Among the best accounts available of what it is like to experience severe depression.*

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, Simon & Schuster, 2008. Author and Subject Sketch: This is “an autobiographical collage that originated as a highly praised one-woman performance by Carrie Fisher, became an HBO special, and was published in book form in 2008. … Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen. … Wishful Drinking, the show, has been a runaway success. Entertainment Weekly declared it ‘drolly hysterical’ and the Los Angeles Times called it a ‘Beverly Hills yard sale of juicy anecdotes.’ This is Carrie Fisher at her best—revealing her worst. She tells her true and outrageous story of her bizarre reality with her inimitable wit, unabashed self-deprecation, and buoyant, infectious humor. Intimate, hilarious, and sobering … .”

* Review adapted from reviews presented in APPENDIX A of Surviving ManicDepression by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. and Michael B. Knable, D.O., Published by Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2002.

SPECIAL NOTE: Most of these books are in print. Many can be purchased and/or ordered in local book stores, ordered by way of, or checked out at local libraries. Out-of-print books can often be found over the Internet: