Cheney, Terri 1959-

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Cheney, Terri 1959-


Born December 7, 1959. Education: Graduated from Vassar College with honors; attended University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—Lydia Wills, Paradigm, 360 Park Ave. S., 16th Fl., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer and attorney. Previously worked sixteen years as an attorney specializing in intellectual property and entertainment litigation at several prominent Los Angeles, CA, firms, including Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Also appointed a member of the Community Advisory Board of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mood Disorders Research Program; founded a weekly community support group at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute.


Manic: A Memoir, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2008.


Terri Cheney worked as an attorney in Los Angeles for many years, specializing in intellectual property and entertainment litigation. However, despite the trappings of success, Cheney was in the midst of an ongoing battle with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 5.7 million adult Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.

In 1999, the author found herself hospitalized at the Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), suffering from severe depression. The author noted that, like her, many of her fellow patients struggled to verbalize the pain they were suffering. On her home page, the author describes how she came to write her first book, Manic: A Memoir. Cheney commented that she grew angry with the inability of other patients to articulate their problems: "Just spit it out! I wanted to say. Then it finally dawned on me: it wasn't their fault." She goes on to write on her home page: "None of us knew how to express ourselves, because madness was one long, inarticulate howl."

Cheney decided to give a voice to bipolar disorder via her book, Manic. She notes on her home page that she first wrote about the disorder as a type of therapy. She began by focusing on the facts of bipolar disorder, such as theories concerning its origins, its various systems, and how to treat the disorder. However, Cheney felt that her use of clinical jargon hindered her own inner truth about the disorder from clearly coming through. She then set out to focus on the personal side of her battle with the disease and over a period of several years wrote Manic. "Cheney's story is not that of a miraculous recovery, but rather a heartbreaking story of one woman's ongoing fight to live with bipolar illness," noted Rebecca Wright in a review on Blogcritics Online.

In her book, the author goes back to her childhood and the mood swings she experienced at that time. She is hospitalized at age sixteen when her suicidal depression leads her to eat an entire box of baking soda. The reader follows Cheney through many encounters with the psychiatric community. She writes about the various medications she is prescribed and her attempts at suicide. Cheney goes into great detail when describing her electroshock therapy treatments, noting that she ended up worse off than before she had the therapy. She also explores the relationship between her illness and her affairs with dangerous men, most of whom she barely knows. She flies kites near cliffs during a thunderstorm, and at one point hides under a desk too afraid to answer the phone. She also ends up in jail trying to explain to police why she carries so many medications. The author also describes her work life and how she worked furiously to mask her disease. "And she is a marvel," wrote Diana Wagman for the Los Angeles Times. "She is admirable. This is a woman who always performs above expectations, who excels on every test."

Cheney received praise from reviewers for her willingness to be so open about her disease and her reactions to it. "What a ride!" wrote Whitney Scott in a review of Manic for Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Though she sustains an ominous mood and relays horrifying incidents with icy candor, Cheney lightens up at times." Some reviewers commented that her book jumped around too much and that the author's self-portrait, in some ways, was incomplete. However, other reviewers wrote that this aspect of the book reflected Cheney's own state of affairs. Writing for the Orange County Register Web site, Jane Glenn Haas noted: "Told in episodic bursts rather than the usual chronology, it forces the reader into Cheney's bipolar world, into her deep and fearful depressions mixed with her giddy, high-flying manic moods."



Cheney, Terri, Manic: A Memoir, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2008.


Booklist, December 15, 2007, Whitney Scott, review of Manic, p. 13.

Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2008, Diana Wagman, review of Manic.

Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2007, review of Manic, p. 48.

Tell Me More, February 4, 2008, "Manic Describes Woman's Struggle with Bipolar Disorder."

Whole Life Times, April, 2008, Eric Larson, review of Manic, p. 40.


Blogcritics Online, (August 28, 2008), Rebecca Wright, review of Manic.

HarperCollins Web site, (August 28, 2008), author profile.

Orange County Register, (August 28, 2008), Jane Glenn Haas, "Author Trains Spotlight on Manic Depression," review of Manic., (August 28, 2008), Deidre Wengen, "Coming Out; Terri Cheney Speaks Openly about Battling Bipolar Disorder," review of Manic.

Terri Cheney Home Page, (August 28, 2008), author profile.