Monday, July 27, 2015

Graphic Novel review: "Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me" by Ellen Forney

Ellen is one of those people, who I suspect, was always the life of the party. A talker, hypersexual, creative on the go type of person. She's a cartoonist (kind of obvious, I suppose) and loves drama and theater. One summer she starts to feel pretty consistently and begins to see a therapist. After not many sessions the therapist begins to suspect Ellen might have a personality disorder (manic episodes, not much sleep or appetite, the hypersexuality, family history, among other things). When they open up the DSM-IV and Ellen reads the symptoms she sees herself outlined on the page.

What follows is a story of Ellen's struggle to find the right balance of medications, her own struggle with her creativity and motivation, interesting stories about her friends and family (one with a really sweet Greek name) and more. She also looks to different "tortured" artists to see how their mental illnesses affected them and their work.

I think two of her questions she asks herself were pretty profound, and must have been scary to contemplate:

-I thought this was just my fun, zany personality; but you're telling me these are all symptoms of a disease?

- If I take meds to prevent my mood swings, am I choosing to be less creative?

This was not my favorite graphic novel, but I really appreciate that she laid everything bare. Her struggles not just with medication and side effects, but what the disease meant for her as a person as an artist. I also appreciated the sobering statistics that she included, foremost the pages where she outlined artists who had attempted or had committed suicide. It was a depressingly a lot of people. 3 stars out of 5! (The book does contain a fair amount of female cartoon nudity...just in case you were planning on reading this with a small child or your grandparents or something)


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