About 2.6 percent of American adults — nearly 6 million people — have bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). But the disease, characterized by significant and severe mood changes, is still dangerously misunderstood.
Bipolar disorder is vastly different from the normal ups and downs of everyday life, but many have co-opted the term to refer to any old change in thoughts or feelings. The mood swings in someone with bipolar disorder, sometimes also called manic depression, can damage relationships and hurt job performance. It has been estimated that anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.
Artist Ellen Forney detailed her diagnosis with bipolar disorder in the graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Forney previously shared her story with us, specifically detailing how her bipolar disorder has affected her creative work.
Below are some poignant pages from the memoir, the memoir, along with unique commentary into how these panels came to be and what they mean to Forney, in her own words.