Review: Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me

Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me

A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney



You have bipolar II. And then it was my 30th birthday.
Words – I needed words to explain, to understand, to cope.
But instead I found pictures as well. And they were even better.

Ellen’s memoir leapt into my hands. You have bipolar I, and then it was her 30th birthday.
I love it. Every few pages I see part of my own struggle expressed clearly, or notice a panel I want to share.

MA rating: sex, drugs, nudity, adult themes, heart wrenching truth.
My first reading gave me words and images to frame my own experience. My second reading gave me space to laugh and cry. My third reading gave me enduring wisdom and courage.


The first half chronicles the early years of her struggle:

  • trying medication
  • working out her moods
  • exploring her personality
  • adjusting her understanding of the past
  • figuring out how to speak with people.

The second half explores the link of creativity and bipolar.
Does stability prevent creativity?
Is balance a crushing of opportunity?
What about famous past creatives?

What did I learn?

  • I am not the craziest person.
    I have never had psychosis – that stuff is even more scary.
  • How to take a handful of pills in one swallow.
    Put some water in your mouth, throw in the pills and swallow. Fast, efficient and tasteless.
  • Articulating emotions and thoughts help process and tame them. Ellen provided easy descriptions for my catalogue.
  • Helpful ways to describe bipolar for friends and family
  • Supportive things other people can do
  • Stability is better than manic energy
  • There is still the funny and delight to be found in the mess

Thanks Ellen – I’ll be reading this again.