There are many books out there about bipolar illness written by psychiatrists and psychologists–the so-called experts. These are great books to read for general information about the illness. The is even a Bipolar Disorder for Dummies.
The books, though, that have meant the most to me are books written completely by people who specifically have the disease. Below are some of these books.
The first on the list is An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. I like this book because Kay is both a psychologist and a survivor of bipolar illness. It’s a fascinating memoir of a highly-educated woman living with the disease. She actually works as a successful psychologist with this potentially disabling disorder.
Next, is A Brilliant Madness, by Patty Duke, the child actress of the 1960's. If you’re into theater, you’ll enjoy this book by one of the best actresses of our time.
Skywriting: A Life out of the Blue, by Jane Pauley, surprised many people. I remember when Jane “came out,” with the publication of this memoir. No one could believe someone so together as she could be at times so sick.
For the younger audience, you might enjoy Detour: My Bipolar Roadtrip in 4-D, by Lizzie Simon. Simon wrote this when she was in her 20's. It’s about her trip across America, talking to bipolar young people about their lives with the disease.
Finally, if you want something up to the minute, try Bipolar Expeditionist, by Keith Alan Steadman, which came out in February of 2008. I haven’t read this, but it looks juicy.
Well, there is another classic, but it’s about suicidal depression, not manic depression. It’s called Darkness Visible, by William Styron.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for good reading.
Oh, one more thing, for literary fiction on bipolar illness and other mental illnesses try Out of Her Mind: women Writing on Madness, edited by Rebecca Shannonhouse.
For general fictional works about insanity see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey; The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath; Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger; and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
Note: Some of this literature is “heavy duty.” What I mean by this is that it’s so powerful emotionally that it can affect your mood. Read it when you’re feeling stable, in a good mood, not too manic or depressed.