HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Terri Cheney

Expert on Bipolar Disorder & New York Times Best-Selling Author


  • Bipolar Disorder: Its Impact on Patients, Family, Relationships, and Society
  • Coping with Bipolar Disorder at Home, the Office, and in Relationships



[Manic] is a must-read for all those, clinicians and lay persons alike, who are interested in deeply understanding the experience of having bipolar disorder.”
—Dr. Lori Altshuler, Director of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, affects more than 5.7 million adult Americans every year. Terri Cheney is one of those Americans, and after a successful career as an attorney, she decided to leave the law and devote her advocacy skills toward a cause that is closer to her heart and write about her illness. Her book Manic: A Memoir, (William Morrow) became a New York Times best-seller and received critical acclaim across the country. Cheney is a member of the California Bipolar Foundation’s Honorary Board and Patient Advisory Committee.

In addition to speaking about bipolar disorder, Cheney also encourages the mentally ill to tell their own stories. In recognition of her efforts, she was appointed a member of the Community Advisory Board of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program, the nation’s largest nonprofit research consortium regarding manic depression. She received the 2009 Advocate Award from Mental Health Advocacy Services and an official Commendation from the County of Los Angeles for her service to the community. She also founded a weekly community support group at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Her writing and opinions about bipolar disorder, its impact on the patient, family, relationships, and society have also been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, and numerous popular blogs.

In Manic and with audiences across the country she shares her harrowing story. On the outside Cheney was an attractive and successful Hollywood entertainment attorney. She was always immaculately groomed, utterly competent and on the career fast track. But her carefully constructed outward appearance hid a dangerous secret – for the better part of her life Cheney had been battling manic depression. As she worked at some of the most well-respected law firms in Los Angeles she suffered through debilitating bouts of depression; raced dangerously through life during periods of mania; and concealed a pharmacy’s worth of prescriptions meant to stabilize her moods and make her “normal.” Cheney gives a voice to the unarticulated madness she and the patients she met during treatment endured. She skillfully gives every audience visceral experience of what it’s really like to be manic-depressive.

After graduating Vassar College with honors, Cheney attended UCLA School of Law. She then specialized in intellectual property and entertainment litigation at several prominent Los Angeles firms, including Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Over the course of her 16-year career, Cheney represented many celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, and major motion picture studios, including Universal and Columbia Pictures. Her pro bono work ranged from counseling local theaters to petitioning the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU.

Cheney currently lives in Los Angeles.

Praise for Terri Cheney and Manic:

“Cheney’s chilling account of her struggle with bipolar disorder brilliantly evokes the brutal nature of her disease... Edgy, dark, and often cynical, Manic is not an easy book to read, but it has heart and soul to spare.”

“This is a poignant and compelling memoir about the impact of bipolar disorder on one person’s life. The writing is outstanding, the story is gripping. Ms. Cheney reveals the multiple facets – psychological, physiological, and existential – of living with this illness. The description of the many aspects of bipolar disorder, including depression, hypomania, mania, and mixed states, are portrayed in extraordinary detail. This book is a must-read for all those, clinicians and lay persons alike, who are interested in deeply understanding the experience of having bipolar disorder.”
—Dr. Lori Altshuler, Director of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program

“Written in episodic chapters that mimic the ups and downs of bipolar depression – hypomania, mania, depression – Cheney’s book is a gut-churning ride.”
Los Angeles Times

“In florid mania the roiling surf both seduces and destroys, crushing will and reason. All too often for those who suffer, flung repeatedly against the rocks of prejudice and misunderstanding, the story ends in tragedy. Terri Cheney’s gritty, vibrant, memoir brings this chaotic frenzy to life tumbling the reader through disaster and despair to end in hope. Manic is an extraordinary achievement that captures the real experience…”
—Peter C. Whybrow M.D., Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, Author of A Mood Apart: The Thinkers Guide to Emotion and Its Disorder

“Cheney... writes with passionate clarity about depression and the lure of suicide but with especially keen intensity about mania...”
Boston Globe

Manic is filled with gorgeous writing, and we have never heard mania or depression described in such a visceral way. Terri Cheney’s ability to find humor in what should be terrifying situations makes this difficult illness never off-putting, and in fact, fascinating. Echoes of William Styron abound.”
—Demitri F. Papolos. M.D. and Janice Papolos, authors of The Bipolar Child

“Cheney brilliantly brings us along on her haunting and riveting journey of bipolar disorder. I was scared to go back, but it’s a place that people need to see to better understand this insidious and invisible illness that is still so stigmatized. Manic is extremely powerful, and at the same time, Cheney really manages to make you laugh!”
—Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

“Amazing and powerful.. .[Manic] forces the reader into Cheney’s bipolar world, into her deep and fearful depressions mixed with her giddy, high-flying manic moods.”
Orange County Register

“Superb... For someone who has wrestled with the same demons, Cheney’s book reeks with scary deja vu. It is all here: The sudden, unexpected, rapid-cycling flights into sadness, fits of rage or mad schemes. The crushing, anxious desperation and futility. The dizzying euphoria that lifts you ever higher as your endorphins pop like fireworks near the top, where the world is yours, and you are a superhero, answerable to no one... Cheney’s remarkable chronicle of her painful odyssey is as eloquent as it is brave. It is also profoundly necessary, both for her and for us.”
Providence Journal

"Terri Cheney, is an awesome woman ...and it has been a true pleasure having her here in Austin, Texas conducting a community forum for the Bipolar Foundation of Central Texas. Terri's' presentation was professional and connecting with her audience. We are looking forward to having her back..."
-- Jenesta Sturrup, Bipolar Foundation of Central Texas

"Ms. Cheney was well prepared for our event, and was an excellent speaker on the topic of mental illness. She read briefly from her book Manic, and talked about her life experience and struggles with bipolar disorder. She did an excellent job at fielding questions from the audience. She was engaging, responsive, and kind. She gladly signed copies of her book and talked one-on-one with many people after the event."
-- Regina "Rusty" Sheehan, JD, Development Director, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services