Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder

Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder

by Karen Winters Schwartz


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As eighteen-year-old Amanda spirals into mania, her father, psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Benson, sees the realization of his worst fears: his daughter is not just moody, but truly ill. With his words, his diagnosis—manic depressive illness—his world and that of his family is forever altered. Carol, Amanda's mother, struggles with the guilt and shame of having raised a "crazy" daughter. Christy, Amanda's fifteen-year-old sister, denies the illness; after all, my sister's a bitch is so much easier to accept.

Meanwhile, the Bensons' extended family offers up everything from unconditional support to uncomfortable scrutiny as Amanda careens between bouts of frightening violence, cosmic euphoria, and suicidal despair. Then there's Ryan, an architecture student who is initially ensnared by Amanda's manic sexuality, but is ultimately captured and held throughout the chaos by the force of love and strength of family.

Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder follows a family through the tragedy of bipolar disorder, but it's not tragic. It's funny, sad, and thought provoking—and as real and as raw as mental illness itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979875564
Publisher: Goodman Beck Publishing
Publication date: 10/15/2010
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,078,592
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 Years

About the Author

Karen Winters Schwartz was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio. She wrote her first truly good story at age seven. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Schneider, publicly and falsely accused her of plagiarism. She did not write again for forty years.

Educated at The Ohio State University, both Karen and her husband have shared a career in optometry in Central New York's Finger Lakes while raising two daughters together. 

Karen is the president of NAMI Syracuse (National Alliance on Mental Illness), a strong advocate for mental illness awareness, and a sought-after speaker at health association events and conferences across the country. Karen knows firsthand the devastation that mental illness can wreak on a family. She has talked to hundreds of families who have dealt with the frustration of a broken mental health care system. She has experienced the price of stigma and has felt the isolation that ignorance, misunderstanding, and judgment can inflict on everyone involved. She knows how these misconceptions delay and thwart necessary treatment—at its best leading to loss of jobs, productivity, and relationships, at its worst leading to tragedies such as suicide, violence, and mass murder. She has also experienced the joy of the recovery of a loved one, stressing early detection and treatment as the key to this success.

Her critically acclaimed debut novel on mental illness, Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder, was released by Goodman Beck Publishing in September 2010. Its widely praised follow-up, Reis’s Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia, was released in the spring of 2012, and her third novel, The Chocolate Debacle, was released in the fall of 2014. Her books are not only honest and engaging stories—they are also advocacy tools, educational tools, and a comfort to those dealing directly and indirectly with mental illness.

Through her books Karen opens up discussions about the need for empathy and the impact of the negative stigma associated with these neurobiological brain disorders. Through literature, she educates while entertaining, elicits empathy while telling a great story, and advocates by reaching those who just don’t “get it.”

What People are Saying About This

Michael J. Fitzpatrick

"Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? is a coming of age story. It provides an authentic look at a teenager, her family, and friends who struggle to come to terms with the onset of her mental illness and to find a balance between hope and acceptance. Read it for its own sake. Read it to learn. It speaks to many truths." -- (Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW Executive Director, NAMI National)

E. Fuller Torre M.D.

"Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? is an engaging family story of what happens when the eighteen-year-old daughter develops bipolar disorder. It is very well written and accurately reflects the effects of this disorder on all members of the family. Strongly recommended." -- (E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia and Surviving Manic Depression)

Dr. Joseph J. Luciani

" Fasten your seat belt as you’re drawn into the Benson family’s desperate struggle to manage their eighteen-year-old daughter’s terrifying plunge into a world where the line between rationality and madness is often blurred — the world of bipolar disorder. I highly recommend this book. It will challenge, educate, and most importantly, it will inspire you." -- (Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, bestselling author of Self-Coaching: The Powerful Program to Beat Anxiety & Depression)

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