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Originally published: 2013-10-25 12:48:09
Last modified: 2013-10-25 12:48:09

Bestselling author to speak on mental illness

by Anna Oakes

A New York Times-bestselling author and survivor of mental illness, Marya Hornbacher will speak at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28 at Appalachian State University's I.G. Greer Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness High Country and the ASU Counseling Center. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

In addition to sharing her own experiences, the author will speak on hope and recovery in the lives of people touched by mental illness. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that one in five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year.

"I think it's very helpful to see someone like her -- someone with her qualifications and the success that she's had -- talking about her darkest days," said Laura Anne Middlesteadt of NAMI High Country. "(You) realize that recovery is a possibility and that you can manage a mental illness and live a full productive life like she does."

Hornbacher's first book, "Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia," was published when she was 23. The book went on to be translated into 16 languages and became required reading in universities around the world. 

Hornbacher followed this success with a novel in 2005, and then with the critically-acclaimed bestseller "Madness: A Bipolar Life" in 2008. Her novel "The Center of Winter" tells the story of a family devastated by suicide, and her two most recent books, "Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction and the Twelve Steps" and "Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power" are aimed at those working through recovery.

All five of Hornbacher's books will be available for purchase from the ASU University Bookstore at the event.

"A journalist and a poet as well, (Hornbacher) pulls no punches in recounting her journey through mental illness," a press release stated. "Her descriptions of exuberant manias, blind rages and depression can be difficult to read, but will ring true to those who have experienced or witnessed bipolar disorder unchecked. She is equally stark in portraying the ravages of an eating disorder that began when she was only 9 and the substance addiction she battled as an adult."

NAMI High Country welcomes all those whose lives have been touched by mental illness, offering support, education and advocacy. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Mondays of every month. For details, visit

"It's a place where you can go if you have lived with mental illness and not feel judged," Middlesteadt said. "It's also very helpful to family members who find other people who can relate to what they're dealing with."

The ASU Counseling Center offers free counseling services and referrals to all currently enrolled students, including services specific to eating disorders. It is located in the Miles Annas Student Services building on campus. Walk-in hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.