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All The Lines are Curly and Purple
By Katy Sara Culling

ISBN: 9781847477316
Published: 2008
Pages: 489
Key Themes: mood disorders, eating disorders, attempted suicide, self-harm, surviving, recovery


This book includes a true story about reaching the very edge, the very depths and heights of bipolar illness, but almost always with a sense of humour. Much like a car crash, people cannot help but look when they spy on these sort of black events. It is a new perspective on manic depression as in Prof K.R. Jamisons autobiography about her illness in An Unquiet Mind, but mixed explosively with S. Kaysens immersion into madness in Girl, Interrupted, except this book feels like it is been written whilst on crack cocaine and directed by Quentin Tarantino on a blood thirsty day. This book may be dark but its underlying message is one of hope. Sometimes you have to see the depths of Hades before you can really appreciate life and health.

Being a manic depressive from just 5, then adding in anorexia, bulimia, self-harm and hundreds of suicide attempts, typical student substance misuse on the heavy end of normal, culminating in a long hospitalisation when I was an Oxford doctoral student in clinical medicine. I ended up totally mad, in a long-term psychotic mixed episode, being both manic and depressed concurrently, and suffering from delusions and hallucinations and several actual deaths that I was revived from.

This had a massive impact on the lives of my friends and family who have been dragged through 25 years of serious illness whilst feeling helpless and scared. I also experienced a lot of unhelpful medical treatment and misdiagnoses, all detailed here, which should teach those in the profession what not to do. This book will also answer the questions of friends and family, and give some pointers of ways to help and not help. I lost many friends as I withdrew into my illness, but I made many friends with people similarly ill. Some have died, some have recovered, and some remain ill. All agree that such a complete and honest book like mine is needed.

This is my autobiographical tale, a girl who came from nowhere up North to study medicine at Oxford University and spent the majority of her life quite literally mad, but never stopped laughing about it. This suits a wide audience for personal and professional reasons. I want to reach sufferers, carers, and professionals. I am proof that anything can be overcome, what should not be survived can be, and that nothing is more important in these diseases than hope.

About the Author

Katy Sara Culling was born in Liverpool, North England, in 1975. Daughter of Sue and Paul Culling, her family moved back to its roots in Derbyshire, where she grew up along with her younger sister Beth, in the village of Castle Donington, on the Derbyshire-Leicestershire border. However, even as young as 5 she exhibited symptoms of bipolar disorder. She attended a private school for girls, Loughborough High School, where she was a high achieving student. Unfortunately, due to bullying and also to numb her mania and depression, she developed anorexia nervosa and began to self-harm.

Katy Sara then went to The University of Nottingham, where she studied Biochemistry and Nutrition. She did her 1st class thesis on alcohol and metabolism, interested in the psychology of Alcoholism. All this was done despite considerable illness including over 60 suicide attempts and purging-type anorexia and yet more bullying. Her good work at Nottingham lead to an offer of a place at The University of Oxford, where she studied for a PhD in Clinical Medicine. In her final year she became so ill with bipolar disorder that she was in hospital first as a day patient, then an inpatient, and eventually a sectioned inpatient . During that year and a half she attempted suicide over 300 times, dying twice, only to be revived. She finally, at the age of 28 got a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the correct medication, and has been mostly fine ever since. She later wrote up her PhD thesis and published her results.

Now Katy Sara is mostly well and has become a writer, wanting to prevent others from suffering as she did. Katy Sara also spends her time working in medical research, and helping fellow survivors of bipolar disorder through charitable organisations whilst trying to maintain her own good mental health. She is an advocate for all survivors of this illness and believes that an expert patient system could be highly beneficial. She has a particular interest in improving diagnosis and treatment for mixed bipolar disorder states as this terrible form of bipolar disorder caused her significant, almost lethal problems and was not easily recognised. She has not ruled out the possibility of doing another PhD, this time in Psychiatry. Every day is a battle with illness that she wins, and she hopes that 443 suicide attempts will never reach 444.


  1. Katy Sara Culling (verified owner)

    Here are the comments I have received via email so far:

    Reader’s quick reviews. All unsolicited.
    (Ireland) Michael McCook (bipolar II) 9 Dec. 2007
    “Hi Katy, thanks ever so much for the opportunity of a chapter pre-read, I was utterly enthralled by the levels of blunt honesty and the situations you were in. To describe it in a word, “wow” would be a major understatement if ever there was one. “Captivating” would be my word of choice. You will most definitely sell a copy to me, that’s for sure. The gold nugget of a preview you sent will be securely for my own eyes, I will tell you it’s fantastic though. Also, you’re very cheeky leaving it on such an enigmatic cliffhanger!”

    (UK) Sarah Mercer (bulimic, mood disorder, borderline personality disorder) Feb. 2008
    “I’ve read the whole book and I found it a compelling read, very well written. I think it is quite unusual as Katy is in a position to combine extensive intellectual expertise with quite extraordinary personal experience. The brutal honesty of this book is quite unusual but so refreshing, the fact that little is censored is so important – it facilitates a deeper understanding of mental illness and the hell the sufferer experiences. Honesty and open disclosure is the route needed to break down the social stigma surrounding mental health matters and this book takes a huge step forward in this respect. I gained greater understanding of my own illness and even felt more accepting of the struggle I faced, but most of all seeing how low one person can sink and to then recover enough to be in a position to help others gives me hope for my own recovery.”

    (USA – Texas) Tobias Monk (perfectly sane). 12 Apr. 08
    “Once I began reading Dark Clouds Gather I could not put it down. As the child of a bipolar parent it struck a chord within me. I was particularly impressed with your perception and perspective of your illness. Your story is a confirmation of experiences for those who suffer from bipolarity, and an eye opening revelation for those who do not.”

    (UK) Lucy Sumner, (perfectly sane), March 2008.

    “Unquestionably the most gripping thing I’ve ever read. The Oxford background is a great added bonus.”

    (Spain) Maria Nieto Vizcaya (bipolar I) 15 Dec. 2007
    “I’m deeply thankful to you for letting me dive in such a private experience, it’s been an amazing read I’ll never forget, you left a print in my heart. I think it is an incredible testimony to bring huge awareness to society.”

    (UK) Stephen (major unipolar depression) Dec. 2007
    “Wow!!! I just finished reading that chapter of your book. That’s pretty close to the bone. I really admire your courage and candour and total honesty about everything about your guilt, confusion and your own faults and fears. I really hope that someone reads it who could be able to publish it, this is a story that needs to be told, to be read, to be understood. Get that book done, it’s a very important work as I’m sure you know, and will do a lot of good.”

    Bipolar disorder survivor, anon, 2007.

    “Until I read this, I thought I’d made an embarrassing number of suicide attempts…”

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