Ellen Forney

Ellen Forney is a cartoonist, teacher, and mental health advocate. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me, the story of her diagnosis and struggle with bipolar disorder, and Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, a guide to maintaining mental health. Marbles has been printed in seven foreign editions and translated into six different languages and was selected as the Common Read for the University of Washington’s Health Sciences schools in 2018.

Rock Steady was featured in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)’s “Best of Graphic Medicine 2018”, and the book’s self-care framework is widely used by therapists and clinicians. Forney curated the National Library of Medicine’s traveling exhibition on Graphic Medicine, a new genre of comics about health. As part of her visual art practice, her two permanent large-scale murals for Seattle’s Capitol Hill light rail station have become an iconic part of the neighborhood.

Forney is passionate about the alchemy that happens when issues around mental health receive a creative outlet. “When I was first diagnosed, stability was a terrifying proposition for me. It was a huge discovery and relief that mental stability is good for my creativity. I believe in comics as a medium for all sorts of stories and information. With mental health, it’s hard to explain such an interior experience with just words, and art is key for showing emotions on an intuitive level.”

Forney is currently expanding her mental health advocacy work to include practice as a bipolar wellness coach and is writing a children’s book on how to make autobiographical comics. She enjoys walking in Seattle’s many beautiful parks and swimming in Lake Washington.

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In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSeattle, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxSeattle event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.