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 the 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 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.