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Seven years ago, John McManamy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through his successful Web site and newsletter, he has turned his struggles into a lifelong dedication to helping others battling depression and bipolar disorder reclaim their lives. In Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, he brilliantly blends the knowledge of leading expert authorities with the experiences of his fellow ...
Seven years ago, John McManamy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through his successful Web site and newsletter, he has turned his struggles into a lifelong dedication to helping others battling depression and bipolar disorder reclaim their lives. In Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, he brilliantly blends the knowledge of leading expert authorities with the experiences of his fellow patients, as well as his own, and offers extensive information on:
With a compassionate and eloquent voice, McManamy describes his belief that depression is a wide spectrum that reaches from occasional bouts of depression to full-fledged bipolar disorder. The first book to help patients recognize this diversity of the disorder, Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder will help sufferers begin to reclaim their lives.
Getting Acquainted: Me, You, and the Spectrum We Share
I have an MD. It stands for manic depression. In January 1999, at age forty-nine, following a series of severe depressions and a lifetime of denial, I was diagnosed with manic depression's successor label, bipolar disorder, so technically my MD is now BP, which pisses me off no end. After what this illness has done to me, I feel I have every right to call myself an MD.
Screw the medical profession. What do they have on me? Well, they were smart enough to save my life, so I take it back.
My real qualifications are these: I am a former financial journalist with a law degree. My subsequent research into my illness led to me writing about depression for the Web site Suite 101.com, which in turn motivated me to start the only Internet newsletter devoted to depression and bipolar disorder, McMan's Depression and Bipolar Weekly. A year and a half after launching my newsletter, I began a Web site, McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web (mcmanweb.com), which now has more than three hundred articles.
This book draws from more than six years of research that have gone into my newsletter and Web site. It is perhaps the first book on mood disorders that attempts to integrate expert opinion from awide range of disciplines--from psychiatry and neurology and genetics to nutrition and spirituality. Equally important, this book acknowledges the wisdom and insight of those who have experienced depression and bipolar disorder firsthand. Many of these people have written to me directly. Others have posted comments on my Web site. Perhaps you are one of them.
"Please," writes Brian, "may I have my life back and start over again?."
Forget for the time being whether it's depression or bipolar disorder my readers are talking about. Simply listen.
"It's humiliating to me," says Bob, "to have to admit that there is something wrong with me mentally. I hate living this way. I have hope that I can be fixed or healed, but how can I face the people I love and apologize for my behavior and ask for forgiveness?"
I realize that there are worse things out there, but to dream of having one good day let alone a good week, without having to feel anxiety, or wanting to give up, or confusion, short memory, loss of concentration, and no patience with family. I dream and pray to feel peace and happiness every day. And fight against my illness daily.
And from Claire:
I'm a talented person with a master's degree, but I have no partner, no family, no children, no full-time job, no career, no house, etc, etc. I have given in to my diagnosis, which is tragic.
I know if I had better self-esteem, I would like and appreciate myself just the way I am. I would revel in my talents as a writer and artist, and I might even revel in the extreme moods I've had. But the depressions. Oh, the depressions. I don't know why I haven't killed myself yet. I just haven't been successful at it. Whether I commit suicide or not isn't even the issue, because I have been dead inside for many years now. Stagnant and isolated, unable to create, and alone.
Loneliness. The isolation can be worse than the illness. Eleanor writes: "I ended up losing my job, my boyfriend, making my kids feel confused and afraid. I am still trying to recover of all of it and unsure about the future." And in a similar vein, a year after his diagnosis, Kyle writes: "I only just about manage to hold a job down. I'm frustrated that my boss and my coworkers are unable to understand how I feel and, as yet, have been unable to tell my family for the same reason--a lack of comprehension. I would just be told to 'pull myself together.' For the most part I feel lonely, isolated and paranoid of other people."
Then there is the uncertainty. The knowledge that one is leaving Planet Normal for a destination unknown weighs heavily on the minds of those considering seeking help. As Leah explains: "I have my first psych appointment on Monday. I am scared, nervous, and freaked out about everything. I feel like everyone around me doesn't care what I am feeling, especially my husband. I mean, I know he cares, but when I try to discuss things with him it seems like he tunes me out, looks right through me."
Meanwhile, the fearsome visage of the beast forces many of us to look away before we are willing to face it head on. In Talia's words:
When I started going through my episodes of depression and mania, I explained it off. Even five years ago, when I attempted suicide and was committed for a week I wouldn't face it. As soon as I was free, I tried to pretend it wasn't real. That all came to a halt last Thursday. On the advice of a friend, I visited a psychiatrist he knows. He confirmed what I most feared: I am bipolar. Why did I seek help now? I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to fighting alone. I'm tired of lying to myself.
Let us not forget the innocent bystanders, the families of those with mental illness. From Anonymous:
My dad quit taking medication about five years ago. He quit cold turkey. Today he says he is Jesus Christ and calls my mom the black eye devil and wants to put her six feet underground. He wants to kill her. He prays and shouts and listens to Gospel music and turns it up as loud as it will go. My mom is out of the house now and is safe. We called 911 and they went to his house but did not take him. He needs help. Nobody will help.
Excerpted from Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder by John McManamy Copyright © 2006 by John McManamy. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted March 8, 2013
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