What's in Your Identity? The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • This is a rather convoluted Question of the Week. Bear with me. First my news:


    Within the next ten days I will be self-publishing a new book as an Amazon Kindle edition. It’s a very straightforward title: Raccoons Respect My Piss But Watch Out For Skunks: My Funny Life on a Planet Not of My Choosing That I Now - Sort of, Maybe, Not Really, Well Okay - Call Home.


    Okay, okay - I know I need to make the title longer.


    I spent the last two weeks salvaging the wreck of a book project I abandoned last year. Basically, I left behind the hulk and took away the bright shiny bits. What came out of it was a short and sweet manuscript dealing with the human comedy that is my life. Once I realized I was doing a funny book - not a book on recovery, not a book on the fine points of brain science - the pieces seemed to fall into place with very little effort on my part. Everything worked, and it held together as a whole.

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    The catch: Who would publish such a quirky book?


    A funny thing happened last year. Everyone now owns either a Kindle or an iPad or is about to get one. If you own a smart phone, you can download a Kindle app. Same with desktops and laptops. Then I discovered how easy it is to self-publish directly to Amazon as a Kindle edition.


    Cut the publisher right out of it. Fortunately, I have a well-trafficked website, mcmanweb.com, where readers can find me. 


    One of my friends advised me that no one reads books from cover-to-cover. A short book, she said. Mine is 23,000 words, about a third to half the size of a regular book. A traditional publisher would find ways of artificially bulking it up (large font, wide margins, etc) and charge twelve dollars for the thing. As the author, I would receive about one dollar per sale.


    I’m going to charge $3.99 (I may go up or down one dollar). I get to keep most of what I earn and you get value for your money. Everyone wins.


    I’m getting to the punch line. Ready? Drum roll: My first mention of the word, “bipolar,” occurs in Chapter 20, and only in the context of crazy vs normal. Then, no more mention for the rest of the book


    Holy crap! I could only think. I wrote a highly personal book - the world as seen through my eyes, as experienced through my brain - with only the briefest of references to my illness. What gives?


    It’s complicated. Bipolar is part of what has turned me into an outsider. But it is the outsider aspect of me by which I choose to identify myself, not the bipolar. Of all things, being an outsider connects me to the world. We’re all outsiders, whether we realize it or not. We can all identify.


    The bipolar identity, on the other hand, has a way of isolating ourselves from humanity, cutting us off. Yes, I’m bipolar and proud, but ... Big but.


    So, here I am - just plain me. No longer wearing my label inside-out. It’s a good feeling.


    Question: What’s in your identity?


    Things to keep in mind: We’re all at different stages in our journey. In order to move out of denial, many of us need to identify as bipolar. Likewise, to continue our personal growth, many of us need to move beyond our diagnosis. To make things complicated, the journey is neither linear nor sequential.


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    Please feel free to share your story. Comments below ... 


Published On: March 03, 2012