Things have just gone crazy. On Saturday, I headed into Manhattan with my California friend Paul for the Celebration Recovery conference. I love Manhattan. Itâ€™s hypomanic heaven. The jack hammers, the horns, the aroma of hot dogs and pizza and diesel fumes. I thrill to muscling my way onto densely crowded sidewalks to become one with the frenzy.
We set up inside and I hand Kitty Dukakis a copy of my book. Did I say a copy of my book? My first five copies arrived four days before. After all this time, all this waiting, I have finally given birth to a real live book. Itâ€™s a boy!
My book, Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, will be available in all major bookstores on Oct 17. From my table vantage point, I spot Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, president of NAMI. I swoop down with a copy of my book and present it to her with a flourish. Timing is everything. Iâ€™ve got maybe five seconds, but this is New York, where hypomanic is normal and major deals get done in way less time than that.
I have now used up my quota of three books to hand out. (It was my honor to present the first one to Fred Frese, who is a legend in mental health advocacy circles.) A little later I light upon Paul Applebaum, president of the American Psychiatric Association. Iâ€™m going to have to settle for giving him a post card (with an image of the bookâ€™s cover on one side and a promotional blurb on the other).
Dr Applebaum is in a huddle with a bunch of psychiatric bigwigs. This has to be a strict drive-by hand-out. I break into the scrum and deal my deck with the skill and flourish of the best blackjack dealer in Vegas. Iâ€™m out of there without disturbing the flow of their conversation. From a distance, I notice Dr Applebaum and his huddle-mates are glancing down at the cards. Mission accomplished.
Thankfully, what turns out to be my reality check materializes at my table. Sheâ€™s a patient. We talk. Her sad story comes out. Suddenly I forget Iâ€™m supposed to be hustling my book. I grab a chair and urge her to sit down, then dash off to find her some water. I tune out the distractions so itâ€™s just the two of us, sitting, talking.
This person â€“ letâ€™s call her Joan - is the real reason Iâ€™m here. Yes, I need to make contact with the VIPs, but they are not the people for whom I wrote my book. The individual baring her soul to me is. We wind up talking for about an hour, till the end of the conference. Joan is now feeling a bit better (talking can have that effect) and I am decidedly more grounded.
I arrive home and check my email. Three more speaking engagements. A flurry of emails follows and I have the dates and particulars locked up. Then itâ€™s back and forth with my publisher. Finally, itâ€™s off with my wife Sophy to buy a nice dress for an upcoming gala NAMI function we will be attending as part of the HealthCentral contingent.
The husbandâ€™s job in these situations is to turn the wife over to a sales clerk and find a TV with a football game. But a running joke in our marriage is that I have an impressive fashion sense and she has to listen to me. So here I am fussing over hemlines and such like Iâ€™m auditioning for Project Runway. Finally, she steps out of the dressing room a vision of loveliness. Mission accomplished.
Back home is a forwarded email message from Paul my California buddy. Larry Tye, Kitty Dukakisâ€™s co-author (the two collaborated on her new book, â€śShockâ€ť), has informed Paul that Ms Dukakis is reading my book and is impressed.
I am even more impressed by the fact that a person in Ms Dukakisâ€™ position has graciously decided to look at my book. She may read further and decide it stinks. But I sincerely hope she gets something out of it. And I am also wishing the same for Joan. This illness doesnâ€™t care whether you are the wife of a Presidential candidate or someone shunned by the world. Weâ€™re all in this together. The two of them know where to reach me. I am equally looking forward to hearing from both.
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Published On: October 12, 2006
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