At Your Local Bookstore: Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Drop whatever you’re doing.

    Okay, finish reading this blog, first. My book comes out today. Sometime on Monday, copies began arriving in all the major bookstores, including the one in your neighborhood. In some stores, the book may have gone straight from delivery truck to display shelf, but the usual chain of events includes an overnighter in a back room.

    No, you won’t find me on the tables in the front. You will probably have to head toward the back of the store, in either the health or self-help or psychology sections. If I’m lucky, the book will be face out on the shelf, where you can easily spot it. Otherwise, let’s hope you’re good at reading spines with your head tilted sideways.
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    You may find it next to “Bipolar for Dummies” or “Depression for Dummies.” By all means, check out the Dummies books. They are very useful in their own right. But my book is not for dummies. Being a dummy about our illness will only take you so far. In my book, I put it this way:

    “Blind faith is your worst enemy. Whether it's the pharmaceutical industry, the psychiatric and talking therapy professions, or natural health advocates, all are guilty of overselling their products and services and downplaying their own failings. The negative campaigning that goes on would put a politician to shame.

    “Yes, we need to listen to the professionals who treat us, but they also need to listen to us. They are the ones with the specialist knowledge, but we are the ones living in our own skins with access to the complete picture.

    “It is my fervent belief that learning about our illness equates to better outcomes. ‘Knowledge is necessity,’ has been my mission since Day One of my Newsletter and Website, and it applies with equal force to this book. The more we know, the better we will understand our illness and the smarter the choices we will make in its management, in partnership with our treating professionals. Patients who are motivated to build partnerships with their doctors have a better chance of achieving a successful outcome. An editorial in the March 27, 2004 British Medical Journal reports that two Stanford University studies found that so-called "expert patients" with chronic diseases felt better and had 42 to 44 percent fewer doctor visits than the other patients in the studies.”

    Intriguingly, when HealthCentral first contacted me to blog here at BipolarConnect, they told me they were looking for an “expert patient’s” perspective. They pushed all my right buttons.
    Patients are supposed to stick to writing memoirs and polemics. Mine is the first book on bipolar or depression to cover the diagnostic and clinical and scientific issues from the patient’s perspective. The book includes the knowledge of experts who are leading psychiatry in a new direction, plus the wisdom and insight of about 200 patients, as well as some of my own experiences.

  • When I finished writing the book in 2005, I had serious doubts I would even find a publisher. My low point came that summer when I was at a psychiatric conference. I got talking to a psychiatrist friend of mine who publishes an excellent website. He told me his good news: A major publisher had checked out his website and offered him a book contract.
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    I pulled myself from under the two tons of bricks that had just landed on my head. It’s not fair! was my first reaction. There was no way that publisher could have viewed his site without viewing mine. Our sites are quite different, but in quality of content there is no separation. We are both huge fans of one another. In each other’s eyes, we are both equal. But in the publisher’s eyes, his MD (for doctor of medicine) trumped my MD (for manic depression).

    Somehow, I managed to contort my face into a smile and offer my congratulations. But I left the conference feeling like a nothing, a nobody. The brutal reality had struck home. I was living in a world of separate and unequal. Doctors at the front of the bus, patients in back. For me to get published, I would have to become a Jackie Robinson and hope for a miracle.

    Fortunately, I had a friend who believed in me, Janice Papolos, co-author of “The Bipolar Child.” Thanks to her connections, my manuscript landed on the desk of the one editor in New York who instantly “got it,” Sarah Durand at HarperCollins. She had pioneered the LIVING WELL series of books, many of them written by patients. If I were to be Jackie Robinson, she would be my Branch Rickey. A month or so after the conference she emailed me saying a contract was on the way.

    I had broken the barrier. For the first time in the history of this illness, a patient was going to publish a book on the doctor issues.

    So here I am, a copy of my book in my hand, thousands more in the book stores. No, I won’t ask you to drop whatever you’re doing right now, particularly if you are holding a baby. But when you get a chance, please head to your local book store and have a look at my book. I’m not asking you to buy it. Just pick it up and hold it. Imagine me at home holding my copy. Imagine what I had to go through to get to today. Now you know how I feel.


    John McManamy’s LIVING WELL WITH DEPRESSION AND BIPOLAR DISORDER (Harper Collins) is available today (Oct 17) in all major book stores. You can order it on ( For more info, check out

Published On: October 17, 2006