You and Your Moods: A New Book and a Novel Look at Bipolar, One Month Away From Publication

Patient Expert

Last week, I finished my draft to a book I am writing on bipolar. The book is to be part of a six-book series that I intend to self-publish and update regularly. The series will be called _The Bipolar Expert Serie_s. By bipolar expert, I am talking about you. My goal is to make you an expert patient.

Back in 2006, I broke new ground with my book Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder (HarperCollins). Patients are supposed to write memoirs and leave the expert stuff to the so-called experts. The experts, though, hardly possess perfect pitch in writing to patients. I decided to change that.

Nevertheless, I didn’t stray too far outside the lines. This first book in my series is different. As in Living Well, you will read a detailed scientific and clinical narrative, carefully researched and grounded in the findings of the leading experts. But this time, the expert information I present is seen through my own eyes, processed by my own experience.

The first book in the series has the working title, You and Your Moods. I plan to follow up with books on personality, recovery, brain science, treatment, and relationships.

As you would expect, the book explores depression, mania, hypomania, and anxiety in depth. To understand how our moods relate, we need to view our episodes as part of a cycling phenomenon, where nothing is standing still, where each mood exerts a gravitational pull on the other.

This is in complete contrast to “polarity,” which misses the whole point, where we mistakenly view our moods in isolation. If our moods are constantly shifting, it is vital that we are not only aware of the present, but where we may be headed next.

Every hour in the day poses a different set of challenges.

We also look at bipolar from a spectrum viewpoint, one that embraces unipolar depression. Conventional psychiatry separates mood disorders into artificial categories. But this attitude results in a large population of “hidden bipolars” who have been diagnosed with the wrong illness and given the wrong treatments.

The thing that surprised me most in writing this book - knocked me over with a feather, actually - was the realization that I needed to treat “normal,” as an episode unto itself, according it the same status as depression and mania/hypomania.

Conventional psychiatry views normal as those lucid intervals between episodes. But what if there is more to normal than the mere absence of symptoms? Suppose, for instance, normal still remains an unpleasant place - fraught with fear and uncertainty - symptoms or no symptoms.

And what if someone else’s depression or hypomania is someone else’s normal?

This forces us to consider our personalities in depth. Our moods don’t simply exist in isolation. Depressive states, for instance, emerge from depressive traits. It may be okay, for instance to think deep, but can thinking deep turn into wanting to go to sleep and never waking up?

It seemed on every page I kept coming back to normal. I had originally imagined one part of my book dedicated to “up” and another to “down,” but then I found myself adding a whole new section devoted to “normal.”

Is normal even a desirable condition? I found myself asking. True, bipolar sucks, but where do we want to be when we get better? Our doctors are happy to simply keep us out of the hospital, but what do we want out of life?

This feeds into the main theme of my book, which is to “know thyself.” This requires us to take a brutal look at ourselves. In the final analysis, normal may actually prove more frightening than depression or mania, but it is also the repository of our hopes and dreams.

Ultimately, in normal, we come to a sense of reconciliation and acceptance. This, in turn, sets the scene for recovery and healing.

I have a month of sanding and polishing my manuscript. Then I will publish You and Your Moods as an e-book that you can purchase on Amazon. I am aiming for a low price, somewhere in the three-to-five dollar range.

The reason I can keep the price down has to do with the low overheads of e-publishing, together with the fact that self-publishing eliminates a range of middlemen, including traditional publishers and retailers.

If you want to keep track of the progress of the book as we near publication, I urge you to friend me on FaceBook. We can talk there. Looking forward to it. Till then …