THE UNEXAMINED life is not worth living, Socrates famously proclaimed. Socrates also gets credit, along with the Delphic Oracle, as the author of the injunction, “know thyself.” Back in 2010, I wrote:
We may have all the book knowledge in the world, all the street knowledge, but the simple fact is all the accumulated wisdom on the planet means nothing without self-knowledge.
Knowing thyself is where recovery begins. It is through self-knowledge that we convert book knowledge and personal experience into inner wisdom. Not only are we better able to face life's daily challenges, but we are better equipped to engage in our own quest for meaning and purpose.
So where do we begin?
In early 2015, I came up with the idea of The Bipolar Expert Series, consisting of six books. Later that year, I published my first book in the Series, NOT JUST UP AND DOWN. The book focuses on our moods, and in the process challenges conventional wisdom on bipolar disorder and psychiatry in general.
According to leading bipolar expert Nassir Ghaemi, Director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center:
It’s as good an education about depression and manic states, and about psychiatry in general, as I’ve seen in one place, written from a first-person perspective of someone who’s experienced what he’s writing about..
My most recent book, IN SEARCH OF OUR IDENTITY, investigates our behavior. Here, we take a close look at where mood and personality intersect, together with how our genes and environment set us up for success and failure.
My first two books, essentially, focus on the "who," as in who the hell are we. My third - on recovery - will be all about the "what," as in what can we do about it. Basically, once we become adept in the art of "knowing thyself," we can set goals and implement a range of practices and routines and tricks that work best for us.
This leads into my planned fourth book, which is all about the "why." In this book, we will take a close look the brain science, and how our genes and environment influence our behavior.
Knowing the "why" can deeply influence how we go about the "who" and "what." For instance, knowing that exercise and good diet and meditation can structurally change our brain in a positive way, with lasting benefits, may actually motivate us to take a more active role in our recovery.
My fifth book will be on treatment, which takes us back to the "what." Usually, treatment is our first concern once we've been diagnosed. But unless we have a full understanding of our own individual natures and what we are aiming at in life, any treatment discussion will be superficial and simplistic, at best.
My sixth and final book will be on relationships. The books and articles I have read on relationships are inevitably one-sided. Namely, they assume that the bipolar partner is the problematic one in the relationship. I do not dispute this, but I will also explore the issue from the perspective of how to get along with your often clueless "normal" partner.
I'm hoping to get out one book every 18 months, each about 50,000 words. This is about the length of your average self-help book, and will be easy to digest as well as timely.
Please check out my first two books in the series, and stay posted for progress on the next ones ...
About this website
I started this Website in late 2000 on the simple principle that knowledge is necessity - namely the more insight we have into our illness and behavior and available options, the more skilled we will be at managing our treatment and recovery. Over the years, the number of articles increased from 50 to more than 300,, representing by far the most comprehensive information resource for mood disorders on the web.
From 2011 to 2015, I shifted my attention to other projects. But now - 2016 - I have brought back this site with a vengeance, as part of my integration with The Bipolar Expert Series.
SIGN UP FOR MY FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER
Here is the fine print:
I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, alternative practitioner, or health or mental health professional. I am a journalist who reports research-based information and the insights of patients and loved ones, as well as a patient and loved one writing from personal experience. The articles on this site are for your guidance, but are also intended to raise questions rather than answer them. For specific answers, you need to be talking to a qualified professional.
Any ads are the result of third-party transactions via Googlel. I neither solicit ads for specific products, nor endorse specific products that appear in ads.Disclosures
I have never had any relationship with a drug company or their agents. This means: I have neither solicited nor accepted funding from the drug industry, nor consulted with them, nor spoken on their behalf, nor been a speaker at sponsored symposia, nor provided testimonials, nor ghost-written articles for them. No relationship. Not a dime.
Equally, important, I have never had relationships with any groups pushing specific agendas. I have been involved with DBSA and NAMI, whose members represent a broad spectrum of viewpoints.
What binds us all is our commitment to recovery, which allows room for spirited debate. Many of the articles on this site are strongly critical of psychiatric conventional wisdom. By the same token, I do not hesitate to show psychiatry in a positive light.
Your privacy is paramount. You’re safe here. I have no idea who you are. Should you contact me, your correspondence and contact info will be kept in strictest confidence.
When I am not writing about mental health, I am out in nature and playing my didgeridoo. This keeps me mentally and physically healthy and socially and spiritually connected.
I've dealt with bipolar pretty much all my life. The early warning signs were there as a child and a teen, growing up with a sense of being different and experiencing crushing depressions. I crashed and burned in college during the early seventies. After several lost years, I resurfaced in New Zealand, where I started a family, obtained a law degree, then embarked on a career as a financial journalist.
Everything came crashing down on me in Australia in the late eighties. It was only much later, back in the States in early 1999, following a series of suicidal depressions, that I finally sought help. With acceptance came healing. Soon after, I reinvented myself as a mental health journalist. Suddenly, my life had a sense of meaning and purpose.
Bipolar still represents a major challenge in my life. Over the years I have learned to accept the fact that I will be more depressed than I would like to be and more animated than those around me would like me to be.
There are days when I would gladly return my brain to the customer service counter of life. But for what purpose? To wake up normal, shorn of my personality?
For better or worse, this is who I am.
July 10, 2016
Follow me on the road. Check out my New Heart, New Start blog.