Too Bright to Hear Too Loud To See is finally out—available at a bookstore (or online book dealer) near you. But you’re probably not going to find it stacked prominently in a pile at the front of the store with the holiday bestsellers still lingering on those tables. It’s not that kind of book. I’ve been asked in several interviews recently whether the book is autobiographical. The answer is both yes and no. The plot and characters are largely fictitious—though like most writers I stole elements, details, scenes from my own life—but what the protagonist, Greyson Todd experiences as he tumbles in and out of mania and depression, that is one hundred percent me. I wrote many of those passages as I was experiencing them—agitated, racing, paranoid even psychotic mania and soul crushing depression.
In this way the book is very much a chronicle of how it feels to have this illness. And while I have been told it’s not an easy read, it is my hope that it will bring people closer to the experience of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder. It is in some sense at least, a literal cry for help.
Because unless you’re one of the lucky ones who responds to lithium, there are few really good treatments for bipolar disorder. They all come with huge downsides like cognitive impairment and sedation among many other side effects. And much of the time our doctors are just guessing at what drug might work. For me most didn’t work at all. We need research. We need better treatment options. Research into mental illness is 40 years behind the research into breast cancer. We have to do something about that. I didn’t set out to write Too Bright To Hear To Loud To See as a vehicle for showing how much this illness hurts—not consciously anyway. But I’ve been told over and over that’s what I’ve done. Which is fine by me. Because maybe if more people know how much it hurts, the silence and inaction will cease. There’s really no excuse for bipolar disorder being the incredibly difficult-to-treat mystery that it is.
Long time no blog. I’m going to do my best to post on a regular basis from now on.
So last month I was at the Book Expo of America signing galleys of my book, the third and final title of which is TOO BRIGHT TO HEAR TOO LOUD TOO SEE (origin of that will be the subject of my next post) and I got a lot of questions from people about how I was able to really get inside the head of someone with bipolar disorder. It’s one thing to blog about it from your desk at home, not knowing who may or may not read it. But it’s quite another to look a total stranger—say a librarian from Indiana—in the face and say ” I know because I have it.” And so I’m somewhat ashamed to say the closest I came was telling them that it “runs in my family.” Not a lie. Not the whole truth.
I will tell the whole truth. I hope to be able to write about the whole truth in a number of forums before the book comes out. To help chip away at the stigma and the shame. But it doesn’t come tripping off my tongue as easily as I hoped it would. And jerks like the one in this video I stumbled upon on You Tube certainly don’t help. Now, clearly he’s probably just some wacko, but nearly 2000 people have watched this and the man has over 700 subscribers. ..That’s far too much exposure as far as I’m concerned. Let me know what you think of this Bozo.
So the Random House distribution guys didn’t like the title of my book. Too feminine. And esoteric. They said. So I put out a call for suggestions and the response has been amazing. Thank you all. The title of the book formerly known as Electric Madeleine is now AFTERSHOCKS. Still coming to a book store or e-reader near you, December 2012.
Happy New Year everyone. Sorry for the long absence. The last few weeks have been a bit of a bummer as it seems Amantadine, the wonder drug that finally stopped the “who-am-I-today?” syndrome is, after four months, suddenly producing bizzarro side effects that mimic an auto-immune disease.You know, if it’s not one thing…The treatment for the side effects? Steroids–which make normal people edgy and those of us with bipolar disorder, manic. So far I’m opting for the swollen feet, purple fingers and lack of circulation—not ideal but far better than the alternative.
Tell someone you have bipolar disorder and they will probably never look at you in the same way again. Even the most compassionate, well-meaning people tend to be overwhelmed by the word. For some people—again, particularly some doctors I’ve seen— It wipes clean the rest of your resume, your education, your accomplishments and reduces you to one word. At the very least it puts that word at the top of the list: bipolar, writer, mother. Your disorder precedes you. Which is an odd feeling. And can make you slightly paranoid. So am I scared about telling everyone I have bipolar disorder? Absolutely. I will never be seen through the same lens again. But I hid so much of my life for the last seven years because I was too sick to do otherwise that now I’m done hiding. And to say it out loud feels like a badge of survival.
I got the bipolar diagnosis when I was 32. Before that I was just swallowing prozac by the handful for depression and to try to recreate the initial high I felt immediately after taking it the first time when I was in my mid-twenties. Bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety—it all runs in my family like water through a broken faucet. After much trial and error, I found a complicated cocktail of drugs that worked–for the most part.
Until I hit the ripe old age of 39. That’s when everything went to hell. The medication stopped working and what would become a seven year marathon of doctors, insane mood swings, drug trials, side effects, neurological “events” and inexplicable physical symptoms began. I didn’t think I’d live to tell the tale, but I’m here. At least for today.
Are you feeling crazed? Or maybe you’re just having a crazy day. Or perhaps you are certifiable. If any or all apply, this blog is the place for you—to rant, to rave, to vent.
I, myself am, and/or have been all three of the above. I suppose I’m outing myself in front of the whole internet. Standing before you. Stripped bare. I write what I know and I know bipolar disorder. From the inside out. Ultra, ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder, which, after seven years and an astounding amount of work on the part of some brilliant doctors is finally under control. But the story of those seven years—let’s just say I could write a book.
What’s your story?