“If you shed a tear when the nightmare breaks
Just remember dreams go in opposites
You’re holding on
Yes, you’re holding on to make sense of it
You realize you’re not the only one
Who’s trying to make some sense of it”
Split Enz, “Make Sense of It”, Time and Tide
Yesterday I wrote about stigma towards mental illness in regard to my relationship with my Mom.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t have as much fun writing about that painful topic as I did when I blogged about adorable Boo the Pomeranian and Gywneth Paltrow’s $300 pillows. But the topic of parental stigma has festered in my brain for some time, and after I finished writing the stigma piece, I found that writing about it helped me feel better.
Two nights ago I had a phone conversation with my Mom. We discussed the postpartum bipolar book that I’m writing. At first she said I was “obsessed” about my topic. Her choice of words really hurt me, but in retrospect I think she was oblivious that her saying “obsessed” would upset me so much. Mom has such a deep-seated stigma towards mental illness that it can’t help but affect her perspective, and I’m at the very beginning of coming to terms with that. It’s highly unlikely that she’ll magically change her views – she’s almost eighty-years-old, and while I hate sounding like a pessimist, I just don’t see it happening. So the change needs to be on my end.
Stigma aside, sometimes I feel like scrapping my book project. There are days when I feel like I’m too immersed in the bipolar world, but I can’t help feeling
obsessed so interested in it! Despite having a father with bipolar and then being diagnosed with it myself, I still haven’t completely made sense of bipolar disorder in my life. Writing about it helps me to crystalize my feelings, and in doing so I feel empowered instead of apathetic.
I want to reach other mothers who have lived through my kind of experience. At first I wasn’t sure if there were any other moms who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after childbirth. But I’ve been coming across these brave women here and there. Some of them have graciously agreed to be profiled in my book. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, I’m writing the book I would have wanted to read after I was diagnosed, and I’ve been told by some mothers that there is a need for it. That’s all the validation I need!
A chunk of my book focuses upon my decision to try living without bipolar medication. The section chronicles my carefully researched and planned year-long tapering process off bipolar medications, and what happened to me as a result of that decision. (A hint: it was a disaster.) If my cautionary tale helps even one mother avoid suicide, then I have no problem being “obsessed” with bipolar! (I don’t wish to sound histrionic, but I almost lost my life to suicide as a result of being med-free and using natural supplements/modalities.)
These days, as a research tool, I check Amazon.com regularly for new releases specifically about bipolar. There are at least one or two new books published every week. Some of these books will be great to use as references for my book, i.e. Perinatal Psychiatry by Carmine Pariente et al, Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose, and Preventing Bipolar Relapse by Dr. Ruth C. White. While other books won’t necessarily help me, they have brought a smile to my face, such as the racy cover of Deborah Kaminski’s Bipolar and Me. I never know what new listings I’ll discover in the bipolar literary genre.
Gotta love it
Sometimes our re-commitment to a project emerges from unforeseen sources.
I’ve been in need of a little fire underneath my kettle about completing my book. Lo and behold, I got fired up yesterday when a new bipolar-themed book appeared on my Kindle titled Med Free Bipolar: Thrive Naturally using the Med Free Method by Aspen Morrow. Out of curiosity, I bought Med Free Bipolar, which is free and published by the independent publisher Pottenger Press. So far I’ve read the book’s description, the first chapter, and the Recommended Products section, in which I tried one of the suggested products, Q96, that didn’t work for me.
The Amazon description page reads,
“The primary goal of Med Free Bipolar is to show that treating bipolar effectively through natural means is not only possible, but highly likely.”
I don’t know how someone in good conscience could promise such a thing, especially in writing.
In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the the book, Morrow writes, “If you are not sure if the Med Free Method bipolar edition is right for you, take the quiz…” and a link to Morrow’s blog is provided. The quiz is detailed in an attempt to screen out people who should not try the Med Free method, yet Ms. Morrow still implies that most people with bipolar can live “med free”, which I find to be contradictory and unethical.
This is obviously a sore subject for me. I’m not stating that all people with bipolar disorder must depend upon bipolar medication in order to live stable, healthy, fulfilling lives. According to my research over the past two years, a small percentage of people with bipolar can live well without medication. I’m just not one of them!
Unless I consulted a medical school graduate/bipolar disorder expert who had supervised many patients who proved they could live well without meds long-term, I would never trust following anyone’s “method”, no matter what they write is possible.
No way, no how.
The blessing in disguise is by my reading a bit of Med Free Bipolar , my resolve has been strengthened to finish writing Birth of a New Brain. Nothing will stop me from sharing my postpartum bipolar experience, as well as including other mothers’ experiences, with the world where our stories belong.
I don’t work for Big Pharma – I’ll state that for the record. I didn’t want to have to take meds and of course I’d rather not now. But my meds have saved me . Anyone who reads my book who’s on the fence about living without bipolar meds will have second and third thoughts, which is one of my goals in writing the book. I’ll also be able to sleep well at night knowing that I’m not giving people false hope and/or putting them in danger.
I know that Ms. Morrow has the best of intentions in helping others, and I’m sure she has played a part in some powerful success stories that will be discussed in her book. But I stand by what I wrote here. My goal is to be as authentic, ethical and inspiring in my writing as I possibly can. If my book can help moms make more sense of how to live well with postpartum bipolar disorder, and how to do that safely, then one of my biggest dreams will come true.