One Exciting Thing and One Ironic Thing About Prozac Monologues and Psychology Today

Last week Psychology Today posted Bipolar Disorder: How to Get Correctly Diagnosed, my interview with Monica Starkman, M.D. about Prozac Monologues: A Voice from the Edge. Its tag says, The average of seven years to receive accurate diagnosis is unacceptably high.

Damn straight it is! The article is about how to improve that rate, or at least to improve the odds for the people who follow its suggestions.

This popular journal chose to place the article in its Essential Reads section on its bipolar resource page. The article's key points include:

  • Bipolar disorder, particularly Type II, is often misdiagnosed.
  • People tend to spend much more time in a depressive state and often do not recognize mild or hypomanic symptoms.
  • The chance of getting properly diagnosed is increased by using online screening tools and bringing family/friends to doctor visits.

I spent a mere (!) five years misdiagnosed with major depression, two of them taking the antidepressants that threw me into mixed episodes and made me suicidal. A random conversation on an airplane led me to the Mood Disorder Questionnaire referenced in the Psychology Today article. Taking the MDQ was the first step to discovering my bipolar and, more importantly, getting on the road to recovery.

So the exciting thing is that this information will be accessible to a larger audience than those of us who go poking around medical journals. That is my mission. Contact me on my website if I can speak to your book club, church group, or fraternal organization about mental illness and recovery.

The ironic thing? -- The photo the magazine chose to accompany the article.

This photo ticked all the boxes in the memo I sent to the cover design people for Prozac Monologues, saying,
Don't even.

In fact, this photo showed up in my Facebook feed twice last week, once illustrating my own article, the other to go with a HealthiNation post, Four Myths about Bipolar Disorder. The photo suggests the following myths:

MYTH: Bipolar disorder means having mood swings.

MYTH: The mood shifts are rapid and constant.

MYTH: The highs are extremely high, and the lows are extremely low.

MYTH: Mania is a euphoric mood.

I mean, doesn't she look like she's on a wild whipsaw of emotion? Check out the article to learn more about why these myths distort the reality of bipolar disorder.

In a nutshell, bipolar exists across a range, and shows up in many cognitive and energetic systems, not just mood. It's not just up and down. I took too much trouble to demonstrate that in Prozac Monologues to have the cover undo my labors.

I also told the cover design people that I didn't want a white woman on the cover. I didn't want anything that suggested to people of other races that this book was not about them. Because mental illness does not discriminate by race or gender. Neither should information, treatment, nor recovery.

On a personal note, the Independent Book Publishers Association recently awarded Prozac Monologues a Benjamin Franklin Award in the highly competitive category of autobiography and memoir. Of the f
ront cover design, one judge wrote: Outstanding. So creative and effective. One of the best this judge has seen among this year’s contest entries. The cover design is powerful and impactful. It will make a reader/browser/ shopper want to learn more about the book’s content. Fantastic.

I concur, and want to give credit to Leah Lococo of She Writes Press for her work. Not only did her design dodge the pitfalls of bipolar myths, but she managed to capture the story itself, the hypomanic episode that kicked off by writing the first seven monologues in eight days on a yellow notepad, filling every line, every margin, and every space between with energy and urgency.

(The judge liked the back cover even more.)

So. Yay! A good month with an expanded reach for information that is vital to people whose depression is not getting better:

It might be depression plus something more.
And you might be able to get better after all.

Plus a little bit of weirdness about misunderstandings of bipolar disorder. But that part isn't really news, is it.

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