* * *There is so much more to Dr. James Pennebaker's research than what I've presented. But if you go to his website, you can read about some of it. Today, I promised to discuss my own experiences.
As soon as I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1993, I began writing about my experiences. Part of the reason I wrote about it was to learn more about the illness, and part of it was to get the negative emotions out of my head and heart and onto paper. In this case, I became so sick so soon after taking medication, that I was dumbfounded by the experience.
And yet at the time, I felt that the only way I could deal with my debilitation caused by medication was through humor. So, I immediately started writing a new book, Honk If You're on Lithium: A Journey Toward Wellness. The following piece is from the Honk marketing plan, which I submitted to my agent, and she in turn submitted to a slew of publishers (all of whom rejected it).
"What do Buzz Aldrin, Patty Duke, Tim Burton, Sandra Cisneros, Carrie Fisher, July Collins, Francis Ford Coppola, Margot Kidder, Jessica Lange, Ben Stiller, and Brian Wilson have in common?
"They all suffer from manic depression (also called bipolar disorder) or unipolar depression, as do so many others. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 2.5 million people (they now say 5.7 million) in the United States suffer from manic depression.
"Here are some additional stats and facts (they're from the same period so they may have changed): An estimated 19 million people suffer a depressive illness each year. Between 1.5 to 3 million college students suffer from depression. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States. The clinical symptoms of unipolar depression and those of the depressed phase of manic-depressive illness are virtually identical.
"Consumers with bipolar disorder face up to ten years of coping with symptoms before getting an accurate diagnosis. Bipolar disorder results in 11 years reduction in expected life span; 20 percent of the bipolar population commits suicide.
"'The failure to adequately fund research on manic-depressive illness is one of the major scandals of American psychiatry. It is the main reason why so little is known about the causes of this disease and why better treatments are not available,' writes E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Executive Director of the Stanley Foundation Institute (one of two private foundations in the United States which funds research on bipolar mood disorder)."
to be continued)