Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
Why did you write “An Insider’s View of Bipolar Disease” and your memoir “Bipolar M.D.-A Doctor’s Experience with the Curses and Blessings of Bipolar Disorder?”
After 39 years of providing medical care, particularly in a tough subspecialty and with the issues above, I wanted to start a new career as an advocate for mental illness. Having dealt with bipolar disorder for over forty years I felt that I could educate and help remove the stigma by writing and speaking. Target audiences have been behavioral health professionals such as the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and age groups at risk for the first hints of mental disorders namely in the second and third decades of life when crucial life choices are made.
What does major depression feel like for you?
I have had five discrete episodes of major depression starting in my third year of medical school. I feel a kind of switch going on in my brain. I start with early morning awakening which I call morning terror. This progresses rapidly to being afraid of the coming day, hopelessness, pessimism, guilt (feeling a burden to loved ones), loss of interest in things that usually give me pleasure, agitation and ultimately difficulty with concentration and decision making.
What does mania feel like for you?
For me mania or hypomania is more difficult to realize early. It creeps up on me. I start driving faster and more aggressively, I feel omnipotent. I feel too well. My thoughts are rapid as is my speech. I delve into multiple projects at one time and don’t need much sleep. My wit is quick. I feel impatient with others to the point of feeling superior. I spend money beyond my means. In times past I was hyper-sexual. If not caught soon enough I am irritable and piss off friends, family and total strangers, the latter by being intrusive.
What is worse for you, depression or mania?
By far my five discrete episodes of bipolar depression beginning in my third year of medical school have been more terrifying than the many hypomanic (bipolar II) times sprinkled in between. The despair is invisible to others, hard to describe and associated with a kind of physical pain.
All these artists and politicians you cite—how do you know they really had these disorders?
As for artists and politicians with either major depression disorder or bipolar disorder I have read biographies of all cited in my book and in some cases memoirs and letters about all the highly accomplished people. In some cases the diagnoses were already documented and in some one can make a forensic diagnosis. These and many more that I did not mention are all discussed by Kay R. Jamison, herself bipolar, (Professor of Psychology at Johns Hopkins University) in her book “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament”.
How has medicine changed since you started in 1974 and when you retired (2012)?
In 1974 medicine was fun. As an intern, resident and fellow in the hospital setting I could make the tough decisions, act and sometimes improvise. As a community internist and nephrologist I had the autonomy. Between the rise of Corporate Medicine (the Insurer/Pharmaceutical/Government/Complex) physicians have lost autonomy and bioethics has taken a dive.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
Getting feedback from readers.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
Keep at it.
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
I write when I am inspired.
If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Benjamin Franklin Because he accomplished so much.
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
Available on look inside the book on Amazon
**INTERVIEWER’S NOTE** This post has been updated from it’s original posting, with added information about the doctor and his work.