Surviving Bipolar Disorder: an Author Speaks
Kathy reads from Walks On The Margins at Colorado College
My son Max and I are not just surviving bipolar disorder, we are healing after years of struggle and trauma. He was diagnosed with Bipolar I when he was twenty and a junior in college and I found myself fighting to help him survive and keep my family functioning. Max and I were, and still are, partners in illness; we have suffered, survived, and found ways to recover together. Sometimes our roads diverged, as he took the path that lead to mania and psychosis, and I sought the one that might lead him back to health.
Unable to find help in a mental health care system that is often dysfunctional, I discovered the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). There I found other families, so many battling the same issues we were. I became active in advocacy for those with mental illness and eventually became the President of the Board of the affiliate. As a writer, my advocacy inevitably involved writing about the issues. And I wanted to tell Max’s story so that people would understand the difficulties of having this illness, made worse by stigma, and that one can not only survive but flourish. But I wouldn’t do it without Max. Though reliving the years of illness would be painful, Max agreed. The result is a memoir about our joint and separate struggles entitled, Walks on the Margins: A Story of Bipolar Illness.