Therese Borchard likes my new book …

November 7, 2015 at 10:55 am


Therese is the acclaimed author of Beyond Blue, founder ofProject Beyond Blue, and is my all-time favorite blogger. You can follow her Sanity Break blog on Everyday Health. Yesterday, she posted on Amazon, a customer review of my book. Here is her review in full:

I have known John personally and respected his work for ten years. We were among the first mental-health bloggers out there going public with our stories and possibly the only two people at the time that were interjecting a sense of humor into this often somber subject matter. In his past writings and with this book, he has done a masterful job of helping people become experts of their illness–educating them about the history of psychiatry, especially the development of diagnoses included in all versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–so that they can be a well-informed participant in their recovery and not be afraid to think for themselves. “My goal in this book is to help make you an expert patient,” he writes in the first chapter, because “patients who take the lead in learning about their illness and in managing their own recovery fare far better than those who simply wait for things to happen.”

John is a perfect guide to help persons navigate the messy terrain of bipolar disorder because not only does he suffer from the illness himself, but he has a wealth of knowledge tucked away in his noggin. He has studied virtually every classic text on psychiatry and mood disorders—quoting a variety of experts dating back to Hippocrates—and has attended (and sometimes presented at) practically every conference held by the American Psychiatric Association and other professional psychiatric organizations.

All of the chapters contain entertaining anecdotes, interesting studies, and sound advice, but I especially loved what he had to say about normal, because going there is brave—what we know is extremely muddled, unclear, confusing. As John rightly points out, our neat diagnoses confer on us a sense of absolution: It was my depression that kept me from remembering your birthday, it wasn’t me! My mania took over when I hit on your girlfriend, it’s not my fault! We see our depression and mania as entitles apart from ourselves, even giving them names like “black dog” (Winston Churchill). A sense of detachment benefits us. John writes:

“Normal” doesn’t let us off the hook so easily. It’s personal, it’s painful. We have to come to terms with ourselves. In the long run, though, our enquiry is the source of our salvation. Normal, as we have seen, can be an extremely frightening place. But it is also the repository of all that is good inside us, together with all our hopes and dreams.

I appreciate his insights right now because I’m starting to reevaluate some of the beliefs I’ve held about my illness for 25 years … like maybe several of those moments I categorized as “depressed” or “manic” were just me. I am a deep thinker that tends to reflect (okay, obsess) on the suffering of the world. Maybe that’s my “normal” and not all “illness.” My playfulness is also who I am, not necessarily hypomania.

This is such a valuable book. Not only for people who have the diagnosis of bipolar, but for those who want to understand a bit more about psychiatry, the complexity of mood disorders, or how to understand a loved one with interesting brain wiring. John is ahead of his time in presenting a balanced, well-researched information in a matter that is entertaining. A true writer, his words are easily comprehended — especially on such a sophisticated subject matter.

I applaud John for this amazing work of art!


Right now, I am offering the book to readers for $2.99. This is both a thank you for those who have stayed with me over the years, as well my effort to get the word out. In January the price will go up, but I am still committed to keeping it affordable – at $4.99. Anyway, you start reading it in few minutes by clicking the link, which will take you to the Amazon site.

Purchase now.