cover copy_edited-1 copyNOT JUST UP AND DOWN: UNDERSTANDING MOOD IN BIPOLAR DISORDER is the first book in The Bipolar Expert Series, aimed at helping you become your own expert.

My book challenges the simplistic notion that bipolar disorder is an episodic illness characterized by extreme shifts in mood from depression to mania. Instead, I  present a far more nuanced picture of bipolar as a cycling illness with the brain in perpetual motion, extremely sensitive to nature’s slightest whims.

The book  integrates expert scientific and patient wisdom, as seen through the eyes of someone who must face the daily challenge of his illness.

Among other things, you will learn how to distinguish your depressive and manic “traits” from your depressive and manic “states.” Not everything is as it seems.

You will also gain insights into:

  • The bipolar spectrum, which overlaps with depression and anxiety and personality.
  • The mysterious interplay between genes and environment and temperament.
    Your own true “normal,” which needs to be regarded as a mood episode in its own right.
  • Your own anomalous behaviors, ranging from creativity to road rage to exuberance to thinking deep.
  • *The bipolar’s dilemma, namely: Do you take a chance on exerting yourself and thus risk triggering a mood episode, or do you play it safe, only succumb to isolation and despair?

In the process of learning to “know thyself,” you will grow to take stock in yourself and become your own expert patient, in a position to manage your own recovery and set your own goals in life.

“John McManamy has produced a brilliant book, north of normal, south of crazy. It’s as good an education about depression and manic states, and about psychiatry in general, as I’ve seen in one place, written from a first-person perspective of someone who’s experienced what he’s writing about. It’s well-informed, based on careful study, explaining complex concepts simply but not simplistically, citing all the right people, and the wrong ones too (on purpose). Read it, and it’ll cure you of your average-itis.” – Nassir Ghaemi, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Mood Disorders  Program, Tufts Medical Center

And from Therese Borchard, Author of Beyond Blue:

“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!”


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