Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Welcome to the Conversation!

Hello; my name is Sara.  Welcome to my blog, Conversations with our Condition. Here you will find documentation of a journey that is just about to begin. This summer, I will write a book, and I will share my progress via this blog.

I'm sure that you have plenty of questions at this point. Who am I? What is the topic of my book? Why am I writing it? What makes me think that I am qualified to write it?

I am a rising college junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am studying neurobiology and psychology, and I hope to ultimately attend medical school to become a psychiatrist. The human mind, in health and disease, fascinates me (but especially in disease).

Given this information, it shouldn't be too surprising that the book will focus on bipolar disorder, a common mental illness that afflicts between 1-6% of the population, depending on how it is defined. Bipolar is a disease of highs and lows, called manias and depressions. I have a special interest in bipolar disorder because I deal with it myself. Which brings up the topic of my qualifications...I am not yet a psychiatrist. I have not even finished undergrad. What makes me think that I can write an informed, credible book on bipolar disorder?

I have lived with this illness for nearly 9 years, since I was 12. I know what it is like to descend into deep depressions, and I've flown through thrilling hypomanias. I am not an expert on bipolar disorder. I am, however,  an expert on my own experience. This experience alone does not qualify me to write a book on bipolar, but I believe that it is a start.

I enjoy learning new things, and my experience has lead me to extensively research this disorder. After my diagnosis a year ago, I have read personal websites, self-help books and scientific research articles in an attempt to understand this condition. I have also participated in an online forum for bipolar individuals (the bipolar forum at www.psychcentral.com, an excellent resource), still seeking a greater understanding of bipolar disorder. I felt (and still feel) that I cannot learn enough about this disorder.

It was during this research quest that I realized that something was missing from the bookshelves of libraries and stores. I learned a lot about this illness simply by experiencing it and discussing it with other people who struggle with bipolar, but this type of knowledge could not be gleaned from traditional books on bipolar. That was when the idea of writing a book of my own first entered my head.

Like all books on bipolar, my book will clearly explain the phenomenon, will define depression and hypomania, will describe what is and what isn't seen in this disorder. But, it will do all of this through the stories and experiences of those who live with the illness. If I am successful, people who read my book will know more than just what bipolar disorder is. They will know what it is like to have it.

I cannot complete this project on my own. In order to portray bipolar disorder accurately, I will need wide variety of perspectives. I am currently looking for people to interview, so if you have bipolar please consider being a part of the project. If you are interested, e-mail me at: sestewart2@wisc.edu. If you know people who have bipolar disorder, or who would be interested in this project, please feel free to direct them to this blog! Thanks.


  1. Have you read "your voice inside my head" bu Anne Forrest? Very good personal account

  2. Check out every book by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist who has bipolar. They are by far the most beautifully written, informative, personal, and scientifically sound books on mental illness I've ever seen. I personally recommend Touched With Fire and An Unquiet Mind.

  3. Don't feel up for an interview right now, but feel free to follow my experiences. Might interest you because I'm a doctor managing to balance the illness with my career - http://bipolarcakeaddict.blogspot.co.uk/

  4. I've read An Unquiet Mind; it's an excellent book. I've been meaning to check out Touched With Fire. I love Kay Jamison; she is such an inspiration!

    I haven't read Your Voice Inside My Head, but I'll look into it. I want to see the bipolar experience from as many angles as possible so that I can accurately convey just how diverse this disorder is. Thanks.

    Bipolarcakeaddict, I love your name! I'll definitely check out your blog.