At age 17 I was diagnosed with Bipolar. At 26, I was freed. Publishing the story of how I survived (and thrived!) a scary misdiagnosis.
It was a crisp, wet morning in the last week of October.
It had rained the night before and a chilly dampness still lingered in the air. It was cold enough to need a sweater, but I had chosen not to wear one that morning. I had just finished raising the flag with my chore partner, an obligation we fulfilled at the start of every day. We were now sitting together in the smoking cabana—a circular wooden structure, large enough to seat ten people comfortably—while I partook of a small Styrofoam cup filled with black coffee, and my first cigarette of the day. The wooden bench that I sat on was soaked with dew, and still cold from the previous night's freezing air; I felt a shiver climb up my spine. My sneakers were soaked from the trek through the rain-drenched grass, and my feet were beginning to go numb. I wiggled my toes a bit to get the blood flowing, and took another sip of coffee followed by a long, deep drag from my cigarette. As I slowly exhaled, a glowing warmth started in my chest and spread throughout my torso and out to my limbs. I reveled in the seeming magic of these simple items I held to make me feel warm and comfortable.
As I sat there, a feeling of vague uneasiness settled in the back of my mind. I knew this was not the truth. A cup of coffee and a cigarette would never give me the warmth I needed. The coldness I felt was not because I neglected to dress in weather-appropriate clothing. I was doing a stint at Dual Diagnosis Rehabilitation Center for a far more complicated problem, with a far more terrifying solution. For now, I just wanted to stick with the coffee and cigarettes.
(Larger Than Lithium, from Introduction)
Hi, my name is Max and I thank you for your interest in my work.
My story begins in 2002. At that time, I was a bright teenager in a boarding high school in Baltimore, Maryland. I was a popular and social kid who studied diligently. At the age of seventeen, like most teenagers, I began to act out. My parents and my school decided that I should be evaluated and after a short period of being considered a "lost" teen, I was diagnosed with Type I Bipolar Disorder.
The next couple of years were a whirlwind. I was admitted in and out of various facilities and placed on high levels of psychotropic drugs, strong medications used to treat psychiatric illnesses. I lived a life of fear, insecurity and a dark secret; I was mentally ill.
In the Spring of 2009, I was informally introduced to a psychiatrist at a social event. I pulled him over to the side and asked him about my case. By this point I had been treated by eight different psychiatrists over the years, having to see a different one in each state that I moved to. This new doctor was the first one to ask me if I had ever been reevaluated. I told him I had never even thought of it because I knew how dangerous it was for someone with Bipolar to go off of their medication.
A few months later, after considering this an option, I began the process of reevaluation and my Bipolar was declared a misdiagnosis. After eight long years, I ceased taking my medication. Since then, I have been living a wonderful, joyful and meaningful life for close to two years now, completely medicine free.
Although the annual numbers of how many people are misdiagnosed with a mental illness aren't clear, it does happen and it happened to me. I want to get my story out there to educate people about how careful they need to be when getting diagnosed with a mental illness. I want people to realize that a misdiagnosis of a disease, especially a mental illness, can have a potentially fatal impact. Not only can the misuse of medication cause serious complications and possibly death, but being labeled mentally ill can affect your whole life including jobs, relationships, and family. It can be nearly as dangerous as not diagnosing a disease you do have. Aside from coming very close to losing my thyroid function due to the medications I was on, I nearly lost something even greater- my self-worth.
I want to write my story for Doctors to understand what it means for someone to be diagnosed mentally ill. I want to write my story for Teachers to understand how deep their impact can be. I want to write my story for Parents to have a better understanding of how they build their children. I want to write my story for you, my eventual readers, to see how far love and support can go if given consistently and in large doses. Most of all, I want to write this book for myself so I can take my experience and help make the world a bit of a better place.
I am raising money to write, edit and publish my book in order to raise awareness about the issue of mental health misdiagnosis. Mental Health Misdiagnosis (MHM) is a truly important cause in our modern, over-medicated generation and I believe that my book can help many people on their Journey.
Backing the Project
In order to back the project all you have to do is click on the green button to the right side of the video that says "Back this project" and follow the simple directions. If you don't have an Amazon account it only takes moments to create.
The more backers the project receives, the more publicity the project will receive on Kickstarter.
Please help me reach my goal so I can get this book published!
If you're writing a book to help people, why don't you just become a counselor and share your experience with your clients?
I actually am a certified CASAC (certified alcohol and substance abuse counseling) and worked in a Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation center a few years ago. The reason I am writing the book is so I can help a larger audience of people from around the world.
The answer to that question really depends on many different variables. I put my project at $9,000 as I am taking the realistic scenario approach. The best case scenario approach is that it will only cost me a few thousand dollars to edit and typeset the book and I get picked up by a major publishing house.
We are all allowed to dream.
The realistic approach is that I will self publish the book and do an initial printing of 1,000 copies. This would be enough copies in order to cover all the rewards from the pledges and to send the book to select people who would benefit others by reading my story. The $9,000 goal was set to be able to self publish my book.
pledged of $9,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on July 31, 2012.
Jun 20, 2012 - Jul 31, 2012
Pledge $2 or more
A warm, fuzzy feeling inside because you you're a part of a great project. Additionally, your name will be listed as a Kickstarter Backer of my project!Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
Pledge $5 or more
Personal email sent to you from Max thanking you for your contribution.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $15 or more
A personal email sent to you from Max thanking you, along with an eBook copy of the Memoir.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $35 or more
A personally signed copy of the Memoir thanking you for your contribution.Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $55 or more
A personally signed copy of the Memoir along with a phone call from Max thanking you.Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $75 or more
1 backer Limited (99 of 100 left)
Two personally signed copies of the Memoir along with a phone call from Max thanking you.Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $125 or more
0 backers Limited (100 of 100 left)
Two personally signed copies of the Memoir along with a Skype session with Max.Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $545 or more
Two personally signed copies of the Memoir along with a Skype session with Max + your name published in acknowledgment in the book credits.Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $1,015 or more
Two personally signed copies of the Memoir along with a Skype session with Max + your name published in acknowledgment in the book credits + lunch with Max (travel expenses not included).Estimated delivery: Dec 2013
Pledge $5,005 or more
Two personally signed copies of the Memoir along with a Skype session with Max + your name published in acknowledgment in the book credits + an opportunity for Max to speak at your event (travel expenses not included).Estimated delivery: Dec 2013