Friday, February 13, 2015

Of Two Minds

You'll forgive me if I'm out of breath. I feel like I just ran the literary equivalent of a marathon.

Since September, I've written a 120,000-word memoir (and a second book, a 40,000-word mental health how-to book) and shepherded the output through the neverending, Bataan Death March-like book production process (which I've been writing about at, and today, finally, the results are live. (I'm half dead, but the books are live!)

ISBN 1507753926 (order here).
Please, if you have a moment, take a trip over to and help yourself to some of the free sample chapters from Of Two Minds, the 384-page memoir in which I talk about my own past problems with bipolar illness (and alcohol abuse) and my wife's ongoing nightmare with schizophrenia. This is an unusual book, because of how it developed: I wanted to capture some of the science behind what we think we know about mental illness, drugs, treatment options, etc., but I also wanted to capture the reality of living with (and trying to get help for) mental illness. So when I began to write, I started with no outline, no plan, no rules, no structure; I just free-wrote on a topic (depression) and let the words take me wherever I needed to go. If I needed to talk about science, I talked about science; if I needed to cite a scientific paper, I inserted a footnote. If I needed to tell a personal story, I told a personal story. It turns out, for each major topic (depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, suicide, etc.) my wife and I had deeply relevant personal stories to tell. I wove those (and the story of our meeting and marrying) into the narrative.

Before long, the manuscript was over 100,000 words (with 300 footnotes) and I realized this crazy style of giving scientific background info interwoven with deeply personal, often poignant narratives was actually working; this thing was really turning into a book. (I refused to believe it for the first six weeks.) It's the kind of tome that isn't exactly smiled upon by major publishers these days, because mental illness memoirs are seen as a "downer" (and thus to be avoided) unless you won a Nobel Prize or made a major motion picture, or you have a famous father, or your uncle discovered gravy, or whatever. I'm none of that, and this isn't a fairy tale. Of Two Minds is a gritty, real-world memoir that just happens to contain a lot of interesting science. (You can see the Index and TOC, plus 30,000 words' worth of sample chapters, at right now.)

ISBN 1507847262 (order here).
As I was writing Of Two Minds, I kept kicking myself for not including more tips for maintaining wellness (avoiding depression and anxiety), but the tips I had in mind—and there were many—just didn't fit into a chapter or an appendix of their own. There was too much material, and it finally dawned on me, in a Forrest Gump moment, that really, the recovery tips constituted a separate book. So I gathered my best anti-depression/anti-anxiety tips into a separate work (of "only" 40,000 words) called Hack Your Depression. (Read about it, and get free sample chapters, right here.) I'll talk more about that book some other time. I wrote it because antidepressants don't work for everyone, and therapy (beyond a point) doesn't work for everyone; yet there are things you can do to improve your recovery odds, stuff that's not often written about.

That's not to say Of Two Minds isn't packed with practical advice (for patients, care-givers, and clinicians). It is. It's just that the topics covered in Hack Your Depression deserve to "live under their own roof," so to speak.

I've tried to keep the prices of both books low, rather than play games with pricing (e.g., set the price high so you can discount it later). Compared to an hour of therapy, the books are a bargain. The 120,000-word colossus is $24.95 and its smaller brother is $12.95. When I regain my sanity, I'll probably raise both of those prices, but that won't happen any time soon, don't worry.

In the meantime: Please head over to to claim your free, unlocked PDF samples of the books. And let me know what you think. My e-mail address is in the Introduction to Of Two Minds, which you can download here.

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☙ ❧

Before I forget, I want to thank the following crazy  great people for retweeting me in the last 24 hours:

I hope I didn't leave anyone out. If so, I'll get you next time!