Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meet Marybeth

I strongly believe that when we endure suffering of any kind, we have an opportunity to help others through our own pain. Now, I will admit that when I’m in the middle of suffering, helping others is the last thing that’s on my mind. Sometimes, we help others and don’t even know it and other times we take steps to turn our pain into something good.

That’s why I’m so honored to introduce to you, Marybeth, a woman living with bipolar illness and raising a son who is also bipolar. I believe she has done both, her wit and charm make people smile and her talent and compassion have led to a new website and book. Her previously introduced website, Ask A Bipolar, has helped many people who are asking those tough questions about bipolar illness and the book she’s writing, Taming the Crazies, uses her experience to bring bipolar illness on the radar of society in a teen fiction.

So it’s time to meet this great gal, just pretend that you’re in a studio watching an amazing interview or just laugh at me while I pretend to be Oprah.

So Marybeth, what made you decide to create the website 
Ask A Bipolar?
Well MamaBear, I've got to be was actually your site that got the hamsters running upstairs. (Picture them driving around in little Kias through my brain.) After reading the post where Erika explained how it felt to rage, then reading everyone's comments, I was inspired. I thought to myself, "Self....wouldn't it be awesome if people could have a place to go to ask other people with bipolar questions." (It's a day of mental pictures, cuz I'm totally picturing myself in a Window's 7 commercial!) And so I got in touch with Erika and asked if she'd be interested in doing posts like that on a regular basis. She loved the idea! And thus...Ask a Bipolar.

What do you hope to accomplish through it?
I just want to help people understand this illness better. I want them to know that they aren’t alone in their suffering, whether it be because they too suffer from the illness or because they know someone else who is. I want to help educate them and let them know that someone gets it!

What’s the most common question people ask?
I would have to say diagnosis questions. How, when, why, what did you feel....they pop up all the time. 

Have there been any questions that you can’t answer?
Two actually, but we were lucky enough to find two awesome people to help us answer them!

What challenges have you faced in starting a mental health website?
The biggest challenge so far has been gaining support from the larger organizations. Some are more than happy to help, but others shy away because of the length of time we’ve been around. It’s very frustrating. 

Tell me about the book you’re writing, Taming the Crazies.
It’s a book about a sixteen year old girl struggling through life riding the coat tails of her bipolar brother while also coping with her bipolar mother. Though a break up with her boyfriend starts the ball rolling, one bad choice (or three) from her brother could possibly ruin her life forever. As it is in her nature, she takes it upon her self to right his wrongs (as some bipolar siblings tend to do) and make sure both his life and hers get back on track. The problem is, she’s pretty sick of his crap. She has to decide to just move on and suffer the consequences his actions have had on her, or continue to clean up his messes in order to get her life back. 

What made you decide to write book with bipolar characters?
Earlier this year I saw a tweet from an agent that stated she wish she saw more books about teen mental health. It was something I’d considered writing about before, but didn’t think there would be much of a market for it. So I posted on my blog asking what other people thought of this idea. The overwhelming response made the decision for me. I sat on it for a few more months and one day the story just popped into my head. 

On a personal note, what are your toughest challenges in living with a mood disorder?
Reminding myself that even though I’m on meds, I’m not always going to feel better. Sometimes it’s very frustrating to be taking my meds regularly and still feel like life has no meaning. After all, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing...shouldn’t I feel 100% better? But unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

How do you manage to do so much while you and your son face such tough challenges?
Wine...lots and lots of wine. Ok, well not THAT much wine. Actually I just happen to have an amazingly understanding husband. He helps me sort out my priorities and supports all my adventures. My son does consume much of my time, but it’s getting better...for now :) 

Do you think that your mental illness has helped you in any way?
Absolutely! I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have bipolar. I wouldn’t have made all the horrible mistakes I made and learned all the valuable lessons that I learned. I wouldn’t be nearly as good at parenting my bipolar child, and I would have never even considered starting this website!

Thank you Marybeth for visiting my site on your blog tour! If you want to hear more from Marybeth, check out her links below. Maybe you have a few questions you can ask her yourself!



  1. You are WAY too kinda MamaBear! Thanks so much for hosting me.

  2. Cute! I love the book idea. Have you seen "Next To Normal"? It's a great broadway musical about a woman/mom with bipolar disorder.