Lizabeth Schuch had her first manic episode when she was a senior in high school. After friends noticed her unfamiliar behavior, she met with a psychiatrist. "I was diagnosed within 10 minutes," Schuch says. "He said I was a text book case of manic depressive, which today is more known as bipolar." Schuch was hospitalized for a month and as she recalls, it "was pretty traumatic, as you can imagine."
From 1984 to 1990, Schuch was hospitalized another three times. During these traumatic experiences, Schuch decided she wanted to help others. "I just knew someday I'd be able to help people because of this illness, and that I was going to be able to make a difference."
For the last 20 years, she has been working on a memoir. When she began, she wrote about experiencing manic episodes and how she maintained her life between those periods, but the story didn't feel complete. Then, in 2000, she experienced her first depression and Schuch returned to the book. "I realized now I could write the book to the full gamut of the illness — both the manias and the depressions," says Schuch. "And now I was ready."
She finished her first draft in about a year and is now self-publishing her book, "More Than Bipolar: A Memoir of Acceptance and Hope." It will be out in November. When Schuch is asked about her goal for the book, she responds, "I want it to help to reduce the fear that creates the stigma and the discrimination of all people with mental illness, not just with bipolar disorder."
Along with completing the book, another milestone might be in Schuch's future. Her boyfriend of five years, Jim Talley, reminds Schuch, "One of the things that I told you years ago is that we would get married when you finished the book." With it less than a month away from being published, Talley asks Schuch: "So, how do you see our relationship going forward?"
This interview was recorded in Arlington, Va. at StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. To find out more information and to reserve a timeslot to tell your own story at the StoryCorps MobileBooth, visit StoryCorps.org.
[Music: "Try a Little Tenderness" by Toots Thielemans from Blues Pour Filter - Jazz in Paris / "Pick Yourself Up" by Benny Carter from Cosmopolite: The Oscar Peterson Verve Sessions]