We love a good book here at The Lily-Jo Project, and this month we’re excited to introduce you to Memoirs of a Manic-Depressant by Michelle McConnell.
This book follows the story of Maddy Tanner, a young girl who documents her daily life in a diary from ages 8 to 30. Among seemingly normal diary entries about making friends and going to school, Maddy also shares harrowing details of her life in an unstable, abusive home.
As Maddy enters young adulthood, she struggles to cope with increasingly negative thoughts. Not only that, but she also struggles to maintain relationships with others and finds herself feeling isolated, alone, and depressed. Eventually, Maddy receives a mental health diagnosis that changes her outlook on life forever.
What we love about this book is how it was inspired by real diary entries from its author, Michelle McConnell. The detailed personal accounts are admittedly uncomfortable to read. But, they are honest, and they paint an authentic narrative of what it’s actually like to struggle with bipolar disorder.
In the final section of the book, Michelle McConnell reflects on her motivations for writing by saying, “With my book, I want to rip a hole through the veil of mental illness so that others may understand and help their loved ones who may be suffering in silence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being ignored and neglected is a much worse fate for the mentally ill than having a caring friend asking questions in order to understand.”
We applaud Michelle for her bravery and commitment to eliminating the stigma of mental illness by telling her story, and we hope that our readers enjoy this exclusive interview with Michelle.
An Interview with Michelle McConnell
What was it like when you revisited your childhood diaries and notebooks for the very first time? What emotions did you experience?
“Revisiting my childhood trauma was both painful and cathartic. I sometimes cried, yelled, and laughed during my writing process. I felt anger, hurt, and frustration but in the end, I also felt healing. Writing the book has given me an outlet for all of my jumbled emotions so I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share my experiences with others.”
If you could go back in time, what’s one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self before your diagnosis?
“I would tell myself to have more self-confidence, that I was actually successful in my life without realizing it. I also would tell myself not to put too much weight in the opinions of others. I didn’t need to seek everyone’s approval.”
Do you continue to journal regularly, even now that your memoir is published? Why or why not?
“I have not journaled since before I wrote my memoir. I may start again in the future; I don’t know. I feel that I accomplished what I needed from expressing my feelings through journaling. Journaling is something I would recommend to anyone who needs their voice to be heard.”
Aside from journaling, have you utilized any other self-care techniques to manage your emotions and mental health?
“I often listen to relaxation audio files to help calm myself before going to sleep. They help me to unwind and relieve the stress from the day.”
What advice would you give to those who have family members struggling with bipolar disorder and/or depression? In your experience, what is the best way to support those who are struggling?
“The best thing to do is be honest. Ask if everything is all right with the person who may be struggling with depression. No one ever asked me if I was okay. Make sure the person understands that you will be on their side, no matter what.”
“Ask the person if he or she would like to seek medical assistance, but don’t force the issue. Being overbearing is just as dangerous as not acknowledging there is a problem. The person will most likely be defensive, so expect resistance.”
“Find books out there that discuss mental illness and share them with the person in need. Maybe reading about someone else’s struggles with bipolar and/or depression may help the person to open up. Don’t give up, and show that you still love them, no matter what.”
Memoirs of a Manic Depressant – Out Now!
Due to the adult themes portrayed in the book, we recommend it for adult readers over the age of 18.
Other Books Recommended by The Lily-Jo Project
If you enjoyed this interview, you may enjoy reading our other articles that spotlight mental health books and authors.
- Born to Be Awesome: An Interview with Writer, Illustrator, and Mental Health Advocate Samantha Babooram
About the Editor: Shelby Hale
Shelby has been with The Lily-Jo Project since October of 2018, serving as the platform’s PR and Communications Manager. Having lived in four different countries throughout her young adulthood, Shelby is passionate about the positive impact new experiences can have on mental health.
When she’s not working with The Lily-Jo Project, she supports other projects through her creative agency, Hale Marketing and Communications. If you’d like to stay updated with Shelby’s story, you can find her on Instagram and Twitter.