The colors of a rainbow are vibrant and each one evokes another mood or feeling when you single it out. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I’ve Lost My Damn Mind: A Manic’s Mood Chart, focuses on the author’s journey with Bi polar Disorder and dealing with the diagnosis. As he takes readers on this personal journey he includes the effect it had on his students that also received the same diagnosis. Derek’s unique presentation of creating a personal blog to enlighten readers as to his everyday moods, ramblings and feelings takes you inside the mind of someone whose thoughts and ideas are often fragmented. The interaction with someone named JP brings it all into focus as you hear his innermost thoughts and words within each section of the book. Focusing on his moods by creating a mood chart for each feeling using the colors of the rainbow is insightful. The sections are depressed, normal and elevated which can be defined as Manic.
Organized as a mood chart, he breaks the book down into three sections with differing levels of severity, which are reflected by colors of the rainbow. The first section covers depressed, then normal and finally elevated (manic). Each chapter or section deals with another color starting with Violet, Indigo, and Blue ending in Orange, which is the most severe. By using these colors readers can relate it to the high alert that we often get when there is a threat to our country. Listening to his voice, learning how he handles everyday activities and the feelings of success and failure he experiences brings this uniquely written blog into focus for all readers. Some blogs deal with recipes, writing tips, everyday things that happen in a family but this one focuses on one man’s experiences with BMD that so many have and yet refuse to face or deal with. Jobs he had to leave, vacations cut short, family trips put on hold and dealing with a mental health condition out in the open is truly remarkable. Labels are often placed on people that have these disorders and rather than cowering and hiding he is direct, open and honest in everything he reveals including his sessions with his therapist and the candid way the interact.
While Blue focuses on depressed, mild moods and the author elaborates about his shame, failures and his experiences in Key West and how these were the kind of days that helped him realize he needed to change things. As we hear JP’s voice and understand why and how Derek was struggling with the “extended recovery time associated with,” his manic episode as the remainder of this section focuses on drug deals, football season and being pressure to join Fantasy Football Leagues. Dealing with doctors and hoping that someone will work with him even though he has no insurance is a difficult feat. This brings to light his session with JP where they discuss this and the fact the some insurance companies will not take on a new client with a pre-existing disorder such as this one. Page 47 is quite interesting as he relates his feelings about himself, the effect this is having in his self-confidence and his assessment of his own behaviors. Read pages 47- 50 but focus on pages 50-51 where the author relates what JP discusses with him regarding finding a job and helpful tips from Madeline Kelly’s book: BiPolar and the Art of Rollercoaster Riding. For example: Tip number three: Don’t tell your secret. If you have not disclosed to anyone at work that you have bipolar, keep it that way. These are valuable tips when trying to get a job. The poem: I Believe is quite compelling and describes how he reacts to situations, his feelings about himself, what happens when he awakens in the middle of the night and the honest and true fears of someone
dealing with this disorder.
Reaching Green where the author relates his period of what he considers normalcy we learn more about he research that went into writing this section. Besides his blog, his experiences, his time in the Denver psych ward, trying to figure out BMD, how to handle it and control the battles within himself and with this disorder, he includes Bipolar Disorder Statistic, who is affected, how women deal with it, economic factors, suicides, children and adolescents and how it affects them. Bipolar disorder is the 6th leading cause of disability in the world. It is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the disorder. Pages 80- 83 relates information on all of the above and where to go for treatment. Included are the many sessions with JP and the important questions that both reflect on when choosing the right doctor. The final entry in this section includes Facebook, a letter to Penthouse and trust issues. The picture on page 129 sums it and he hopes will make sense to everyone in the end.
Career moves, elevated moods on the chart and now we are Yellow: which means: Elevated mild moods without impairment, able to work. This section deals with a letter titled Dear Liquor and the first time he drank or got drunk. Next he reflects on his belief that he is a member of the Knights of Templar. JP continues by stating that BMD “ can become an issue from the very start of a relationship.” He elaborates by explaining how this could affect someone when you like when a relationship is new. Introducing this to someone might not be the best way to begin. The chapter ends with a profound statement yet simple: “ I never wanted BMD to define me, to dictate what movies I may take in life, or to change me.” This affected him in many ways as he did not want to learn more about the research out there or read anything about this disorder for the first 8 months or so after his first episode with BMD. The remainder of this section elaborates on why. The final color is ORANGE. This color is like the second highest alert when things go wrong for our country and in this case elevated moderate moods, significant impairment, able to work. The last is the highest alert: RED: where his mood swings are severe, significant impairment and unable to work. Going back home at times hoping to recover was one way he dealt with BMD. In this chapter we learn about Wilma and Paul. The descriptions of these two who were in the same ward with him are quite compelling. Looking at Wilma he realized her fears, her distrust and her paranoia. Sitting next to her because there were not many others. Admitted to the suicide watch of the psych ward due to taking tranquilizers to sleep. Describing the ward, the bed, the pillows and the hospital you can visualize the scene, you can understand his feelings and his encounter with Wilma. How they bonded or ate together and the drastic change within her gave him the courage to realize he just might get through this too. More incidents are described and then getting into college, no less Stanford. Read pages 195- 197. This chapter relates many more admissions to different wards, the patients actions and JP’s description of the psych ward. Finally his description of Tippy Manic Flashback, flashing to present day and his feelings that life is not fair, everyone has problems and reciting these and other phrases over and over again. Where is he now and how is he coping with BMD you will have to read the last section and the epilogue to find out. Read the Ward: Forbidden Fruit, Judgment, Innocent Scars and Together and what finally gets him back up!
Final diagnosis” Read the Conclusion. This is one compelling blog that will take readers inside many psych wards, inside the thoughts, feelings and mind of Derek Thompson as he relates his experiences, how he deals with BMD, his sessions with JP and the final conclusion. Straightforward, honest and well researched this blog is definitely at great resource for anyone that wants to understand what happens when someone is diagnosed with BMD and how he/she can work through many of the different moods, behaviors and more. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Derek found his mind and will eventually always have moods that are Green.