bp Magazine for Bipolar

Family Matters

At the time, it all made perfect sense to Zack McDermott.

After stepping outside his apartment one October afternoon in 2009, he immediately knew that cameras were rolling—and he was starring in a reality show being filmed on the streets of New York City’s East Village. He was living a dream come true: auditioning for a TV pilot based on his comedy stand-up act.

In fact, the 26-year-old attorney was in the depths of his first psychotic episode. For nearly 12 hours, he did his best to be entertaining, at least in his own mind. Clad only in shorts, his feet bare, he maneuvered through crushing New York City traffic and a swanky lower Manhattan bar. He cavorted through a dog park on all fours. His grand finale concluded with him sobbing on a dingy subway platform.

Cut to the final scene: McDermott inside an ambulance and the sound of the radio dispatch: “Intake available at Bellevue”—the venerable public hospital legendary for its psychiatric ward.

During his 10 days as an inpatient, Mc-Dermott received a bipolar I diagnosis and began to document his experiences. Those notes became the basis for an unexpectedly successful memoir: , now out in paperback.

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