OC author hopes to help others with bipolar disorder experience

(June 12, 2015) Caroline HeeJeon Gale wrote “My Friend Bipolar” to help cope with her own disorder and hopes her honest depiction of the illness does the same for others who are fighting similar battles.

Her collections of poems and narrations make for a short read of candid snapshots into the mind of a person struggling with bipolar disorder.

“It’s about letting people know they are not alone and to get help,” HeeJeon Gale said. “The medications, talking with a therapist and a support system will all help. Ignoring the disorder is becoming an enemy to yourself. It’s not going away, be its friend by treating and learning how to deal with it.”

Her story begins with an honest poem about the day she woke up in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt in 2007. She was a 17-year-old high school student trying to deal with her disorder, was not receiving the proper treatment and ultimately overdosed. She first showed symptoms of the disease at age 12 and continued to deal with her erratic behavior on her own for more than four years.

“To let go of the painful memories and not think about them as often, it’s important to have a support system,” HeeJeon Gale said.

Talking with therapist Pam Frank in Virginia helped HeeJeon Gale develop techniques to combat her illness. At first, it was hard for HeeJeon Gale to speak at all, she said, but after a while she started to open up about herself and painful memories. She went on to have more than 100 sessions with Frank since 2007.

She explains in her book how becoming a true friend of bipolar meant she had to let go of all sad and painful memories, which is not easy when they cling to her brain like a scar or tumor.

Her poem, “Mistakes,” can relate to anyone who has regrets in their life and “My Side” is dedicated to her mother who has been there for HeeJeon Gale throughout her entire illness.

Her older sister, Michelle, is her best friend and a huge supporter. She provided the cover illustration and a couple pictures inside the book.

“The cover shows different perspectives of myself, which is drawn in pencil, paint and watercolor,” HeeJeon Gale said. “It’s an artistic way of showing bipolar.”

HeeJeon Gale is against the happy and sad faces associated with bipolar disorder because the in-between feelings are never shown, she added.

Ironically, her sister originally drew HeeJeon Gale’s front cover artwork for a class she was taking, which touched Gale because she felt it illustrated her disorder.

HeeJeon Gale started writing her poems in 2007. About six of them were written in an English class during high school when she was dealing with the worst of her depression, and after graduating she found them lying around.

She started writing the narrations of her poems at 20 and after eight years, the book came to fruition.

In March 2014, she signed a contract with AuthorHouse Publishing, had her friends edit the copy and the book was printed in April.

HeeJeon Gale has dedicated “My Friend Bipolar” to her husband, William.

“He is a huge support,” HeeJeon Gale said. “He wasn’t in my immediate family and he did not have to support me. He helped me to heal, feel important and get over it.”

In her book, HeeJeon Gale explains how she became very depressed and had to be hospitalized shortly after they started dating. Will drove from Ocean City to Virginia frequently and continued to visit even when HeeJeon Gale refused to see him. He wrote cards, sent flowers and his persistence helped her recover faster, she said.

She hopes her story will help the more than five million people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in America.

“My main goal is to translate the book to Korean and Spanish that way it reaches more people,” HeeJeon Gale said.

She said it will take about a year to publish and her mother gave HeeJeon Gale the idea to translate in different languages.

“It would help Korean people in Korea. I can be more creative with the Korean language and a friend is helping translate to Spanish,” HeeJeon Gale said.

Her 54-page book can be purchased for $5.99 on Kindle and $24.99 in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and her publisher’s website, authorhouse.com.

“I would love to share personal advice and help with changes in their [readers] lives to get better,” said HeeJeon Gale, who lives in Ocean City. “I hope this will help and comfort them.”

Readers can contact HeeJeon Gale at myfriendbipolar@gmail.com.

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