In 1980, Richard Melcher had his first experience with the effects of bipolar disorder. After telling a high school sweetheart that he loved her, he realized later that night he didn’t really love her at all. The shame of telling her this and the imagined repercussions from family and friends were overwhelming and caused a deep downward spiral of depression and suicidal thoughts.
He turned to journaling to corral his thoughts and finally, in college, was diagnosed with the disorder and began learning to deal with the ups and downs of his mood swings with counsel and medication.
As a published author of seven other books, Melcher wrote his current book, 55 Reflections of a Searching Skeptic – Explore the Faith Journey of a Poetic Bipolar Believer, to share his diverse writings with readers who enjoy variety, real-life stories, scripture commentary and poetry. This book has several excerpts relating to his bipolar diagnosis, including the story of his first experience with this disease.
“I hope it enlightens and encourages them to find their voices by reading my in-depth and interesting writings that express my voice, as it came about in compiling and writing this book,” he said.
Melcher, a member of All Saints Parish, is a seasoned writer for the parish bulletin, where he writes reflections on the weekly gospel readings as well as in the “Choir Corner” section.
“I found my writing voice in the process,” he said. “Also, I have a blog, ‘Corsair Connections’ in which I share articles and poetry on spirituality, social issues, bipolar memoir and many other topics. This is what 55 Reflections is all about. It is a compilation – a bouquet, of sorts – of spiritual writings, bipolar memoir and dozens of other eclectic reflections that challenge the reader to think deeply and enjoy greatly. The poetry directly aligns with the reflections and comes from 40 years of my poetry files.”
Melcher’s book contains his reflections interspersed with 64 original poems. The greatest challenge for him was taking 40 years worth of poetic expressions and incorporating them into the book along with his reflections. About 40 percent of the scriptural commentary and spiritual reflections are meant to be used for daily devotional reading.
Writing this book based on Melcher’s personal reflections was cathartic, as he exposed much of his personal values, his bipolar disorder and his views on the scriptures.
“Bipolar is such an important component to my spirituality and creative process because it has supplied me with the essence of my true self, and has led me to deepen my spiritual life, through the sufferings and triumphs of living with bipolar,” he said.
The book is designed for those 12 and older, and the 58-year-old Melcher hopes readers are enlightened and challenged.
“I cover many topics of interest which are relevant to today’s life in America and beyond,” he said. “Also, I hope it helps readers discover their voice through reading about authentic and real-life examples of a writer, such as me, who has studied the scriptures, been challenged by bipolar disorder and created numerous other articles of interest to readers.”
55 Reflections of a Searching Skeptic – Explore the Faith Journey of a Poetic Bipolar Believer and his other books are available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble bookstores. More information is available at www.55reflections.com.