MBP 18. The Clown and I - A Bipolar Memoir with Ryan Heffernan

Episode 18 - Ryan Heffernan 

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In this episode, Paul interviews Ryan Heffernan, a highly-regarded Australian author and journalist. His latest work is the Clown & I: Riding the Wildling Spirit — A Bipolar Memoir, a confronting exploration of Ryan’s magical and magnetic life with bipolar disorder. Ryan uses writing to explore the beauty of people confronting life-changing situations. Together, they talk about mental health, mind health, and bipolar disorder.

Podcast Show Notes:

  • Introduction to The Man Bits Podcast
  • Join our Facebook Community
  • Today’s episode is mental health, mind health, and bipolar disorder
  • Ryan has been a journalist for a long time
    • Ryan was 36 when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder
    • Journalism and television production are environments where bipolar people can flourish
    • After his diagnosis, Ryan did some research and that gave him a sense of relief
    • The psychiatrist asked Ryan about any instance where he has been manic and he remembered the time when he was researching about clowns - the psychiatrist fell about laughing.
    • “It’s not all bad, it’s an absolute beauty”
  • Ryan shares what a clown really means to him
    • Ryan built his life around storytelling
    • “Ultimately, I’m telling a story — I’m a storyteller”
    • Being ‘the clown’ allows Ryan to articulate the mania that comes with bipolar disorder
    • ‘The clown’ is something that resonates with people in the bipolar community
  • Bipolar 1 vs Bipolar 2
    • Bipolar 1 gets fewer mania and can sometimes become obsessed with ‘religious like’ affiliations
    • Bipolar 2 gets hyper manic
    • Managed bipolar 2 allows people to be functional
  • What gets lost in mental health is the idea that you are still a human being regardless of your disorder
  • Everybody’s journey is different from each other
  • The Middle Bits
    • What is your #1 tip in achieving kickass mind health? – “Work”
    • What fundamental piece of advice would you tell your 15-year old self? – “Go your own way”
    • What useful or inspiring book or resource that you could recommend to our
      On Writing by Charles Bukowski
    • If there’s one word to set your intention for 2018, what is that word? – “Write”
  • Ryan talks about how the mind can change through a number of manic episodes
    • Alcohol has been a pain for Ryan
  • Paul talks about Ryan’s article, Creative Love & Fatherhood Catastrophes
    • Having a mania affects Ryan’s fatherhood
    • It’s his son that knows when he’s turning “sick” or having an episode
    • His son understands that Ryan’s absences have nothing to do with his love for him
    • Kids are the most non judgemental persons in the world
  • The greatest source of empowerment for Ryan is reading people’s books
  • Ryan talks about his book, Clown & I: Riding the Wildling Spirit — A Bipolar Memoir
  • Connect with Ryan on com, Twitter and Instagram
  • Ryan is excited about the fact that he knows exactly want to do this 2018 - Write
  • Send us your comments, suggestions, or feedback at [email protected]
  • If you feel vulnerable, please go to com/support


Episode Takeaways:

  • Having a diagnosis doesn’t mean your life will go all bad — there’s always going to be something to look forward to.
  • Regardless of your diagnosis, never forget that you are still a human being.
  • We have to understand that no person is on the same journey.


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Disclosure: This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don’t let that corrupt my perspective and I don’t recommend only affiliates.

Disclaimer: Some of the content of this podcast may contain topics of a sensitive nature such as depression, anxiety and suicide. Whilst I have experience in coaching, training and remedial therapy I’m not to provide mental health advice or counselling. Therefore, engaging with the content of this podcast should not be considered a substitute to professional therapy.