Author battling mental illness turns breakdown into encourag - WNCT

Author battling mental illness turns breakdown into encouraging book

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He went from a full-blown breakdown, to overcoming the odds.

Living with manic depression can be harder than many of us can imagine, but one man is using his experiences to help others who fighting mental illness.

Alex Mckeithen stopped by East Carolina University to share his true story.

"I notice nothing of the world around me. I'm walking on a cloud...weightless," said Mckeithen as he read a part from his book.

He battles with manic depression, now diagnosed as bi-polar disorder.

"I also think bi polar is misrepresented in a lot of negative ways like silver linings playbook, with Bradley Cooper wearing a trash bag immediately out of the hospital. That's just not a good portrayal," Mckeithen joked.

People with this illness can often struggle with manic episodes, but Mckeithen's stands out…literally.

He was in Paris studying art when his mind reached the breaking point.

He believed he was a seventh angel, called to warn the public about the end of times.

This led him on a run through the streets of Paris ...completely naked.

"I don't' really worry about the nudity in the book. I had to overcome that in order to write it," said Mckeithen.

He shared his experience in his book, The Seventh Angel. It talks about his struggles, his arrest, his treatment, and, with the help of doctors, his triumph.

He says a major part of his recovery was support from groups like NAMI, the National Alliance on mental Illness.

"Having a support system and having the people who have a personal connection to it, whether it's themselves suffering or family or a friend, it really brings some true passion to the group," explained Alex Richani, former president of East Carolina University's chapter of NAMI. It's been around since 2011.

"The vast majority of mental health cases are diagnosed in this age group," said Richani.

"There are other people who share the same problems and illnesses and it's not the end," said Mckeithen.

The East Carolina NAMI group and others are open to anyone who could use support, dealing with mental illness.

You can learn more about NAMI ECU here. You can learn more about The Seventh Angel here.

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