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Bipolar Milwaukee author uses novel to promote mental health awareness

Posted: 6:08 AM, May 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-14 08:35:37-04
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A local author who recently saw his first novel published said channeling a mental illness into creativity is what helped him write the book.

Bill Zaferos wrote the novel, "Poison Pen," in 2000.

At the time, he didn't know he was bipolar. His condition was going untreated.

"One in four people have mental illness in America, and I'm part of that one in four," Zaferos said. "It manifested itself in me in just writing obsessively for three months."

He said one reason it took him so long to begin treatment through therapy and medication was that he was embarrassed to admit he might be mentally ill.

"If you tell people you're mentally ill, you can never have a bad day again," Zaferos said. "Because if you do, the line is always, 'Somebody's off their medicines.' Which is unfair."

"A lot of people are ashamed about it, and that's wrong," he said.

Zaferos' manuscript sat on a shelf for almost two decades before he mustered up the courage to approach a publisher about it last year.

The novel will be officially released Wednesday at an event at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

At the book launch, Zaferos will read from the novel and explain how he channeled his mental illness into creativity.

All proceeds from tickets, which can be purchased here, will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Milwaukee.

"Not everybody's going to write a book. But they can work to feel more comfortable about having a mental illness and about how to deal with it. So it's just really important to remove the stigma." — author Bill Zaferos

"I want to do something to help them because they're doing a lot to help other people," Zaferos said.

Zaferos said he hopes the event and the story behind his book will bring awareness to mental illness and break stigmas that often make it taboo to talk about.

"Not everybody's going to write a book," he said. "But they can work to feel more comfortable about having a mental illness and about how to deal with it. So it's just really important to remove the stigma."