Hello again, it’s been a while. I haven’t written a blog in almost three years. I wrote a book instead, Under My Helmet – A Football Players Lifelong Battle with Bipolar Disorder is my personal story. The entire process took me just over four years. It wasn’t easy. As with most things worth doing there were many setbacks and much to learn. With the help of my literary agent, I found a ghostwriter. During one of our first conversations, he said, “Keith I am going to act like your therapist over the next year or so, tell me everything, trust me.” And I did. I had to if I wanted to tell my story properly. We spent countless hours together in person and on the phone talking. At the end of our sessions, I found myself dripping sweat because of the intensity of our conversations. He put the billions of thoughts that have been racing through my mind over the past 37 years into words. It’s nothing short of amazing and speaks to his talent as an author. In the end, he was a great therapist and became a friend. Possibly more difficult than the writing process was trying to find a publishing company. After some hard work, frustration, and perseverance I found one that believed in my story. I’m now a published author.
Writing the book didn’t just teach me about the publishing industry but I found a renewed appreciation for the people in my life. I realized (yet again) how much my wife, Jill, has been there for me. She has been through so much dealing with my illness. I truly love her for that (and countless other things). She is my rock and my soulmate. I found a renewed understanding of just how important family is. They have been so supportive and are always there for Jill and me whenever we need them. I don’t know where I would be without them. I realized what true friendship means. I have a few close-knit friends who have supported me before and after my bipolar diagnosis. I’m very fortunate to have the people around me that I do.
I learned, or re-learned, a lot about myself from writing the book as well. Resiliency has been a common theme in my life, first in football and then after my diagnosis. Somehow though, I had to re-learn how to be resilient. I realized that even with my diagnosis if I apply myself I can accomplish almost anything. Writing a book was very intimidating just like playing in the NFL was yet I can proudly say that I’m now a published author in addition to retired NFL athlete and Super Bowl winner. I’ve learned that I’m not just a football player. Playing in the NFL and being a Super Bowl champion does not define me, and I know now it never will. After my retirement and subsequent diagnosis, I often asked myself, “who am I now?” Writing the book has helped me realize I know who I am. I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, an author, a motivational speaker, the Founder and President of the 4th and Forever Foundation, and a mental health advocate. I AM also bipolar. So is that supposed to define me too? No, how I live with bipolar and how I live my life defines me.