Former Duke University coach shares her journey with bipolar disorder in new book


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Mental health is often a topic that is considered taboo. People who struggle can feel shame, isolation and a loss of control, and those who love them often face the feeling of helplessness and confusion.

The fact is, they’re not alone — 20.6% of Americans or about 51.1 mission people experienced mental illness in 2019. That’s on in 5 adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of those, it’s estimated 2.8% or 7 million are living with bipolar disorder.

Joanne McCallie, who spent years coaching women’s college basketball at the University of Maine, Michigan State University and Duke University, knows the struggle first-hand.

Also known as Coach P, she’s won numerous championships at all three schools and was the only coach in history to win coach of the year in four different conferences. But until recently, most didn’t know that she was fighting a very personal battle with mental health and bipolar disorder.

Last July, after 13 years as head coach at Duke, McCallie announced that was leaving the program with a year left on her contract. She’s now written a book titled Secret Warrior: A Coach and Fighter, On and Off the Court. The book is set to be released nationwide on Tuesday, February 16th.

During an interview with NewsNation on Wednesday, McCallie said its important to get the stories out over stigmas and she’s wanted to write this book for a long time.

“Now I think about coaching a wider audience of people; seeing if I can help, can I make a difference can sharing a story put people at ease a little bit and allow them to come to grips with their stories,” McCallie said. “So, mental health is an amazing thing, and mental impairment is something we can all deal with, and so I hope to help in some way.”

McCallie says people should be open to discussions to help shed the stigma around mental health.

“Talk about it, reach out. Our feelings are temporary, it’s so important to get the message out that we have out bad days, there are dark days and they do not feel good at all for anyone, especially now, but there are lighter days and you have to really bring yourself together with things that you do daily, routines, the way you care for yourself and the way you surround yourself with positive people,” she said.

McCallie and her team recommend anyone in crisis or struggling with mental health, bipolar disorder or thoughts of suicide contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness for more information and assistance. You can visit their website for resources and help. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to their website.

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