In creating Derek Winter I had to research bipolar disorder.  Derek is extremely complicated, refusing medication for his disorder while holding down a tenured position at York University in Toronto, and coddling his addiction to pot.  Here is some research I pulled from various sites:

For people with bipolar disorder, normal emotions can become a roller coaster ride of wild highs and devastating lows. Moods are driven, not by the events of life, but by a force of their own. Bipolar disorder (previously called manic-depressive illness) is a medical condition that involves changes in brain function leading to dramatic mood swings. These mood swings can be so severe that they impair normal functioning at work, at school and in relationships.

People with the disorder may be more vulnerable to emotional and physical stresses, a lack of sleep, the break-up of an important relationship, or drug and alcohol use. Changes in routine or excessive stimulation may trigger a manic episode.

Female poets have a higher risk of being bipolar.

The majority of us has suffered episodic emotional disabilities from assorted deficits, driven by anger, jealously, or low self-esteem, to name few, and we know how these short-lived moments feel.  Try to imagine these moments amplified five times or ten or hundred.  The suffering would be unbearable.  We will never really understand how someone like Derek Winter functions with bipolar disorder.  We do understand how it impacts on Mara, his wife and Lennon, his son.

In creating Derek Winter, I created an anti-monster, a man I don't hate, but find it hard to love.  Mara was his student, fell in love with him, married him and had his child.  She said he was brilliant once.  While I feel their tragedy, I don't quite feel his suffering.  I wear armor.

Here are female artists, all of whom suffered from depression and committed suicide.  While Montgomery didn't have bipolar disease like Plath or Woolf, her husband suffered from extreme manic-depression.  Pflug also had a history of depression and abuse.

LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY                                    VIRGINIA WOOLF                                                         CHRISTIANE PFLUG                                                       SYLVIA PLATH   

LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY                                    VIRGINIA WOOLF                                                         CHRISTIANE PFLUG                                                       SYLVIA PLATH