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Leading with Courage: A General’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder

Updated: Jun 30

Imagine you were given the superpower of endless energy. You could study all night, run for hours, always sparkle as the life of the party. Now, imagine that was all ripped away from you in a moment. Imagine that, without warning, you became so depressed it was like the weight of an entire ocean being dropped on your head.


General Gregg Martin knows this experience only too well, struggling with bipolar disorder for years before receiving a diagnosis. As he explains in his recently published memoir, Bipolar General: My Forever War with Mental Illness, what started off as hyperthymia (an exceptionally energetic disposition that often leads to full-blown mania) was actually an asset: from the beginning of his career, he was known as “the wild man,” rapidly rising through the ranks and completing two masters degrees and a PhD at MIT in record time.


Thanks to his engineering talents, Gregg was chosen to lead thousands of combat engineers who paved the way for the Army during the Iraq War. He was considered a marvel in the field, his mind always focused, his body moving with endless energy. But it was the stressors of the war that critically altered his body chemistry, sending him whipsawing between destructive mania and suicidal depression. By the time he became president of the National Defense University, answering directly to Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his behavior was so erratic that he was forced to retire from the military at age fifty-eight.


Today, Gregg is a devoted mental health advocate and public speaker dedicated to providing education and fighting the stigma of mental illness. You can learn more about his advocacy at: 


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About Jessica Lauren Walton: Jessica is a communications strategist, video producer, and writer in the U.S. defense sector. She has written articles on a range of security and mental health topics and conducted interviews with military leadership, CIA officers, law enforcement, psychologists, filmmakers, and more. Jessica recently completed her memoir about her experience as an American woman struggling with mental illness while trying to get into Israeli intelligence.

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1 Comment

Well done with the interview. General Martin is an amazing genius!

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