Interview with Dr. Patrick Mbaya, author of My Brain is Out of Control





Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.


What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Answer – 1 What I went through was very difficult for me, and for my family, and although I was writing down what I was going through during my illness, it took me four years before I was comfortable enough to share my story by writing the book.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, can you share it?

Answer – 2 Yes, I have.


My mood swings got worse. I was feeling very low, particularly in the morning to early afternoon. I was very emotional, and I found myself crying without a moment’s notice.  My confidence was very low and I was feeling very negative, and even though I was confident I did not have HIV, I was convinced (especially in the mornings) that the test they did will be positive and I was a disgrace to my family. All my symptoms were worse in the morning.

I remember the first morning I was crying, and a very nice female staff nurse came to console me. She said,” don’t cry, your wife will be back from New York”. Clearly, she thought I was crying because I was missing my wife who was still in New York at the time, but was obviously unaware that I couldn’t control my emotions. My daughter had rung my wife and told her it wasn’t Bell’s Palsy, but something more serious, so she was desperately trying to get back home. She wanted to speak to me on the phone, but I couldn’t, as my speech by now had deteriorated so much. Ironically, in the first week of my illness, she suggested that I should have a CT brain scan but I said “don’t be neurotic dear! ”

What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

Answer – 3 To be aware that serious illnesses like neurological, and psychiatric like depression can affect anyone including doctors like myself, who treat these illnesses.

Who or what is the inspiration for the book?

Answer – 4 To share my personal story. What I went through was very difficult for me, and for my family, and although I was writing down what I was going through during my illness, it took me four years before I was comfortable enough to share my story by writing the book.

I also felt it is important for doctors to see things from the patient’s perspective, and also to give hope to people with depression or brain disorders, and their families.

Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

Answer – 5 Dr Stephen Stahl is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, he is my mentor. He has written a lot of books on chemical changes in the emotional (limbic) brain and how medication like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic, etc work (psychopharmacology). Despite this been a very complex subject, his books are easy to understand, and have helped psychiatrists throughout the world.

He lectures on these subjects. He is enthusiastic, his lectures are informative, and even entertaining, making this difficult subject easy to understand.

He kindly gave his permission, for me to use some of the diagrams from one of his books, in “My Brain is Out of Control.”

I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?

Answer – 6. Yes it is true, as you can see how good writers engage their readers.

Yes, Dr Stephen Stahl (answer 5 above).

Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.

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