Author D. Thomas Bixby survived a horrendous childhood, served in Vietnam during the peak of the war and returned home suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. His poignant memoir about his illness and recovery, CRAZY ME… How I Lost Reality and Found Myself, was described by the Mensa Bulletin as “scarier than any horror novel you may read,” and at the same time “hopeful” and “so powerful it can be life changing.”
Trapped in a deep, profound and seemingly endless despair, Bixby’s illness was exacerbated by less than optimal psychiatric care. He was finally helped by a compassionate and gifted therapist who, herself, had had a breakdown. Tom believes her willingness to share about her own schizophrenia was the key to his recovery and that continues to motivate him to share openly and candidly about his struggles. He volunteers with veterans, recovering alcoholics and the mentally ill.
While in his own recovery, Bixby earned a B.F.A. in film production at New York University (NYU) and went on to study psychology at UCLA and Vanderbilt. He is an award winning writer/director of commercials, medical and business films. He has spoken at the Film Industry Workshops, and he spoke regularly at Betty Ford Center, where he chaired a monthly panel. His Vietnam script, Club Bong Son, won best screenplay at the Beaufort International Film Festival and his short story, Charlie’s Time, took top prize in the 2016 Sea Island Spirit Writers Awards. He also admits to having held the dubious distinction of being named the Infomercial Writer of the Year.
Writing “Crazy Me: How I Lost Reality and Found Myself” was an important part of Bixby’s journey of self-discovery. It opened wounds long buried but prepared him for his biggest test in his own recovery. While the manuscript was being edited, his son, an Army Ranger and veteran of three combat tours in Afghanistan, took his own life while under treatment for PTSD. The book oozes pain but also reflects Bixby’s resilience and continuing determination to build and share a positive and meaningful life for all those who suffer from mental illness, have loved ones so afflicted or whose lives have been touched by war related trauma. He hopes his work serves as an inspiration that exemplifies the strength of the human spirit.
Bixby coaches a school chess club, plays single digit handicap golf and builds and repairs golf clubs for himself and friends. He belongs to M-Riders, a motorcycling group for members of the high IQ organization, Mensa. He is also a member of the ultra-high IQ group, Triple Nine Society. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and holds lifetime memberships in the Disabled American Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America.
Bixby lives on a small island on the coast of South Carolina with his wife, a childhood friend he reunited with and married after forty years apart. To relax, Tom writes mob stories he says are a “mixture of horror and hilarity, like much of the rest of my life.” The Disappearance of Nose Nardoni and I was a Teenage Private Eye for the Mob are examples of stories that some suspect are semi-autobiographical and feature characters and situations that may have been drawn from the author’s New Jersey upbringing. Tom refuses to answer those suspicions, citing his rights under the Fifth Amendment.
Bixby’s latest major work, Blood on the Buddha, will be released in 2018. The engrossing, sometimes painfully intimate story, vividly portrays the disorienting separation from normal society and the spiritual contamination suffered by a highly intelligent and overly sensitive nineteen-year-old at war. Tom’s well known ability to find irony and humor in any situation, including the Vietnam war, does not disappoint. In one of the book’s many highly entertaining moments, the author reveals himself as the source of a rumor which had sergeants, colonels and generals nervously snapping to attention, erroneously believing that President Johnson himself was just about to arrive for a surprise inspection tour.