One sunny afternoon eight years ago, lawyer Zack McDermott sprinted through Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park convinced he was being filmed for his own TV show. In a psychotic break, he dropped to all fours in the dog run, exposed his buttocks and encountered someone he imagined was Daniel Day-Lewis on the basketball courts. The now-34-year-old author of the book “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love” (Little, Brown and Co., out Tuesday), tells The Post’s JANE RIDLEY about living with bipolar disorder and his journey to better health.
I’m crying on the L train subway platform, my hands clasped behind my head like a captured soldier, as two NYPD officers confront me.
It’s Oct. 29, 2009 — a cold day — but I am barefoot and shirtless, wearing just a pair of Adidas soccer shorts.
The officers cuff me, and I’m confused. “You’re not real cops, are you?” I say.
One of them replies sarcastically. “No, there’s a costume party later,” he says.
In my disordered mental state, I believe him. “A party!” I think. “I can’t wait.” The way I see it, there’s a good chance either Jay-Z or Kanye West will be there.
That was me in the midst of my first psychotic break. The policeman couldn’t possibly have known that his humor fueled my delusions. In that moment, I sincerely believed that I was the star of my own reality TV series and that cameras were following my every move, like I was Jim Carrey’s character in “The Truman Show.”
I was 26 and a first-year public defender working for Legal Aid in Brooklyn. I’d often represented mentally ill people in court. Now, I had become one myself. The psychotic break was one of three I would suffer as a result of bipolar disorder over 2 ¹/₂ years.
I’d say my problems started during the summer of 2009, when I was juggling my demanding legal job with ambitions to become a stand-up comedian. I’d done a few gigs and had plans with a producer friend to film a pilot for a television series starring my comic alter-ego, Myles, complete with a distinctive Mohawk haircut and handlebar mustache. We had rented out a studio in Union Square and held a casting call.
My goal was to create a half-scripted, half-improvised TV show, the likes of which the world had never seen. On a maximum of four hours of sleep per night — sometimes none — I scrawled a creative manifesto on the walls of my East…