WASHINGTON - Herschel Walker doesn't sleep.
There is too much noise in his brain. There are too many thoughts.
Several years ago they started to leak out and then began to flow. Pen in hand, Walker let the thoughts flood onto the page. For three years the former Georgia star wrote what was in his mind.
"I sent it to Simon and Schuster and they couldn't believe it was written by a football player," Walker said. "It was just about the mind and how the mind works."
It was about how Walker's mind works and how it has dealt with dissociative identity disorder (DID). The result is a book, "Breaking Free." The autobiography chronicles Walker's struggle with DID, which is also referred to as multiple personality disorder, and how he has worked to harness it.
"A lot of people look at it and they laugh," Walker said. "Or they hear about it and they think I am being a fool. That doesn't matter to me."
What matters to Walker is that he has a chance to tell the story of how he dealt with DID for decades.
"What DID is, it is a unique way of coping," said Walker, who was divorced from his wife, Cindy, just before starting on the book.
In order to deal with situations that are emotional beyond the control of a person, that person may create alternate personalities or "alters" to deal with those situations. Many times those alters are the result of profound abuse or a traumatic event in a person's life. For Walker that abuse was rooted in childhood.
"When I was a kid I had a speech impediment and I used to get teased all the time," Walker said. "I didn't love myself and I didn't know how to love myself."
It wasn't until Walker found a coach who believed that he began to believe in himself. But still a pattern had been established in Walker's life. There were times when he was angry, out of control, self-destructive and unable to connect to those around him. Those were times he said he often did not remember. But now Walker has come to realize his alters were in control during those times.
Nobody else realized he even had any alters. Walker's father, Willis, his former coach, Vince Dooley, his close friend Frank Ros, all have said they never knew or even heard about Walker's DID.
"I know him better than anybody 'cause I raised him," Willis Walker said in January. "I don't know nothing about that disorder business."
Walker is reluctant to talk in depth about the book. His publishers have asked him to not talk about the subject until a "60 Minutes" profile is aired April 13 previewing the release of the book. Dr. Jerry Mungadze, a leader in the field of DID, wrote the forward to the book but has not returned multiple phone calls.
The diagnosis of DID is very rare and just as controversial. Many leading psychologists and psychiatrists are of the belief the idea DID is planted into a client's brain by an analysts.
Jerry Kelley, who holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Arizona, said there have been cases where patients have sued therapists for implanting false memories. Kelley has successfully worked at overcoming the misdiagnosis of DID in several patients.
"I hold that this is a condition promoted by the interest that doctors take in it," Dr. Paul McHugh, Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University told the AJC in January.
Walker is unconcerned about the naysayers.
"A lot of people look at it and they think it is like Sybil,'" he said in reference to the most famous case of MPD diagnosed in Sybil Dorsett. "They think it all has to be negative."
Walker explained his approach to DID in simplistic terms.
"People have to shift themselves and their personalities in so many different areas to be successful," he said. "You don't want Herschel Walker the football player, babysitting your kids. Those are two different people.
"People think it is negative but look at me. I don't do drugs. I don't drink. I have never done anything wrong. I have never been to jail."
Walker was able to cope with his DID. His outward appearance rarely changed. And his business acumen was not stunted. Instead, Walker said he was able to use different facets of his personality to run a successful food service business, Renaissance Man.
"The same person who was on the football field is not the same person you would see running a business," he said. "My book really goes deep into it."
Walker doesn't care how about how he will be judged after the release of the book. And he is not nervous about the release.
"People can see what I have done with my life," he said.
"I see other professional athletes and people who could read this and it could help them. That is really my reason for writing it. If I can just help one person then I am glad I wrote it."