book review: an unquiet mind

By Kay Redfield Jamison

I am pretty sure someone in my writing class recommended this book. And since I have recently re-discovered the library, I got it there.

The book chronicles the author’s life as a closet manic-depressive, aptly showing the reader how it would feel to have this illness. You really feel the euphoria of the manic phase; times when she needn’t sleep, can write papers in a day, and generally gets shit done with great speed. And then the panic when she feels herself slipping in to the depressive phase; where she can’t do anything. Not even get out of bed.

You also learn how she tries to hide her illness. She tells her lovers haltingly, concerned about who they will respond, if they will decide to no longer love her.

And to top things off, the author is a Professor of Psychology. So she knows that the data all say the same thing: take your drugs or risk killing yourself. She tried on occasion, but failed.

In one poignant scene, she tells of the realization that she haden’t a clue about what it would be to be blind. Her student of some time, she met the blind student in the blind reading room one day. Naturally, the lights were all off, but he thought to turn the lights on for her.

“It was one of those still, clear moments when you realize that you haven’t understood anything at all, that you have had no real comprehension of the other person’s world.”

I would highly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand manic-depression, and its cycles and its tolls.


Nicole said...

Thrilled you read this. Bobby and I both read this book, shortly after his mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (the "new" term for manic depression). It is quite enlightening, particularly since the author is highly educated and keenly aware of the symptoms and remedies of mental illnesses yet remained reticent to prescribe to the best known "cure" - meds. A symptom we are all too familiar with. What I like most is that she realizes that it is not her that is the most affected but the people that love her. If only Bobby's mom could get to that point. I think we both hoped the author would give more insight on how to reach out to loved ones with this illness, how to connect, how to help, but the book falls short in this regard. Regardless, it's worth the read.

harkinna said...

I like the term manic depressive more...we talked about this in the writing class too...