Monday, March 04, 2019

#SparksOfJoy: A weekly post about something that makes me happy

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

This fearlessly, brutally honest 1995 memoir examines the exhilarating highs and soul-crushing lows of manic-depressive illness (now more commonly called bipolar disorder) from the perspective of a psychiatrist trapped in the disease. Her frank and intimately personal insights bring the disease's cycles of terror, elation and crushing, abject despair into stark and sometimes heartbreaking clarity. It was recommended to me soon after I was diagnosed as bipolar in 2008, and it grabbed me on every level--from its smart writing to the recognizable, relatable, almost comforting details of its narrative--and I all but literally didn’t put the book down until I’d finished it. I have an indelible memory of reading it on the Red Line EL train home from work one night in Chicago, and a man who’d clearly seen me reading it made sure we made eye contact as he stood up and then he patted me reassuringly on the shoulder as he got off at the Sheridan stop. That encounter--a direct extension of this book--made me literally weep as I was coming to grips with label “mentally ill” and discovering the signs I’d never thought to notice until then that I wasn’t alone. If you are or love someone who is bipolar--or struggling with any mental illness--this book will make you weep, give you hope and quite possibly change your life.

No comments: