An Unquiet Mind
“I doubt sometimes whether
a quiet & unagitated life
would have suited me – yet I
sometimes long for it.” — Byron
This statement by Byron quoted in the text illustrates what life can be like for someone with mental illness. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir by Kay Redfield Jamison, a Professor of Psychiatry, in which she candidly discusses her struggles with living with bipolar disorder (formally known as manic depression) from a variety of perspectives rather than just one lens.
Jamison references her journey from her adolescent to college years in which her manic depression illness slowly makes an appearance, altering her moods and performance unbeknownst to her at the time. However, as time progresses, so does the state of her illness. Jamison provides in vivid detail the many highs and lows she experiences because of her mental illness, and many incidences occur as a result; for example, extreme spending sprees, mood changes, violent episodes, engaging in uncharacteristic behavior towards her colleagues, and lastly a suicide attempt.
Soon after, she begins to see a psychiatrist at the age of 27, thus, eventually, learning her manic depression is hereditary since her father was dealing with the same affliction when she was a young adult. Moreover, her therapy sessions did not go without problems of course, as she confesses her reluctance to take medication more specifically Lithium. In reality, she learns the hard way eventually realizing medication is a necessity rather than a hinderance; thereby, making peace with herself and her mental illness as she embraces her disease.
Through her writing, Jamison displays much resilience, and courage in spite of her illness. Her honesty and efforts in making sure people with depression and other psychiatric disorders do not feel ashamed nor stigmatized is quite commendable. In my view, she is a warrior and not a victim of her own mind. I recommend An Unquiet Mind to anyone; whereby, hopefully changing any preconceived notions regarding those who struggle with mental health issues.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison. Vintage, January 1997.
Reviewer bio: Diana De Jesus is an adjunct professor from Queens, NY, she is a fan of books, 80’s music to rock out too and old television shows. Additionally, she has a blog she is still very slowly and surely updating.
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