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review 2016-08-04 18:00
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by: Kay Redfield Jamison
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison

I had a good friend that was diagnosed with Manic Depressive Disorder and he's the biggest reason this book called out to me when I saw it. I always wondered what was going on in there and what the manias and depressions felt like. I always thought that understanding would help me interact with him in those states and not agitate him or exacerbate problems. I don't really know, though, he went off the grid after a particularly bad struggle with the whole evolution, of which I was in his circle, and then returned suddenly to social media, having moved away and found a better way to deal with it all then we could have hoped for. 

I thought of him as I listened to the audiobook and Dr. Jamison explain her experience with this same disorder. I worked through all the behaviors that had been mania and depression and the way he never understood the way the medicine was improving his ability to deal with it. 

As audiobooks go, this is a rather short one. It's just under three hours and eloquently describes the ups and downs that go with this disorder and the way that it progresses during her lifetime. This isn't remembering just one evolution but several as well as the fears that accompany letting others know that she has it, that she might pass it on to children, having dealt with a parent with this disorder. She includes the feeling of the mania and the aftermath, which is more than the depression that follows it. There are inevitable consequences in life for those things that are done in both manic and depressed states. She doesn't shy away from sharing those. But there is also healing and more to healing than medication and more to taking medication than simply being prescribed it. 

Above all, I appreciate that she shared it all and helped the rest of us understand what it is like to be the one that lives with the disorder. It's a beautiful book. 

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text 2016-04-08 23:00
Femme Friday - My Next 5 TBR Memoirs
I Have Iraq in My Shoe: Misadventures of a Soldier of Fashion - Gretchen Berg
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom - Yeonmi Park
The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson
Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family - Najla Said
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison

I have a soft spot for memoirs. Not just memoirs, but memoirs of regular people. I love to learn about the many lives that are out there and reality tv just doesn't do it. Memoirs are personal accounts of the things that people have been through. I've read a few already, but even those are mostly from people who are famous (or were by the time the memoir got into my hands). There is a lot more to the human experience than we see on a daily basis, so the next five memoirs that I've chosen to read (though they will be scattered among other reading in the coming months) are about people and experiences vastly different from my own. Here they are: 


  1. I Have Iraq in My Shoe: Misadventures of a Soldier of Fashion - Gretchen Berg  I have had this book on my TBR list for a long time. The title just called me in the middle of the book store. I have a bit of a weakness for stories about acclimating to new areas and cultures and this seems like a fun one. 
  2. In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom - Yeonmi Park  I also saw this a little while back. It popped up in my Recommendations feed on one site or another and seemed interesting. 
  3. The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson  This is another one that popped up on some feed. The reviews that I read on it were mixed but the premise is enough to put it on my list anyway. It was living and loving someone who is gender fluid that got me. 
  4. Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family - Najla Said  I stumbled upon this one while looking for a book about Arab-Americans. I was checking the Heritage/Diversity months and discovered that April is Arab-American month which led me to realize that I had yet to read about any real Arab-Americans. I say real because I LOVE Kamala Khan, but she is fictional. 
  5. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison I don't know about you, but mental illness scares me. It is often poorly self-diagnosed and I rarely know people who seek treatment. Even in that rare instance, sticking to a regiment can be arduous, proving illness can be tough, and it takes a toll on everyone, not just the ill person. This memoir explores manic depression from inside and outside the institution that treats it. 


Do you read memoirs? What are you reading next? 

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review 2015-07-01 23:23
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison
A very poignant first hand account of the struggle with bipolar disorder from a clinical psychologist who studies and treats the disorder.
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quote 2015-03-29 07:41
"The privilege to practice is exactly that, a privilege; it is not a right. The real dangers, of course, come about from those pilots, politicians, clinicians, businessmen, or other individuals responsible for the welfare and lives of others, who~because of the stigma or the fear of suspension of their privileges or expulsion from medical school, graduate school or residency~are reluctant to seek out psychiatric treatment"
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text 2014-04-04 07:08
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison


What a terrible time of my life it was when I bought Dr Kay Redfield Jamison's book from the now-closed Borders bookstore in Orchard Road in 1996. I had just been diagnosed as Manic-Depressive, a disorder that my shrink later amended to Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Symptoms.




Anyway, it was so important to me, at the time, to discover that smart, successful people could be manic-depressive. I couldn't believe my shrink, at the time, when he told me the world would be a very boring place without manic-depressives. Because we were supposed to be creative and brilliant along with our madness.




Still, at that point in time, Dr Jamison's autobiographical account of her experience with manic depression. While I, in all honesty, cannot say I experienced those uncontrollable highs - such as my mother-in-law did, and would buy a hundred cartons of milk because "it was on special" (or is that just plain stupidity rather than bipolar illness?), I did reach a stage where I felt my days had flatlined. I felt very calm, very stable, very dead. I was on an anti-depressant, then, called Remeron (mirtazapine) and was doing well, meaning, I had no nasty side effects.


This feeling as if my Joie de vivre were to be measured and a flat line would result, made relate immediately to Dr Jamison's admission that, after her battle with bipolar disorder,..." -- there is now, for me, a rather bittersweet exchange of a comfortable and settled present existence for a troubled but intensely lived past.

   There are still occasional sirens to this past, and there remains a seductive, if increasingly rare, desire to recreate the furor and fever of earlier times."


Towards the end of her touching, candid sharing, Dr Jamison says, "Any temptation that I now may have to recapture such moods by altering my medication is quickly hosed down by the cold knowledge that a gentle intensity soon becomes a frenetic one and then, finally, an uncontrolled insanity. I am too frightened that I will again become morbidly depressed or virulently manic - either of which would, in turn, rip apart every aspect of my life, relationships, and work that I find most meaningful - to seriously consider any change in my medical treatment."


Unlike Dr Jamison, I told my doctor I felt well enough (after 3 years on meds) to come off medication and he agreed. I must add that during the last year of that, I had also sent him regular emails. He suggested I try that after I read Irvin Yalom's Everyday Gets A Little Closer. I supposed it did work and he did not detect any signs of madness in my journaling. Back then there were no such things as blogs then. The worldwide web had just come to Singapore the year before and it would be nearly 12 years later, in 2008, before I discovered Goodreads, the book review site where I now post fiction reviews.


Though I have read several more books on Depression and other Mood Disorders, Dr Jamison's remains a personal favorite because she helped me feel so much less alone and afraid at a time in my life when I felt very much that.

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