Updated: Oct 15
"Somehow, like so many people who get depressed, we felt our depressions were more complicated and existentially based than they actually were." - Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison
Synopsis: Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand.
For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide.
Here Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication.
An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom— a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.
Review: Bipolar Disorder (BD), formerly known as manic-depression, can be a very pervasive and debilitating mood disorder for those who are undiagnosed. More so, for those who are reluctant to accept their diagnosis or those who are hesitant to receive treatment because they may get the diagnosis.
An Unquiet Mind teaches the average reader about what NOT to do. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison is a clinical psychologist with bipolar disorder and if it’s any consolation, she suffers from the harsher end of the spectrum. Her specifiers circle around mania with psychotic features and severe major depression that’s recurrent. I also believe she has a rapid cycling specifier as well...
On a personal note, my depressions aren’t exclusively tailored to suicidal ideations with a plan and actual attempts... I never went through a suicide attempt, but there were occasions where I pensively thought about them.
This is why I advocate for those who have yet seen a mental-health provider to do so with haste if you are in the same boat. I encourage you to read this memoir in an effort to get the personal touch from Dr. Jamison’s story but also see first hand what bipolar disorder does not only to patients but to their close ones as well.
I have to admit, the writing structure was fairly poetic or at least that’s what it conveyed. The cadence of reading this memoir was slightly off-putting. Still, it’s a great read when you focus on the context of the memoir.
5 Tips To Better Manage Your New Bipolar Diagnoses
Accept Your Diagnosis
Dr. Jamison struggled when she first received her diagnosis as most of us do. For you, the newly diagnosed or reluctant ones, you may feel pissed at yourself. Don’t! BD is genetic. Disclosing your illness to those you're close to will reveal their true colors. Don’t hide it from them, in my opinion… it delays the inevitable should things turn south.
Educate Yourself About The Disorder
Although Dr. Jamison was a clinician who focused on mood disorders, her ego did get in the way of accepting her reality. As Lithium is considered the most effective treatment for BD, she struggled with serious side effects. It wasn’t until she asked to get her dosage reduced things became clear for her. I encourage you to ask your psychiatrist questions about various medication options.
Seek Various Treatment Avenues
Dr. Jamison found talk therapy was helpful along with her medication management. There are tons of therapists who are willing to help so ensure to reach out. I believe CBT or even DBT programs are effective options.
Track Your Mood
Get a journal and start jotting down how you wake up slash fall asleep. Anticipating any changes to mania, depression, or mixed mania is key to stability.
Aim To Maintain Stability
Moving forward, you will always have a psychological chip on your shoulders, but with the right treatment and support, you can control it as opposed to it controlling you. This is going to consist of altering your lifestyle, eradicating alcohol, implementing a health and wellness plan, and finding a purpose in life that will keep you goal-directed when your high n' lows come.
Getting the bipolar diagnosis is hard to accept at first. I know because I was there. My heart sank into my stomach and I felt instantly sick. I thought to myself what life would be like if I just called it quits - Stop!
Receiving your diagnosis is the end of the world, it's the wake-up call. You now know why you were acting the way you acted and have the power in your hands to control it. By using the tips listed above, you can speed up your chance to level out your moods and experience tranquility. I wish you the best on your journey to recovery.
To Your Mental Health,
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