Kay Redfield Jamison quotes:

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  • Lithium prevents my seductive but disastrous highs, diminishes my depressions, clears out the wool and webbing from my disordered thinking, slows me down, gentles me out, keeps me from ruining my career and relationships, keeps me out of a hospital, alive, and makes psychotherapy possible.

  • Psychologists, for reasons of clinical necessity or vagaries of temperament, have chosen to dissect and catalog the morbid emotions - depression, anger, anxiety - and to leave largely unexamined the more vital, positive ones.

  • There is no common standard for education about diagnosis. Distinguishing between bipolar depression and major depressive disorder, for example, can be difficult, and mistakes are common. Misdiagnosis can be lethal. Medications that work well for some forms of depression induce agitation in others.

  • I think one thing is that anybody who's had to contend with mental illness - whether it's depression, bipolar illness or severe anxiety, whatever - actually has a fair amount of resilience in the sense that they've had to deal with suffering already, personal suffering.

  • Several politicians and wives of politicians have been public about their experiences with depression or bipolar illness, including Lawton Chiles, Patrick Kennedy, Tipper Gore and Kitty Dukakis. Each made a tremendous difference by doing so.

  • Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it, an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.

  • I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do.

  • You become aware of an illness by understanding yourself and understanding the meaning that that illness has in your own life, symbolically and, more importantly, quite literally.

  • I have had manic-depressive illness, also known as bipolar disorder, since I was 18 years old. It is an illness that ensures that those who have it will experience a frightening, chaotic and emotional ride. It is not a gentle or easy disease.

  • When public figures remain silent about depression, there is a cost to the rest of society. Silence contributes to the misperception that successful people do not get depressed, and it keeps the public from seeing that treatment allows many individuals to return to competitive professional lives.

  • No pill can help me deal with the problem of not wanting to take pills; likewise, no amount of psychotherapy alone can prevent my manias and depressions. I need both.

  • One of things so bad about depression and bipolar disorder is that if you don't have prior awareness, you don't have any idea what hit you.

  • Because I teach and write about depression and bipolar illness, I am often asked what is the most important factor in treating bipolar disorder. My answer is competence. Empathy is important, but competence is essential.

  • Confidentiality is an ancient and well-warranted social value.

  • We expect well-informed treatment for cancer or heart disease; it matters no less for depression.

  • Mood disorders are terribly painful illnesses, and they are isolating illnesses. And they make people feel terrible about themselves when, in fact, they can be treated.

  • There are scientists all around the world looking for the genes responsible for bipolar illness and major depression.

  • People respond differently to people who are grieving. They reach out. But depression is so very isolating. It's hard to explain to anyone who has never been depressed how isolating it is. Grief comes and goes, but depression is unremitting.

  • It is an odd thing, owing life to pills, one's own quirks and tenacities, and this unique, strange, and ultimately profound relationship called psychotherapy.

  • I had been simply treating water, settling on surviving and avoiding pain rather than being actively involved in seeking out life.

  • An intense temperament has convinced me to teach not only from books but from what I have learned from experience. So I try to impress upon young doctors and graduate students that tumultuousness, if coupled to discipline and a cool mind, is not such a bad sort of thing.

  • It is important to value intellect and discipline, of course, but it is also important to recognize the power of irrationality, enthusiasm and vast energy.

  • When I am high I couldn't worry about money of I tried. So I don't. The money will come from from somewhere; I am entitled; God will provide. Credit cards are disastrous, personal checks worse. Unfortunately, for manics anyway, mania is a natural extension of the economy.

  • Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me's is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.

  • Scientists have made extraordinary advances in understanding the brain and its disorders.

  • Nothing good comes out of depression.

  • When I'm talking about depression, I'm talking about the more severe forms of depression, and I think that conceptualising as a form of grief is probably not the most effective way of looking at it. I mean, at the end of the day, people suffer enormously, and you want to treat it.

  • St. Andrews provided a gentle forgetfulness over the preceding painful years of my life. It remains a haunting and lovely time to me, a marrow experience. For one who during her undergraduate years was trying to escape an inexplicable weariness and despair, St. Andrews was an amulet against all manner of longing and loss, a year of gravely held but joyous remembrances.

  • I am by temperament an optimist, and I thought from the beginning that there was much to be written about suicide that was strangely heartening.

  • People talk about grief as if it's kind of an unremittingly awful thing, and it is. It is painful, but it's a very, very interesting sort of thing to go through, and it really helps you out. At the end of the day, it gets you through because you have to reform your relationship, and you have to figure out a way of getting to the future.

  • Tumultuouness,if coupled to discipline and cool mind,is not such a bad sort of thing.That unless one wants to live a stunningly boring life,one ought to terms with one`s darker side ad one`s darker energies

  • There are relatively few things that kill people that are young other than car accidents and suicide.

  • I think that for thousands of years people have made the observation that there are certain kinds of extreme depressive states that seem to be more likely to produce philosophers, people in the arts, unusually brilliant scientists.

  • I think you have waves of awareness and one of the things that I found with grief was actually - I was well prepared for it by the cyclicality of my manic depressive illness because I was used to things coming and going and so forth.

  • I think people don't understand how intimately tied suicide is to mental illness, particularly to depressive illness and bipolar illness.

  • The rites of passage in the academic world are arcane and, in their own way, highly romantic, and the tensions and unplesantries of dissertations and final oral examinations are quickly forgotten in the wonderful moment of the sherry afterward, admission into a very old club, parties of celebration, doctoral gowns, academic rituals, and hearing for the first time "Dr.," rather than "Miss" Jamison.

  • There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness and terror involved in this kind of madness... It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.

  • Manic depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live.

  • I decided early in graduate school that I needed to do something about my moods. It quickly came down to a choice between seeing a psychiatrist or buying a horse. Since almost everyone I knew was seeing a psychiatrist, and since I had an absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse.

  • Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. ... You're frightened, and you're frightening, and you're 'not at all like yourself but will be soon,' but you know you won't.

  • No amount of love can cure madness or unblacken one's dark moods. Love can help, it can make the pain more tolerable, but, always, one is beholden to medication that may or may not always work and may or may not be bearable

  • We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this--through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.

  • I think wanting to write is a fundamental sign of disease and discomfort. I don't think people who are comfortable want to write ...

  • Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete

  • I think psychotherapy saves lives and is hugely meaningful and I think that one of the unfortunate aspects of prescription drugs working well is that people tend to think that's enough.

  • The pursuit of knowledge is an intoxicant, a lure that scientists and explorers have known from ancient times; indeed, exhilaration in the pursuit of knowledge is part of what has kept our species so adaptive.

  • The quickness and flexibility of a well mind, a belief or hope that things will eventually sort themselves out-these are the resources lost to a person when the brain is ill.

  • Anybody who's had to contend with mental illness - whether it's depression, bipolar illness or severe anxiety, whatever - actually has a fair amount of resilience in the sense that they've had to deal with suffering already, personal suffering.

  • As best I could make out, having never heard the term until I arrived in California, being a WASP meant being mossbacked, lockjawed, rigid, humorless, cold, charmless, insipid, less than penetratingly bright, but otherwise---and inexplicably---to be envied.

  • The rites of passage in the academic world are arcane and, in their own way, highly romantic, and the tensions and unplesantries of dissertations and final oral examinations are quickly forgotten in the wonderful moment of the sherry afterward, admission into a very old club, parties of celebration, doctoral gowns, academic rituals, and hearing for the first time Dr., rather than Miss Jamison.

  • Once a restless or frayed mood has turned to anger, or violence, or psychosis, Richard, like most, finds it very difficult to see it as illness, rather than being willful, angry, irrational or simply tiresome.

  • I love animals, and I was always attracted to the idea of being a zoo veterinarian or a veterinarian with the circus.

  • Knowledge is marvelous, but wisdom is even better.

  • But money spent while manic doesn't fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense or business loss. So after mania, when most depressed, you're given excellent reason to be even more so.

  • Suicide Note: The calm, Cool face of the river Asked me for a kiss. -Langston Hughes

  • No pill can help me deal with the problem of not wanting to take pills; likewise, no amount of psychotherapy alone can prevent my manias and depressions. I need both. It is an odd thing, owing life to pills, one's own quirks and tenacities, and this unique, strange, and ultimately profound relationship called psychotherapy

  • Nature is the first tutor. No one remains untouched or unschooled by the earth, seasons, and heavens.

  • Psychotherapy is a sanctuary; it is a battleground; it is a place I have been psychotic, neurotic, elated, confused, and despairing beyond belief.

  • I am one of millions who have been treated for depression and gotten well; I was lucky enough to have a psychiatrist well versed in using lithium and knowledgeable about my illness, and who was also an excellent psychotherapist.

  • Never once, during any of my bouts of depression, had I been inclined or able to pick up a telephone and ask a friend for help. It wasn't in me.

  • I say I'm an academic: a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. And I write.

  • Lithium remains the gold standard, but many drugs now treat bipolar disorder. Medication is critical and should be combined with psychotherapy. Compliance is a major problem. Patients believe that once they're better, they no longer need the medication. It doesn't work that way.

  • Moods are complicated and very much a part of who we are. People would be very boring without them.

  • It's more common than not that bipolar illness will start in the teens. One of the reasons I spend a lot of time on college campuses is exactly that reason. It's terribly important to talk to students about knowing these things in advance.

  • ...Time does not heal, It makes a half-stitched scar That can be broken and again you feel Grief as total as in its first hour. -Elizabeth Jennings

  • An ardent temperament makes one very vulnerable to dreamkillers.

  • Anyone who suggests that coming back from suicidal despair is a straightforward journey has never taken it.

  • But then back on lithium and rotating on the planet at the same pace as everyone else, you find your credit is decimated, your mortification complete: mania is not a luxury one can easily afford. It is devastating to have the illness and aggravating to have to pay for medications, blood tests, and psychotherapy. They, at least, are partially deductible. But money spent while manic doesn't fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense or business loss. So after mania, when most depressed, you're given excellent reason to be even more so.

  • But, with time, one has encountered many of the monsters, and one is increasingly less terrified of those still to be met.

  • Chaos and intensity are no substitute for lasting love, nor are they necessarily an improvement on real life.

  • Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury; the time spent engaged in it is not time that could be better spent in more formal educational pursuits. Play is a necessity.

  • Conditions of thought, memory, and desire, persuaded by impulse and irrationality, are influenced as well by personal aesthetics and private meanings.

  • Curiosity, wonder, and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers...Restlessness and discontent are vital things... Intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways less intense emotions can never do.

  • Every seventeen minutes in America, someone commits suicide. Mostly, I have been impressed by how little value our society puts on saving the lives of those who are in such despair as to want to end them. It is a societal illusion that suicide is rare. It is not.

  • Everyone has good cause for suicide, or at least it seems that way to those who search for it. (74)

  • Everything previously moving with the grain is now against - you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.

  • Exuberance is a gift of grace that allows us to move on, to seek, to love again.

  • Far too many doctors-many of them excellent physicians-commit suicide each year; one recent study concluded that, until quite recently, the United States lost annually the equivalent of a medium-sized medical school class from suicide alone. Most physician suicides are due to depression or manic-depressive illness, both of which are eminently treatable. Physicians, unfortunately, not only suffer from a higher rate of mood disorders than the general population, they also have a greater access to very effective means of suicide.

  • From a public health point of view, still the overwhelming problem is that people are not treated enough for depression; depression remains under treated.

  • Grief comes and goes, but depression is unremitting

  • I am a huge advocate of prescription drugs given wisely and for the right reasons and the right diagnosis and also psychotherapy.

  • I am reminded of the importance of small kindnesses.

  • I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.

  • I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been midly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

  • I don't think grief of grief in a medical way at all. I think that I and many of my colleagues, are very concerned when grief becomes pathological, that there is no question that grief can trigger depression in vulnerable people and there is no question that depression can make grief worse.

  • I had a terrible temper, after all, and though it rarely erupted, when it did it frightened me and anyone near its epicenter. It was the only crack, but a disturbing one, in the otherwise vacuum-sealed casing of my behavior.

  • I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn't work for me, the answer would be a simple no... and it would be an answer laced with terror. But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It's complicated...

  • I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist.

  • I look back over my shoulder and feel the presence of an intense young girl and then a volatile and disturbed young woman, both with high dreams and restless, romantic aspirations

  • I remember sitting in his office a hundred times during those grim months and each time thinking, What on earth can he say that will make me feel better or keep me alive? Well, there never was anything he could say, that's the funny thing. It was all the stupid, desperately optimistic, condescending things he didn't say that kept me alive; all the compassion and wamrth I felt from him that could not have been said; all the intelligence, competence, and time he put into it; and his granite belief that mine was a life worth living.

  • I think that one of the many advantages of death accruing over a long period of time is that you do have time to meet a lot of other people who are going through similar situations and one of the great delights of our life actually was sitting around in labs waiting for the results of tests and talking to other people who were waiting to find out whether their cancer numbers were going in the right direction or not.

  • I was bitterly resentful, but somehow greatly relieved. And I respected him enormously for his clarity of thought, his obvious caring, and his unwillingness to equivocate in delivering bad news.

  • I was late to understand that chaos and intensity are no subsitute for lasting love, nor are they necessarily an improvement on real life. Normal people are not always boring. On the contrary. Volatility and passion, although often more romantic and enticing, are not intrinsically preferable to a steadiness of experience and feeling about another person.

  • I wish I could explain it so someone could understand it. I'm afraid it's something I can't put into words. There's just this heavy, overwhelming despair - dreading everything. Dreading life. Empty inside, to the point of numbness. It's like there's something already dead inside. My whole being has been pulling back into that void for months. (81)

  • I, quite literally, woke up from a coma, from having tried to kill myself and it was very clear to me what my psychiatrist had been saying for years. The choice is not between a drug that has side effects or not, life is not ideal. Yes, your drug has side effects and yes if you don't take it you're going to die.

  • If I can't feel, if I can't move, if I can't think, and I can't care, then what conceivable point is there in living?

  • If people can talk about having breast cancer, why can't people who have mental illness talk about mental illness? Until we're able to do that, we're not going to be treated with the same kind of respect for our diseases as other people.

  • In depression, your capacity to feel just flattens and disappears and what you feel is pain and a kind of pain that you can't describe to anybody. So it's an isolating pain, a completely isolating pain.

  • In some cases, some people do get depressed in the middle of their grief and they really need to be treated for depression.

  • It is tempting when looking at the life of anyone who has committed suicide to read into the decision to die a vastly complex web of reasons; and, of course, such complexity is warranted. No one illness or event causes suicide; and certainly no one knows all, or perhaps even most, of the motivations behind the killing of the self. But psychopathology is almost always there, and its deadliness is fierce. Love, success, and friendship are not always enough to counter the pain and destructiveness of severe mental illness

  • It took me far too long to realize that lost years and relationships cannot be recovered. That damage done to oneself and others cannot always be put right again.

  • It was as if my father had given me, by way of temperament, an impossibly wild, dark, and unbroken horse. It was a horse without a name, and a horse with no experience of a bit between its teeth. My mother taught me to gentle it; gave me the discipline and love to break it; and- as Alexander had known so intuitively with Bucephalus- she understood, and taught me, that the beast was best handled by turning it toward the sun.

  • Love has, at its best, made the inherent sadness of life bearable, and its beauty manifest.

  • Love, like life, is much stranger and far more complicated than one is brought up to believe.

  • Mania can be as terrifying as it gets. It is certainly as insane as one gets and so it's frightening when it gets out of control, but there are periods of mania when it can be extremely attractive.

  • Moods are such an essential part of the substance of life, of one's notion of oneself, that even psychotic extremes in mood and behavior somehow can be seen as temporary, even understandable, reactions to what life has dealt.

  • Most people don't have the advantage of being able to evaluate their doctor in advance.

  • One is what one is, and the dishonesty of hiding behind a degree, or a title, or any manner and collection of words, is still exactly that: dishonest.

  • One of the advantages of science is that one's work, ultimately, is either replicated or it is not.

  • Others would say to me, 'It is only temporary, it will pass, you will get over it,' but of course they had no idea how I felt, although they were certain that they did. Over and over and over I would say to myself, If I can't feel, if I can't move, if I can't think, and I can't care, then what conceivable point is there in living?

  • People are more impulsive and they get slightly less impulsive as they get older and the impulsiveness interacting with the depression is particularly devastating and lethal, potentially lethal.

  • Somehow, like so many people who get depressed, we felt our depressions were more complicated and existentially based than they actually were.

  • Suicide carries in its aftermath a level of confusion and devastation that is, for the most part, beyond description.

  • Suicide is a particularly awful way to die: the mental suffering leading up to it is usually prolonged, intense and unpalliated. There is no morphine equivalent to ease the acute pain, and death, not uncommonly, is violent and grisly. The suffering of a suicidal is private and inexpressible, leaving family members, friends and colleagues to deal with an almost unfathomable kind of loss, as well as guilt. Suicide carries in its aftermath a level of confusion and devastation that is, for the most part, beyond description.

  • Suicide is not a blot on anyone‚??s name; it is a tragedy

  • The ancient dialogue between reason and the senses is almost always more interestingly and passionately resolved in favor of the senses.

  • The assumption that rigidly rejecting words and phrases that have existed for centuries will have much impact on public attitudes is rather dubious.

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