Blogs Mental Health Psychology

An Unquiet Mind – A Memoir of tumultous mind

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison is the authoritative figure when it comes to the topic of mood, especially the pathology of mood. Her memoir is the excellent know abouts into the mind of the Manic Depressive. Dr Jamison herself suffering from Manic Depressive Illness has brought up such intensities of feeling and fervor of mood that the reader gets engrossed with the illness. Here, Dr Jamison not only recounts her story but in the process of her realization of the curt reality has successfully made the readers realize the importance of medication and psychotheraphy for any kind of mood disorders. The book will definitely take the readers into the rollercoaster of moods, emotions , feelings and thoughts and gives them the valuable insight of the mind of the Manic Depressive. And the most important and interesting aspect of the book is her life as well, a highly successful proffessional life with the feat that the normal average minds cannot easily secure. With the proper love, care, treatment and acceptance the mental illness cant be the hindrance to having a rich life of personal, social and proffessional abundance . I think that’s the biggest take away from her memoir.

Dr Jamison has beautfied the illness and has added certain charm through her writing but the charm is not without any risk. The risk poses the danger of loosing a life also and Dr Jamison has been lucky herself as she she saw herself narrowly escape from the mouth of the death. When Dr Jamison describes herself in manic state, its so much exhilirating to see her energy and vibrant sleepless routine. I actually was infectious of her exuberance and wish if i had a considerable part of her energy. She could shuffle through 3-4 books a week , countless literatures, her duty at the hospital, teaching the interns and delivering lectures to the psychiatry students. In her own words, she describes her manic state as in :
How could one, should one, recapture that intensity or reexperince the glorious moods of dancing all night and into the morning, the gliding through starfields and dancing along the rings of the Saturn, the zany manic enthusiasms? How can one ever bring back the long summer days of passion, the remembrance of lilacs, ecstasy and gin fizzes that spilled over the garden wall, and the peals of riotious laughter that lasted till the Sun came up or the police arrived?


But to the other extreme followed by the brief hypomania is the sudden change in the mood into the state of utter confusion, concussion ,the endless cacophony of thoughts and unbearable dispassions and flatness of emotions. The mania takes a deep dive into the abyss of blandness that makes Dr. Jamison cringe into the pain , fear and uncertainty. The only thing worth contemplating is the subject of DEATH. In Dr. Jamison’s own words : ‘…. Then the bottom began to fall out of my life and mind. My thinking far from being clearer than a crystal, was tortous. I would read the same passage over and over again only to realize that I had no memory at all for what I had just read. Each book or poem I read was the same way. Incomprehensible. Nothing made sense………..It was incapable of concerntrated thought and turned time and again to the subject of death: I was going to die, what difference did anything make? Life’s run was only a short and meaningless one, why live? I was totally exhausted and could scarcely pull myself out of bed in the mornings……….’ To her dismay, Dr Jamison found her life, at one point of her life , a big burden to carry and decided to snap the loose thread of life. But then the life had other plans when she found herself in the emergency room of the hospital.

It is quiet remarkable and intriguing to see her fight with and reluctance to take lithium, a powerful pill that treats Manic Depresive Illness. It’s quiet disconcerting for the reader to see her refusal to take the medication especially when she is herself the practitioner of Mental Health. Apparently she doesnt want to use her last resort and is holding upto the fear what if the lithium doesnt work. The thought is frightening to her and she doesnt want to find out her confirmation bias to be true. This is the deep inner reason she is said to have had for her reluctance to lithium. Its a hard won fight with herself that finally she took the medication with all its sideeffects. The sideeffects eventually subsided but it gave her reign to her moods and thoughts and could now lead a perfectly normal life. The readers can easily discern the benefits of regular medication. The absence of the extremes of highs and lows in the writer’s life and the placidity her mind can afford with the medication and psychotheraphy is truly enlightning. However she is not devoid with the longings for her hypomonia although for the brief amount of time but then she knows it doesnot come for free. She has to pay heavy price for her brief excitement with the possbility of the end of her life. And with the quick cost and benefit analysis she contends herself with the normal regular life.

Dr Kay Redfield Jamison is the accomplished figure in her own illness. She has made her illness not an enemy but an interesting phenomenon which can be studied with clinical precision and objectivity. Added to that is her own subjective feelings which ignites the passion within her. She has successfully come with the terms of her illness and has accepted it as her way of life. The illness inturn has given her the rich understanding of the nature of it which has helped her professionally treating her patients. We can know about her feats and achievements from the book and make us wonder how can she possibly be so much accomplished against all the odds. I think this realization in our part has the demystifying effect on the stigma that we generally associate mental illness with the incapacitation of the life functions. Well thats a big blow to the stigma.

I truly and heartfeltly recommend for everyone to read this book. Its truly a amazing journey into the tumultous yet beautiful mind.

Guest Posts

Experiencing bipolar disorder

Jagannath Lamichhane writes about the person’s experience suffering from Bipolar disorder in today’s The Kathmandu Post. Bipolar disorder as characterized by mood swings oscillating between mania and depression is very damaging to a person’s mental health which is portrayed nicely here in the article through personal conversation. We all should know the prime importance of mental health as the person with bipolar disorder rightly puts , “Throughout my life, I have learnt closely
that there is no health without mental health.”

To read the full article click on the link below:

Psych Facts/News

Bipolar day celebrated in Kathmandu!

Patan, 26 March 2015

Kripa Sigdel

Nepal Mental Health Foundation (NMHF) celebrated Bipolar Day today at Yala Maya Kendra. The program lasted for 2 hours with presentations by 3 panelists and interactions in the presence of more than 30 participants who are active in the mental health. The program first initiated by Mr. Jagannath Lamichhane, NMHF, welcoming all the guests. The highlights of program was Presentation by Ms. Kathryn Goetzke, Behavioral Psychotherapist Franz-Josef Koch and Personal experience of Yalina Uprety.


Ms. Kathryn Goetzke is a Global campaigner and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Mood Factory, Chicago, USA, which is the social venture which also emphasize on helping people to give hope. She shared her personal experiences regarding mental illness, how it effected her father and then her. She also emphasized on the depression and how people stigmatized it without knowing that its treatable. She said the word depression is depressing in itself so we should make it cheerful rather than depressing. She explained that talking positive and talking about mental health is one good way to help reduce mental issues. She said her company also celebrates the ‘Global Day of Hope’ on May 2nd every year by planting sunflower (as the symbol of hope) everywhere. So, she appealed everyone to do the same to raise the hope.

Likewise, the second panelist Franz-Josef Koch, Behavioral Psychotherapist, talked about symptoms of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity or whether there is psychosis. During mania an individual feels or acts abnormally happy, energetic, or irritable. They often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced. During periods of depression there may be crying, poor eye contact with others, and a negative outlook on life. The risk of suicide among those with the disorder is high at greater than 6% over 20 years, while self harm occurs in 30–40%.

Frenz also stressed that being human we feel empty and active at times but we should not relate that as being bipolar. Diagnosis must be proper and effective to actually tell an individual having bipolar disorder or not. Psychotherapist must be non-judgmental and knowledgeable in order to detect this disorder properly. He also said that this is one of the mental condition, like other physical condition, so people must be more vocal about it so that it will be easier to detect and understand it. He also emphasized on the need of individuals motivation to be cured of this mental condition. He showed hope that one day all the people around the global would be more vocal about the mental illness. He concluded his presentation saying ‘Its not a problem when you have bipolar disorder like its not a problem when you have broken leg’’.


Another panelist was Yalina Uprety, who said herself as having bipolar disorder and being vulnerable and under violence just because of this mental disorder. She explained her inner pain and bitter personal experience of how she got raped by relatives, victimized, outcasted from work by her poem and songs. She said that the physical abuse which she faced at the age of 9 led her to fall in the trap of depression while studying under graduation degree.

Later after the three panelist finished sharing their knowledge and information regarding bipolar disorder, audiences came up with various questions regarding how to detect bipolar exactly, how to build rapport to clients and other signs, symptoms and preventative measures for bipolar disorder.

The program conluded after snacks and bit of social chitchating. There is much need of talk and destigmatization of such issue. Then, only the real meaning of such celebration will be celebrated.