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Kay Redfield Jamison quotes (showing 1-30 of 132)

“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. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. 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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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?”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends' faces are replaced by fear and concern. 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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“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. ”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Mother, who has an absolute belief that it is not the cards that one is dealt in life, it is how one plays them, is, by far, the highest card I was dealt.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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 ”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Suicide is not a blot on anyone’s name; it is a tragedy ”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“Love, like life, is much stranger and far more complicated than one is brought up to believe.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
tags: love
“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”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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 ”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“In its severe forms, depression paralyzes all of the otherwise vital forces that make us human, leaving instead a bleak, despairing, desperate, and deadened state. . .Life is bloodless, pulseless, and yet present enough to allow a suffocating horror and pain. All bearings are lost; all things are dark and drained of feeling. The slippage into futility is first gradual, then utter. Thought, which is as pervasively affected by depression as mood, is morbid, confused, and stuporous. It is also vacillating, ruminative, indecisive, and self-castigating. The body is bone-weary; there is no will; nothing is that is not an effort, and nothing at all seems worth it. Sleep is fragmented, elusive, or all-consuming. Like an unstable, gas, an irritable exhaustion seeps into every crevice of thought and action.”
Kay Redfield Jamison
“When I am high I couldn’t worry about money if I tried. So I don’t. The money will come 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. What with credit cards and bank accounts there is little beyond reach. So I bought twelve snakebite kits, with a sense of urgency and importance. I bought precious stones, elegant and unnecessary furniture, three watches within an hour of one another (in the Rolex rather than Timex class: champagne tastes bubble to the surface, are the surface, in mania), and totally inappropriate sirenlike clothes. During one spree in London I spent several hundred pounds on books having titles or covers that somehow caught my fancy: books on the natural history of the mole, twenty sundry Penguin books because I thought it could be nice if the penguins could form a colony. Once I think I shoplifted a blouse because I could not wait a minute longer for the woman-with-molasses feet in front of me in line. Or maybe I just thought about shoplifting, I don’t remember, I was totally confused. I imagine I must have spent far more than thirty thousand dollars during my two major manic episodes, and God only knows how much more during my frequent milder manias.
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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Somehow, like so many people who get depressed, we felt our depressions were more complicated and existentially based than they actually were.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“We all move uneasily within our restraints.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Love has, at its best, made the inherent sadness of life bearable, and its beauty manifest.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
tags: love
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“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)”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“The awareness of the damage done by severe mental illness—to the individual himself and to others—and fears that it may return again play a decisive role in many suicides ”
Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
“Knowledge is marvelous, but wisdom is even better.”
Kay Redfield Jamison
“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. One of the most difficult problems is to construct these barriers of such a height and strength that one has a true harbor, a sanctuary away from crippling turmoil and pain, but yet low enough, and permeable enough, to let in fresh seawater that will fend off the inevitable inclination toward brackishness.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Chaos and intensity are no substitute for lasting love, nor are they necessarily an improvement on real life.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
tags: love
“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.”
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

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