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Customer Review

776 of 814 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and enlightening, December 7, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (Paperback)
Over the past 20 years I've had several friends who suffered from manic-depressive illnesses. It's abundantly clear to me that the disease is primarily biochemical and "not their fault." But I had trouble understanding why these people refused to take their medication (or stopped taking it after they started) and otherwise engaged in massive denial. Jamison's frank and well-written book was a revelation: now I feel I have a better sense of the seductiveness of mania, and why creative, intelligent people are often willing to risk the lows of their illness for the sake of the highs. As Jamison points out emphatically, however, the long-term effects of bipolar disorder can be devastating mentally and physically (not to mention the financial and personal fallout) -- hence her crusade to understand the basis of the illness, and learn how to fine-tune the medication so that the sufferer achieves equilibrium without deadening the sensitivity and creativity that often accompany this disease. I'd already read "Night Falls Fast," which is also excellent, but this book set out the personal story behind Jamison's research interests. While she insists that love alone won't cure the disease, it's also clear that, without the love of her loyal friends, this intelligent, talented, and articulate woman might never have made it through the more difficult years, let alone become a respected authority in her profession. Anyone who suffers from bipolar disorders, and those who love them, should read this book.
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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 9, 2008 8:11:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2008 8:12:24 PM PDT
Why don't people that have disorders take psychotropic drugs? They have really bad side affects and knock you out. You can't stay on them all of the time, and you have really bad withdrawl symptoms. Sometimes it's just better to live with the "illness" than be drugged up all the time with drugs that don't even work that well. Just remember this, these people are not willingly trying to refute the system..the system is a mess and the drugs they prescribe are awful and often misused.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2008 6:11:55 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2008 2:38:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2008 2:42:35 PM PST
I plan on buying this book (have not read it yet), but to Finucane's and Banks' comments: I believe you are not seeing the whole picture. I have suffered from depression for three years now, and began medication a year-and-a-half ago. The medication is a tremendous help! Depression is like a fog over those of us that have it, and although we do not see it--it is affecting everything we do. It affects our view of the world and of everything around us. The medication helped 'lift the fog' for me to see what I could not before. With this, I have been able to pull myself out of my worst depression: I exercise regularly now, quit the drinking & gambling, and built my self-esteem back to the point where I now appreciate myself. I am now very happy & engaged to be married--something that I did not think was even a possibility at my low point.

I did start with a medication that was not that helpful, but tried others and have found what works for me. I hear it is not the same for everyone. I cannot disagree more with your comment "the drugs they prescribe are awful". I have since learned that scientists have found there are parts of the brain that are responsible for depression, and 10% of people are affected by it. Many do not even know. It is very PHYSICAL. The medication helps with these physical issues and I am so thankful for it. I have never felt "drugged up all the time" nor "knocked out". I just feel "normal" again.

I was healthy, happy, and did not feel depressed until I was 30. Like you, I could not understand why people who were depressed could not "just snap out of it". From the outside it seems an easy path for someone to get out of it, but from the inside--you cannot see it. This clinical type of depression is more than a temporary "sadness" that most people experience. Consider yourself fortunate to be in the 90%.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2008 4:49:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2008 4:50:36 PM PST
Betsy Adams says:
I was diagnosed nearly 25 years ago as a manic depressive , before it was called bi-polar or the flavor of the day and have been successful with my meds.
Nobody who is really a manic depressive is in love with it. If they say they are they are not manic depressive just plain stupid.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2009 8:14:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2009 8:17:36 PM PDT
W.H. says:
It is NEVER better to live with an illness like bipolar disorder than to be on medication. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (the combination is called schizoaffective disorder) almost ten years ago. The first few of those years were very bad--I was medication compliant, but the psychiatric drugs I tried (in many different combinations) were not entirely helpful. One caused tardive dyskinesia, a side effect so severe that I had to go off that particular drug. My doctor had me taper off the drug slowly, and I didn't have any withdrawal.

If you're a psychiatric patient, don't go off a drug you've been on for any length of time abruptly (all at once). That's what causes withdrawal.

Anyway, being sedated, or "knocked out," is not usually a sufficient reason to go off an effective drug. Over time, your body will get used to the drug and your energy should return, if slowly. (I speak from personal experience.)

My life is by no means perfect, but I'm not psychotic, manic, or suicidally depressed. I would be if I went off all my medication. NOTHING would be worth allowing that to happen.

I understand better than most that a lifelong medication regimen can be very frustrating. But if you have a crippling mental illness, PLEASE don't give up.

Posted on Feb 12, 2010 10:41:34 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Oct 18, 2010 3:42:55 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2010 7:23:10 PM PDT
P. Zapata says:
Michael, I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for pointing that out. Some people think that just because you've been prescribed medications you must been insane not to want to take them (no pun intended). Seriously, sometimes, those drugs make some people worse, not better. To each his own. I would know. I've been there.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 9:14:05 PM PDT
Jane says:
Oh Lord. It seems like I can't read the reviews and discussions of a single mental health book on amazon without finding your comments.

WH--"It is NEVER better to live with an illness like bipolar disorder than to be on medication. "

Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. It may not be better for YOU, WH, but it was just fine for ME. I am still alive and I am very happy and I've been omg off my meds for over twenty years. I learned to live with it and later overcome it. Stop trying to speak for everyone who ever had the diagnosis. You speak only for yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2010 9:17:08 PM PDT
Jane says:
El Lagarto:--"If you want to read the definitive memoir of Manic Depression, read Invisible Driving Invisible Driving by Alistair McHarg. McHarg actually takes readers inside the experience of a manic episode while providing both a thoughtful context and a hard look at the recovery process. "

Is there any review for any popular mental health memoir you haven't yet plugged your book on Alistair? While I agree with much of your criticisms of AUM having read your excerpts for your book the writing was just not good enough to draw me in. AUM is very well written. I'll grant that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2010 9:00:57 AM PDT
I totally agree. My daughter has been on MANY drugs. I know what it is like with them and now without. Everyone is different. Some benefit from them and some have quite the opposite affect. There is no one size fits all. Try a regular schedule, healthy habits such as eating heathy and exercising, and get REGULAR and CONSISTENT Sleep. The sleep part is a MUST!
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