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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

While struggling to live with the havoc of bipolar disorder, Kay Redfield Jamison was also struggling to build a career. Throughout years of trying to cope with — and hide — the spending sprees, ruined relationships, devastating depressions and even a suicide attempt, she became a respected professor of psychiatry and an international authority on mood disorders.

Fuelled by hypomanic energy, focus and creativity, Jamison earned her PhD in psychology and joined the faculty at UCLA where she founded a clinic for affective disorders. Unwilling to give up her manias, she endured the punishing depressions that inevitably followed.

Jamison began psychotherapy and lithium treatment when she faced the very real possibility that she might lose her job, her marriage and her life to her disease if she didn’t. Even then, as she counseled her patients on the importance of staying on their medications, she struggled with her own reluctance to stay on the lithium she knew her life depended upon. Like many with manic-depression, she knew that mania has its rewards.

Jamison explains how she learned to accept her disease and its treatment, and even to value what she considers its gifts.A Memoir of Moods and Madness

This compelling portrayal of bipolar disorder (Jamison prefers the term manic depression) from the dual perspective of both patient and doctor is a story of struggle but also of triumph and hope. Jamison became a tenured professor at Johns Hopkins University, co-author of a standard text book on the disease and author of other books on the topic, and a recognized scholar in the academic world. Her story shows others who live with psychiatric disorders — and the rest of the world too — that it is possible to live a rich, full life, despite being mentally ill.

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