Literature, Love and Manic Depression

A beautiful self-biographic passage about love and friendship by Kay Jamison Redfield, professor of psychiatry and author of a number of books. She is an authority on manic-depressive illness, from which she has firsthand experience.

“David could not have been kinder or more accepting; he asked me question after question about what I had been through, what had been most terrible, what had frightened me the most, and what he could do to help me when I was ill. Somehow, after that conversation, everything became easier for me: I felt, for the first time, that I was not alone in dealing with all of the pain and uncertainty, and it was clear to me that he genuinely wanted to understand my illness and to take care of me. He started that night. I explained to him that, due to the relatively rare side effects of lithium that affected both my vision and concentration, I essentially could not read more than a paragraph or two at a time. So he read to me: he read poetry, Wilkie Collins, and Thomas Hardy, with one arm around me in bed, smoothing my hair now and again, as though I were a child. Moment by moment, with infinite patience and tact, his gentleness – and his belief in me, in who I was, and in my basic health – pushed back the nightmare fears of unpredictable moods and violence.”

Source: Kay Redfield Jamison (1995). An Unquiet Mind. A Memoir of Moods and Madness. Vintage Books, USA.

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