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Kay Redfield Jamison

  • 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. ... 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • There is an assumption, in attaching Puritan concepts such as 'successful' and 'unsuccessful' to the awful, final act of suicide, that those who 'fail' at killing themselves not only are weak, but incompetent, incapable even of getting their dying quite right.

  • Suicide is not a blot on anyone's name; it is a tragedy.

  • Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury; the time spent engaged in it is not time that could be better spent in more formal educational pursuits. Play is a necessity.

  • The pursuit of knowledge is an intoxicant, a lure that scientists and explorers have known from ancient times; indeed, exhilaration in the pursuit of knowledge is part of what has kept our species so adaptive.

  • Nature is the first tutor. No one remains untouched or unschooled by the earth, seasons, and heavens.

  • 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 absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse. Not just any horse, but an unrelentingly stubborn and blindingly neurotic one, a sort of equine Woody Allen, but without the entertainment value.

  • I had imagined, of course, a My Friend Flicka scenario: My horse would see me in the distance, wiggle his ears in eager anticipation, whinny with pleasure, canter up to my side, and nuzzle my breeches for sugar or carrots. What I got instead was a wildly anxious, frequently lame, and not terribly bright creature who was terrified of snakes, people, lizards, dogs, and other horses — in short, terrified of anything that he might reasonably be expected to encounter in life — thus causing him to rear up on his hind legs and bolt madly about in completely random directions.

Kay Redfield Jamison, U.S. clinical psychologist, writer

(1946)