Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Manic Depression Project

One of my favorite authors on Mental Health topics is Kay Redfield Jamison. I first read her An Unquiet Mind about 3 or 4 years ago. It impressed me because she was brave enough to discuss her own struggle with Manic Depression. Because despite what people may say about “enlightened” and accepting attitudes, there is STILL an incredible amount of discrimination against some diagnoses.

The openness of many high-profile Depression-affected individuals helped to erase the ignorance and attendant stigma associated with that diagnosis. Manic Depressives have not enjoyed the same acceptance. The last time I heard about someone with Manic Depression [or Bi-Polar Disorder] it was because they had “gone off their meds” and committed some high profile crime, i.e. a mass shooting, kidnapping a child, murder/suicide in a domestic arrangement.

Redfield broke new ground by telling about her disorder and how it affected her pursuit of an advanced degree. Since she is on faculty at Johns Hopkins Medical School, she may have an advantage in gaining the acceptance of her co-workers. One would assume, once she had tenure, she could say a LOT of things an un-tenured professor could not. I think her expertise in the psychological field is ENHANCED by her disorder. She has a view of Manic Depression from Both sides of the desk. Training new psychologists and psychiatrists, she is in a unique position to expand their understanding of future patients.

I want to talk about Manic Depression here. What it's like for the patient; what it's like for those close to the patient. There are some unique challenges to this disorder. You may have a Manic Depressive in your life who has been a mystery to you. You may work with one, for one, love one, or have your life impacted by this disorder, and not even recognize what's going on.
I want to make this, ideally, a multi-part posting. I will talk about symptoms and signs in one post. The next will talk about various treatment modalities. Yet another will address what it's like to live with a Manic Depressive and how to cope/ help them cope with those pesky mood swings.
SO, y'all think about questions you might have. You can leave them in comments, if you like. As I progress through this opus, I'll try to cover any questions posed, as well as writing about the subjects I outlined above.
Stay tuned.