This is one of my favorite books about manic depressive illness. In fact, I would say Kay Redfield Jamison is one of my favorite authors. “Touched With Fire” and “Night Falls Fast” are both amazing reads as well.
She touches so well on the circus in my head I described earlier… the sensory explosion that happens to me during a manic stage. Reading her describe similar experiences makes me cry. Why?? Because I am not alone in a world like this.
There is no way to describe to someone what it is like to feel so cold that it feels like fire, or be surrounded by lights that are so bright everything around seems surreal. There’s no way to describe how loud a chirping bird sounds or how strong and fragrant fresh cut grass can seem. There’s no way to explain the sound and feel of the earth beneath my feet as I walk.
Nor is there a way to explain what it’s like when all those experiences are absent… as in a state of depression. Depression is the monster on my back. It steals everything from me and leaves me with absolutely nothing. It leaves me with pain… sickness… indifference… and my most hated phrase: “All I know is I don’t know”. When depressed, a walk in the park is absent of everything pleasant. I can’t hear children laughing or playing, I can’t smell the BBQ cooking, I can’t hear birds chirping or dogs playing, I can’t feel the breeze or the warmth of the sun, I can’t see people smiling and enjoying themselves, and worst of all… I feel devoid of life in general. It’s painful and a bit torturous. When I am depressed it takes all my strength to leave the house and do anything… especially socialize. It is brutal. I have fought with these feelings since I was 11 yrs old… and 24 yrs later I am still figuring it out… trying to tame this beast. It can be done. I WILL do it.
Watch me. ~written on April 2010