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Courtesy of Emily Bernstein

Kay Jamison discusses The Unquiet Mind and mental health

On Thursday Oct. 15, Dr. Kay Jamison came in to lecture about her book, The Unquiet Mind, in the University Center Ballroom. The Unquiet Mind is the first-year book for the 2015-2016 school year. The book is an autobiography by Jamison, who suffered depression, followed by bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder.

Jamison began her lecture by letting the audience know that she is currently teaching at Johns Hopkins University and that she recognized that depression is common in college and graduate schools. She emphasized that people with untreated depression shouldn’t be allowed because depression is, in fact, treatable.

When she had her first mental breakdown at 17, no one knew such a thing existed or that it could be treatable. It was just not right to talk about such things at the time. So she thought the mood swings were normal and her life was naturally chaotic. However, she said that people are more educated now and people with mental health issues should reach out for help.

Then she went on to describe the differences between depression and bipolar disorder. She said that around 15 to 20 percent of the population has depression, which is characterized by apathy and disinterest. “It is an illness for one’s self,” she added, “while manic-depressive illness is the complete opposite: it is an illness for one’s friends.”

Jamison read a few excerpts from her book, including the prologue. It was invigorating to hear the book in words in the voice of the author. She read a part in the book that described her plan to overdose on lithium, which was her medicine, so she could kill herself. She let the audience know that after almost dying, she finally learned her lesson and started to take her medicine regularly.

Although Jamison defines mood as something that makes a person, she defines herself as normal after taking medicine to alter her moods. She thinks that it was a way of going back to who she used to be. She also answered that depression rates are going up because there is more sleep deprivation, drinking and drug use than ever before.

Jamison reminded the audience that brain is a part of our body, just like our kidneys, heart and liver. She pointed out that most patients think that they don’t have a brain because they do not think about the effects depression has on their brain, but continue to worry about other organs. She wanted everyone to be educated about the human condition and reach out if help was needed, because there are working treatments for mental illnesses.