Andrew Solomon has published an adaptation of a new final chapter to his book, Noonday Demon in today’s New York Times magazine. After a dramatic and sad opening the pieces settles into the an exploration of the lethality and stigma of depression in pregnancy, and the risks and benefits of medicating depression during pregnancy — it’s not as obvious as you might think. Bottom line? There are no easy answers. It’s really thoughtful piece. Recommended.
They would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out into the sunshine where they would begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get their blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people, one at a time into dingy little rooms and made them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them!
A Rwandan, speaking to Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon (previous two posts).
On the East Side of Los Angeles? Need to get out of your dingy little room? Why not pick up a copy of the book at a local bookstore? Get out of the house!
Skylight Books (Los Feliz)
Alias Books East (Atwater)
Stories (Echo Park)
She really gets it right. Andrew Solomon (previous post) opened his Ted talk by quoting it.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)
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. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. 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.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Kay, who is a psychiatrist, wrote about her experience with bipolar disorder. It’s a fascinating account of someone in the profession who also had to come to terms with the stigma of mental illness. She was quite wary of disclosing to colleagues, and when she did it was often with mixed results.