Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jamison's Memoir on Love & Loss

Published September 15, 2009.
A close friend of mine from high school stronger recommended Kay Redfield Jamison's earlier book An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (1997).  So when I saw that she had a book out about love and loss, I put the title on my "to read list."

A recent plane trip granted me the opportunity to finally read Nothing Was The Same: A Memoir (2009).

I spent the last twenty pages trying to cry as silently as possible in order to keep from disturbing my seat mates.

Jamison describes her relationship with her husband Richard Wyatt as it developed throughout many stages:

Their courtship and early marriage--where they had to work out a dynamic for how they could both address her manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; his diagnosis and treatment for cancer over a three year period; and Jamison's grief in the wake of Wyatt's death.


The entire memoir was compelling. However, I was most interested in her personal narratives on how she perceived the difference between depression and grief.

Jamison is well qualified to write on the subject. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in mood disorders. She is a person who has lived with manic-depressive illness. She is a widow, recently bereaved. And Jamison is an experienced author, having written not only academic texts, but self-reflective prose as well--a book on her illness, a book on suicide, a book on mental illness and creativity, and a book on exuberance.

Wyatt and Jamison spent 20 years together where their relationship intersected on many levels. They were colleagues, friends, and lovers.  Losing him made it difficult to function in all areas of her life, personal and professional. Added to that grief was Jamison's fear that she would lose the ability to keep her manic-depressive illness in check.

Nothing Was the Same shows how we are all vulnerable to profound pain in the wake of loss. However, Jamison is careful to point out that grief can also teach us about love and life as well as about death. And that there can be joy and love--even after loss.

Related: 

Books on Aging
Movies about Older Adults Active in the Dying Process

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