Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:28

Reading An Unquiet Mind helps understand mental-illness issues

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First, let me say as a person with a mental illness, I really appreciated the editorial Ryan Dahlman wrote in the Sept. 16 Prairie Post on mental health and suicide. He wrote candidly about the misconceptions and myths surrounding mental-health issues.
A great book to read and that also is my go-to book when things start to fall apart for me is called An Unquiet Mind written by Kay Redfield Jamison. I highly recommend it. My story in some respects follows her story and quite frankly most people with personality disorders and manic depression would say that. I would like to pass on some of her insights into mental illness as it unfolded in her life.
“You do not wake up one day and find yourself mad.” For example, one thing that happens over time is decreased sleep which is both a symptom and a cause of mental illness. People instead focus on behaviours and don’t make the connection. 
She has 13 rules concerning medications. Some are  amusing, but have serious implications. Her most important rule is never consider stopping your medications. You are not all of a sudden cured.
She has some interesting things to say about love. Love is a very strong medicine making life tolerable, but it is not a cure. Mental illness doesn’t lend it self to love and empathy. Even though your behaviour is being managed with medication you can have really bad days triggered by events in your life. What  you experience as beyond your control can be seen by people even those that are close to you and are aware of your illness as intentionable and hurtful. It is understandable.
She talks about another type of love as well, but it is more about a  love of life particularly after a stumble and you need to see yourself  in a positive light. Learn to trust yourself again. Finding ways to express that love of life. For some, it could be growing a garden, cooking a meal, going for a hike, reading a book. For me, it is playing music, going to a concert, jumping on a bike to see the world, trying to make a positive difference in someone else life.
I have barely touched the surface of all the important messages of that book. I highly recommend it as a way to open your mind to mental illness.
William Gibbs, Swift Current

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