People go mad in idiosyncratic across miles of circling ways. Perhaps it was not rings; and the almost surprising that, as a imperceptible, somehow meteorologist's daughter, I surprisingly pallid, moons of found myself, in that glorious this Catherine wheel of a illusion of high summer days, planet. I remember singing gliding, flying, now and again "Fly Me to the Moons" as I lurching through cloud banks swept past those of Saturn, and ethers, past stars, and and thinking myself terribly across fields of ice crystals. funny. I saw and experienced Even now, I can see in my that which had been only mind's rather peculiar eye an dreams, or fitful fragments of extraordinary shattering and aspiration. shifting of light; inconstant but ravishing colors laid out Was it real? Well, of course not, not in any .------------. meaningful sense of the word "real." But did it stay | AND I MISS | with me? Absolutely. Long after my psychosis | SATURN | cleared, and the medications took hold, it became | VERY MUCH | part of what one remembers forever, surrounded by an '------------' almost Proustian melancholy. Long since that extended voyage of my mind and soul, Saturn and its icy rings took on an elegiac beauty, and I don't see Saturn's image now without feeling an acute sadness at its being so far away from me, so unobtainable in so many ways. The intensity, glory, and absolute assuredness of my mind's flight made it very difficult for me to believe, once I was better, that the illness was one I should willingly give up. Even though I was a clinician and a scientist, and even though I could read the research literature and see the inevitable, bleak consequences of not taking lithium, I for many years after my initial diagnosis was reluctant to .--------. take my medications as prescribed. Why was I so | WAS IT | unwilling? Why did it take having to go through more | REAL? | episodes of mania, followed by long suicidal '--------' depressions, before I would take lithium in a medically sensible way? Some of my reluctance, no doubt, stemmed from a fundamental denial that what I had was a real disease. This is a common reaction that follows, rather counter-intuitively, in the wake of early episodes of manic-depressive illness. Moods are such an essential part of the substance of life, of one's notion of oneself, that even psychotic extremes in mood and behavior somehow can be seen as temporary, even understandable, reactions to what life has dealt. In my case, I had a horrible sense of loss for who I had been and where I had been. It was difficult to give up the high flights of mind and mood, even though the depressions that inevitably followed nearly cost me my life. My family and friends expected that I would welcome being "normal," be appreciative of lithium, and take in stride having normal energy and sleep. But if you have had stars at your feet and the rings of planets through your hands, are used to sleeping only four or five hours a night and now sleep eight, are used to staying up all night for days and weeks in a row and now cannot, it is a very real adjustment to blend into a three-piece-suit schedule, which, while comfortable to many, is new, restrictive, seemingly less productive, and maddeningly less intoxicating. People say, when I complain of being less lively, less energetic, less high-spirited, "Well, now you're just like the rest of us," meaning, among other things, to be reassuring. But I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow. And I miss Saturn very much. * * * An unquiet mind / Kay Redfield Jamison.— 1st ed. * * * (DIR) Poor Wakefield!