Making Good Use of Depression

“Depressed, I have crawled on my hands and knees in order to get across a room and have done it for month after month. But normal or manic I have run faster, thought faster, and loved faster than most I know.” Kay Redfield Jamison

Kay Jamison Depression can be a profoundly damaging and disrupting condition, spiritually and psychologically corrosive, preventing us from living fully and realizing our talents. But a number of people also say the experience has had real value for them.

Psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison first planned her own suicide at 17, and attempted to carry it out at 28.

Referring to her bipolar disorder, she has said, “I have felt more things, more deeply. I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn’t work for me, the answer would be a simple no… and it would be an answer laced with terror.

“But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated. I honestly believe that as a result of it I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, and have been more loved… laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters.”

A lot of us experience some kind of depression. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 21 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.