A manic-depressive clinical psychologist finds solace after the death of her husband.
Redfield (Psychiatry/Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine; Exuberance: The Passion for Life, 2004, etc.) stunned readers when she recounted her battle with harrowing mental illness in her 1995 memoir An Unquiet Mind. Continuing her journey, the author analyzes her life with celebrated scientist Richard Wyatt, who suffered the recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease after 20 years in remission. Persistence and relentless ambition prevented a lifelong battle with dyslexia from impeding Wyatt’s collegiate studies. He earned a psychiatric residency at Harvard and went on to become Neuropsychiatry chief at the National Institute of Mental Health. By the end of his life, he was considered a pioneer in the field. Jamison’s manic mood swings caused friction early on in their romantic relationship, and though Wyatt was new to love, he cherished Jamison “in a way I never questioned.” The ebb and flow of their often turbulent coupling was buoyed by unconditional devotion and extreme patience (“My rage was no match for Richard’s wit”), and they married in 1994, only to have Wyatt’s cancer recur five years later. Risky stem-cell transplants and high-dose chemotherapy afforded them added time together, but little more than a year later, the cancer took his life. Before his death, they spent languid days of quiet time pondering “only small and binding things.” When Jamison admitted to sobbing “But what will I do without you?” and started to prepare funeral arrangements, her ordeal becomes overwhelmingly heart-wrenching. Alone and unmoored, Jamison amazingly skirted the pitfalls of her formerly depressive state and found clarity, managing to make peace with her husband’s death.
A soul-baring love letter to the author’s loving life partner that also addresses the debilitating condition that restricted her from enjoying life to its fullest.