Thursday, May 07, 2009

Going Public With the Private

In the past week, I've heard Kay Jamison and Judith Werner speak, and yesterday I read the preview of a New York Times Magazine article by Daphne Merkin-- it will be published on Sunday. So I'm trying to figure out what draws these three events together, and all these people talk about there personal feelings in a public forum.

Kay Redfield Jamison is a scholar of bipolar disorder--- she co-authored the textbook on it. She moved from the academic world to the popular world when her memoir, An Unquiet Mind, was published in 1995-- with this she described her personal struggles with bipolar disorder. Dr. Jamison spoke on "Uses of Adversity" and part of her talk included mention of her personal struggles-- the idea that personal suffering can be the fuel for creative endeavors.

Yesterday, I heard New York Times blogger, Judith Warner, speak. Ms. Warner writes Domestic Disturbances, a blog about family life, and is the author of Perfect Madness: Parenting in the Age of Anxiety. Ms. Warner talks about the differences she noted in parenting when she moved from France to the United States, and talks quiet openly about what it's like to be the mother of two pre-teen daughters. She talks about the loneliness and isolation of being an American mom, of the crazy busy lives we struggle with. And she talks about her relationships with her daughters and with her own mother.

Both women are captivating speakers, and there is something very compelling about someone who talks openly about their own struggles.

So I didn't hear Daphne Merkin speak)....but do check out her on-line, to-be-published account of her episode of major depression in A Journey Through Darkness. Everything about Merkin's writing is hard-- she has an edge to her, one I don't always find to be sympathetic, but in this piece she simply oozes pain.