Diana Manister wrote:
> Dear Kate,
> Your statement "then she was certainly mentally ill, going beyond
> depression" is apparently based on the assumption that depression is
> not mental illness. Major depressive episodes, whether part of the
> bipolar cycle or not, are certainly mental illness. An agitated
> depression includes a nearly unbearable level of anxiety as well as
> depression. What would you label mental illness if not that?
> I do think suicide is not always the result of mental illness; it can
> be a rational act.
I think Kate really wants to say "crazy," but knowing that that is no
longer socially acceptable tries to make the respectable term "mental
illness" do the work for her. Kate, you are obviously intelligent and
know how to think, but mere intelligence simply cannot by itself make up
for profound ignorance.
Kate probably also confuses clinical depression with "depression" as
used by those who say to a sufferer from depression, "I know just how
you feel. I really went into a funk after I lost my job or after my wife
died." Those who so speak probably never know how close they have come
to losing a few teeth. And as Diana notes, there are many features of
depressiosive illness other than what I call "plain vanilla depression,"
intense anxiety being only one of them. One can be deprived of sleep or,
on the contrary, be unable to do anything but sleep.. . . Or suppose
that in Eliot's case there had been a trivial error of phrasing which in
memory might seem portentious in his last letter to Verdenal -- looming
ever larger and more oppressively in his memory as a profound wrong that
could never be set right! And so forth. I could go on for some length.
Or profound self-depreciation: in 1958 it came back to me through the
grapevine that Austen Wrren had been praising me highly behnd my back,
resulting not in pleasure but in some loss of respect for Warren's
judgment (as in Groucho Marx's "I would not belong to a club that would
have me as a member").