Meditation on Manic-Depressive Illness

December 16, 2011
Richard M. Berlin, MD

Volume 28, Issue 12

But I still have bottles of pretty pills . . . I throw like life rafts to keep them afloat . . .in choppy seas, me passing my doctor-days

Manic-depressive made sense to me.

Manic! I loved it! And I understood

depressive, too: downcast, dull,

dun-colored, dung. Then a committee

changed the name and we mushed

by dog sled to Bipolar-land with its

frozen North and torrid South, antipodes

of our moods. And with global warming,

glaciers melt like our diagnoses,

all the old Borderlines and angry

adolescents melted down to Bipolar

slush. But I still have bottles of pretty pills

I throw like life rafts to keep them afloat

in choppy seas, me passing my doctor-days

dreaming I could be like an Arctic scientist

with a tool to core out samples from

every patient’s heart and measure each time

they froze, the heat when they thawed.