There are galaxies within the human mind, and madness wants to risk everything for the daring flight, reckless and beautiful and crazed. Everyone knows Icarus fell. But I love him for the fact that he dared to fly. Mania unfurls the invitation to fly too high, too near the sun which will melt the wax of the mind, and the fall will be terrible. Tristimania is an old term for manic depression, precisely capturing that sense of grief and hilarity, of violent sadness and mad highs.
From the award-winning writer of A Country Called Childhood and Savage Grace comes author Jay Griffiths’s most personal work yet. Overwhelmed by both exhaustion and stress after a long struggle to finish her previous book, Griffiths felt herself slipping into crisis. It would lead to psychotic hallucinations, endless visits to the doctor and new medications that would take over her life for an entire year, culminating in a long solo pilgrimage across Spain. Tristimania is an unusual record of a psychotic episode as Griffiths took notes throughout. Having noted that people in manic periods often don’t remember them until they’re in that stage again, Griffiths writes, “When your mind is in flight, you don’t leave tracks on the ground so there are no prints, neither footprints nor printed letters on the page. But I felt fiercely that I had to take notes… that I had to mark the tracks of its passage.” With her detailed diary entries, Griffiths is able to bring readers directly into the heart of a manic-depressive episode, pulling the curtain back on how extraordinary and how tragic these feelings are.
She also uses her own journey to illuminate something of the universal human spirit, illustrating how Shakespeare amongst others offers clues to this condition. She explores the mercuriality of manic-depression partly through the character of Mercury, and looks at the condition as the workings of the Trickster in the human psyche.