About the Book
I, Elizabeth, is the personal recounting of a post depression, southern "rural poor" woman's journey through the onset, flowering, and moderation of symptoms of bipolar illness. Her "falling down" occurred in 1965, although symptoms had appeared much earlier. The first twenty years were an unbearable sojourn in deepest depression, medications at that time being ineffective. The latter years have seen more balance of mood, but shifts continue, and into rapid cycling, mania being now more often seen; the ever hound of depersonalization has become more diffused and constant, if less threatening through habituation. Beautiful physically, intelligent, creative (beauty being her most enduring antidote) and willful, Elizabeth was able to finish her education, at least through graduate studies at the master's level in the areas of English literature and psychology. She managed a long career in teaching at the college level, chairing her department more than twenty years; she was married, divorced, and re-married, to be widowed fifteen years ago. The schirmishes of life of will against circumstance are recorded, with some measure of content in the last ten years, years spent in retirement alone, with hope and thanksgivings beside regret, looking toward conclusion: altogether a bitter-sweet rapture, the book a weaving of bipolar though throughout the chronicle of her life. Elizabeth spends her hours painting, sculpting, doing some ceramics, with music, flowers, reading and writing, poetry her preferred genre. She enjoys a plethora of friends with entertaining when her mood is good, of course, requires her time alone, and ponders always the cost of the wealth that is hers.
About the Author
Elizabeth (Betty D. Clayton) was born on September 7, 1940 to "share croppers" living in a rural area near Epps, LA. Her father entered the ministry when she was about ten years of age and took his family to finish high school and college. Her parents both took their degrees and raised their family an entire social class in one generation: "a notable and very rare occurrence" reported her first psychiatrist of twenty-three years. Elizabeth completed all of her education in Mississippi, to which her family had moved when she was an infant, including graduate studies at the master's level in the areas of literature and psychology. She began teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS, at age twenty and retired from teaching eleven years ago from hinds Community College in Raymond, MS, following an automobile accident which very nearly required her right leg. During the first years after the full onset of her bipolar illness in 1965, she took excursions into several other, related vocational venture, working in the state mental hospital outside Jackson, MS and in the first integrated literacy program (of the "great society") in MS. Elizabeth is a widow of fifteen years, has no children, and is estranged from almost all of her remaining family, but she enjoys a wealth of friends. She lives alone in her comfortable country home near the state capitol, Jackson MS. Her hours are spent, when symptoms are moderated, painting, sculpting, and writing, and with other hobbies as well as entertaining. She must, and does, return to her solitude where she is most free and productive. She is under the care of Dr. John Norton at the University Medical Center in Jackson, MS and it is he who insisted she "tell her story"; and so the record has been penned.