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A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape as well as the illuminating path to recovery

10 thoughts on “Darkness Visible A Memoir of Madness

  1. says:

    This very small volume was not an easy read Mr Styron eases us into his own story by relating stories of other writers and artists who experienced deep depression Some made it through but most did not His stories are liberally laced with a depth of understanding that he acknowledged could only come to those who have experienced itWe are not talking about a few days or even depression over a week or two but rather months where the elevator keeps going down no matter how many times one thumps the Up buttonThe rawness of Mr Styron’s descent into deep depression is what made it difficult to read As he said the wide variety of symptoms and idiosyncrasies of depression continue to make it difficult to treat There is no simple ‘cure’ and no ‘one remedy suits all’ like there are for other diseases and illnessesThe relentless descriptions of the reality he was being bombarded with every day for months were an education that I will not soon forget I will also never forget that he did succeed in moving through it; just as his elevator skimmed the rock bottom of his life it changed direction and began a slow and laborious climb upward againNot without a near crisis and not without a lot of help He emphasizes that point and also has some solid advice and words of wisdom to pass on to anyone who lives with a sufferer of depression be it family or friendsOh and he also said he hoped that a better word would someday be found for this disease as he felt “depression” to be too dull and boring and not even close to describing the fierce and painful storms that occur in the mind and emotions of those suffering from debilitating depressionI do recommend this book to anyone who may be confronting depression themselves or that of a family member or friend It could help to save someone’s life

  2. says:

    Darkness Visible When the uestion is Whether Life is Worth Living William Styron June 11 1925 – November 1 2006 Dying is easy Comedy is hard Edmund Kean 4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833 celebrated Shakespearean actor Preamble January 18 2015It is 120am cst My thoughts swirl over the important content of Styron's brief memoir originally delivered as a lecture in Balti 1989 The information contained in this little volume is too important to trust to hastily dashed off thoughts without the benefit of careful consideration So a night's sleep is called for And truthfully to consider how much of myself I choose to reveal within my review of Styron's story For much of what he has to say also applies to me as it does to many among us Yet I am not unaware of the stigma brought about by confession My inclination is truthfulness leads to seek help I did It has made all the difference For I emerged from darkness once again to see the stars There is much joy in the night sky but a terrible loneliness in the dark without even a match to strike to hold to a candle's wickThe Heart of the Matter January 25 2015It has taken considerably time than one night of good sleep to bring myself to write an adeuate review of Darkness Visible A Memoir of Madness For I did not stop with this brief but brilliant account by William Styron I continued on to with Reading My Father by his youngest daughter Alexandra Styron an absorbing intimate memoir detailing what it was like to be William Styron's daughter in good times and in bad The bad included not only the time Styron so articulately described in this work but in his continuing battle clinical depression His battle did not end with the publication of Darkness Visible in 1990 Rather Styron was revisited by the black dog the dark river the abyss a number of times before his death in 2006 No Styron did not die by his own hand He endured cancer of the mouth and died of complications from pneumonia A review of Reading My Father will follow at some point hopefully in the very near future As I type a copy of William Styron A Life by his biographer James LW West III is at the right corner of my desk Yes I am making a study of Styron's life and his works a number of which I have read at this time but not all of them Many some published posthumously have a great bearing on Styron's life view his state of mind during some of the most difficult points in his life There was something else I had to give considerable thought to before writing this review I indicated that in my hastily dashed off thoughts now appearing in what I have called the Preamble to the main body of this review Those of you who have read my reviews know that I have often included personal details of my life This will be the most personal review I have ever written Not only will you read of Styron's thoughts on the nature of depression but you will learn of mine something that I struggled to hide for many years uite successfully until I too slid off the edge of the world in much the same fashion as did Styron It is not so much that confession is good for the soul but that with each voice speaking about the debilitating anguish of depression perhaps those who do not understand it will not view those who suffer from it weak human beings would be shirkers of responsibility or simply spineless beings Styron did much to dispell that stigma However many people who share those misconceptions uite frankly do not read William Styron I have come to wonder if they read much of anything I also have a few things to say about the pharmaceutical industry and the manner in which they pitch their products in endless streams of mindless commercials On Darkness Visible as a work of LiteratureWilliam Styron wrote an extraordinary document It draws on literary allusion after allusion Note the very source of its title Paradise Lost by John Milton For its subject matter it is remarkably succinct a mere ninety pages It is remarkable for its clarity Styron is remarkable for his revelation of his illness it is the taking off the mask that those battling depression wear so well for so long Styron reveals his self medication with alcohol perhaps an addiction though he never calls it alcoholism Yet he reveals that he freuently wrote under the influence of alcohol and could not do so without a fluent flow without the aid of alcohol At the age of sixty the mere taste of alcohol resulted in pure revulsion He was devastated by insomnia night after night He discloses that he was an auto didact He was a master at self diagnosis Before seeking psychiatric help he had pondered over the Diagnostic Statistical Manual what I call the ultimate cookbook containing all the diagnostic recipes for disorders large and small for psychologists and psychiatrists To further complicate matters though Styron does not admit it in Darkness Visible Styron was a hypochondriac extraordinaire We can thank daughter Alexandra for that informationStyron cracked apart in 1985 on a trip to Paris to accept the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca awarded for his lifetime achievement in producing works reflecting on great humanism The award was offered by the wife of his French Publisher Del Duca had published Styron's first novel Lie Down in Darkness in 1953 and had published each of his ensuing works It was to be a day of festivities However Styron had already sought an appointment with a psychiatrist in New York The prize was 2500000 Immediately after the award was presented Styron in an absolute panic immobilized by anxiety told Madame Del Duca he could not attend the luncheon being held in his behalf Which drew an angry Alors With arms thrown high Styron even in his frozen state apologized did recognize his gaffe and told her he had a problem psychiatriue and that he was sick Apology accepted Styron and his rock wife Rose suffered through the luncheon Styron unable to choke down hardly a bite A flight on the Concorde the next morning began a rigorous pyschiatric treatment Ultimately hospitalization Styron seriously contemplated suicideSo Some central thoughts from Darkness Visible each of which I hold to be absolutely true which I will interlace with my own confessions the devil take the hindmost The names of some of my principal players have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty for there are both “Depression is a disorder of mood so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self to the mediating intellect as to verge close to being beyond description It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode although the gloom the blues which people go through occasionally and associate with the general hassle of everyday existence are of such prevalence that they do give many individuals a hint of the illness in its catastrophic form” William Styron No words have come so close to describing what it feels like You're just down in the dumps A little time you'll feel better in no time Time passes there's no change This moodiness of yours is getting old Snap out of it Do you think it's pleasant being around you? No I didn't think it was If you're not happy here go somewhere else If you do I'll take you for every cent you've gotMy first marriage Twenty six years Many years were loveless We had two children When my son graduated from high school I left work early one day gathered clothes together the kids came home to find me packing I explained their mother and I couldn't get along any It wasn't their fault Nor was it their mother's She was a good woman I would never say a bad word about herThe divorce took two years My former wife fought all the way I was an Assistant District Attorney There was a limited pot of money There would always be a limited amount of money It took two lawyers to convince her of that Even then I gave her everything keeping my books records fishing euipment and camping euipment Everyone leaves their own legacy She alienated by children by blocking every phone number I had access to The children in my photographs of them never grow older My son married I had told him when he and his wife had a child he would understand what it meant to be a father perhaps we would be reconciled someday We did for almost two years His mother gave him fits his wife told me We are once again estranged My daughter has never reconciled with me She has a child I've never met I was first told I was dealing with depression during my divorce One does not abandon even briefly one’s bed of nails but is attached to it wherever one goes And this results in a striking experience one which I have called borrowing military terminology the situation of the walking wounded For in virtually any other serious sickness a patient who felt similar devastation would by lying flat in bed possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life support systems but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting His invalidism would be necessary unuestioned and honorably attained However the sufferer from depression has no such option and therefore finds himself like a walking casualty of war thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations There he must despite the anguish devouring his brain present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship He must try to utter small talk and be responsive to uestions and knowingly nod and frown and God help him even smile But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words” William Styron I became an Assistant District Attorney in 1979 Several factors led to that Two women who had cared for me as a child had been murdered One by her husband The other by her son I had loved each of them Later in law school as a law clerk in the District Attorney's Office two young men robbed a Mom and Pop grocery store The father of two students with whom I had attended school throughout my life was murdered His death changed their lives forever I would become a righter of wrongs I have been one acuainted with the nightI have walked out in rain—and back in rainI have outwalked the furthest city lightRobert Frost Within six years I was a specialist in prosecuting child abuse I was bestowed somehow with a high degree of empathy It can be a gift and a curse I became known as Mr Mike I had a uniue ability to talk with children I became known as Mr Mike first by children then by police social workers and the name stuck I was called in to interview very young children who had witnessed their fathers kill their mothers I became a protector of mockingbirdsThe caseload was relentless I was a man capable of great tenderness mixed with the ability to turn mean I was described as a lawyer who had an uncanny ability to connect with a witness on the stand I often worked late into the night in trial preparation My former wife complained I cared about other people's children than my own She could not understand it when I told her I knew ours were protected but the others were notI was and remain haunted by the eyes of the dead particularly the eyes of dead children I have flashbacks at timesWhat Styron said about being expected to smileis true I wore a mask Exceptionally well I was a cop's DA My best lawyer friend resorted to a John Wayne phrase calling me a man with a lot of hard bark on him I could exchange gallows' humor jokes with the most jaded Homicide InvestigatorAlthough our office had an on call system Investigators usually called me Frankly I was very very good at my job I was a fine trial lawyer I lost very few cases I did lose control of my emotions than once on closing argument before a jury and cried I considered it a weakness even when the jury convictedDuring all my years as a prosecutor I lost count of the number of crime scenes I attended the number of dead I saw the number of autopsies I witnessed the exhumation of a dead child I obtained an order for and the subseuent re autopsyI had no outlet to talk about my work My former wife did not want to hear about it It was too depressing Yes I guess it was “When I was first aware that I had been laid low by the disease I felt a need among other things to register a strong protest against the word depression Depression most people know used to be termed melancholia a word which appears in English as the year 1303 and crops up than once in Chaucer who in his usage seemed to be aware of its pathological nuances Melancholia would still appear to be a far apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder but it was usurped by a noun with a blank tonality and lacking any magisterial presence used indifferent to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground a true wimp of a word for such a major illnessIt may be that the scientist generally held responsible for its currency in modern times a Johns Hopkins Medical School faculty member justly venerated the Swiss born psychiatrist Adolf Meyer had a tin ear for the finer rhythms of English and therefore was unaware of the semantic damage he had inflicted for such a dreadful and raging disease Nonetheless for over seventy five years the word has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing by its insipidity a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control” ― William Styron Our pharmaceutical industry does nothing to indicate the seriousness of clinical depression It's a simple as just adding a little pill to help the anti depressant you're on And all delivered in a seconds long cartoon commercial What kind of message does that send to people who have never dealt with the condition those who have just had the commonplace blues Looks serious doesn't it? And where are the men in those commercials? Alright so the statistics show women report depression than men How about women are forthcoming and truthful in reporting depression After all that male ego is such an impediment to admitting to what is viewed as a weakness Interesting that according to the American Foundation for Suicide in 2012 over 78% of suicides were committed by males while slightly over 21% were committed by femalesSince Darkness VisibleWilliam Styron was repeatedly prescribed Halcion by than one physician for his insomnia Halcion was banned in Great Britain in 1991 on the basis of its connection to depression and possible suicidal behavior The FDA still allows its prescription in the United States The drug is currently the subject of litigation in various jurisdictionsConsiderable progress has been made in pharmacology for the treatment of clinical depression since Styron published Darkness VisibleWhy I'm Still HereI fell off the edge of the earth twice Call it a crack up Call it a nervous break down Throughout my life I have been consumed by the fear of failure Formerly the Director of a Not for Profit Corporation I was placed under a degree of stress I was incapable of handling I had long been associated with the program as a board member The President of the Board had succeeded in removing two Directors preceding my taking the position When that President initiated the same tactics against me I became frozen by anxiety incapable of focus unable to function Men closely identify themselves with their work The loss of what they do is essentially the same as the loss of their identity That was the case for me Did I consider whether life was worth living any? Yes I did Clinical Depression is a chemical imbalance Restoration to health reuires a combination of psychological therapy and psychiatric pharmacology I was fortunate to find the right combination I entered a second stage of crisis after being my mother's care giver during her final illness It was a long hard death for her I very unrealistically thought I could help save her life I lived in a state of denial She finally was hospitalized in intensive care for a month The end was inevitable The morning she died I found myself lost once again What was left for me to do An adjustment of my medications was necessary Within two months I had found myself once againEach time I considered life wasn't worth the living one thing kept me from taking the final step It was the same thing that kept Styron alive For him it was the effect it would have had on his family For me it was the effect it would have had on my mother and my wife the lovely woman with whom I found happiness relatively late in life The second time my wife I have seen too many people devastated by the suicide of a loved one But it took the right help to make me remember that The help is there

  3. says:

    It was August in the year 2000 I was about to enter the room for my final exam This was the introduction to Unix and it was coming to an endSo was ITears flowing copiously leaning over the second floor balcony I was overcome with darkness the likes of which I had never experienced beforeI finished the exam and could not gather myself I had no reason for living In my grief I recalled an earlier experience of incredible bliss following a near deathdrowning experience at Luther Burbank Park during my first visit to Seattle in 1977 The water was calling me to her I could taste her and the light drew me near I kept remembering the bliss of that day as I sank deeper into the lake my last breath bubbling to the surface and the incredible softness and beauty of the afternoon sun reaching below the surface and I in total surrender enveloped by her By brother pushed me to the surface that afternoon and with the aid of the lifeguard revived me It wasn't my timeThe bliss was calling again and I was ready I set up a meeting with my best friend at the time A last beer together Goodbyes Again it wasn't my timeA month later this book was sitting in the lunchroom at my place of work I brought it home and read it and saw myself in the pages looking back at me It would be a couple of months before I regained my appetite for living Looking back I've had a major episode of depression at about every 15 years None were as deep and despairing as this last one There was something about this slim volume that really helped in the immediate post suicidal period when I was in a sort of purgatory a daze a grey zone between the worldsI'm better now thanks to caring friends and divine intervention I have a zest for life interesting projects friends and community Just like before But I am different for having the experience I hadHere is hope that your days are full of light

  4. says:

    Maybe I'm being needlessly harsh in my one star rating but there was something about Styron's memoir that really distressed me I read it during one of my own periods of depression and for whatever reason I decided to pair it with The Bell Jar and instead of feeling any sort of comfort or recognition in Styron's words I just felt sort of angry I became so hung up on the ways we women men Americans depressed people etc talk about depression and on what it means when we call it by different names that even the very title of the work became grating A Memoir of Madness I started probably unfairly projecting onto Styron grumbling to myself that sure when fancy male writers are depressed it becomes madness like they all think they're King Lear or something This is the point at which a simultaneous re reading of Sylvia Plath became not so helpful but provided an interesting contrastIt was also around the time and this was in a total fit of unabashed Crazy that I decided to reclaim the phrase mental illness Man that was a bad weekBut I guess what I really struggled with in reading this memoir was the notion of finding anything noble in suffering from depression I've never felt especially noble or touched by a strange dark power or whatever I've spent almost fifteen years of my life thinking that I'm broken and that I should cheer up already I know that there's no such thing as capital D Depression and that we all experience it differently and maybe even differently throughout our own lives but there was just something about Styron's tone that really irked me

  5. says:

    Darkness Visible A Memoir of Madness William StyronDarkness Visible A Memoir of Madness is a memoir by American writer William Styron about his descent into depression and the triumph of recovery First published in December 1989 It is among the last books published by Styron and is widely considered one of his best and most influential works Darkness Visible also helped raise awareness for depression which was relatively unknown at the timeIn October 1985 American author William Styron travels to Paris to receive a prestigious literary award During the trip Styron's mental state begins to degenerate rapidly as the depressive symptoms that he has been experiencing for several months worsen He tentatively concludes that his depression was brought about his sudden withdrawal from years of alcoholism and exacerbated by his over dependence on Halcion a prescription drug that he took to treat insomnia Styron also briefly mentions his own father's battle with depression and his mother's premature death from breast cancer both of which he believes could have also contributed to his deteriorated state of mindتاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 1997 میلادیعنوان افسردگی چیست؟؛ نویسنده ویلیام استایرون؛ مترجمها محمد دهگان پور؛ بیژن عسگری؛ تهران، بدر، 1375، در 83ص؛ شابک 9645729238؛ موضوع بهداشت روانی، افسردگی، و زیستنامه از نویسندگان امریکایی سده 20معنوان ظلمت آشکار خاطرات افسردگی دیوانگی؛ نویسنده ویلیام استایرون؛ مترجم افشین رضاپور؛ تهران، ماهی، 1388، در 72ص؛ شابک 9789649971735؛ چاپ سوم 1396؛ ویلیام استایرن، نویسنده‌ ی امریکایی که در دهه‌ های شصت، و هفتاد میلادی، با رمان‌هایی همچون «انتخاب سوفی»، به شهرت رسیده بودند، در سن شصت‌وچند سالگی، به افسردگی حاد مبتلا شدند؛ افسردگی ایشان بقدری شدید بود، که ایشان را ماه‌ها، از کار روزانه باز داشت، و شاید به مرز خودکشی هم کشاند؛ «استایرن»، پس از بهبود، یادمانهایی از این دوران را، در قالب کتاب کوچک «ظلمت آشکار» بنگاشتند، کتابیکه آوازه‌ ی ایشانرا در دهه‌ ی پایانی عمرش، دو چندان کرد؛ این کتاب، با شرح سفر «استایرن»، به «پاریس» در سال 1985میلادی، آغاز میشود؛ سفری که برای بدتر کردن بیماریش، برای ایشان اهمیت بسزایی داشت، و یاری بسیاری نیز به درمان ایشان کرد ا شربیانی

  6. says:

    This is a stirring memoir of Styron's depression which nearly killed him I had seen multiple references to this book all of them praising its insight into the despair that a depressed person can feel In depression this faith in deliverance in ultimate restoration is absent The pain is unrelenting and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come not in a day an hour a month or a minute If there is mild relief one knows that it is only temporary; pain will follow It is hopelessness even than pain that crushes the soulStyron said he doesn't know what caused such an intense bout of melancholy in 1985 but one factor could have been turning 60 He also wondered if the fact that he stopped drinking alcohol caused his despondency Like a great many American writers whose sometimes lethal addiction to alcohol has become so legendary as to provide in itself a stream of studies and books I used alcohol as the magical conduit to fantasy and euphoria and to the enhancement of the imagination Alcohol was an invaluable senior partner of my intellect besides being a friend whose ministrations I sought daily An alcoholic would call this a classic case of denial but that's another story He realized that depression had been tapping at my door for decades ever since his mother died when he was 13 Styron read extensively about the disease even paging through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which is grim reading indeed He most identified with the feeling of loss as described in the literature Loss in all of its manifestations is the touchstone of depression in the progress of the disease and most likely in its origin I would gradually be persuaded that devastating loss in childhood figured as a probable genesis of my own disorder; meanwhile I felt loss at every hand One dreads the loss of all things all people close and dear There is an acute fear of abandonment Being alone in the house even for a moment caused me exuisite panic and trepidationStyron is a gifted writer and his descriptions were very moving For example he said he usually felt the most depressed later in the day Afternoons were still the worst beginning at about three o'clock when I'd feel the horror like some poisonous fogbank roll in upon my mind forcing me into bed This uote was also used in the Soderbergh movie Side EffectsStyron sought help from a psychiatrist who put him on a series of different medications none of which seemed to help After several months of taking pills he reached the point where suicide seemed to be imminent He made preparations such as updating his will and getting rid of a private journal he didn't want anyone else to read But when it came time to write a suicide note Styron struggled It turned out that putting together a suicide note which I felt obsessed with a necessity to compose was the most difficult task of writing that I had ever tackled There were too many people to acknowledge to thank to beueath final bouuets And finally I couldn't manage the sheer dirgelike solemnity of itBut before Styron attempted the act he heard a stirring piece of music from Brahms one night and he remembered the joys of his family and of his work and he realized he couldn't abandon this life He was admitted to a hospital the next day which was his salvation It is something of a paradox that in this austere place with its locked and wired doors and desolate green hallways ambulances screeching night and day ten floors below I found the repose the assuagement of the tempest in my brain that I was unable to find in my uiet farmhouseSo why would someone read an 84 page memoir of depression? I think it might be a comfort to both those who have struggled with the disease or those who love someone who has depression in an effort to better understand what they're going through Styron does not claim that his experience is by any means universal but like all good books it reveals some fundamental human truths Note One of the places I saw this book referenced was in Christopher Hitchens' memoir Hitch 22 In it Hitch described a dinner he had with Styron The waiter recognized Styon's name and said the book Darkness Visible saved his life When the waiter left Hitch asked Styron if that sort of thing happened often Oh all the time I even get the police calling up to ask if I'll come on the line and talk to the man who's threatening to jump

  7. says:

    As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder and PTSD I consider Darkness Visible an inspiring read Only by sharing our stories of struggle and recovery can we destigmatize mental illness ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to obsessive compulsive disorder William Styron's memoir about his battle with depression and suicidal ideation serves as one of the first of its kind highlighting his courage to shed light on a topic often darkened by societyWith personal and raw prose Styron details the onset of his depression and his fight to seek help He infuses his account with bits of dark humor as well as allusions to others who have endured suicidal thoughts Randall Jarrell Primo Levi and Styron's honesty gives his memoir a sheer truthfulness as his attention to detail and self analysis make his story feel even painful and real A uote that captures just a snapshot of his turmoil In depression this faith in deliverance in ultimate restoration is absent The pain is unrelenting and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come not in a day an hour a month or a minute If there is mild relief one knows that it is only temporary; pain will follow It is hopelessness even than pain that crushes the soulMy favorite part of this book centers on Styron's final message of hope He concludes his memoir in an uplifting and candid way acknowledging that yes depression sucks and yes it gets better These types of endings give me the most joy because they acknowledge that though our struggles really are awful in this moment we still have so much to experience and to grow from in our journeys We still have a lot of love to give and to receive from our world and those who inhabit it I will finish this review with a closing uote from Darkness Visible itself But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul's annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease and they are countless bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace it is conuerable

  8. says:

    Many years ago I read two powerful novels One was a gripping story of an impossible moral dilemma called Sophie's Choice; and the other was a controversial fictionalized account of a real life slave revolt which occurred in Virginia in 1831 led by slave and fiery preacher called The Confessions of Nat Turner I became a fan of the author of these novels William Styron When I discovered that he had also written an account of his struggle with severe depression I knew I wanted to read it William Styron's memoir of depression Darkness Visible A Memoir of Madness began as an article he wrote for the December 1989 issue of 'Vanity Fair' Mr Styron began his personal story with the recounting of a trip he had taken to Paris to receive an award for his literary contributions This trip ended up being especially important to him because it was the first time he truly recognized and admitted to himself how much he had been struggling with his 'depressive illness' Because Mr Styron was so in tune with his body and his moods and because he had been laboring so hard to arrange his life around his mood disturbances he was also uite aware that his trip to Paris would be a problem He had been experiencing sleep disturbances and changes in his body's circadian rhythms and found that he could only function normally in the hours between dinnertime and midnight He wrote The pain lifted a little and my mind would become lucid enough to focus on matters beyond the immediate upheaval Although Mr Styron began to feel and distressed and anxious in anticipation of his Paris excursion when the time finally arrived he managed to get through it although not without a tremendous amount of difficulty Finally facing that he could no longer 'white knuckle' his way through social and professional engagements he sought assistance from a psychotherapist he called Dr Gold There are two things which struck me while reading William Styron's relatively short missive First I was surprised and impressed by Mr Styron's ability to elouently describe how depression felt to him He was able to describe with perfect self awareness watching himself as a kind of second self There was a kind of beauty in the honesty of the words he chose to describe the pain which he experienced when in the grip of depression and yet there was also an ever present detachment in those words as well He wrote What I had begun to discover is that the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the uality of physical pain But it is not an immediately identifiable pain like that of a broken limb It may be accurate to say that despair comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room And because no breeze stirs this caldron because there is no escape from this smothering confinement its entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion The other aspect of William Styron;s account of his illness that made an impression on me is just how much energy he expended daily in order to function in a minimally 'normal' manner I was reminded of the many people I have heard over the years expressing the opinion that people suffering from depression or other mental illnesses are simply weak minded or possess a lack of will power preferring instead to wallow in their own misery In fact the opposite is true Although Mr Styron wrote of being seized by crippling anxiety and periods of an inability to concentrate he spent his days forcing himself to engage in the work and social activities he had always engaged in demonstrating to me that depression and mental illness in general is NOT for the faint of heartOver the years I have read other personal accounts of depression that could perhaps be considered compelling in their details than the account written by William Styron; however when I stop to consider that Mr Styron wrote his account in 1989 I can't help but admire and feel grateful for his courage He managed to gather his inner strength to write about his battle with mental illness at a time when few people discussed such topics except perhaps in private rooms using hushed voices I believe the general public has slowly become knowledgeable and accepting of mental illness as a disease; and many people no longer think of it so much as a character flaw but rather as an illness of the brain every bit as serious and real as diseases involving other organs of the body I believe William Styron contributed to this social change

  9. says:

    Anyone who has ever battled depression will recognize him or herself in Styron's words Despite all his accomplishments the depression made him feel unworthy of recognition and made clear thinking difficult The language he uses reminds me of books written in the 1940s but this was published in 1990 This is a short but poignant memoir

  10. says:

    Sometimes reading a book that it's not in your comfort zone can be a breath of fresh air My roommate bought this book and it seemed interesting So of course the curious part of me wanted to read it It was a book about depression and suicide And yeah maybe you're wondering why did I read something about those sad human beings in the book and their actions The answer to that uestion is I don't know Maybe because I wanted to know to find answers to my own uestions To know what do they think about when they find themselves in those situations I know what depression is I've been there But I always got out in time It never took charge of me The author faces depression when he is almost 60 years old and he speaks for himself and tells the readers how important it is to take the problem in your hand and find solutions for it Also he mentions that in those moments when depression takes control of you the most important thing is to have someone near you someone who is willing to help you to spend time with you and cherish you He also gives examples of other people's cases of depression and suicide and the impact those people's death have on others And another thing he writes about how wrong medicines can affect our body and mind For me it was a captivating story and also a way to learn new things