Darkness Visible – A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron
My father was subject to depression. How deep it went and what caused it was clouded by the post-traumatic stress he suffered from his participation in WWII. There were dark pages to his life that I never knew about until his death neared, and had I never known about them, the damage had already been done to me.
Styron talks in this very brief book about the evidence for a genetic passing of depression to children (His father suffered from the condition). What’s so compelling about this autobiographical book lies in Styron’s ability to draw a reader subtly into experiencing his coping with depression. At times his depictions become so intense as to induce claustrophobia – or for readers who are borderline depressive, an episode that may not end with closing the book.
Styron entered a hospital for treatment and this is where his story’s elegance turns to dark humor. One episode had an art therapist “work” with Styron and others, asking Styron to draw a home as a way to begin releasing his depression’s source. Imagine, if you will, a man of Styron’s stature being given a handful of crayons and told to draw a house. Of course, he could barely envision it himself. And while the depression began to ease during his hospital stay, he’s vague to a fault regarding how that moody clue began to live, what medicines were in play, etc.
Still, don’t let me dissuade you from reading this valuable book. For Darkness Visible is a book all depressives, borderline or full tilt, should read. It will give you a valuable perspective on the condition and, to a degree at least, it just might help you manage your own depressive state.
My rating 17 of 20 stars