Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness - Like me, best-selling author William Styron ("Sophie's Choice," "The Confessions of Nat Turner") suffers from medically resistant clinical depression. "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" is a brief but compelling autobiographical journey through what Chaucer described as "melancholia" in the first literary reference made to what is now called a "mood disorder."Styron writes plainly about his experience with depression, including a lengthy hospitalization that ultimately assisted him in obtaining coping skills to manage his illness (an option unfortunately seldom available in modern times, as physicians resort to pharmacopeia as some sort of magic bullet that does not always help patients). On pp 61-62 of the book, Styron shares what is, to me, the most accurate and compelling description of what it is like to live with depression as he relates preparing for a dinner party:"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 be 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, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no option ande 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 questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, God help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words."I highly recommend this book for those who are dealing with depression, whether the patient or a family member; Styron's insights are healing on numerous levels.