William Stryon’s “DARKNESS VISIBLE”:
“...Depression is a disorder of
mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self—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...”
“...Such incomprehension of this
ancient affliction has usually been due not to a failure of sympathy but to the basic inability of healthy people to imagine
a form of torment so alien to everyday experience. For myself the pain sis most
closely connected to drowning or suffocation—but even these images are off the mark...”
a depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts.
It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive
disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or
wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment,
symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.
a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked
especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite
and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies
a sledgehammer-like paralyzing sadness which includes an unrealistic self view—and
a broken perception brought on by a fabric of issues... manifested in biological inadequacies...i personally don’t think
anything is caused by any one thing...
how do you know if you have depression?
Depression is present if at least five or more of the following
symptoms are present during a two-week period; at least one of the symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest
or pleasure in usual activities.
of interest or pleasure in usual activities
in appetite or weight
in sleeping patterns
and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness
of interest or pleasure in usual activities
in sexual drive
or loss of energy
of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt
ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness
of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead
additional factors that point to an increased risk for suicide in depressed individuals
agitation, or enraged behavior
and/or alcohol use or abuse
of physical or emotional illness
of hopelessness or desperation
statistics and information:
Women suffer from
depression twice as much as men. This two-to-one ratio exists regardless of racial and ethnic background or economic status.
The economic cost
of depressive illnesses is estimated at $30 billion a year.
Even though effective
treatments are available, only one in three depressed people gets help.
most depressed people are not suicidal, two-thirds of those who die by suicide suffer from a depressive illness.
15 percent of the population will suffer from depression at some time during their life. Thirty percent of all depressed inpatients
eight out of ten patients with depressive illness will improve through treatment with medicine and psychotherapy.
Over 60 percent of
all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises
to over 75 percent.
More Americans suffer
from depression than coronary heart disease (12 million), cancer (10 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).
About 15 percent
of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically
depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
Depression is among
the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively
to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized.
As horrifying as
William Stryon describes his own depression in and plans to commit suicide (which he does not), he nevertheless concludes
with positive, surprising cliche comments on how others should approach the depressed or suicidal person:
far the great majority of the people who go through even the severest depression survive it, and live...acute depression inflict
few permanent wounds. There is a Sisyphean torment in the fact that a great number—as
many as half—of those who are devastated once will be struck again; depression has the habit of recurrence. But most victims live through even these relapses, often coping better because they have become psychologically
tuned by past experience to deal with the ogre. It is of great importance that
those who are suffering a siege, perhaps for the first time, be told—be convinced, rather—that the illness will
run its course and that they will pull through. A tough job, this calling ‘Chin
up!’ from the safety of the shore to a drowning person is tantamount to insult, but it has been shown over and over
again that if the encouragement is dogged enough—and the support equally committed and passionate—the endangered
on can nearly always be saved. Most people in the grip of depression at its ghastliest
are, for whatever reason, in a state of unrealistic hopelessness, ton by exaggerated ills and fatal threats that bear no resemblance
to actuality. It may require on the part friends, lovers, family, admirers an
almost religious devotion to persuade the sufferer of life’s worth, which is so often in conflict with a sense of their
own worthlessness, but such devotion ahs prevent the countless suicides.”
In short, we must
admonish those who are depressed and suicidal that they are worthy—that they are needed—and that although their
suicidal feelings are 100% real—the act of suicide is an unacceptable option right now.
The truth is self
worth is nearly non-existent...people dig through rubble to find things of value—but they will NOT dig if they perceive
there is nothing worth finding.
The solution for
depression lies in therapy, medication, and a healthy lifestyle...You can’t just do one of these things
what i’ve noticed
is that in jail, when i do a medical screening, people never answer yes to having any psychological issues, but eagerly admit
to taking all kinds of prescription psychiatric medications—and then answer no to seeing anyone (a doctor, counselor,
psychiatrist) regarding the reason for their medication or issue.