Book//mark - Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness | William Styron, 1990

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, 1990                                                       William Styron, 1925-2006

 “It was not really alarming at first, since the change was subtle, but I did notice that my surroundings
 took on a different tone at certain times: the shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings
 were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful, and there was a moment during my
 working hours in the late afternoon when a kind of panic and anxiety overtook me, just for a 
few minutes, accompanied by a visceral queasiness.”

“My brain had begun to endure its familiar siege: panic and dislocation, and a sense that my 
thought processes were being engulfed by a toxic and unnameable tide that obliterated any 
enjoyable response to the living world.”

“It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul.”

“The madness of depression is, generally speaking, the antithesis of violence. It is a storm indeed,
 but a storm of murk. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy
 throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained.”

“The libido also made an early exit, as it does in most major illnesses—it is the superfluous 
need of a body in beleaguered emergency.”

“I was feeling in my mind a sensation close to, but indescribably different from, actual pain.”

“One of the most unendurable aspects of such an interlude was the inability to sleep.The disruption
 of normal sleep patterns is a notoriously devastating feature of depression. It had become clear
 that I would never be granted even a few minutes' relief from my full-time exhaustion.”

“A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being
 accompanied by a second self — a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, 
is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming 
disaster, or decides to embrace it. There is a theatrical quality about all this, and during the next
 several days, as I went about stolidly preparing for extinction, I couldn't shake off a sense of
 melodrama — a melodrama in which I, the victim-to-be of self-murder, was both the solitary 
actor and lone member of the audience.”

“The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it 
kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many 
suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of
 this pain.”

“Depression, which can be as serious a medical affair as diabetes or cancer.”

“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.”

“For me the real healers were seclusion and time.”

William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, 1990

First published in December 1989 in Vanity Fair, the book grew out of a lecture that Styron 
originally delivered at a symposium on affective disorders at the Department of Psychiatry
 of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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