Friday, December 16, 2016

David Foster Wallace and depression.

From a piece on David Foster Wallace and his depression:
All of this is to say that sadness doesn’t possess the real teeth of depression. The symptom that distinguishes depression from any other state is something I would call terminal fragility, although it’s defined in a less hand-wavey way by the DSM as “guilt/worthlessness.” It’s the feeling that the world’s fundamental malignancy begins with oneself. It represents a categorical change in the way you perceive negative outcomes. You see pain as appropriate punishment, instead of occasional inconvenience. You see yourself as a burden—a net loss for humanity—somehow less worthy of life. Instead of thinking, “that shitty day happened to me,” you think, “as is consistent with my deservedly shitty life, that shitty day occurred, the pain of which is unmitigated by its predictability.” The normal thought, if your hair is misbehaving, is, “fuck, I’ve gotta buy a blow dryer.” The depressed thought is, “I am feeling paralyzing woe because my hair, finally, is as ugly as my soul.” That’s depression’s foremost distinction—it holds you responsible for your suffering.
The original article, The David Foster Wallace Disease by Sasha Chapin is over on Hazlitt.
Wallace’s story “The Depressed Person” opens like this:
“The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.”
I've never read Wallace. It sounds too intense for me. Intellectually and in scope. I don't know that I have the stamina or attention span for it. I also don't know that reading such well-developed writing on and around depression would be good for me. I'm already convinced, brother.

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