“Depression, truth be told, is both boring and threatening as a subject of conversation.” So writes Daphne Merkin in her essay on depression in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety off and on (and, lately, fortunately, it’s been mostly off), Merkin’s essay resonated with me in a far deeper way than any essay I had read before. Perhaps it’s the cold truth of her insights: “Surely this is the worst part of being at the mercy of your own mind, . . .: the fact that there is no way out of the reality of being you, . . ..”
For most of my life, I found the reality of “being me” often hard to bear. Like Merkin, “I was fascinated by people who had the temerity to bring down the curtain on their own suffering,” people like Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath, who also just happened to be writers.
Merkin takes us on a journey from her most recent bout of deep depression, through her attempts at recovery in a clinic, and, finally, to a seemingly spontaneous resolution. Granted, this is her own personal story, and others who suffer from chronic depression might have very different experiences. As with so many other ailments, both physical and psychological, one size does not fit all. But I finished Merkin’s article feeling heartened, at the least because the fog lifts just enough for her to imagine a life without it.
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