rating: 5 of 5 stars
Edited by Nell Casey, this collection of twenty-two essays by contemporary American and European writers explores the many faces of depression. Rather than a medical guide of what constitutes depression or a depressive episode these essays vividly portray each writer’s experience of depression.
The link between the depressed person and their family member is explored as Casey includes her personal essay entitled Wish You Were Here. Her essay illuminates the role of caregiver to her sister’s bi-polar depression. Her sister Maud Casey writes a companion essay of the same time period.
Styron’s wife, Rose Styron, explores the husband and wife connection with a personal essay and an excerpt from William Styron’s Darkness Visible vividly illustrates Styron’s mental state. Donald Hall reflects on his relationship with his wife, poet Jane Kenyon’s struggle and his manic episodes months after her death.
In Lauren Slater’s essay, Slater uses a journal form of writing that clearly shows the daily ups and downs of a pregnant woman dealing with her antidepressant medication and the choices she struggled with in keeping her child healthy and her sanity intact.
This anthology would interest anyone who is dealing with his or her own depression or with the depression of a family member. While not all of the essays are uplifting and one even questions the validity of making too much of mental illness; there is a sense that in dealing with the illness through their words the writers have helped themselves as well as the reader.