"A reader on melancholy," the editor calls this book: a collection of 22 modern essays about depression by writers (several well known) who know their subject intimately. Some face depression as a sudden interruption of a previously gratifying life; others have never known life without it. Their words wrestle to express their vision, their gloom, their attempts to cope, their interactions, their isolation, and, often, their reactions to medications. Some attempt to analyze their depression; others just want you to know what it's like. Besides the essays by writers who have experienced depression firsthand, editor Nell Casey (also a writer of one of the chapters) includes a few essays by their spouses and siblings about what it was like to live with a person suffering from depression.
The writers' descriptions of "dwelling in depression's dark wood" (William Styron) are disturbing and haunting, laden with vivid imagery. "My heart pumped dread," writes Lesley Dormen. David Karp describes his depression as sometimes a "grief knot" in his throat, sometimes chest pain like a heart attack, sometimes "an awful heaviness" in his eyes and head. From her teenage years, Darcey Steinke would wrap herself in an old comforter and lie in a fetal position on top of her shoes in the closet (her brother called this her "poodle bed"). Nancy Mairs describes being institutionalized: "Lock [a woman] into a drab and dirty space with dozens of other wayward souls, make sure that she is never alone, feed her oatmeal and bananas until her bowels are starched solid, drug her to the eyeballs so that she can scarcely read or speak, and threaten to shoot bolts of electricity through her brain." If you want to know depression from the inside, from thoroughly gifted writers, you'll find it here. --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The recipient of a Carter Center fellowship for mental health journalism, Casey has compiled a widely varied collection in which authors reckon with their personal experience of depression the "unholy ghost" to which poet Jane Kenyon famously referred. Well-known writers such as Donald Hall and Ann Beattie rub shoulders with talented newcomers like Maud Casey and Joshua Wolf Shenk in pieces that alternate between startling eloquence and the kind of vague, self-indulgent writing that turns some readers away from memoirs. Lee Stringer concludes her contribution with the revelation that "perhaps what we call depression isn't really a disorder at all, but an alarm of sorts, alerting us that something is undoubtedly wrong," while Lesley Dormen resorts to cliches ("My heart pumped dread"). Among the most engaging essays are Rose Styron's response to husband William Styron's Darkness Visible, in which she writes about comic moments that her husband, in the throes of depression, was too blue to appreciate. Responding to spouse Chase Twichell's essay, novelist Russell Banks writes that he has "learned to feel for my wife and to avoid feeling with her." As a whole, the collection is a valuable contribution to the field of depression studies, and will lend some insight and cheer to those struggling with this little-understood condition. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a sincere collection of writers writing about depression - those who experienced it and some who experienced depressed loved ones. Read morePublished 11 months ago by J. Reinhart
As a man who has been depressed all my life, whether I knew it or not, Unholy Ghosts expresses so much of what I have felt all these years. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jotham W. Bailey
These are a bunch of short articles about depression. I was disappointed that most of the articles were written by creative people who don't have day jobs. Read morePublished on May 7, 2013 by Accountant
This is an interesting read for anyone dealing with depression or perhaps wanting a better understanding of the challenges faced by a loved one with depression.Published on January 9, 2013 by s. ryan
For those not afflicted with this malady, it can be difficult to understand. What this book offers, better than any book I have read on the subject, is the varied experiences of... Read morePublished on January 6, 2011 by Geoffrey Halston