“The gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain,” William Styron wrote in what remains the most gripping account of living with depression. As time pools that gray drizzle into an ocean of anguish, we begin to lose sight of the other shore — but there is, always, an other shore.
In my opinion, having read both Styron’s autobiographical Darkness Visible and David Foster Wallace’s fictional novel Infinite Jest, I can say that the Kate Gompert passage on anhedonia just slightly edges out Styron’s work in terms of expressing the horror which always was worse to me in the morning, even if it’s just in terms of its sheer density of evocation. Wallace’s horror and the details as expressed in this fictional passage no doubt taken from his own experience are both more extreme and varying from than what I was subjected to however, and I will spare you any details for now, but the quality of it is very much true to my experience. So it is with this poem. Luckily Styron, Kenyon, and yours truly reached that other shore in our own manner. Wallace wasn’t so lucky.
It’s in the spirit of acquainting those who have never been touched by the dog with just what it can entail that I share this information. It may seem morbid, and a little self-indulgent, but there is a more altruistic motive to this. I touched in an earlier blog post that in less straightforward forms of disability some suffering no matter how real is not so easy to perceive, especially when pride is involved, and it may be hard for the lucky to empathise or to grasp enough in order to do so effectively. Likewise, the person being considered may perceive a lack of such reassuring empathy and it can be gratifying to have justifying representations from those considered eloquent. Being able to share these as speaking of their own experience is gaining a voice in seeking perhaps a more equitable consideration. If only it would it be that this were not required.