Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On DFW's Struggle with the Illness Depression

So today, while looking through comment responses to Rolling Stone's Rock and Roll Dailies post on David Foster Wallace, I was surprised to find this statement by "John":

"According to his father, David was treated for depression for the last 20 years. His doctor advised him to stop taking medication last year because of the toll the side-effects were taking on him. Following this, his depression returned. Over the past summer, he was hospitalized multiple times, and his even tried electro-convulsive therapy to combat his depression. His father described him as recently being 'very heavily medicated'. And in the end, he could not take it anymore."

I was less surprised by the possibility that this was true (which it is: the New York Times's article on his death mentions it in the penultimate paragraph) as I was that no one had mentioned it here in the blogosphere. Or in my circle of friends. Or in the Wurtzel article I posted about yesterday-- and that was all about depression!

Maybe I didn't hear just because no one thought to mention it, or maybe because I associate with people and artists in a "counter-culture" that decries psycho-pharmacology as false and unnatural; in any case, I feel it is important that we realize that suicide was not the rational conclusion to Wallace's thinking, not the tragi-romantic end that genius necessitates, but that it was the end of a long struggle with something that he, at least, considered a real illness that had need of treatment.

I also think in a culture that, I feel, purports that medication is a normalizer that will steal your true genius away from you, it is important to realize that Wallace was brilliant and medicated. It is only too bad that, in that last year, his depression became unmanageable and the suffering of his illness unbearable.

So, today's song will be from a bastion of depression: Morrissey. I have always had a suspicion that Interesting Drug had something to do with prozac. Along with Torys and everything else. Of course.

"Interesting Drug, the one that you took, admit, it really really helped you"

No comments: