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Darkness Visible

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  15,010 Ratings  ·  1,113 Reviews
Styron’s stirring account of his plunge into a crippling depression, and his inspiring road to recovery.
In the summer of 1985, William Styron became numbed by disaffection, apathy, and despair, unable to speak or walk while caught in the grip of advanced depression. His struggle with the disease culminated in a wave of obsession that nearly drove him to suicide, leading hi
ebook, 96 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Open Road Integrated Media (first published 1990)
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Darkness Visible: When the Question is Whether Life is Worth Living

William Styron photo Styron_zps05c06a10-1.jpg

William Styron, (June 11, 1925 – November 1, 2006)

 photo Masks_zps0431efb0.jpg
"Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.--Edmund Kean, (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833), celebrated Shakespearean actor

Milton's Paradise Lost photo MiltonDarkness_zpsb333971b-1.jpg

Preamble-January 18, 2015

It is 1:20am cst. My thoughts swirl over the important content of Styron's brief memoir originally delivered as a lecture in Baltimore, 1989. The information contained in this little volume is too important to trust to hastily dashe
Jul 03, 2007 Mikol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was August in the year 2000. I was about to enter the room for my final exam. This was the introduction to Unix and it was coming to an end.

So was I.

Tears flowing copiously, leaning over the second floor balcony, I was overcome with darkness, the likes of which I had never experienced before.

I finished the exam and could not gather myself. I had no reason for living. In my grief I recalled an earlier experience of incredible bliss following a near death/drowning experience at Luther Burbank P
Aug 02, 2007 Melanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: depressed people who aren't me?
Shelves: 2007
Maybe I'm being needlessly harsh in my one-star rating, but there was something about Styron's memoir that really distressed me. I read it during one of my own periods of depression, and for whatever reason I decided to pair it with The Bell Jar, and instead of feeling any sort of comfort or recognition in Styron's words, I just felt sort of angry. I became so hung up on the ways we (women, men, Americans, depressed people, etc.) talk about depression, and on what it means when we call it by dif ...more
Aug 25, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a stirring memoir of Styron's depression, which nearly killed him. I had seen multiple references to this book, all of them praising its insight into the despair that a depressed person can feel.

"In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come -- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only tempora
Jul 03, 2014 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, memoir

Tag words:
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As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder and PTSD, I consider Darkness Visible an inspiring read. Only by sharing our stories of struggle and recovery can we destigmatize mental illness, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to obsessive-compulsive disorder. William Styron's memoir about his battle with depression and suicidal ideation serves as one of the first of its kind, highlighting his courage to shed light on a topic often darkened by society.

With personal and raw pros
Feb 27, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-health
Like me, best-selling author William Styron ("Sophie's Choice," "The Confessions of Nat Turner") suffers from medically resistant clinical depression. "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" is a brief but compelling autobiographical journey through what Chaucer described as "melancholia" in the first literary reference made to what is now called a "mood disorder."

Styron writes plainly about his experience with depression, including a lengthy hospitalization that ultimately assisted him in obtai
3 – 3.5 stars

Is there anything worse than feeling like you can’t control your own mind? Can you conceive the helplessness of being able to perceive the lies that your own brain is telling you, but still being unable to escape them? In feeling unequal to the task of avoiding triggers that send you into depths that despite their destructive tendencies seem at times either desirable or necessary, like picking at a fresh wound to morbidly watch it bleed? Is there anything more self-destructive than
Apr 22, 2009 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my literary pet peeves: writers writing about their mental illnesses. I avoid books like this one, largely because I believe the cult of romanticism surrounding artistic despair is misguided to the point of being offensive. It reminds me of being stuck in an undergraduate seminar with that girl who wore black eyeliner and too many bracelets, lugged around conspicuous copies of Plath and Sexton, and wrote bad poems about her sex life. As both a writer and someone who suffers from chronic d ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a recent tenure party, a friend of mine leaned over to our small group sitting on the couch and revealed that she had just come from the campus bookstore where she had been perusing a colleague’s recent memoir. “I would never expose myself like that!” she exclaimed. When writers choose to invade their own privacy, as Styron puts it, by sharing a personal struggle, is that what they’re doing—exposing themselves? Certainly, on some level, when Styron sets his struggle with suicidal depression i ...more
Given the number of great reviews this book had, I was eager to read, especially regarding a topic I feel is extremely neglected in good literature. Having experienced this 'darkness' without remittance for most of my life, I had high hopes for this book- which he did deliver, and evident in his descriptions of feeling like a 'husk', and the fragile moments following a near-suicide attempt-

"this sound, which like all music- indeed like all pleasure- I had been numbly unresponsive to for months,
كتاب كه نه بيشتر يه مقاله بود ، و اطلاعات جالبى توش درباره ى افسردگى گفته شده (:
Revisited this. It is a literary gem as well as a marvellous compression into one short essay of that conceptually infinite beast called Depression. It came to mind after reading Thompson's The City of Dreadful Night, one of the greatest poetic descriptions of depression. Since I have at various levels been involved with depression throughout my life, I feel able to assert that the literary expression alone can come near to aiding understanding. My involvement at policy level with medical suppor ...more
Aug 05, 2016 Melora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Styron's memoir of his descent into severe depression, brief (eighty-four pages) though it is, is powerful and absorbing. He chronicles his illness, from the point where he recognized the seriousness of his situation, through months of increasing despair, darkness and blank, helpless dependency, and then, after crisis, to wellness. His thoughts on what may have triggered and exacerbated his illness are interesting, though, as he notes, depression is very idiosyncratic. The recognition that some ...more
the title of this book makes it sound a harrowing, gritty look at madness and depression but it's a literature-look at the subject by a writer of literature.

the formal language he uses divides readers from his humanity and suffering in a way to make it seem like dinner-party conversation about his "dance with depression".

The only thing gleaned, and apt, was his focus on the idea that to someone whose never experienced the depths of depression, there is no language for the depressed to explain
Mike Lester
Aug 03, 2011 Mike Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this slim volume three or four times now, and each time I take something new away from the experience. That's quite an achievement for such a short book, and one I am grateful for. Styron doesn't waste the reader's time with a lot of technical jargon and explanation of suicidal depression; he knows that the readers he's going to reach are all too familiar with the disease. Instead, he tells his own personal story of descent into the mire, and the realization of what he had to do to sur ...more
Author's Note

--Darkness Visible
Mar 20, 2017 Alireza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay-and-critic
نویسنده تجربیات مواجه شدن خود با افسردگی را نوشته که بسیار خواندنی و تامل برانگیز است. ترجمه و چاپ همانطور که از نشر ماهی انتظار می رود بسیار خوب است.
Jan 20, 2014 Pooriya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, memoir, essay
رنج افسردگی شدید برای کسانی که به آن مبتلا نیستند کاملا تصورناپذیر است، و در بسیاری از موارد انسان را میکشد، چون اندوه و عذاب آن را نمیتوان تحمل کرد. پیشگیری از بسیاری خودکشیها فقط در صورتی میسر است که آگاهی عمومی نسبت به طبیعت این رنج ایجاد میشود. عدهای از مردم از طریق گذر درمانگر زمان -و در خیلی موارد بهواسطهی دارو و درمان و بستری شدن- از افسردگی جان سالم به در میبرند که شاید تنها موهبت آن باشد. ولی آن خیل عظیم غمانگیزی که مجبورند خود را به دست نابودی بسپارند، همانقدر شایستهی سرزنشاند که قربان ...more
When I was in 8th grade, one of my best friends developed the habit of crying every morning at school. She would throw her lunch away every single time we sat down to eat together at the cafeteria. At the time, I thought she was just being melodramatic; she had had a tendency towards that when she was younger.

But in high school, when I got a hint of what it was like to have "the blues," so to speak, I finally understood. Although what I went through at times was nowhere near as devastating as wh
Mar 28, 2016 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the most difficult things to do is describe what major, clinical depression is like to someone who has never experienced it. Or perhaps I should say one of the most difficult things to do is to understand what it's like to have major, clinical depression if you've never experienced it.

Since it's a disorder of the brain, and our brains are responsible for what our personality is like and how we feel about ourselves and what we think and do and how we respond to everything and ever
Norae Lebowski
Mar 22, 2017 Norae Lebowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mi-colección
La lectura de este ensayo sobre la depresión y el suicidio me ha afectado de tal manera que no sé bien qué escribir. Me limitaré a decir que, como persona que vive de cerca estas dos cuestiones, me parece muy lúcido, un retrato brillante de la dolencia, del pensamiento y de la experiencia de sufrir este trastorno psíquico. Creo que todo el mundo debería leerlo, no solo por visibilizar y concienciar sobre ambos temas, sino también para arrojar luz, hacer entender, unir posturas. Hay una falta de ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Cărăşălu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got to read this book after speaking to a friend about someone she knew who committed suicide. I labeled the act ”stupid”. My friend told to read the book and suggested that after reading it, I might change my mind. Well, I didn't, but it helped me nuance my view and adjust my stance as regards suicide. As the author simply puts it, one who hasn't been affected by depression cannot understand it. Cannot understand what the depression-sufferer goes through. One can guess, imagine, show empathy, ...more
John Jr.
Read as research for a play about suicide.

Anyone who has experienced a serious degree of depression (as opposed to the downhearted feeling that we often called "depressed") knows that there's somehow much to it, though it also feels like a great nothingness. It can sap the strength of memory, making it difficult even to recall, much less to connect with, any pleasant experiences you've had, nor do you want anything of the kind now, much as you'd like to escape from what you do feel. It may kill
Apr 17, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
English review behind

Ein großartiges Buch.

"Ich habe bis an die Grenzen des Erträglichen gelitten und bin doch zurückgekommen, um davon zu berichten."

William Styron schreibt mit großer Aufrichtigkeit über seinen Kampf gegen die Depression. Ganz ohne Selbstmitleid erzählt er von der "Innerlichkeit des Schmerzes", von Angstzuständen, Selbstmordgedanken und die Unfähigkeit, sich seiner Umwelt mitzuteilen.
Nach einer langen Zeit des Leidens findet er schließlich im Rückblick Worte für ein Leben am Ran
Nov 11, 2011 Hamid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب خاطرات نویسندهشه از دورهای که مبتلا بوده به افسردگی پیشرفته. جالب که پارسال همین موقعها بود که من یه دوره افسردگی رو گذروندم. همینطور که کتاب رو میخوندم حالات خودم یادم میومد، و انقدر توصیفاتش دقیق بود و همه حسها رو خوب بیان کرده بود که فکر میکردم چطور تونسته بعد از درمان شدن باز خودش رو انقدر به اون شرایط نزدیک کنه و ازش بنویسه. کتاب در حد یه خاطره و گزارش نمونده و یه سری جملات و بخش های فوقالعاده داره به لحاظ بیان ادبی.

آنچه به شکلی مرموز و به شیوههایی دور از تجربه ی معمول کشف کرده بودم،
Sahil Sood
Feb 13, 2014 Sahil Sood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: altar-book-shelf
"In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come--not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow."
The winning quality of Styron's memoir is its deeply sympathetic and bare-it-all tone. His work is erudite, sincere and elegantly stripped to the barest level. To those seeking im
J.L.   Sutton
This was my second reading of Styron's memoir. I was able to identify with parts here, but unfortunately it didn't seem as compelling this time around.
Sam Quixote
I picked read this as I'm always interested in peoples' experiences with depression and how they deal with it/emerge from it, as well as how it was for them. I think sometimes I'm depressed but having read this book I think what I have might simply be the occasional blues.

William Styron makes this distinction clear in his memoir "Darkness Visible" where he says that full on depression (a term he deplores as too weak a description - he prefers the label "brainstorm") totally cripples a person. T
This is a small book which is worth a read for anyone who works in mental health without having first hand experience with a major depressive episode. Styron does a fantastic job illustrating the emotional and physical pain of major depression and the hope/hopelessness of the recovery process. Unlike many of the recovery memoirs that are out there, this one doesn't try to say, "I'm a survivor; hear me roar!" Styron instead describes his experience clearly, with neither false modesty nor self agg ...more
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The great journey. 1 16 Apr 16, 2015 12:43AM  
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William Styron (1925–2006), born in Newport News, Virginia, was one of the greatest American writers of his generation. Styron published his first book, Lie Down in Darkness, at age twenty-six and went on to write such influential works as the controversial and Pulitzer Prize–winning The Confessions of Nat Turner and the international bestseller Sophie’s Choice.
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“A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being accompanied by a second self — a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it. There is a theatrical quality about all this, and during the next several days, as I went about stolidly preparing for extinction, I couldn't shake off a sense of melodrama — a melodrama in which I, the victim-to-be of self-murder, was both the solitary actor and lone member of the audience.” 247 likes
“In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. So the decision-making of daily life involves not, as in normal affairs, shifting from one annoying situation to another less annoying- or from discomfort to relative comfort, or from boredom to activity- but moving from pain to pain. One does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes. And this results in a striking experience- one which I have called, borrowing military terminology, the situation of the walking wounded. For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devistation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option and therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must try to utter small talk, and be responsive to questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, God help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words.” 126 likes
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