Darkness Visible Book Review

Darkness Visible Book Review
Darkness Visible - a Memoir of Madness (hardcover version), was written by William Styron. This brief, poignant book is a detailed, personal glimpse into the life of author William Styron. Rather than a lengthy overview of his entire life and career, Darkness Visible focuses on one period of Styron's life - his sudden and dramatic descent into depression.

The Basics
  • 84 pages
  • Published in 1990 (2007 Modern Library edition)
  • A dramatic, honest account of William Styron's experience with depression
  • A fairly short novel, but an incredibly engaging read

  • What I Liked Most
    I truly loved this book. I thought it was moving and so very personal. Styron went into a lot of detail about the sudden onset of his depression, the way the symptoms dramatically affected his life and marriage, and the fear he felt when he realized that depression could end his life.

    One of the best things about his experience is that he managed to get help before it was too late. He also tried various treatments, including psychiatric hospitalization. Despite his horrible experience, by the end of the memoir, he wrote this beautiful passage:

    "For those who have dwelt in depression's dark wood, and known its inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell's black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as the shining world."

    What I Liked Least
    I am not an enormous fan of Styron (i.e. the stereotypes in his fiction novel, Lie Down In Darkness, drove me nuts) so I wasn't expecting to relate to him quite as much as I did.

    Library or Purchase?
    Should you buy this book or borrow it? If you frequently refer back to life stories you've read that remind you that a person can recover from depression, then make the investment. If you find that reading about someone else's depressive episode triggers your depression, then read it when you're stable, and take it back to the library when you're done.

    NOTE: I purchased this book with my own resources, read it and provided this review with no incentive from the author or publisher.

    My name is Rayna Battle and I suffer from Major Depression, Cyclothymia, and Generalized Anxiety. I am not a mental health professional. Instead, I am a fellow sufferer, researching and fighting to understand the illnesses that threaten our happiness.

    Each week I send out a brief newsletter with encouragement, tips, and other useful mental health resources. You can sign up for this free newsletter using the box right below this article.

    Thank you for reading! I encourage you to share your opinion of it in the Depression forum, a community of people who understand.

    Other places I talk about depression:


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