‘Anna Karenina’ as a Window to Depression
What Anna Karenina Taught Me
About Living With Depression
A good novel can be a reminder that other people
have endured tragedies, long ordeals, bad odds.
One humid night in September, I called a mental health crisis center. I told the volunteer who answered that when I looked into my future, I saw nothing good. I felt so overwhelmingly alone in the world I was terrified. The despair that had been haunting me for so long would, I feared, eventually kill me. What could I do?
The volunteer suggested that I take a warm bath.
Interesting. It was still nearly 80 degrees at 7 o’clock in September. I was sweating in a stuffy old house in upstate New York, and I wanted a warm bath about as much as I wanted to walk over a bed of fiery coals.
My silence prompted the volunteer to try again: “Could you put on the kettle for some herbal tea?”
Through my teeth, I snarled, “I don’t want tea.”
The volunteer’s advice seemed ludicrously inadequate to my situation. I had told her that the anniversary of my father’s suicide was approaching; that he’d never recovered from my mother’s death when I was small; that his torment, tormenting me, had always been a weight around my neck. I’d explained that the sleeping problems and debilitating fatigue of my depression had been crippling me for nearly 20 years, making life a relentless ordeal. I barely wanted to live with myself; how would anyone else ever want to live with me — or love me? Read more at The New York Times.
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