A Terror Way Beyond Falling.

TW: Depression, suicide.

So far, I’ve talked a fair deal about the things that stand as barriers between one and one’s pursuits, weather these be procrastination, failure, or finding the balance between creativity and focus. Yet, so far, I’ve failed to mention the single greatest challenge in writing I’ve had thus far. The single greatest obstacle I have to overcome every time I set out to accomplish something. Depression.

David Foster Wallace, in context, compared depression, and more specifically suicidal depression, to the reason why people jump out of burning buildings to their death; these people jump because they are facing a terror way beyond falling, the flames. This is the most apt a description of my experiences with depression that I have ever read.

I’d like to say now, that I am well, the worst is certainly behind me; I am and have been doing worlds better than the dark days I faced (and wrote about) in high school and after. This, however, doesn’t mean that the depression itself does not linger, even though I’ve learned to cope with it better.

The kind of depression I have is the lifelong kind, not the seasonal, or manic-depressive, it’s a constant ennui that permeates into every corner of being. When you’re depressed, even the most menial tasks become vexing and seemingly impossible, among these are chiefly getting out of bed, along with mustering the effort to accomplish things. Some days I can ignore it and work past it, and other day’s it’s a great deal more difficult to do so.

There are things that help with this, routine is one, so is scheduling and making and checking off lists, eating well, exercising when I can, and making the effort to go outside and see people even when I don’t feel like it all. All of these are things that help, and all of these are things that become more difficult to do the worse you feel, but you just gotta keep going. It’s helped to write about things too. To give that trauma or that burden to a character that can be strong for me.

In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath asked “Is there no way out the mind?” And well, the answer is no. But this shouldn’t be a prison sentence, for as Camus argued (a really good guy to read if you want to pull yourself out of existential dread and depression), life is hard but we must find the joy in the labor, and suicide is never the answer.


“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”

-Albert Camus



2 thoughts on “A Terror Way Beyond Falling.”

  1. I cannot properly put my reaction to this post into words, so for clarity’s sake I will enumerate the things I want to say in order of “importance”: (1) It seems that our depressed minds think alike, for I wrote a post about The Bell Jar, and in it used the same David Foster Wallace quote you reference. (2) I relate to this post tremendously. (3) I am in awe and boundlessly appreciate of your candor in sharing these deeply personal aspects of yourself in such a public way; its honesty like this that de-stigmatizes mental illness. (4) As someone who cares about you as much as I do, this post was very difficult for me to read. It is so easy to see from the outside what a smart, kind man you are that my initial reaction is to want to shake you by the shoulders and say “Someone as great as you can’t waste time being sad!!” I wish that you could see it that way, but I know and am I’m so sorry that you have an illness that prevents you from doing so.


  2. This comment finds itself not out of duty for class, but because I mentally bookmarked this post to read at another time. Ignore that it comes at 5:30am. I just want to say bravo for saying what I’m afraid of saying. All my creative efforts are my way of dancing around the idea of the wild lion that is my depression, that I have only recently muzzled and leashed. I relate to everything you said here, and I truly wish you the best on your efforts going forward.


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