The collection also includes an illuminating series of companion pieces. Russell Banks's and Chase Twichell's essays represent husbandand-wife perspectives on depression; Rose Styron's contribution about her husband's struggle with melancholy is paired with an excerpt from William Styron's Darkness Visible; and the book's editor, Nell Casey, juxtaposes her own essay about seeing her sister through her depression with Maud Casey's account of this experience. These companion pieces portray the complicated bond -- a constant grasp for mutual understandingforged by depressives and their family members.
With an introduction by Kay Redfield Jamison, Unholy Ghost allows the bewildering experience of depression to be adequately and beautifully rendered. The twenty-two stories that make up this book will offer solace and enlightenment to all readers.
The writers' descriptions of "dwelling in depression's dark wood" (William Styron) are disturbing and haunting, laden with vivid imagery. "My heart pumped dread," writes Lesley Dormen. David Karp describes his depression as sometimes a "grief knot" in his throat, sometimes chest pain like a heart attack, sometimes "an awful heaviness" in his eyes and head. From her teenage years, Darcey Steinke would wrap herself in an old comforter and lie in a fetal position on top of her shoes in the closet (her brother called this her "poodle bed"). Nancy Mairs describes being institutionalized: "Lock [a woman] into a drab and dirty space with dozens of other wayward souls, make sure that she is never alone, feed her oatmeal and bananas until her bowels are starched solid, drug her to the eyeballs so that she can scarcely read or speak, and threaten to shoot bolts of electricity through her brain." If you want to know depression from the inside, from thoroughly gifted writers, you'll find it here. --Joan Price