By his mid-twenties, Andrew Solomon earned international accolades for his work as a novelist, journalist and historian. At 31 he descended into a major depression. He was helped by a combination of family support, medications and talk therapy. He notes:
“Depression is an illness of loneliness. And the primary experience is the feeling of being isolated, of being alone, of being cut off from everyone and everything.
“I knew that the sun was rising and setting, but little of its light reached me….
“These experiences of darkness make the light more beautiful, that the pain of being acutely depressed allows you to experience an unbelievable happiness in every day when you aren’t depressed and a sense that each of those days is a gift.
“So that’s the real message of hope, is that you can get better.”
From his article The experience of darkness and hope.
[Photo from his Facebook page.]
One of his books: The Noonday Demon: An Atlas Of Depression.
video: Depression, the Secret We Share | Andrew Solomon | TED Talks
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Letter to the Editor Re: MIT Admissions Policy and Students with Depression
by Andrew Solomon, Newsweek, September 2004:
As the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, I am writing to express my shock and dismay about the comments made by MIT admissions Dean Marilee Jones in your article on depression.
She says that she wants to enroll “emotionally resilient” students at MIT. “So many kids are coming in, feeling the need to be perfect, and so many kids are medicated now,” she says.
“If you need a lot of pharmaceutical support to get through the day, you’re not a good match for a place like MIT.”
Many people require interventions of various kinds to function well in the world, and those who have found those means are to be praised for their courage in seeking and using them, not disparaged for their imperfections.
“Emotional resilience” is a quality that some people have on their own and some people achieve; it is not of lower value because it is the fruit of labor or medication.
[Follow link to read more of his powerful statement.]