“For unknown reasons, the gust of energy that had swept me up and fizzed me around all summer had dropped me hard, mid-October, into a drizzle of sadness that stretched endlessly in every direction: with a very few exceptions…I hated being around people, couldn’t pay attention to what anyone was saying, couldn’t talk to clients, couldn’t tag my piece, couldn’t ride the subway, all human activity seemed pointless, incomprehensible, some blackly swarming ant hill in the wilderness, there was not a squeak of light anywhere I looked, the antidepressants I’d been dutifully swallowing for eight weeks hadn’t helped a bit, nor had the ones before that (but then, I’d tried them all; apparently I was among the twenty percent of unfortunates who didn’t get the daisy fields and the butterflies but the Severe Headaches and the Suicidal Thoughts); and though the darkness sometimes lifted enough so I could construe my surroundings, familiar shapes solidifying the bedroom furniture at dawn, my relief was never more than temporary because somehow the full morning never came, things always went black before I could orient myself and there I was again with ink poured in my eyes, guttering around in the dark.” – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Tartt has such a particular diction that drowns you in sensory detail. I had to share this because it’s a very modern take on depression; our medicines don’t work, the people in our lives aren’t enough, our occupation doesn’t help, our environments become warped and formless even when the most substantial and solid things are crystal clear visually. “…Guttering around in the dark.” Damn. It really is a directionless stumble, an unexpected drop triggered by the cycles of nature that ironically have a more direct path of living than most of us do. When things become pointless and incomprehensible, it is difficult to ground yourself. I remember feeling so heavy during my depression; chained to the bed involuntarily and when I tried to remember the world around me, it seemed so pointless I would dissociate. I wanted to blend with the nothingness surrounding me; vanish. To ground yourself in the midst of this sensation leads to the feat of reaching out. When any of us stumble in the dark, we’re forced to depend on our other senses and often resort to touch. Clinging to walls or railings is the same as clinging to a book, a video game, a movie, a blanket, a pillow, our phones, or we may even touch ourselves. That sensation can become a “squeak of light” acting as a reflection, giving us a glimpse of who we are and what we need. It takes a very vulnerable and honest perception to peer into that reflection, understand who you are, and press on. It’s not easy. It’s just possible.
I’m determined to finish this book and see the movie soon. I really do hope it will do this wonderful work of literature justice. I don’t think I’ve read anything this human.