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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

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A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.


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A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.

30 review for Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lawyer

    Darkness Visible: When the Question is Whether Life is Worth Living William Styron, (June 11, 1925 – November 1, 2006) "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.--Edmund Kean, (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833), celebrated Shakespearean actor Preamble-January 18, 2015 It is 1:20am cst. My thoughts swirl over the important content of Styron's brief memoir originally delivered as a lecture in Baltimore, 1989. The information contained in this little volume is too important to trust to hastily dashe Darkness Visible: When the Question is Whether Life is Worth Living William Styron, (June 11, 1925 – November 1, 2006) "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.--Edmund Kean, (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833), celebrated Shakespearean actor Preamble-January 18, 2015 It is 1:20am cst. My thoughts swirl over the important content of Styron's brief memoir originally delivered as a lecture in Baltimore, 1989. The information contained in this little volume is too important to trust to hastily dashed off thoughts, without the benefit of careful consideration. So a night's sleep is called for. And, truthfully, to consider how much of myself I choose to reveal within my review of Styron's story. For much of what he has to say, also applies to me, as it does to many among us. Yet, I am not unaware of the stigma brought about by confession. My inclination is truthfulness leads more to seek help. I did. It has made all the difference. For I emerged from darkness, once again to see the stars. There is much joy in the night sky, but a terrible loneliness in the dark, without even a match to strike to hold to a candle's wick. The Heart of the Matter-January 25, 2015 It has taken considerably more time than one night of good sleep to bring myself to write an adequate review of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. For I did not stop with this brief but brilliant account by William Styron. I continued on to with Reading My Father by his youngest daughter, Alexandra Styron, an absorbing, intimate memoir detailing what it was like to be William Styron's daughter in good times and in bad. The bad included not only the time Styron so articulately described in this work, but in his continuing battle clinical depression. His battle did not end with the publication of Darkness Visible in 1990. Rather, Styron was revisited by "the black dog," the "dark river," "the abyss," a number of times before his death in 2006. No, Styron did not die by his own hand. He endured cancer of the mouth, and died of complications from pneumonia. A review of Reading My Father will follow at some point, hopefully in the very near future. As I type, a copy of William Styron, A Life by his biographer James L.W. West III is at the right corner of my desk. Yes, I am making a study of Styron's life and his works, a number of which I have read at this time, but not all of them. Many, some published posthumously have a great bearing on Styron's life view, his state of mind during some of the most difficult points in his life. There was something else I had to give considerable thought to before writing this review. I indicated that in my "hastily dashed off thoughts" now appearing in what I have called the Preamble to the main body of this review. Those of you who have read my reviews know that I have often included personal details of my life. This will be the most personal review I have ever written. Not only will you read of Styron's thoughts on the nature of depression, but you will learn of mine, something that I struggled to hide for many years, quite successfully, until, I, too, slid off the edge of the world in much the same fashion as did Styron. It is not so much that confession is good for the soul, but that with each voice speaking about the debilitating anguish of depression, perhaps those who do not understand it will not view those who suffer from it weak human beings, would be shirkers of responsibility, or simply spineless beings. Styron did much to dispell that stigma. However, many people who share those misconceptions, quite frankly do not read William Styron. I have come to wonder if they read much of anything. I also have a few things to say about the pharmaceutical industry and the manner in which they pitch their products in endless streams of mindless commercials. On Darkness Visible as a work of Literature William Styron wrote an extraordinary document. It draws on literary allusion after allusion. Note the very source of its title. Paradise Lost by John Milton. For its subject matter it is remarkably succinct, a mere ninety pages. It is remarkable for its clarity. Styron is remarkable for his revelation of his illness, it is the taking off the mask that those battling depression wear so well, for so long. Styron reveals his self medication with alcohol, perhaps an addiction, though he never calls it alcoholism. Yet he reveals that he frequently wrote under the influence of alcohol and could not do so without a fluent flow without the aid of alcohol. At the age of sixty, the mere taste of alcohol resulted in pure revulsion. He was devastated by insomnia night after night. He discloses that he was an auto-didact. He was a master at self-diagnosis. Before seeking psychiatric help he had pondered over the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, what I call the ultimate cookbook containing all the diagnostic recipes for disorders large and small for psychologists and psychiatrists. To further complicate matters, though Styron does not admit it in Darkness Visible Styron was a hypochondriac extraordinaire. We can thank daughter Alexandra for that information. Styron cracked apart in 1985 on a trip to Paris to accept the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca, awarded for his lifetime achievement in producing works reflecting on great humanism. The award was offered by the wife of his French Publisher. Del Duca had published Styron's first novel Lie Down in Darkness in 1953, and had published each of his ensuing works. It was to be a day of festivities. However, Styron had already sought an appointment with a psychiatrist in New York. The prize was $25,000.00. Immediately after the award was presented, Styron in an absolute panic, immobilized by anxiety, told Madame Del Duca he could not attend the luncheon being held in his behalf. Which drew an angry "Alors!" With arms thrown high. Styron, even in his frozen state, apologized, did recognize his gaffe and told her he had a problem psychiatrique and that he was sick. Apology accepted. Styron and his rock, wife Rose, suffered through the luncheon, Styron unable to choke down hardly a bite. A flight on the Concorde the next morning began a rigorous pyschiatric treatment. Ultimately hospitalization. Styron seriously contemplated suicide. So. Some central thoughts from Darkness Visible, each of which I hold to be absolutely true, which I will interlace with my own confessions, the devil take the hindmost. The names of some of my principal players have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty, for there are both. “Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self--to the mediating intellect--as to verge close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode, although the gloom, "the blues" which people go through occasionally and associate with the general hassle of everyday existence are of such prevalence that they do give many individuals a hint of the illness in its catastrophic form.” --William Styron No words have come so close to describing what it feels like. "You're just down in the dumps. A little time, you'll feel better in no time." Time passes, there's no change. "This moodiness of yours is getting old. Snap out of it. Do you think it's pleasant being around you?" No, I didn't think it was. "If you're not happy here, go somewhere else. If you do, I'll take you for every cent you've got." My first marriage. Twenty-six years. Many years were loveless. We had two children. When my son graduated from high school, I left work early one day, gathered clothes together, the kids came home to find me packing. I explained their mother and I couldn't get along anymore. It wasn't their fault. Nor was it their mother's. She was a good woman. I would never say a bad word about her. The divorce took two years. My former wife fought all the way. I was an Assistant District Attorney. There was a limited pot of money. There would always be a limited amount of money. It took two lawyers to convince her of that. Even then, I gave her everything, keeping my books, records, fishing equipment, and camping equipment. Everyone leaves their own legacy. She alienated by children by blocking every phone number I had access to. The children in my photographs of them never grow older. My son married. I had told him when he and his wife had a child he would understand what it meant to be a father, perhaps we would be reconciled someday. We did for almost two years. His mother gave him fits, his wife told me. We are once again estranged. My daughter has never reconciled with me. She has a child I've never met. I was first told I was dealing with depression during my divorce. One does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes. And this results in a striking experience- one which I have called, borrowing military terminology, the situation of the walking wounded. For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option and therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must try to utter small talk, and be responsive to questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, God help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words.”-William Styron I became an Assistant District Attorney in 1979. Several factors led to that. Two women who had cared for me as a child had been murdered. One by her husband. The other by her son. I had loved each of them. Later in law school, as a law clerk in the District Attorney's Office, two young men robbed a Mom and Pop grocery store. The father of two students with whom I had attended school throughout my life was murdered. His death changed their lives forever. I would become a righter of wrongs. I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light. Robert Frost Within six years I was a specialist in prosecuting child abuse. I was bestowed somehow with a high degree of empathy. It can be a gift and a curse. I became known as Mr. Mike. I had a unique ability to talk with children. I became known as Mr. Mike, first by children, then by police, social workers, and the name stuck. I was called in to interview very young children who had witnessed their fathers kill their mothers. I became a protector of mockingbirds. The caseload was relentless. I was a man capable of great tenderness mixed with the ability to turn mean. I was described as a lawyer who had an uncanny ability to connect with a witness on the stand. I often worked late into the night in trial preparation. My former wife complained I cared about other people's children more than my own. She could not understand it when I told her I knew ours were protected but the others were not. I was and remain haunted by the eyes of the dead, particularly the eyes of dead children. I have flashbacks at times. What Styron said about being expected to smile,is true. I wore a mask. Exceptionally well. I was a cop's DA. My best lawyer friend resorted to a John Wayne phrase calling me "a man with a lot of hard bark on him." I could exchange gallows' humor jokes with the most jaded Homicide Investigator. Although our office had an on-call system, Investigators usually called me. Frankly, I was very, very good at my job. I was a fine trial lawyer. I lost very few cases. I did lose control of my emotions more than once on closing argument before a jury and cried. I considered it a weakness even when the jury convicted. During all my years as a prosecutor I lost count of the number of crime scenes I attended, the number of dead I saw, the number of autopsies I witnessed, the exhumation of a dead child I obtained an order for, and the subsequent re-autopsy. I had no outlet to talk about my work. My former wife did not want to hear about it. "It was too depressing." Yes. I guess it was. “When I was first aware that I had been laid low by the disease, I felt a need, among other things, to register a strong protest against the word "depression." Depression, most people know, used to be termed "melancholia," a word which appears in English as the year 1303 and crops up more than once in Chaucer, who in his usage seemed to be aware of its pathological nuances. "Melancholia" would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder, but it was usurped by a noun with a blank tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferent to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness. It may be that the scientist generally held responsible for its currency in modern times, a Johns Hopkins Medical School faculty member justly venerated --the Swiss-born psychiatrist Adolf Meyer -- had a tin ear for the finer rhythms of English and therefore was unaware of the semantic damage he had inflicted for such a dreadful and raging disease. Nonetheless, for over seventy-five years the word has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug, leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing, by its insipidity, a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control.” ― William Styron Our pharmaceutical industry does nothing to indicate the seriousness of clinical depression. It's a simple as just adding a little pill to help the anti-depressant you're on. And all delivered in a seconds long cartoon commercial. What kind of message does that send to people who have never dealt with the condition, those who have just had the commonplace blues. Looks serious, doesn't it? And where are the men in those commercials? Alright, so the statistics show women report depression more than men. How about, women are more forthcoming and truthful in reporting depression. After all, that male ego is such an impediment to admitting to what is viewed as a weakness. Interesting that according to the American Foundation for Suicide in 2012 over 78% of suicides were committed by males while slightly over 21% were committed by females. Since Darkness Visible William Styron was repeatedly prescribed Halcion by more than one physician for his insomnia. Halcion was banned in Great Britain in 1991 on the basis of its connection to depression and possible suicidal behavior. The FDA still allows its prescription in the United States. The drug is currently the subject of litigation in various jurisdictions. Considerable progress has been made in pharmacology for the treatment of clinical depression since Styron published Darkness Visible. Why I'm Still Here I fell off the edge of the earth twice. Call it a crack up. Call it a nervous break down. Throughout my life I have been consumed by the fear of failure. Formerly the Director of a Not for Profit Corporation, I was placed under a degree of stress I was incapable of handling. I had long been associated with the program as a board member. The President of the Board had succeeded in removing two Directors preceding my taking the position. When that President initiated the same tactics against me, I became frozen by anxiety, incapable of focus, unable to function. Men closely identify themselves with their work. The loss of what they do is essentially the same as the loss of their identity. That was the case for me. Did I consider whether life was worth living anymore? Yes, I did. Clinical Depression is a chemical imbalance. Restoration to health requires a combination of psychological therapy and psychiatric pharmacology. I was fortunate to find the right combination. I entered a second stage of crisis after being my mother's care giver during her final illness. It was a long hard death for her. I very unrealistically thought I could help save her life. I lived in a state of denial. She finally was hospitalized in intensive care for a month. The end was inevitable. The morning she died, I found myself lost once again. What was left for me to do. An adjustment of my medications was necessary. Within two months, I had found myself once again. Each time I considered life wasn't worth the living, one thing kept me from taking the final step. It was the same thing that kept Styron alive. For him, it was the effect it would have had on his family. For me, it was the effect it would have had on my mother and my wife, the lovely woman with whom I found happiness relatively late in life. The second time, my wife. I have seen too many people devastated by the suicide of a loved one. But it took the right help to make me remember that. The help is there.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jaline

    This very small volume was not an easy read. Mr. Styron eases us into his own story by relating stories of other writers and artists who experienced deep depression. Some made it through but most did not. His stories are liberally laced with a depth of understanding that he acknowledged could only come to those who have experienced it. We are not talking about a few days or even depression over a week or two, but rather months where the elevator keeps going down no matter how many times one thump This very small volume was not an easy read. Mr. Styron eases us into his own story by relating stories of other writers and artists who experienced deep depression. Some made it through but most did not. His stories are liberally laced with a depth of understanding that he acknowledged could only come to those who have experienced it. We are not talking about a few days or even depression over a week or two, but rather months where the elevator keeps going down no matter how many times one thumps the Up button. The rawness of Mr. Styron’s descent into deep depression is what made it difficult to read. As he said, the wide variety of symptoms and idiosyncrasies of depression continue to make it difficult to treat. There is no simple ‘cure’ and no ‘one remedy suits all’ like there are for other diseases and illnesses. The relentless descriptions of the reality he was being bombarded with every day for months were an education that I will not soon forget. I will also never forget that he did succeed in moving through it; just as his elevator skimmed the rock bottom of his life, it changed direction and began a slow and laborious climb upward again. Not without a near-crisis, and not without a lot of help. He emphasizes that point and also has some solid advice and words of wisdom to pass on to anyone who lives with a sufferer of depression, be it family or friends. Oh, and he also said he hoped that a better word would someday be found for this disease as he felt “depression” to be too dull and boring and not even close to describing the fierce and painful storms that occur in the mind and emotions of those suffering from debilitating depression. I do recommend this book to anyone who may be confronting depression themselves or that of a family member or friend. It could help to save someone’s life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mikol

    It was August in the year 2000. I was about to enter the room for my final exam. This was the introduction to Unix and it was coming to an end. So was I. Tears flowing copiously, leaning over the second floor balcony, I was overcome with darkness, the likes of which I had never experienced before. I finished the exam and could not gather myself. I had no reason for living. In my grief I recalled an earlier experience of incredible bliss following a near death/drowning experience at Luther Burbank P It was August in the year 2000. I was about to enter the room for my final exam. This was the introduction to Unix and it was coming to an end. So was I. Tears flowing copiously, leaning over the second floor balcony, I was overcome with darkness, the likes of which I had never experienced before. I finished the exam and could not gather myself. I had no reason for living. In my grief I recalled an earlier experience of incredible bliss following a near death/drowning experience at Luther Burbank Park during my first visit to Seattle in 1977. The water was calling me to her. I could taste her and the light drew me near. I kept remembering the bliss of that day as I sank deeper into the lake my last breath bubbling to the surface and the incredible softness and beauty of the afternoon sun reaching below the surface and I in total surrender, enveloped by her. By brother pushed me to the surface that afternoon and with the aid of the lifeguard revived me. It wasn't my time. The bliss was calling again and I was ready. I set up a meeting with my best friend at the time. A last beer together. Goodbyes. Again, it wasn't my time. A month later, this book was sitting in the lunchroom at my place of work. I brought it home and read it and saw myself in the pages looking back at me. It would be a couple of months before I regained my appetite for living. Looking back I've had a major episode of depression at about every 15 years. None were as deep and despairing as this last one. There was something about this slim volume that really helped in the immediate post-suicidal period when I was in a sort of purgatory, a daze, a grey zone between the worlds. I'm better now, thanks to caring friends and divine intervention. I have a zest for life, interesting projects, friends, and community. Just like before. But I am different for having the experience I had. Here is hope that your days are full of light.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Melanie

    Maybe I'm being needlessly harsh in my one-star rating, but there was something about Styron's memoir that really distressed me. I read it during one of my own periods of depression, and for whatever reason I decided to pair it with The Bell Jar, and instead of feeling any sort of comfort or recognition in Styron's words, I just felt sort of angry. I became so hung up on the ways we (women, men, Americans, depressed people, etc.) talk about depression, and on what it means when we call it by dif Maybe I'm being needlessly harsh in my one-star rating, but there was something about Styron's memoir that really distressed me. I read it during one of my own periods of depression, and for whatever reason I decided to pair it with The Bell Jar, and instead of feeling any sort of comfort or recognition in Styron's words, I just felt sort of angry. I became so hung up on the ways we (women, men, Americans, depressed people, etc.) talk about depression, and on what it means when we call it by different names, that even the very title of the work became grating: "A Memoir of Madness." I started (probably unfairly) projecting onto Styron, grumbling to myself that, sure, when fancy male writers are depressed it becomes madness, like they all think they're King Lear or something. (This is the point at which a simultaneous re-reading of Sylvia Plath became not so helpful, but provided an interesting contrast.) It was also around the time--and this was in a total fit of unabashed Crazy--that I decided to reclaim the phrase "mental illness." Man, that was a bad week. But I guess what I really struggled with, in reading this memoir, was the notion of finding anything noble in suffering from depression. I've never felt especially noble or touched by a strange, dark power or whatever--I've spent almost fifteen years of my life thinking that I'm broken and that I should cheer up already. I know that there's no such thing as capital-D Depression, and that we all experience it differently (and maybe even differently throughout our own lives), but there was just something about Styron's tone that really irked me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Orsodimondo

    NATURAL BURELLA** Tag words: Albert Camus, Romain Gary, Jean Seberg, Parigi, Lo straniero, Vanity Fair, Hotel Washington, Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca, 25.000 dollari americani, Abbie Hoffman, Un letto di tenebre, Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi, Halcion, Ludiomil, benzodiazepina, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Concorde (l’aereo), Gallimard, plateau de fruits de mer, Le confessioni di Nat Turner, Mersault, Emma Bovary, Considerazioni sulla ghigliottina, Sisi NATURAL BURELLA** Tag words: Albert Camus, Romain Gary, Jean Seberg, Parigi, Lo straniero, Vanity Fair, Hotel Washington, Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca, 25.000 dollari americani, Abbie Hoffman, Un letto di tenebre, Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi, Halcion, Ludiomil, benzodiazepina, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Concorde (l’aereo), Gallimard, plateau de fruits de mer, Le confessioni di Nat Turner, Mersault, Emma Bovary, Considerazioni sulla ghigliottina, Sisifo, La caduta, Martha’s Vineyard, New York, Connecticut, Brasserie Lipp, La Coupole, Prix Goncourt, New York Review of Books, Chapel Hill, New York Times, Chaucer, 1303, 1952, 1960, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, American Hospital di Neuilly, Académie Française, William James, Varie forme dell’esperienza religiosa, Baudelaire, l’ala della follia mi ha sfiorato, Majakovskij, Adolf Meyer, Newsweek, Times, 150 fenilbarbiturici, alcol, Auschwitz, L’autodistruzione nella terra promessa, teoria del lutto incompleto, malinconia, depressione, tempesta mentale, fantasie atroci, angoscia, sofferenza, annegamento, soffocamento, tormento, terrorizzato, indifeso, tremante, patologia, pazzia, processo biochimico aberrante, neurotrasmettitori cerebrali, stress sistemico, deplezione di noradrenalina e serotonina, cortisolo, disperazione, desolazione, suicidio, unico rimedio, annullamento dell’anima. E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle. Inferno XXXIV, 139, l'ultimo verso dell'Inferno della Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri. PS La natural burella è una galleria sotterranea lunga come una tomba, che Dante e Virgilio percorrono per arrivare all’uscita dell’Inferno e, di conseguenza, per entrare nel Purgatorio.

  6. 3 out of 5

    Nazanin

    با اینکه هوای کتاب، خاکستری و مه گرفته بود ، اما باید اعتراف کنم شرح نویسنده از دوران بحرانی اش، آن چنان پرقدرت و شفاف بود که گاهی حس می کردم پا به پایش دارم آرام آرام دچار همان برگ ریزانی می شوم که او ! و خدا را شکر که هر دو عاقبت به خیر شدیم :) و یک نویسنده (یا هر فرد دیگری) باید به راستی هنرمند باشد که تلخ ترین تجربه زندگی اش را ، آن چنان بی رحم، گویا و در عین حال زیبا بنویسد، نه؟ ستاره ها هم برای شرح صادقانه استایرن و هم ترجمه بسیار خوب افشین رضاپور و این گونه قدم پیش گذاشتیم و ستاره ها را دوب با اینکه هوای کتاب، خاکستری و مه گرفته بود ، اما باید اعتراف کنم شرح نویسنده از دوران بحرانی اش، آن چنان پرقدرت و شفاف بود که گاهی حس می کردم پا به پایش دارم آرام آرام دچار همان برگ ریزانی می شوم که او ! و خدا را شکر که هر دو عاقبت به خیر شدیم :) و یک نویسنده (یا هر فرد دیگری) باید به راستی هنرمند باشد که تلخ ترین تجربه زندگی اش را ، آن چنان بی رحم، گویا و در عین حال زیبا بنویسد، نه؟ ستاره ها هم برای شرح صادقانه استایرن و هم ترجمه بسیار خوب افشین رضاپور و این گونه قدم پیش گذاشتیم و ستاره ها را دوباره نظاره کردیم..... ص۷۲

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a stirring memoir of Styron's depression, which nearly killed him. I had seen multiple references to this book, all of them praising its insight into the despair that a depressed person can feel. "In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come -- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only tempora This is a stirring memoir of Styron's depression, which nearly killed him. I had seen multiple references to this book, all of them praising its insight into the despair that a depressed person can feel. "In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come -- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul." Styron said he doesn't know what caused such an intense bout of melancholy in 1985, but one factor could have been turning 60. He also wondered if the fact that he stopped drinking alcohol caused his despondency: "Like a great many American writers, whose sometimes lethal addiction to alcohol has become so legendary as to provide in itself a stream of studies and books, I used alcohol as the magical conduit to fantasy and euphoria, and to the enhancement of the imagination ... Alcohol was an invaluable senior partner of my intellect, besides being a friend whose ministrations I sought daily." (An alcoholic would call this a classic case of denial, but that's another story.) He realized that depression had been "tapping at my door for decades," ever since his mother died when he was 13. Styron read extensively about the disease, even paging through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is grim reading, indeed. He most identified with the feeling of loss as described in the literature: "Loss in all of its manifestations is the touchstone of depression -- in the progress of the disease and, most likely, in its origin. I would gradually be persuaded that devastating loss in childhood figured as a probable genesis of my own disorder; meanwhile, I felt loss at every hand ... One dreads the loss of all things, all people close and dear. There is an acute fear of abandonment. Being alone in the house, even for a moment, caused me exquisite panic and trepidation." Styron is a gifted writer and his descriptions were very moving. For example, he said he usually felt the most depressed later in the day: "Afternoons were still the worst, beginning at about three o'clock, when I'd feel the horror, like some poisonous fogbank, roll in upon my mind, forcing me into bed." (This quote was also used in the Soderbergh movie "Side Effects.") Styron sought help from a psychiatrist, who put him on a series of different medications, none of which seemed to help. After several months of taking pills, he reached the point where suicide seemed to be imminent. He made preparations, such as updating his will and getting rid of a private journal he didn't want anyone else to read. But when it came time to write a suicide note, Styron struggled: "It turned out that putting together a suicide note, which I felt obsessed with a necessity to compose, was the most difficult task of writing that I had ever tackled. There were too many people to acknowledge, to thank, to bequeath final bouquets. And finally I couldn't manage the sheer dirgelike solemnity of it." But before Styron attempted the act, he heard a stirring piece of music from Brahms one night, and he remembered the joys of his family and of his work and he realized he couldn't abandon this life. He was admitted to a hospital the next day, which was his salvation. "It is something of a paradox that in this austere place with its locked and wired doors and desolate green hallways -- ambulances screeching night and day ten floors below -- I found the repose, the assuagement of the tempest in my brain, that I was unable to find in my quiet farmhouse." So, why would someone read an 84-page memoir of depression? I think it might be a comfort to both those who have struggled with the disease or those who love someone who has depression, in an effort to better understand what they're going through. Styron does not claim that his experience is by any means universal, but like all good books, it reveals some fundamental human truths. Note: One of the places I saw this book referenced was in Christopher Hitchens' memoir, "Hitch-22." In it, Hitch described a dinner he had with Styron. The waiter recognized Styon's name and said the book "Darkness Visible" saved his life. When the waiter left, Hitch asked Styron if that sort of thing happened often. "Oh, all the time. I even get the police calling up to ask if I'll come on the line and talk to the man who's threatening to jump."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alireza

    نویسنده تجربیات مواجه شدن خود با افسردگی را نوشته که بسیار خواندنی و تامل برانگیز است. ترجمه و چاپ همانطور که از نشر ماهی انتظار می رود بسیار خوب است.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Thomas

    As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder and PTSD, I consider Darkness Visible an inspiring read. Only by sharing our stories of struggle and recovery can we destigmatize mental illness, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to obsessive-compulsive disorder. William Styron's memoir about his battle with depression and suicidal ideation serves as one of the first of its kind, highlighting his courage to shed light on a topic often darkened by society. With personal and raw pros As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder and PTSD, I consider Darkness Visible an inspiring read. Only by sharing our stories of struggle and recovery can we destigmatize mental illness, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to obsessive-compulsive disorder. William Styron's memoir about his battle with depression and suicidal ideation serves as one of the first of its kind, highlighting his courage to shed light on a topic often darkened by society. With personal and raw prose, Styron details the onset of his depression and his fight to seek help. He infuses his account with bits of dark humor as well as allusions to others who have endured suicidal thoughts: Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi, and more. Styron's honesty gives his memoir a sheer truthfulness, as his attention to detail and self-analysis make his story feel even more painful and real. A quote that captures just a snapshot of his turmoil: "In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come - not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul." My favorite part of this book centers on Styron's final message of hope. He concludes his memoir in an uplifting and candid way, acknowledging that yes, depression sucks, and yes, it gets better. These types of endings give me the most joy, because they acknowledge that though our struggles really are awful in this moment, we still have so much to experience and to grow from in our journeys. We still have a lot of love to give and to receive from our world and those who inhabit it. I will finish this review with a closing quote from Darkness Visible itself: "But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul's annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease - and they are countless - bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace: it is conquerable."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    Anyone who has ever battled depression will recognize him or herself in Styron's words. Despite all his accomplishments, the depression made him feel unworthy of recognition and made clear thinking difficult. The language he uses reminds me of books written in the 1940s, but this was published in 1990. This is a short but poignant memoir.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    Many years ago I read two powerful novels. One was a gripping story of an impossible moral dilemma, called Sophie's Choice; and the other was a controversial fictionalized account of a real-life slave revolt which occurred in Virginia in 1831, led by slave and fiery preacher, called The Confessions of Nat Turner. I became a fan of the author of these novels, William Styron. When I discovered that he had also written an account of his struggle with severe depression, I knew I wanted to read it. W Many years ago I read two powerful novels. One was a gripping story of an impossible moral dilemma, called Sophie's Choice; and the other was a controversial fictionalized account of a real-life slave revolt which occurred in Virginia in 1831, led by slave and fiery preacher, called The Confessions of Nat Turner. I became a fan of the author of these novels, William Styron. When I discovered that he had also written an account of his struggle with severe depression, I knew I wanted to read it. William Styron's memoir of depression, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness began as an article he wrote for the December 1989 issue of 'Vanity Fair'. Mr. Styron began his personal story with the recounting of a trip he had taken to Paris to receive an award for his literary contributions. This trip ended up being especially important to him because it was the first time he truly recognized and admitted to himself how much he had been struggling with his 'depressive illness'. Because Mr. Styron was so in tune with his body and his moods and because he had been laboring so hard to arrange his life around his mood disturbances, he was also quite aware that his trip to Paris would be a problem. He had been experiencing sleep disturbances and changes in his body's circadian rhythms and found that he could only function normally in the hours between dinnertime and midnight. He wrote.. "The pain lifted a little and my mind would become lucid enough to focus on matters beyond the immediate upheaval." Although Mr. Styron began to feel more and more distressed and anxious in anticipation of his Paris excursion, when the time finally arrived, he managed to get through it, although not without a tremendous amount of difficulty. Finally facing that he could no longer 'white knuckle' his way through social and professional engagements, he sought assistance from a psychotherapist he called Dr. Gold. There are two things which struck me while reading William Styron's relatively short missive. First, I was surprised and impressed by Mr. Styron's ability to eloquently describe how depression felt to him. He was able to describe with perfect self-awareness, "watching himself as a kind of second self." There was a kind of beauty in the honesty of the words he chose to describe the pain which he experienced when in the grip of depression and yet there was also an ever-present detachment in those words as well. He wrote.. " What I had begun to discover is that the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this caldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, its entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion." The other aspect of William Styron;s account of his illness that made an impression on me is just how much energy he expended daily in order to function in a minimally 'normal' manner. I was reminded of the many people I have heard over the years, expressing the opinion that people suffering from depression or other mental illnesses are simply weak-minded or possess a lack of will power... preferring instead to wallow in their own misery. In fact, the opposite is true. Although Mr. Styron wrote of being seized by crippling anxiety and periods of an inability to concentrate, he spent his days forcing himself to engage in the work and social activities he had always engaged in... demonstrating to me that depression (and mental illness in general) is NOT for the faint of heart! Over the years I have read other personal accounts of depression that could perhaps be considered more compelling in their details than the account written by William Styron; however, when I stop to consider that Mr. Styron wrote his account in 1989, I can't help but admire and feel grateful for his courage. He managed to gather his inner strength to write about his battle with mental illness at a time when few people discussed such topics... except perhaps in private rooms using hushed voices. I believe the general public has slowly become more knowledgeable and accepting of mental illness as a disease; and many people no longer think of it so much as a character flaw but rather as an illness of the brain.. every bit as serious and real as diseases involving other organs of the body. I believe William Styron contributed to this social change.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    Sometimes, reading a book that it's not in your comfort zone, can be a breath of fresh air. My roommate bought this book and it seemed interesting. So, of course, the curious part of me wanted to read it. It was a book about depression and suicide. And yeah, maybe you're wondering why did I read something about those sad human beings in the book and their actions. The answer to that question is "I don't know". Maybe because I wanted to know more, to find answers to my own questions. To know what Sometimes, reading a book that it's not in your comfort zone, can be a breath of fresh air. My roommate bought this book and it seemed interesting. So, of course, the curious part of me wanted to read it. It was a book about depression and suicide. And yeah, maybe you're wondering why did I read something about those sad human beings in the book and their actions. The answer to that question is "I don't know". Maybe because I wanted to know more, to find answers to my own questions. To know what do they think about when they find themselves in those situations. I know what depression is... I've been there. But I always got out in time. It never took charge of me. The author faces depression when he is almost 60 years old and he speaks for himself and tells the readers how important it is to take the problem in your hand and find solutions for it. Also, he mentions that in those moments when depression takes control of you, the most important thing is to have someone near you, someone who is willing to help you, to spend time with you and cherish you. He also gives examples of other people's cases of depression and suicide and the impact those people's death have on others. And another thing, he writes about how, wrong medicines, can affect our body and mind. For me, it was a captivating story and also a way to learn new things.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Like me, best-selling author William Styron ("Sophie's Choice," "The Confessions of Nat Turner") suffers from medically resistant clinical depression. "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" is a brief but compelling autobiographical journey through what Chaucer described as "melancholia" in the first literary reference made to what is now called a "mood disorder." Styron writes plainly about his experience with depression, including a lengthy hospitalization that ultimately assisted him in obtai Like me, best-selling author William Styron ("Sophie's Choice," "The Confessions of Nat Turner") suffers from medically resistant clinical depression. "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" is a brief but compelling autobiographical journey through what Chaucer described as "melancholia" in the first literary reference made to what is now called a "mood disorder." Styron writes plainly about his experience with depression, including a lengthy hospitalization that ultimately assisted him in obtaining coping skills to manage his illness (an option unfortunately seldom available in modern times, as physicians resort to pharmacopeia as some sort of magic bullet that does not always help patients). On pp 61-62 of the book, Styron shares what is, to me, the most accurate and compelling description of what it is like to live with depression as he relates preparing for a dinner party: "And this results in a striking experience -- one which I have called, borrowing military terminology, the situation of the walking wounded. For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would be lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no option ande therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must try to utter small talk, and be responsive to questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, God help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words." I highly recommend this book for those who are dealing with depression, whether the patient or a family member; Styron's insights are healing on numerous levels.

  14. 5 out of 5

    میعاد

    كتاب كه نه بيشتر يه مقاله بود ، و اطلاعات جالبى توش درباره ى افسردگى گفته شده (:

  15. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    3 – 3.5 stars Is there anything worse than feeling like you can’t control your own mind? Can you conceive the helplessness of being able to perceive the lies that your own brain is telling you, but still being unable to escape them? In feeling unequal to the task of avoiding triggers that send you into depths that despite their destructive tendencies seem at times either desirable or necessary, like picking at a fresh wound to morbidly watch it bleed? Is there anything more self-destructive than 3 – 3.5 stars Is there anything worse than feeling like you can’t control your own mind? Can you conceive the helplessness of being able to perceive the lies that your own brain is telling you, but still being unable to escape them? In feeling unequal to the task of avoiding triggers that send you into depths that despite their destructive tendencies seem at times either desirable or necessary, like picking at a fresh wound to morbidly watch it bleed? Is there anything more self-destructive than depression? To be fair I would imagine every illness is primarily terrifying due to the lack of control one has over one’s self, whether it be a purely physical lack of control over a limb or an organ, or even just one’s overall sense of well-being, but I still can’t help feeling that there is a certain unparalleled horror at the thought that one has little to no control over one’s state of mind. Eventually one can wander into a state like a drunken haze, but far from diminishing the emotional anguish one feels it is actually exacerbated. The pointlessness of one’s life becomes a fact, regardless of the ‘true’ reality of the situation and one ends up playing little more than a waiting game with the ultimate destination likely to be either self-inflicted death or, if one is able to wait it out and find the help one needs, eventual recovery. Unfortunately this help is not in any way a known quantity. What may work for some: medication, counselling, just soldiering through the haze, may have no positive effect on others. Add to that the need for external support at the very time that one least desires to be around others coupled to the fact that one’s emotional and mental state is often seen as inexplicable, distasteful, and even ridiculous to people looking in from the outside and it’s no wonder that recovery from depression is a hard fought battle that often ends in tragic failure. William Styron, the author of Sophie's Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner, covers many of these issues in regards to his own bout of severe clinical depression in his memoir _Darkness Visible_. He recalls key moments in the disease’s progression in his life, from the first vague stirrings to the moments of crisis when he knew he was dealing with a life-threatening disease. He details the strange regularity that became a part of his life while he was held in the grip depression, the cycles of limited clarity and soul crushing pain that compartmentalized the moments of his day. He details the near epic failure of his physician to deal with the disease through an apparent inability to grasp the reality of what Styron was experiencing, a problem for all outsiders to the disease, along with ineffective, or downright irresponsible, medication until the final moment of crisis when he was hospitalized and finally found the help he needed to recover. He also provides anecdotes of other sufferers from the world of literature, some of whom he knew personally, others who were only heroes, to give some sense of the widespread nature of the disease as well as the myriad of ways in which it afflicts individuals. It is notoriously difficult to really explain the experience of depression to those who have not experienced it without resorting to generalities and platitudes, thus making Styron’s job harder. Also, as he notes, it tends to be such a particular illness tailored to each of its victims in a manner as unique as that person’s own history and psyche that any attempt to universalize it or draw any but the most superficial generalizations about the disease is probably bound to fail. Despite this though there are certainly touchstones of commonality for all of its sufferers. Amongst these are the morbid fantasies of suicide, generally misunderstood by external observers, but which “are to the deeply depressed mind what lascivious daydreams are to persons of robust sexuality.” Added to this are the features of self-hatred, an utter lack of belief in one’s self-worth, and an intense sense of loss, whether it be actual or imagined, that each compound the sufferer’s sense that there really is no point to anything anymore regardless of what others might say to them. In early stages the sufferer has to try and pretend that they are still capable of engaging in normal human interaction such as Styron recounts when he was forced to attend a dinner party with friends: “There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship.” Styron has a lot to say about the then-current state of knowledge and understanding of the disease in the medical and scientific community and while he does try to be even-handed it seems pretty obvious that he had a rather jaundiced view of the medical community’s ability to deal effectively with the disease, or even to understand it. For the most part it often appears as though most practitioners are led by guesswork (as well as the ‘party line’ of whatever school of thought to which they adhere in the psychiatric community) as much as real knowledge and almost seem to view the entire arena as something of a theoretical thought experiment: “The psychiatric literature on depression is enormous, with theory after theory concerning the disease’s etiology proliferating as richly as theories about the death of dinosaurs or the origin of black holes.” Ultimately these theories on depression seem, for the sufferer at least, to be as purely speculative and useful as any of those put forward for the more esoteric fields mentioned. It also seems that there is no escaping the disease given that much of it appears to be derived from a person’s genetics as much as their early experiences and so for Styron: “Thus depression, when it finally came to me, was in fact no stranger, not even a visitor totally unannounced: it had been tapping at my door for decades.” I couldn’t say I enjoyed this memoir, but I did appreciate its candour and honesty in the face of a disease still generally treated with fear and misunderstanding by the world at large. Blaming the victim is not an uncommon event in many aspects of human life, but it seems to gain a level of tragic poignancy in these cases where a person’s own mind seems to betray them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hamed Rahimi

    #📚 4⭐/5⭐ #کتاب #خاطرات کتاب #ظلمت_آشکار نوشتهی ویلیام استایرن ترجمه افشین رضاپور از #نشرماهی ————————————————- کمابیش همه این واژه را شنیدهاند؛ #افسردگی. کلمهی سادهای که انگار گنگ است، سخن نمیگوید، قادر نیست عمق تاثیرش را بروز دهد. بسیاری آن را تجربه میکنند، اما کمتر کسی میتواند احساساتش را از این دوران انتقال دهد. دوران تلخی که مملو از بیهودگی، تاریکی و احساس تنفر نسبت به خود است. نویسندگان و هنرمندان بیش از همه گرفتارش میشوند، #ویلیام_استایرن هم یکی از آنهاست؛ نویسنده بزرگی که یکی از مفاخر معاصر اد #📚 4⭐️/5⭐️ #کتاب #خاطرات کتاب #ظلمت_آشکار نوشته‌ی ویلیام استایرن ترجمه افشین رضاپور از #نشرماهی ————————————————- کمابیش همه این واژه را شنیده‌اند؛ #افسردگی. کلمه‌ی ساده‌ای که انگار گنگ است، سخن نمی‌گوید، قادر نیست عمق تاثیرش را بروز دهد. بسیاری آن را تجربه می‌کنند، اما کمتر کسی می‌تواند احساساتش را از این دوران انتقال دهد. دوران تلخی که مملو از بیهودگی، تاریکی و احساس تنفر نسبت به خود است. نویسندگان و هنرمندان بیش از همه گرفتارش می‌شوند، #ویلیام_استایرن هم یکی از آن‌هاست؛ نویسنده بزرگی که یکی از مفاخر معاصر ادبیات آمریکا است. استایرن در شصت سالگی دچار افسردگی ماژور شد؛ افسردگی‌ای که تنها یک راه را برای خلاص شدن پیش پای مخاطبانش می‌گذارد؛ و آن #خودکشی ست. این کتاب، روایت خاطرات آن دوران اوست. استایرن کتاب را از پاریس آغاز می‌کند، از افسردگی #کامو می‌گوید، از خودکشی #رومن_گاری، از «فقدانی» که رهنمود ما می‌شود، از اینکه چطور فکر خودکشی در سرش رژه می‌رفت و چطور به دو قدمی آن رسیده بود. در آخر استایرن به دنبال ریشه این افسردگی میگردد. افسردگی‌ای که در ابتدا فکر می‌کرد عاملش ترک الکل است، افسردگی‌ای که مثل صاعقه به او زده. اما نه! افسردگی با ماست، همه افسردگی داریم، همه فقدان داریم، افسردگی‌ای که گاه ریشه در کودکیمان دارد. افسردگی‌ای که زمانی بروز می‌کند که دیگر دیر شده و وخامتش بالا گرفته... نمی‌دانم چرا حین مطالعه تصویر #هدایت چشمانم را می‌گرفت، هدایتی که سالهاست مرگش چرایی عظیمی را به دنبال خود کشانده. شاید، شاید علت خودکشی هدایت هم افسردگی باشد، واقعا همین‌قدر ساده! طرد شدن از خانواده، جدا افتادگی خودخواسته از جامعه، مشکلات مالی اواخر عمرش، عقاید عمیق فلسفی‌اش و... . افسردگی برخلاف ظاهرش بی‌نهایت پیچیده‌ است. اگر ما را نکشد، حداقل در بازه‌ای روز و روزگارمان را سیاه می‌کند. البته استایرن معتقد است خاطرات این دوران در یادمان ماندگار نیست، امیدوارم چنین باشد. ظلمت اشکار را دوست داشتم، برایم بیش از بضاعتش سخن گفت.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Elnaz Bhb

    خیلی از اتفاقات در زندگی هست که با زمانبندی مناسبی رخ میدهند و آدم کیفش را میبرد و یا بعدها برایش روشن میشود که اگر دیرتر یا زودتر رخ داده بود فایده و اثر نمیکرد. نمونهای که همیشه مثال میزنم تعدادی فیلم و کتاب است. هر وقت از من راجع به کوئیلو میپرسند میگویم برای ۱۵ سالگیم حرفهای خوبی داشت و بس، یا از بین ستارهای نولان که حرف میزنم، همیشه تأکید میکنم که دیدنش در آن زمان بهخصوص با آن روحیه، به دادِ من رسید که بالاخره با فراغ پدر کنار بیایم و رهایش کنم. این کتاب هم دیشب سروکلهاش پیدا شد. نه دیده بو خیلی از اتفاقات در زندگی هست که با زمان‌بندی مناسبی رخ می‌دهند و آدم کیفش را می‌برد و یا بعدها برایش روشن می‌شود که اگر دیرتر یا زودتر رخ داده بود فایده و اثر نمی‌کرد. نمونه‌ای که همیشه مثال می‌زنم تعدادی فیلم و کتاب است. هر وقت از من راجع به کوئیلو می‌پرسند می‌گویم برای ۱۵ سالگیم حرف‌های خوبی داشت و بس، یا از بین ستاره‌ای نولان که حرف می‌زنم، همیشه تأکید می‌کنم که دیدنش در آن زمان به‌خصوص با آن روحیه، به دادِ من رسید که بالاخره با فراغ پدر کنار بیایم و رهایش کنم. این کتاب هم دیشب سروکله‌اش پیدا شد. نه دیده بودمش نه چیزی درباره‌اش خوانده بودم. بهمن دارالشفایی در توییترش پیشنهادش داد و گفت از زبان نویسنده‌ای در باب افسردگیش است که مدتی با آن دست به گریبان بوده. کتاب کم حجمی‌است و کاملا شخصی. هیچ شباهتی به کتاب‌های آلن دوباتن، شهلا زرلکی یا امثال آن ندارد. تخصصی نیست. از زبان یک انسان مبتلا به افسردگیست و بارها حین کتاب تاکید می‌کند که هیچ نسخه‌ای نمی‌پیچد. صرفاً واقایع نگاری‌است دوره بیماری نویسنده. کتاب، در هیچ زمانی جز این روزهایم نمی‌توانست اینقدر شفابخش باشد. زمانی که پذیرفته بودم تا آخر عمر دست به گریبانِ مالیخولیای افسردگیم خواهم بود. اطرافیان اصرار داشتن براینکه در جامعه امروزی که استعداد هدر می‌رود همه همینند و دوستانم روحیاتم را همچنان پس از ده سال دست و پا زدن و رفت و برگشت‌های مدام رفتاریم تحمل می‌کردند. دیگر داشتم به مرحله پذیرش می‌رسیدم که این هم زندگی منی است با داشتن ذهن و روحیاتی این‌چنینی. مرحله خطرناکی که ادبیات و هنر، این بار هم مرا شرمنده کرد و به سلامت از لبه لغزنده‌اش گذشتم. کتاب را یک نفس خواندم. الیزابت در «غرور و تعصب»، شادی «در نگران نباش» و هزار کاراکتر با شخصیت‌های مشابه با من در داستان‌های دیگر هم نتوانستند آن‌طور که این پیرمرد از زبان من حرف می زند با من همذات پنداری کنند. با وجود اختلاف سن، شرایط و محل زندگی، تک تک کلماتش را درک می کردم و با بسیاری از خطوطش گریستم، نه از غم. از سبکباری. انسانی این چنین متفاوت با من، در دام بیماری مشابه و ترسناکی افتاده بود و بعد صحیح و سالم بیرون آمده بود. نه به سبک تبلیغاتی، نه با ذره‌ای شعارزدگی. در دل طوفان بوده و زجر ذهنی بی‌انتهایی کشیده، بی‌آنکه در روحیه‌اش باشد به خودکشی فکر کرده اما تسلیم نشده و هرکاری به ذهنش می‌رسیده انجام داده است. نه آن را شیک و نشانه روشنفکری دانسته نه از بستری شدن در بیمارستان هراسی داشته است. بعد از اتمام کتاب، آرامش خاطری به سراغم آمد که نظیرش را مدت‌ها بود تجربه نکرده بودم. آن مالیخولیای خبیثی که مهمان ناخوانده تمام عمرم حسابش کرده بودم، رفتنی به نظر می‌آمد. دیر یا زود. من هم می‌توانستم از پسش بربیایم. نه چون قوی‌تر از دیگرانم. نه. صرفا درست و حسابی متوجه شده بودم که هرکسی می‌تواند درگیر افسردگی باشد. درکی که کتاب از همه گیر بودن این اتفاق به من داد، اعتماد به نفس از دست رفته‌ام در مقابله با افسردگی را به من برگرداند. به عزیزی گفتم نویسنده رسالتش را انجام داده‌است. حداقل یک روح سرگردان را با نوشته‌اش تسکین داده‌بود.

  18. 3 out of 5

    George K.

    Ο Γουίλιαμ Στάιρον ήταν ένας από τους δεκάδες συγγραφείς που αντιμετώπισαν το τέρας της κατάθλιψης, έχοντας φτάσει μάλιστα πολύ κοντά στην αυτοκτονία. Στο βιβλίο αυτό περιγράφει την όλη κατάσταση που έζησε, από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος, χωρίς περιττολογίες και φλυαρίες. Η κατάθλιψη είναι μια από τις χειρότερες ασθένειες που ο άνθρωπος μπορεί να έχει την ατυχία να αντιμετωπίσει τουλάχιστον μια φορά στην ζωή του και γι'αυτόν που πάσχει είναι υπερβολικά δύσκολο να εξηγήσει ακριβώς τα γιατί και πως, Ο Γουίλιαμ Στάιρον ήταν ένας από τους δεκάδες συγγραφείς που αντιμετώπισαν το τέρας της κατάθλιψης, έχοντας φτάσει μάλιστα πολύ κοντά στην αυτοκτονία. Στο βιβλίο αυτό περιγράφει την όλη κατάσταση που έζησε, από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος, χωρίς περιττολογίες και φλυαρίες. Η κατάθλιψη είναι μια από τις χειρότερες ασθένειες που ο άνθρωπος μπορεί να έχει την ατυχία να αντιμετωπίσει τουλάχιστον μια φορά στην ζωή του και γι'αυτόν που πάσχει είναι υπερβολικά δύσκολο να εξηγήσει ακριβώς τα γιατί και πως, να δώσει να καταλάβει στον υγιή τι αντιμετωπίζει ένας καταθλιπτικός καθημερινά. Ο Στάιρον μας δίνει μια ιδέα και την δυνατότητα να δούμε ένα κομμάτι από το σκοτάδι της ανθρώπινης ψυχής, αλλά και πως κατάφερε να ξεφύγει μια για πάντα απ'αυτόν τον Γολγοθά. Η γραφή είναι πολύ καλή, ευκολοδιάβαστη, άμεση και οξυδερκής, ο Στάιρον λέει πολλά πράγματα χρησιμοποιώντας λίγες λέξεις. Αρχικά το κείμενο αυτό δημοσιεύτηκε το 1989 στο περιοδικό Vanity Fair και δεν άργησε να κυκλοφορήσει και αυτοτελώς σε βιβλίο. Είναι ένα πολύ ενδιαφέρον, σημαντικό και καλογραμμένο αυτοβιογραφικό βιβλίο, που όμως δεν πρέπει να διαβαστεί σαν... εγχειρίδιο αντιμετώπισης της κατάθλιψης. Δυστυχώς δεν υπάρχει τέτοιο εγχειρίδιο. Κάποια στιγμή στο μέλλον σίγουρα θα διαβάσω και το magnum opus του συγγραφέα, το "Η επιλογή της Σόφι", που είναι και το μοναδικό άλλο βιβλίο του συγγραφέα που έχει μεταφραστεί στα ελληνικά μέχρι σήμερα.

  19. 3 out of 5

    Kristen

    At a recent tenure party, a friend of mine leaned over to our small group sitting on the couch and revealed that she had just come from the campus bookstore where she had been perusing a colleague’s recent memoir. “I would never expose myself like that!” she exclaimed. When writers choose to invade their own privacy, as Styron puts it, by sharing a personal struggle, is that what they’re doing—exposing themselves? Certainly, on some level, when Styron sets his struggle with suicidal depression i At a recent tenure party, a friend of mine leaned over to our small group sitting on the couch and revealed that she had just come from the campus bookstore where she had been perusing a colleague’s recent memoir. “I would never expose myself like that!” she exclaimed. When writers choose to invade their own privacy, as Styron puts it, by sharing a personal struggle, is that what they’re doing—exposing themselves? Certainly, on some level, when Styron sets his struggle with suicidal depression in print, he is. He does so knowing that many of the people who read his book may likely find him “different,” and maybe even judge him to be weak or crazy or both. They will set him aside in their minds as an “other.” And in a way, isn’t this exactly what my friend was implying with her exclamation—that she doesn’t want everyone to know all the ways, big and small, that she is different or doesn’t “belong”? Yet, what my friend is missing is that a writer like Styron isn’t engaged in a reckless act of self-exhibitionism; he is engaged in a project of cultural critique. He forges ahead with his story despite the socialized impulse to keep hidden what we are taught to experience as shameful or “abnormal.” His book is an act of faith and a form of resistance. He must trust that readers who have never experienced suicidal depression will find points of connection with him as well as points of difference, thereby experiencing the heretofore unfamiliar as familiar. His book becomes like a stone dropped into a still pond. It will resonate most profoundly with those who share his struggles, but its resonance will expand out to touch others. His sharing of his account strikes me not as an act of shocking self-exposure but rather as a brave act of generosity.

  20. 3 out of 5

    zainab_booklover

    In Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron endeavours to describe the undescribable. You have to read it to fully comprehend its importance and significance. Thus, it is definitely a must-read for everyone! ''Depression, most people know, used to be termed "melancholia," a word which appears in English as early as the year 1303 and crops up more than once in Chaucer, who in his usage seemed to be aware of its pathological nuances. "Melancholia" would still appear to be a far more ap In Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron endeavours to describe the undescribable. You have to read it to fully comprehend its importance and significance. Thus, it is definitely a must-read for everyone! ''Depression, most people know, used to be termed "melancholia," a word which appears in English as early as the year 1303 and crops up more than once in Chaucer, who in his usage seemed to be aware of its pathological nuances. "Melancholia" would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder, but it was usurped by a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness.'' ''Depression afflicts millions directly, and millions more who are relatives or friends of victims. It has been estimated that as many as one in ten Americans will suffer from the illness. As assertively democratic as a Norman Rockwell poster, it strikes indiscriminately at all ages, races, creeds and classes, though women are at considerably higher risk than men. [....] it is enough to say that very few people escape being a potential victim of the disease, at least in its milder form.''

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    One of my literary pet peeves: writers writing about their mental illnesses. I avoid books like this one, largely because I believe the cult of romanticism surrounding artistic despair is misguided to the point of being offensive. It reminds me of being stuck in an undergraduate seminar with that girl who wore black eyeliner and too many bracelets, lugged around conspicuous copies of Plath and Sexton, and wrote bad poems about her sex life. As both a writer and someone who suffers from chronic d One of my literary pet peeves: writers writing about their mental illnesses. I avoid books like this one, largely because I believe the cult of romanticism surrounding artistic despair is misguided to the point of being offensive. It reminds me of being stuck in an undergraduate seminar with that girl who wore black eyeliner and too many bracelets, lugged around conspicuous copies of Plath and Sexton, and wrote bad poems about her sex life. As both a writer and someone who suffers from chronic depression, I see nothing romantic about the myth of the suffering artist. (It also angers me that many people assume the two facets of my life depend on each other: I suffer, so I write. I write, so I suffer. No. I'm depressed because I come from a long line of depressives, and I write because I want to, and I take it seriously, not as some form of mad exorcism or touchy-feely therapy.) So the idea that I - or anyone - would write about their own suicidal tendencies seems both cliched and dangerously misleading. However, I was moved by Styron's pithy and unsentimental account of his battle with depression - largely because he didn't connect to any "artistic" sensibility at all. It's a slim volume, but a large piece of it was devoted to his utter bewilderment. His depression set in during middle age, when he was settled, married, and working. It's not something that burned in him like "the fire of inspiration" - it was frightening, origin-less, and eventually incapacitating. This is something I responded to - depression is an irrational, lonely, very physical disease, and not always connected to the grandiosity of one's ego, or the peak of one's art. I got a little choked up at the end, with the Dante quotes. So true.

  22. 5 out of 5

    kian

    درمورد دوران افسردگي نويسنده . باهاش ارتباط برقرار كردم كلا.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Given the number of great reviews this book had, I was eager to read, especially regarding a topic I feel is extremely neglected in good literature. Having experienced this 'darkness' without remittance for most of my life, I had high hopes for this book- which he did deliver, and evident in his descriptions of feeling like a 'husk', and the fragile moments following a near-suicide attempt- "this sound, which like all music- indeed like all pleasure- I had been numbly unresponsive to for months, Given the number of great reviews this book had, I was eager to read, especially regarding a topic I feel is extremely neglected in good literature. Having experienced this 'darkness' without remittance for most of my life, I had high hopes for this book- which he did deliver, and evident in his descriptions of feeling like a 'husk', and the fragile moments following a near-suicide attempt- "this sound, which like all music- indeed like all pleasure- I had been numbly unresponsive to for months, pierced my heart like a dagger, and in a flood of swift recollection I thought of all the joys the house had known.... All this I realized was more than I could inflict on these memories, and upon those, so close to me, with whom those memories were bound. And just as powerfully I realized I could not commit this desecration on myself. I drew upon some last gleam of sanity to perceive the terrifying dimensions of the mortal predicament I had fallen into." Styron is the first writer I have read whom I feel portrays depression accurately, stripping it of it's stigma and shame, and explains the rawness in all it's haunting emptiness. Rather than it's downfall, the briefness of this book was perfect, as it meant that even one with difficulty concentrating could read and comprehend the text without feeling overwhelmed. This book was great, the only downfall, I would have liked to have read more! Also, I would have loved more expansion on the rawness of ones' feelings, especially given the considerable length he uses to instill the possibility of recovery, which I felt too difficult to comprehend given my current state of mind. Overall, a highly recommended book for anyone, those who have depression and those who wish to have a glimpse of depressions' insidiousness.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elham Ghafarzadeh

    از بهترین کتابهایی که خواندم همین کتاب کوتاهِ خاطرات افسردگیِ ویلیام استایرن است: «ظلمت آشکار» که نه یک بار بلکه چندین بار خواندمش و خواهم خواند. برای تمامی کسانی که به افسردگی، ناراحتی و ناامیدی مدام دچارند و دنیایشان حتی گهگاه چنان سیاه، تیره و کبود میشود که نه تنها رنگ که نوری درش نفوذ نمیکند، حتی به نزدیکان و دوستانشان و بهتر بگویم به همه پیشنهاد میدهم این کتاب را بخوانند و در جایی نزدیک به خود نگه دارندش چرا که مدام باید به آن رجوع کرد. خاطرات یک از دنیای افسردگی سالم بازگشته به حدی نادر اس از بهترین کتاب‌هایی که خواندم همین کتاب کوتاهِ خاطرات افسردگیِ ویلیام استایرن است: «ظلمت آشکار» که نه یک بار بلکه چندین بار خواندمش و خواهم خواند. برای تمامی کسانی که به افسردگی، ناراحتی و ناامیدی مدام دچارند و دنیایشان حتی گه‌گاه چنان سیاه، تیره و کبود می‌شود که نه تنها رنگ که نوری درش نفوذ نمی‌کند، حتی به نزدیکان و دوستانشان و بهتر بگویم به همه پیشنهاد می‌دهم این کتاب را بخوانند و در جایی نزدیک به خود نگه دارندش چرا که مدام باید به آن رجوع کرد. خاطرات یک از دنیای افسردگی سالم بازگشته به حدی نادر است که بایستی آنرا چون تابلوی «او توانست پس من هم می‌توانم» بر دیوار اتاقمان بکوبیم. برای آن‌ها که در جنگل تاریک افسردگی اقامت کرده‌اند، و عذاب توجیه‌ناپذیر آن‌را می‌شناسند، بازگشتشان ار مغاک بی‌شباهت به معراج شاعر نیست که کشان کشان از اعماق تاریک جهنم بیرون می‌آید و در جهانی که خود «جهان‌ تابناک»‌اش می‌نامد، ظاهر می‌شود. در این‌جا هر کس که به سلامتی بازگشته، تقریبا همیشه توان لذت و ‌آرامش را بازیافته و این شاید جبران تحمل یاس و ناامیدی باشد. و در آخر: از افسردگی، ناراحتی مدام و ناامیدی حرف بزنیم.

  25. 3 out of 5

    Hiba Arrame

    This was planned to be a buddy read with https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/24783204-ali but I ended up finishing it before he could even start it.. Because that's the kind of friends I am xD Now, for the book, it was simply AMAZING, I just loved it, and loved how it spoke to me on so many levels, I loved the willingness of the author to share such an experience, as though he wants to tell everyone out there who suffers from depression that they can get through it safe and sound if only they had This was planned to be a buddy read with https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/24783204-ali but I ended up finishing it before he could even start it.. Because that's the kind of friends I am xD Now, for the book, it was simply AMAZING, I just loved it, and loved how it spoke to me on so many levels, I loved the willingness of the author to share such an experience, as though he wants to tell everyone out there who suffers from depression that they can get through it safe and sound if only they had the right environment and the right amount of support and love. Depression is such a tricky instability, so few realize they're drowning in it, and that's exactly why very few tend to deny its existence. And very few actually get the essence of it, which makes it even harder for the person in question to feel secure, what with all the incredibility he has to encounter. Depression should be explained and accepted more in societies, because it can take away from us those dearest to our hearts.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Samane

    توصیفهایی که پیش از مطالعهی کتاب از دیگران خوانده بودم این تصور را برایم ایجاد کرد که کتاب راهنمایی بر غلبه بر افسردگی است اما پس از مطالعه دریافتم بیشتر توصیف بیماری افسردگی است. و این توصیف از میانهی کتاب به خوبی صورت میگیرد. توصیف‌هایی که پیش از مطالعه‌ی کتاب از دیگران خوانده بودم این تصور را برایم ایجاد کرد که کتاب راهنمایی بر غلبه بر افسردگی است اما پس از مطالعه دریافتم بیش‌تر توصیف بیماری افسردگی است. و این توصیف از میانه‌ی کتاب به خوبی صورت می‌گیرد.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    William Styron is a beloved author having written such classics as The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie's Choice. I read 'Nat' soon after it was published (1967) and neither remember it or this author's wonderful writing style. Needless to say I knew nothing about his descent into a very dark depression. This book chronicles that descent. At first I was nervous about reading this book because my mother was bipolar, my paternal grandfather suffered from serious depression, and my sister died be William Styron is a beloved author having written such classics as The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie's Choice. I read 'Nat' soon after it was published (1967) and neither remember it or this author's wonderful writing style. Needless to say I knew nothing about his descent into a very dark depression. This book chronicles that descent. At first I was nervous about reading this book because my mother was bipolar, my paternal grandfather suffered from serious depression, and my sister died because of her depression, taking her own life. I need not have been afraid. Styron wrote about his experience almost lovingly. Never did he portray the attitude of 'why me' or write the words of a martyr. I am so sorry that Styron had to endure this but so glad he lived to write about it and share it with us. His ultimate stay in a very good hospital for 7 weeks effected the cure he needed. I was especially impressed with his description of his hospital stay. That it was a place of peace where he could start to heal. There are many other lessons to be learned from this book. Depression was a very big influence on my family and I am glad I read this special book. Next I need to reread 'Nat' and read Sophie's Choice and his first book, Lie Down in Darkness (1951). 5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Abailart

    Revisited this. It is a literary gem as well as a marvellous compression into one short essay of that conceptually infinite beast called Depression. It came to mind after reading Thompson's The City of Dreadful Night, one of the greatest poetic descriptions of depression. Since I have at various levels been involved with depression throughout my life, I feel able to assert that the literary expression alone can come near to aiding understanding. My involvement at policy level with medical suppor Revisited this. It is a literary gem as well as a marvellous compression into one short essay of that conceptually infinite beast called Depression. It came to mind after reading Thompson's The City of Dreadful Night, one of the greatest poetic descriptions of depression. Since I have at various levels been involved with depression throughout my life, I feel able to assert that the literary expression alone can come near to aiding understanding. My involvement at policy level with medical support agencies left me in (not depressive) despair. "Depression', as Styron says is a mystery, intractable and deadly. Yet by using a single word it has become the plaything of virtually quack instant remedies, gross misunderstanding of its nature, and an alarming naming of misery or grief etc. as 'depression' with the concomitant dishing out of millions of drugs. What's going on in the total isolation of true depression is that (i)n depression...faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come, not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. We have to resort to a word such as 'soul'. I'll just pick out some aspects that Styron touches on, give them in very compressed form too. The beauty of the book is in the reading of it so go and read. It's always atypical, different for everybody, never fits in with what the technicians of the psyche with their charts and theories try to fit it into, although there is a relationship. It can begin slowly, with a lessening of pleasure. By the end it is a sense first of absolute numbness and loss of feeling, then a descent to what can only be, somewhat futilely, made analogous to great physical torment. It brings a sense of absolute isolation, losses of meaning, hope, love. Loss is central, a feeling of utter loss which Styron relates back to his pubescent childhood when his mother died. Styron also ponders whether ending a 40 year old affair with alcohol may have played a part. Stopping drinking was not willed; it was his body seemed to become highly sickened by alcohol. He would be one of many, perhaps the majority, of heavy drinkers who started drinking to alleviate anxiety and depression, or those whose minds were brought to depression by long term use. One of the hardest parts for Styron - and I have heard this over and over from so many people - was hiding his inner state from other people, trying to function socially and intellectually with the crushing weight inside.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    I picked read this as I'm always interested in peoples' experiences with depression and how they deal with it/emerge from it, as well as how it was for them. I think sometimes I'm depressed but having read this book I think what I have might simply be the occasional blues. William Styron makes this distinction clear in his memoir "Darkness Visible" where he says that full on depression (a term he deplores as too weak a description - he prefers the label "brainstorm") totally cripples a person. T I picked read this as I'm always interested in peoples' experiences with depression and how they deal with it/emerge from it, as well as how it was for them. I think sometimes I'm depressed but having read this book I think what I have might simply be the occasional blues. William Styron makes this distinction clear in his memoir "Darkness Visible" where he says that full on depression (a term he deplores as too weak a description - he prefers the label "brainstorm") totally cripples a person. They're unable to do anything, can't get through a day, and contemplating death becomes almost pleasurable as it's an escape from their condition. I think this was the best thing to come out of reading this book - the understanding between being unhappy with yourself and your life sometimes but still continuing and taking comfort from little things, to being clinically depressed. While a lack of action and a blackness in thought were the things I took from this as being clinically depressed, I never really felt that I understood what it was like to be this way. The best Styron manages is a sort of lethargy that most people can relate to, he can never actually fully articulate the sensation (or lack thereof) of depression (odd as he is a very verbose writer). A lot of the book is taken up with Styron musing on other famous writers who were depressed as well as the treatment of his depression - nothing particularly special, pills, followed by hospitalisation and counselling. Though it's a short book, I felt Styron didn't quite put across the experience of depression very well in the book and I came away from it none the wiser having read it. "Prozac Nation" is a less well written but more enlightening read by someone who's also been through the wringer of mental hell. "Darkness Visible" felt like it was written by someone afraid, or unable, to return back to the depths to dredge up the experience on paper and so produced a weaker book as a result.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fateme

    قبل از اینکه با گودریدز اشنا بشم شبکه های اجتماعی دیگه رو زیر و رو میکردم دنبال کتاب خوب ...فیلم خوب ...موسیقی خوب .. با این کتاب عزیز هم به همین شکل اشنا شدم .چون خیلی ازش تعریف شده بود اولین باری که بعد از شنیدن اسمش پام به انقلاب رسید گشتم دنبال نشر ماهی!انتشارات توی یکی از واحدای یه ساختمون چند طبقه ی نسبتا قدیمی بود تو یکی از پاساژایی که از ایستگاه متروی انقلاب نسبتا دوره هنوزم نمیدونم چی باعث شد یه راست برم سراغ خود نشر و از کتابفروشیای سر راه نپرسیدم دارن یا نه ! البته شک دارم که پرسیدم و قبل از اینکه با گودریدز اشنا بشم شبکه های اجتماعی دیگه رو زیر و رو میکردم دنبال کتاب خوب ...فیلم خوب ...موسیقی خوب .. با این کتاب عزیز هم به همین شکل اشنا شدم .چون خیلی ازش تعریف شده بود اولین باری که بعد از شنیدن اسمش پام به انقلاب رسید گشتم دنبال نشر ماهی!انتشارات توی یکی از واحدای یه ساختمون چند طبقه ی نسبتا قدیمی بود تو یکی از پاساژایی که از ایستگاه متروی انقلاب نسبتا دوره هنوزم نمیدونم چی باعث شد یه راست برم سراغ خود نشر و از کتابفروشیای سر راه نپرسیدم دارن یا نه ! البته شک دارم که پرسیدم و نداشتن یا اصلا نپرسیدم خلاصه که بعد از اینکه با ترس و لرز در زدم و کتابو خواستم قطع و حجم کتابو که دیدم خجلت زده شدم :)))) همون موقع هم نخوندمش تازه ، چند وقت پیش یکی از دوستان راجع بهش ریویویی نوشته بود که باعث شد از قفسه ی نیمه تموم ها بیرون بیاد بره تو قفسه ی در انتظار نوشتن ریویو :)) کتاب برای من بسیار مفید بود هم از جنبه ی تجربه ی شخصی و هم شغلی . قلم نویسنده گیراست ،گاهی از کتابها یا نویسنده هایی اسم میبره که اگه اثارشونو نخونده باشی ممکنه کسل بشی اما اگه از جهت دیگه بهش نگاه کرد در خلال صحبتاش کلی کتاب خوب معرفی میکنه . این بخش از کتاب به نظرم خیلی تاثیرگذار بود : [ویلیام استایرن(نویسنده) برنده ی جایزه ی جهانی چینو دل دوکا برای دریافت جایزه به پاریس سفر میکنه ، در این زمان واضحا درگیر افسردگی بوده و خودش میدونسته. به دلیل تحت تاثیر قرار گرفتن تمرکز و حافظه و ...تصمیم میگیره بجای ضیافت ناهاری که به افتخارش ترتیب داده شده بود و از ماه ها قبل بهش اعلام شده بود شرکت نکنه و به دیدن ناشرش بره، طبق قراری که شب قبل از مراسم گذاشته بود .بعد از عصبانیت میزبان به خودش میاد و سعی میکنه جبران کنه : "...خطای وحشتناکی بود ،گیج بودم، malentendu [سوء تفاهم ] . و بعد چند جمله ای از دهانم پرید که عمری تعادل روحی و باور خودبینانه به سلامت روانی مانع میشد باور کنم چنین حرفی زده ام . وقتی صدای خودم را شنیدم که به این غریبه میگفت : مریضم ، un probleme psychiatrique[ یک مشکل روانی ،به فرانسوی ] سرتاپا یخ زدم ."

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