Therapydoc has another one of her great posts up.
When I was in my late twenties, a friend of mine called me with a post-partum depression. She said that everything she saw, everything she read, became exaggerated somehow. Things that should be upsetting, but only marginally, now distressed her, terrified her. She couldn’t watch the news or pick up a newspaper without dissolving into tears. She didn’t want to hold her baby for fear that she would drop him.
These can be symptoms of a pending catatonia, the worst of the depressions imaginable, a psychotic withdrawal into the recesses of the mind. Medical intervention is critical, will save such lives, preserve the parents of the next generation.
And in the comments, FamilyDoc writes:
maybe Prof. DFW was classically bipolar: intensely productive during the highs, semi-catatonic during the lows, dangerously self-destructive during the upswing. This is prevalent and largely treatable mental illness, not a matter of philosophy.
And TherapyDoc responds:
100%, FamDoc. My first draft included the dx, but when I started editing I thought, Let the readers do the dirty work.
But the fact is, maybe people don’t know that if a person with Bi-Polar Disorder takes the wrong medication when depressed, it can trigger a manic episode. On the upswing, as the doctor informs us, a person has the energy it takes to kill himself.
And that’s what the word is. DFW took his son’s antidepressants, and soon thereafter, hung himself.
Chaval. (Hebrew, soft “ch”, rhymes with “the doll”)
Read the whole post, which begins: This is where the waters meet the sky.