Friday, October 3, 2008
LOSING A PERSONAL HERO
I haven't wanted to mention it before, because I hate talking about these things, but recently, I was stunned by the death of one of my favorite writers, David Foster Wallace. In fact, he was one of my writing heroes in that he came up with the most astonishing prose of what has been called the "post-modern era." The tragic thing about it is that Wallace was only 46, just a few years older than myself, and that he actually committed suicide, having long suffered from severe depression.
A lot of people would say that depression is not a real disease, yet having a long history of it in my family, I could certainly empathize with what he was going through. I've walked in the darkness myself, and many of my maternal family has been afflicted with depression, including my mother and her mother, and the thought of ending one's life as a solution to untenable problems doesn't seem too far-fetched.
In this crazy, mixed-up world, we often become too consumed with what MAY happen and lose sight of what IS happening sometimes, and we don't seem to realize that what the world really needs in this time of confusion is to reach out and let others around you know that they are not alone.
It's interesting that wineries such as Staglin do so much to help raise awareness for Mental Health issues - check out their Music Festival for Mental Illness.
This is a disease that can be helped simply by reaching out and letting someone know you're there and you care.
David was a brilliant writer, and his legacy is a collection of essays, short stories, and novels, including his magnum opus, INFINITE JEST. It pains me to know that his work won't continue, and that his family and colleagues are left wondering what they could have done to save him, but I can only hope that through the good work of folks like the Staglin family, that more people were come together to help those suffering from this severely debilitating disease (which affects an estimated 57 million Americans).