Hope Contagium

A therapy journal of self-obsession, depression and meaning.

Category: Quotes

Searching an Understanding

So I can see how a woman who’d long slept restlessly on peas might have difficulty lying on an anvil. Nevertheless, it’s a pity that she couldn’t remain within the still, serene well of sheer incomprehension. Oh, I realize you can’t stay bewildered – the need to understand or at least to pretend you do is too great – but I myself have found wide white mystification a place in my mind that is blessedly quiet. And I fear that Mary’s alternative outrage, her evangelical fever to bring the guilty to book, is a clamorous place that creates the illusion of a journey, a goal to be achieved, only so long as that goal remains out of reach.

 – Page 79, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), Lionel Shriver

The Unsaid

It may have been disingenuous of me to imply at the start of my last letter that when we conferred at the end of a day, I told all. To the contrary, one of the things that impels me to write is that my mind is huge with all the little stories I never told you.

 – Page 13, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), Lionel Shriver

Damage

I thought at the time, only a month or so after – whatever am I going to call that Thursday? – that I couldn’t be horrified anymore, or wounded. I suppose that’s a common conceit, that you’ve already been so damaged that damage itself, in its totality, makes you safe.

– Page 8, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), Lionel Shriver

Everything and Ulla Vilstrup

If you can’t handle some hardship, you aren’t equipped to handle life
Life is what you make of it

– Alting og Ulla Vilstrup (1998) by Kim Fupz Aakeson
Danish author born in 1958

Feliz

Happy. That’s exactly my problem.
That I can’t be happy. I never have been.
Not even when good things happen to me.
You can’t imagine what it means to wake up
every day with no motivation.
The effort it takes me to find a reason.
Just one. Not to let it all go to hell.
And believe me. I give it my best shot.
My very best. Every day of my life.

 – Mientras duermes (2011), translation from movie

Virginia Woolf’s Depression

If left to herself, she would have eaten nothing at all and would have gradually starved to death. It was extraordinarily difficult ever to get her to eat enough to keep her strong and well. Pervading her insanity generally there was always a sense of some guilt, the origin and exact nature of which I could never discover; but it was attached in some peculiar way particularly to food and eating. In the early acute, suicidal stage of the depression, she would sit for hours overwhelmed with hopeless melancholia, silent, making no response to anything said to her. When the time for a meal came, she would pay no attention whatsoever to the plate of food put before her. I could usually induce her to eat a certain amount, but it was a terrible process. Every meal took an hour or two; I had to sit by her side, put a spoon or fork in her hand, and every now and again ask her very quietly to eat and at the same time touch her arm or hand. Every five minutes or so she might automatically eat a spoonful.

 – A description of Virginia Woolf’s depression, from Leonard Woolf’s diary (Virginia Woolf: 1882-1941)
With gratitude to The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

Becoming Depressed

The air seems thick and resistant, as though it were full of mushed-up bread. Becoming depressed is like going blind, the darkness at first gradual, then encompassing; it is like going deaf, hearing less and less until a terrible silence is all around you, until you cannot make any sound of your own to penetrate the quite. It is like feeling your clothing slowly turning into wood on your body, a stiffness in the elbows and the knees progressing to a terrible weight and an isolating immobility that will atrophy you and in time destroy you.

– Page 50, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

Embrace Your Misery

Endure and persist: this pain will one day be good for you.
In other words: “Welcome this pain, for you will learn from it.

 – Ovid (43 BC-17 AD), Roman poet
With gratitude to Marius De Romanus and The Noonday Demon

Forget, work, love

‘Depression is under the skin, all the surface of the body has the depression just below it, and we cannot take it out; but we can try to forget the depression even though it is right there.’ […] ‘There is a final step,’ she said to me after a long pause. ‘At the end, I teach them the most important thing. I teach them that these three skills – forgetting, working, and loving – are not three separate skills, but part of one enormous whole, and that it is the practice of these things together, each as part of the others, that makes a difference. It is the hardest thing to convey’ – she laughed – ‘but they all come to understand this, and when they do – why, then they are ready to go into the world again.’

 – Phaly Nuon, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

Chain of Influence

If you save the women, it has been said, they will in turn save the children, and so by tracing a chain of influence one can save the country.

 – Page 34, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

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