A week ago, most of us didn't know who the Inernet activist Aaron Swartz was. Today, he is a cause celebre. If you want to read more about Swartz and see an impressive video of a talk he gave see: Remembering Aaron Swartz. In a 2007 post on his blog, Raw Thought, Swartz, related his thoughts about depression. Swartz committed suicide at age 26 on January 11, 2013. His candid insights about depression may help to explain how and why the legal situation he found himself in contributed to his death.
G.M. Hopkins may have said it better:
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there.
Excerpts from his blog post follow: for full text see
Download Aaron Swartz on Depression
"Depressed mood: Surely there have been times when you’ve been sad. Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly awry. Your face falls. Perhaps you cry. You feel worthless. You wonder whether it’s worth going on. Everything you think about seems bleak — the things you’ve done, the things you hope to do, the people around you. You want to lie in bed and keep the lights off. Depressed mood is like that, only it doesn’t come for any reason and it doesn’t go for any either. Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.
At best, you tell yourself that your thinking is irrational, that it is simply a mood disorder, that you should get on with your life. But sometimes that is worse. You feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms. As George Scialabba put it, “acute depression does not feel like falling ill, it feels like being tortured … the pain is not localized; it runs along every nerve, an unconsuming fire. … Even though one knows better, one cannot believe that it will ever end, or that anyone else has ever felt anything like it.”
Hey, it could be worse. At least I have decent health insurance."
Emily Dickinson knew a fair bit about depression too.
His last post, on November 1, 2012 was written about The Dark Knight. It ends with these two sentences. "Thus Master Wayne is left without solutions. Out of options, it’s no wonder the series ends with his staged suicide."