Yoga, Grace, Saturnian Father: How Writers Get Out of Depression

Emmanuel Carrère went through electroshock at the hospital, Thibault de Montaigu by a milder treatment, Sarah Chiche came out on her own, suddenly. The three novelists tell of an exit from depression, an illness which, in the end, does not kill creativity.

In “Yoga”, a great bookstore success for the start of the school year, Carrère looks back on his hospitalization at Sainte-Anne in 2017. It is violent, narrated with a level of detail rare in a psychiatric patient today.

When you come out of depression, the disease “seems something quite distant and quite surmountable. That’s why I tried – to remember it for myself and for others, after all. many, who have gone through the same ordeal – to tell it as precisely as possible “, he said in mid-September to RTBF 1re radio.

In “La Grâce”, another title of the literary season, Thibault de Montaigu is more elliptical. He collapses, helpless in the face of this unfathomable evil, then recovers from it, becoming a believer in the process. The novel is mainly about his uncle, who went from extreme party animal to Franciscan monk.

“I came out of it, as I tell it briefly, with a stop of alcohol, healthier practices, by going to the shrink … I was lucky: she was a very good shrink” , he tells AFP.

– “Not a clinical journal” –

In “Saturn” finally, where she evokes the figure of her father and the mourning, the psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist Sarah Chiche, who knew the Sainte-Anne hospital as an intern, describes how the narrator’s mind collapses, before to get up without warning.

x “On Wednesday April 27, 2005, noting a sudden recovery that they cannot explain, the doctors decide to stop the neuroleptics, mood stabilizers and antidepressants. I never took them again”, wrote -she.

“There are a lot of melancholy depression novels in this fall.” But “a novel is not a clinical journal. There was no question of bearing witness to it,” she told AFP, interviewed as part of the Correspondances festival in Manosque (Alpes-de -Haute-Provence).

“I find this contempt and condescension with which we treat the bereaved quite abject. That is to say that we have the right to be sad, but that it should not last too long. . I took the risk of telling that sometimes we collapse to the point of losing the conviction to exist, “she says.

– “Psychiatric autobiography” –

For Thierry Delcourt, a psychiatrist who has worked for a long time on the relationship between creativity and mental suffering, depression puts a heavy burden on writing that it is possible to lift. “The depressive background is a kind of internal bubbling that needs to be resolved. Some do boxing, others practice a form of headlong rush, and finally some write.”

“There is a time when there is a need to denounce, to speak out about this suffering, and where you have to get out of it. Sometimes this is combined with a form of poetry, as with these writers”, he notes. “I believe it is saving”.

Carrère found, thanks to what he calls a “psychiatric autobiography”, a large audience, whom he sensitized to the benefits of meditation. Clearly: “Some perceptions of reality have a greater content of truth than others, and they are not the most optimistic. I think for example that this content of truth is higher in Dostoyevsky than in the Dalai Lama” , he considers.

The author of “Yoga” and Thibault de Montaigu, whose uncle also passed through Sainte-Anne, on this occasion discovered “the same questions, this same uneasy journey, this search for transcendence”, according to this latest.

“Depression, I experienced it as a purge: we find ourselves alone in front of our inner emptiness. We realize that all we have is this truth in us. Everything outside, I can lose it. – my health, my family, my work … I will always have that “, says the author of” La Grâce “.

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