Marian Keyes, the internationally best selling novelist, posted a January 2010 update to her website explaining she has been "laid low with crippling depression." She then apologized to her fans for not being there.
The short missive contains none of Keyes normal voice, and instead quickly outlines what is going on:
My dear amigos, happy new year to you all and I hope your festive season was not too unpleasant. I'm very sorry but this is going to be a very short piece because I am laid low with crippling depression. Regular readers know that I've been prone to depression on and off over the years but this is in a totally different league. This is much much worse. I know I'm leaving myself open to stinky journalists saying ‘What has she got to be depressed about, the self-indulgent whiner, when there are people out there with real troubles?' so I won't go on about it.
All I will say is that I'm aware that these are terrible times and that there are people out there who have been so ruined by the current economic climate that they've lost the roof over their heads and every day is a battle for basic survival and I wish I could make their pain go away. But although I'm blessed enough to have a roof over my head, I still feel like I'm living in hell. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't write, I can't read, I can't talk to people. The worst thing is that I feel it will never end. I know lots of people don't believe it, but depression is an illness, but unlike say, a broken leg, you don't know when it'll get better.
I've been trying to read helpful, comforting and inspiring bits and pieces because I can't manage novels and I've included some of them at the bottom of the page, in the hope that you might find them helpful, comforting and inspiring at some time too.
So amigos, I'm sorry to abandon you for the moment. Full service will be restored at some stage, I hope. Thank you in advance for your kindness because you've always been so lovely to me and once again Happy New Year. I hope it's a nice one for you.
Keyes is often unusually open about her struggles with addiction and mental illness. She has discussed the looming presence of depression, and how it has been in her life since the age of eleven. At the age of thirty, at the height of an alcohol and pills addiction, her friends held an intervention and sent her to rehab. Keyes speaks frankly lure of alcohol as well:
Her books were always heavier than the normal "I came, I shopped, I got a man, I conquered" model of chick-lit. Perhaps it was due to the weight of her experiences.
Even the normally trashy Daily Mail broke the news with some compassion, explaining Keyes' many accomplishments:
Miss Keyes is considered a pioneer of the 'chick-lit' genre and has sold 22million books since she started writing 17 years ago.
Her novels feature strong female characters and dark themes which she claims reflect the real problems facing women, be they domestic violence, depression, or addiction.
To be honest, I don't know how to end this post. As a fan of her work, I am deeply appreciative of Keyes' voice and courage to come forward and be open about these difficult subjects. I want to say something reassuring like "Here's to wishing Keyes a speedy recovery" because that is truly my hope — but that's not how depression works. And as Keyes explains above, depression doesn't have a timetable. And her apology concerns me, because it seems like she may be worrying herself over her obligations to her fans, instead of focusing on herself, and I don't want to add to that pressure.
Words feel really inadequate right now, so for those of you who don't know Marian Keyes, here are some of her videos from her book tour. Perhaps these glimpses of Keyes' wit and humor will help explain why so many of her fans love her.
January 2010 [Marian Keyes]
'I Had This Incredible Database Of Pain' [Telegraph]
Marian Keyes Apologises To Fans For Crippling Depression Which Has Left Her Unable To Sleep, Read, Write Or Talk [Daily Mail]