Thomas Wolfe, Creativity and Depression

Thomas Wolfe often bounced between periods of energetic creativity and boundless enthusiasm to periods of morbid self-pity, un-productivity, and depression.  At one point while working prodigiously on his writings, he experienced morbid melancholia. At that time he was traveling in Europe, separated from his wife, when he wrote:

Today has been a horrible one. I was able to sleep only the most diseased and distressed sleep, the worst sort of American in Europe sleep and I got sick with the shakes, the day was the most horrible European sort, something that passes understanding. The wet, heavy air that deadens the soul, puts a lump of indigestible lead in the solar plexus, depresses and fatigues the flesh until one seems to lift himself leadenly through the thick, wet, steaming air. With this terrible kind of fear, an excitement that is without hope, that awaits only the news of some further grief, failure or humiliation and torture. A lassitude that enters the soul and makes one hope for better things and better work tomorrow but hope without belief and conviction.


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