After a torrent of tributes to David Foster Wallace since his suicide 2 weeks ago, Salon talks with close friends and family members about the decades-long battle with depression that led the beloved and astonishingly talented writer to take his life. For years, Wallace functioned with the help of antidepressants, but he'd developed problems with the drugs, and stopped taking them.
"Going off the medication was just catastrophic," his father tells Slate. "Severe depression came back." Wallace had been crippled with anxiety and unable to write for more than a year. He had been hospitalized twice, and had tried electric shock therapy, which left him "very shaky and very fragile and unable to sleep." When they visited him in August, Wallace's parents found him gaunt and "terrified," and he hanged himself 2 weeks later.