Elantris and Depression

This early work by Brandon Sanderson is incredible on so many levels, however, I found that the way this book touches on the struggles of depression in its abstract and yet unrelenting manner are simply Breathtaking.

As soon I started reading, I was introduced to the character of Raoden. Raoden is a prince not only in name, but also in his positive and caring outlook. Right at the beginning the reader realizes that something is wrong. Raoden, a handsome young prince, has been taken by the Shaod. The Shaod has the appearance of a disease; black spots on the skin, hair loss, and a wrinkled, lackluster graying of the normally pigmented skin. These signs mark one as being a member of Elantris, and Raoden is soon taken and placed within the disintegrating city. Raoden becomes a true Elantrian.

All of this happens in the very first few pages and I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.

The reason I find this book to speak so eloquently of the struggles of depression is tied directly to the literal struggles of the Elantrian’s themselves. They seem to be captured in a state of stasis, a state in which their bodies are dead but they can still feel the pain of hunger and the worse pain of every scrape and bruise accumulated after becoming an Elantrian. This is not the way the once beautiful city and people of Elantris always were, however. They were once a silver skinned and shining, white haired people that were more like Gods and their city was a radiant, vast place full of sculptures, art, libraries and architectural magnificence. However this all changed 10 years before the start of this book when Raoden is taken by the Shaod and placed in the now decrepit city of Elantris.

The pain the Elantrian’s struggle through is so akin to the pain of depression. It is described as a constant physical pain that threatens to overwhelm the victim. Once the victim is overwhelmed they are then lost in the almost comatose state of The Hoed. However Prince Raoden, while in Elantris, tries his hardest to not only keep his positivity but to create a life that is more comfortable for those Elantrian’s that had seemed to have lost a sense of their humanity.

“No, my lord, I dont think it does. Those people gave in to their pain because they couldn’t find purpose – their torture was meaningless, and when you cant find reason in life, you tend to give up on it. This wound will hurt, but each stab of pain will remind me that I earned it with honor. That is not such a bad thing, I think.”

Saolin, pg. 272, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

This quote is one of my favorites and I think it is obvious as to why. As a person that struggles with Bipolar 1 disorder, I deal with depression frequently. I have learned over many years that one of the best ways to combat depression is with finding a way to live with purpose. There is so much to be said for having future plans to look forward to and goals yet to be accomplished. Depression is one of the most difficult and misunderstood subjects to live with and yet Brandon Sanderson seems to so easily sum up this constant and unnerving pain so easily and in such a comprehensible manner.

I highly, very highly, suggest this incredible novel to anyone that enjoys reading about a contemporary and abstract yet beautifully poignant view on real world problems that so many of us struggle with. It is an eye-opening outlook on the issues of depression that are so commonly glazed over and misunderstood.

A Beginning…

Thank you for visiting my first Blog Post.

Over the past year, my relationship with my mother has grown immensely. This is not only because of being able to spend more time together but also because of the good and bad circumstances we have been experiencing together.

My mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in February of 2019. The following April, mom underwent a successful Lumpectomy on her right Breast and she was prepared to continue work as a Human Resources Manager while undergoing Radiation. However, plans changed.

Mom found out in the following week that her recurrency score came back high and she would have to go through chemotherapy to make sure her cancer did not return. This was unexpected and due to the fact that mom does not have a Spleen, this changed everything about mom’s life. Mom’s doctor made it clear that this would not only be a very difficult time for mom but that she would not be able to continue to work mainly because her risk for infection would be so high.

Mom is turning 62 this year and was able to take a leave of absence from work until she could start Unemployment. Although this worked out so well, it still left mom very depressed.

At this point, we have gotten through the hardest of times together and we will soon be celebrating mom’s last chemotherapy treatment on August the 26th. As far as we know, mom will be starting radiation about 6 weeks after that date.

These past months have not just been about mom going through chemotherapy, although that has been a major struggle. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with severe depression and anxiety since the age of 26. I am now 35. This time period mom and I have been spending together has not only given us an opportunity to create a better relationship with each other in general, but has given me the opportunity to learn so much about my strengths and weaknesses and how helping another person, my mom, only makes me feel stronger.

We have been able to relate on so many issues together, especially depression. We may have depression for different reasons, but there are so many similarities. This is not something that made either of us weaker but instead, through shared feelings, has made us so much stronger.

This blog is not going to be specifically about Cancer, Chemotherapy or Mental Illness, although I will surely touch on these topics frequently. What I really want to talk about is our shared love of reading and the ways we relate to one another as only a mother and daughter can. Honestly, when mom started this journey, I told her we were going to laugh our way through this, and that is what we have done.

I hope you find the time to follow my blog and get to know us. I also hope I will be able to recommend some great books along the way. Right now, mom is reading one of my favorites, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, while I am journeying through Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. I have so far been able to read Mistborn, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings, and am currently reading Elantris before I go farther with Words of Radiance in his Stormlight Archives. The fantasy genre is my favorite, especially when times get a little tough and I need a break from reality. I feel like Brandon Sanderson is the perfect author for me right now because he has a way of keeping everything positive.

Thank you for reading and please keep up with us so I can share my mom’s thoughts on her current read and also my thoughts on Elantris.