Pico Iyer once called Charles Bukowski the “laureate of American lowlife,” and that’s because he wrote poems for and about ordinary Americans — people who experienced poverty, the tedium and grind of work, and sometimes frayed relationships, bouts of alcoholism, drug addiction and the rest. Bukowski could write so eloquently about this because he came from this world. He grew up in a poor immigrant household with an abusive father, took to the bottle at an early age, worked at a Los Angeles post office for a decade plus, and had a long and tumultuous relationship with Jane Cooney Baker, a widow eleven years his senior, who drank to excess and died at 51, leaving Bukowski broken. And then there’s the depression. Bukowski experienced that too. But he knew how to channel it, how to turn days of darkness into sources of personal and creative renewal. He explains it in some characteristically NSFW detail above.
To gain a more in-depth understanding of depression and its biological basis, we’d recommend watching this lecture by Stanford’s Robert Sapolksy.