Unbeknown to most, Wallace had suffered from clinical depression for the past two decades. Family and close friends knew of it, but few others did. Over those years, Wallace had taken powerful anti-depression medication that had allowed him to work and write, according to his father, James Donald Wallace. But recently the drugs had been having very serious side effects. In June of 2007, Wallace and his doctor decided that they would have to try another course of treatment.
“Going off the medication was just catastrophic,” his father remembers. “Severe depression came back. They tried all kinds of things. He was hospitalized twice. Over the summer, he had a series of electro-convulsive therapy treatments, which just really left him very shaky and very fragile and unable to sleep.”
Suffering from near-crippling anxiety, Wallace found himself unable to write. “I don’t think he’d been able to write for more than a year,” says his father. Wallace told the human resources department at Pomona College that he would be unable to teach there in the fall, and he was granted a medical leave for the fall semester.