The Lyon Archive

The Appearance of the Blue Devils

Despite the fact that concerns about his health come to a peak in the final year of his diary, evidence of his depression and anxiety is scattered throughout the text. As seen in the chart below, while Lyon's mentions of stress and anxiety do become slightly more frequent near the end, for the most part they are actually spread out fairly evenly.

In the summer of 1826, near the beginning of his diary, Lyon’s business prospects are poor, and he says that “blue devils [are] in abundance” (Lyon 20), blue devils being a term for “feelings of depression or melancholy” (“Blue”). Two years later, business is still down and Lyon is arguing with his brother and business partner, James, about his financial decisions. Lyon arrives in Paris to conduct business, but he is in poor health and complaining of “anxiety of mind and harassment” (Lyon 27).

The spike on the graph indicates a dramatic increase in mentions of anxiety, particularly related to fear. Although this occurs at the midpoint of the text, for Lyon it is only the summer of 1826. At the time of the spike, Lyon suddenly and drastically alters his writing style. He stops adding entries regularly and large chunks of time are missing. Only six months into a diary which spans thirteen years, the effects of Lyon's anxiety have already made a notable impact. 

Anxiety in Lyon's Diary

The chart above shows the frequency that Lyon uses words related to his anxiety and which section of the diary they appear in. 

Lyon comments on this trend himself. The first few times he skips writing, he attributes this to the lack of anything “but anxious doubts and fears” (21). Although mentions of his health taper off after this midway point, this seems mostly due to his lack of entries overall. If anything, the lack of information only furthers the notion that his health and mental anxiety were pressing on his mind during this time, making it difficult for him to write.

He rarely deems it necessary to see a doctor in regards to his health, but he seems well aware for the majority of the text that he is not in peak physical condition. It is only when these anxieties are physically manifested though that he becomes seriously concerned.