Yesterday, I wrote a piece about depression and some different ways to look at it. I speak as someone who has suffered from depression since I can remember. I was diagnosed after I turned 18 and I’d be lying if I said that every day wasn’t a struggle. It’s not a struggle between life or death as many people who aren’t afflicted with this condition seem to feel it is. More accurately it’s a struggle between open hostility, cold irritability, and mild indifference. Open hostility is what you’ll get from me if I’m upset, cold irritability is what you’ll get if I’m just trying to get through the day, and mild indifference is what you’ll get if I’m relatively upbeat. Note that there is no response for happiness because it so rarely happens that I haven’t had time to study my reaction to it. I want to stress one thing because this apparently gets lost in the translation that occurs between when you read my words and when they begin to get processed into your mind and that is that no one and nothing is responsible for my unhappiness. Depression isn’t any ones fault. I really can’t emphasize that enough. Depression has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s not a blame game. It’s a biological disorder that unfortunately affects how over one quarter of the population feels about nearly every important thing in their life.
I was asked to describe why I was not in a “happy mood” yesterday by someone who either felt that my writing was disturbing them or that they were just the kind of person who needed to attempt to make a positive difference in my life for God knows what purpose. I was writing an essay for my upcoming series of essays: Who are you and What are you Doing with my cats? when some stranger came up to me and began talking to me. If you really want to irritate me that’s a perfect way to start. Just come up to me and start randomly talking to me about how you perceive my life to be. She told me that I didn’t seem like I was very happy. I think she expected me to inquire into why she felt that way, but honestly I was really bothered by the fact that she came over to me, started talking to me and then accused me of something that was of trivial significance at best. Why is how I feel of any concern to you? Don’t bother answering that because I don’t really care. That should be your signal to leave me alone and let me do my writing in peace. Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not some God awful person who can’t ever be talked to because I’m constantly consumed with matters of much higher significance than anything you could have to say (though that usually is the case) it’s just that I don’t see how I feel is any of your business.
This person proceeded to argue with me for thirty minutes about how I felt and why I felt the way I felt. She asked me why I didn’t seem very happy almost as if it had something to with her own personal well-being. I responded in a perhaps cold, but certainly collected manner by explaining that my patience with people is similar to my patience with indie-rock music. I have little use for men who try to sing like women, play acoustic guitars, bongo drums, or use whistling in their music. I have absolutely no respect for a man who sings about how he just wants to get back together with his ex because life was so much better back when. Throw in the fact that indie-rock music is pretty much exclusively loved by the hipster, “too cool for school” crowd and on a scale from 9-10 my irritability is somewhere around 15. The only thing worse than the prospect of having to listen to this so-called “music” is actually listening to it. I’m entirely convinced that indie-rock music is why God invented razor blades. Nonetheless, I explained to her that as best I could that my depression was none of her business and that all else being equal I’d prefer it if she just left me alone. This apparently was not an acceptable answer to her.
At this point I just turned away from her and went back to doing what I had been doing before I was unnecessarily interrupted by someone who had an issue with the demeanor of someone that they were in no way required to interact with. This move was met with open hostility. Now I was being asked to explain why I was being mean. I was at my wit’s end at this point so I decided to get up and leave the room. Sometimes there’s just no getting through to people and in those situations sometimes the best thing you can do is to get up and leave. That’s when she took things to the next level. She stood in front of me and blocked the exit of the room. I gritted my teeth and said with what little patience was left in me: “wow, do you not want to do that.” It was at this point and at this point only that she seemed to realize that not only was her behavior genuinely frustrating me, but she had made my day worse than it already was. She looked down at the ground in a rather gloomy manner and it was then that I realized that I had just done to her what she had done to me.
None of this was anybody’s fault. It’s not her fault that I approach the world with mild indifference any more than it was my fault for wanting her to get the heck away from me. This was a fundamental misunderstanding of two entirely different worlds. She lived in a world where happiness is simply waiting to be unearthed while I live in a world where my three moods can be described as: open hostility, cold irritability, and mild indifference. There was no way she was going to make me see all of the wonderful possibilities that life has to offer anymore than I was going to get her to understand that life has profoundly more downside than it could possibly have upside. This type of encounter is typical for someone suffering from depression and is all the more irritating because those of us who suffer from depression really don’t mean any harm. It’s just that sometimes the rest of humanity tends to look at those different than them like Matthew McConaughey. Matthew McConaughey made a string of good movies: A Time to Kill, Contact, Amistad, and The Newton Boys before making nothing but trash presumably because he just didn’t care anymore. In short, the world likes things that are shiny so they look for people who are different than them or at least people they perceive as different and the world tends to objectify those who are different to the point where those affected no longer want to even walk outside anymore.