A losing hand at the game of one-upmanship in misery
I am depressed.
come hither - back off
No, wait -- come back!
Depressed people talk about their depression a lot. Taking that into consideration with the fact that there are a lot of depressed people, it makes sense why the moment "depression" is mentioned there's a wild stampede heading in the opposite direction. Depressed people are never much fun to talk to anyway, but get them talking about their depression and it's like you've been sucked into the ninth level of hell. This is, of course, appropriate, considering that's where most depressed people have bought condos. Unfortunately, it doesn't make depressed people very popular. You're not going to see a long line of people buying tickets to watch the Major Depressive Episode, airing every day, all day at a noggin near you.
The poor brain gets no respect for getting ill either. There are no sick days for the cerebrum. If getting depressed also entailed vomiting up the upper gastrointestinal tract, bleeding gums or a limb falling off, things would be different. We might even get some soup out of the deal, or at least some lozenges. As it stands, the rest of the body just points at the brain and laughs at it when it's sick. "Quit your whining, brain! Fine, so you're low on neurotransmitters and your cortisol levels are too high. Big deal. Liver here is pickling in its own juices. Aren't you, Liver? Liver? Don't mind Liver, it's just sleeping it off. And I won't even go into detail about the shit that Bowel has to deal with. What about Pancreas, eh? Now that's an illness. It can't even produce a drop of insulin. Not one fucking drop. Now poor Skin has pointy sticks jammed into it every day to make up for Pancreas having a stroke. Why don't you go whine to someone who cares? Go bitch to Ovary. She'll listen. Takes one to know one."
I come from a long line of depressed people. The tendency to wallow in long periods of depression has been passed on from parent to child like the inheritance of that wall clock that Great-Great-Uncle Stilton was given by the Duke of Whatnot and that no inheritor wants but no inheritor has the heart to refuse because it's a part of family tradition. It's freakishly ugly, it ticks so loudly it ruptures small children's eardrums, it is always running slow and, frankly, it smells funny. Once it was mine, though, it was mine for life.
Depression is annoying in that it annoys others. It's like a really bad cold. The person who has it feels miserable, but the person who watches the person who has it just wants them to go and be slimy somewhere else. Hell, I wouldn't want to offer continual moral support to a depressed person. They can't learn. You give them options, tell them to go out and get some fresh air, go for a walk, go out with friends, and they don't do any of it. Damn depressed people. They're always so-- so-- depressing.
Depression generally brings out in others either a desire to fix things or a desire to comfort. Unfortunately, when you have a broken brain, neither of those things are generally possible. All that the broken-brained are essentially capable of at the height of broken-brainedness is "uuuuuuuaaarghhh". That and eating lots of ice cream. This leaves the fix-it people frustrated while the comforters feel rejected at their lack of comfort. Eventually, as is only human, it is taken out on the depressed person. "You like being depressed, is what this really is! You wallow in it! If you really wanted to stop being depressed, you could. If you tried. You have no one to blame for this but yourself!"
Of course, it never dawns on anyone, be it the depressed or the depressive bystanders, that the very act of pulling up one's bootstraps requires, surprise surprise, mental energy. What's broken? Why, the ability to generate mental energy. It's not called "depression" for nothing, you know. The generic definition of depression is a reduction in activity or force; a reduction in physiological vigor or activity. Depressed people don't do anything, not because they don't want to, or not because they don't want to want to, but because their brains don't tell them to do anything. This is what's most irritating about my being depressed: the nothing. I'm not sad. Oh sure, I cry buckets for no good reason, but I also get angry for no good reason and laugh hysterically for no good reason. That's not depression. That's just one symptom of depression: the inability to modulate and control one's own emotional output. It actually bothers me least. Although I have pockets of hysteria in the midst of my depressive episodes, they don't interfere with my life the way that the state of utter inertia does. Of course, the poor woman on the bus who I just assaulted with a barrage of unintelligible blubbering likely feels differently, but fuck her, man. Inertia blows, in a sleepy, relaxed sort of way. For example, it's taken me 2 days to write this. I'm still in my pyjamas. It's 3 pm. So what? I'm not going anywhere. Why should I? I'm depressed.
From a biological standpoint, if you looked at my brain with a positron emission tomography scan, you'd see a lot of dark blues and purples and not much yellow, orange or red. My brain is in its blue period. Literally. My hippocampus has approximately 20% less mass than yours does. It appears depression impedes neurogenesis -- the growth of neurons -- especially in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is strongly believed to be a head honcho in charge of episodic and learning memory. That's likely why a lot of chronically depressed people forget things all the time and can't seem to keep things straight in their heads. Confusion ensues. Uuuuuuuarrragh. Unfortunately, that loss is permanent. That mass ain't coming back. Oh well. At least I'm losing weight.
Depressed people have about a 100% higher chance of dying from heart disease than non-depressed people, irrespective of lifestyle choice. That is, when studies are done that take into account things like lack of exercise along with self-medication with booze, drugs, sex, or food, depressed people are still dropping like flies, clutching their chests.
So, let's see, for those keeping score of the battle at Smoog Noggin, that tallies up now to depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and, of course, a brain tumour and surgery. If my brain were a horse, some kind-hearted cowboy would take it out back and shoot it.
Yet, in spite of all this, I'm quite fond of my brain. In fact, I don't think my brain has it bad at all. Don't shoot my brain, Pa! I'll nurse it back to health, I promise! Just not the shotgun, please! My brain may be a little beat up. My brain may go all wonky on me on occasion. My brain has a mind of its own. Strangely enough, those are the very reasons I like it.
So for all you depressed people out there -- go talk to your ovaries, man. I got my own problems. Excuse me -- it's time for me to go clutch my chest.
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