I was born depressed.
That sounds like a dramatic oversimplification of a very complicated condition, but that’s what it comes down to. Emotional disorders and mental health problems run in my family like a cancer, a natural predisposition to outwardly negative behavior and inwardly destructive tendencies. Instead of my cells threatening to betray me it’s the imbalance of chemicals in my brain, the synapses jumping between neurons and missing their landings. It comes down to something as simple as that, something so unassuming as the invisible processes of my rather inadequate composition, that make my life a struggle.
And I don’t mean struggle in comparison to the lives and problems of other people, of course. This isn’t a pissing contest and we’re all entitled to our own pain. But these are the things that make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, or to look at my own reflection with anything other than self-loathing and contempt. These are the things that make it hard to breathe, because I sometimes find myself so consumed by despair that I can barely stand up, let alone walk or talk, or make pleasant conversation in a room full of people who have no idea how much it hurts to smile. These little misfires leave me in a very tenuous state much of the time, as you can imagine, because most of the time it hurts no matter what I do.
People often tell me that I am worthwhile person. People tell me that I’m talented and I’m accomplished, and that they care for me. I don’t believe them. I don’t think that they’re lying, because they have no reason to deceive me. I think they believe what they say, but I still don’t take them at their word. I can’t. It’s not from a lack of trying, more like a nagging side effect of being chemically deficient. Because where others see worth, I often see a void. A total nothingness of being, like a waste of cells and energy and time, so dark and so empty that even light can’t escape. In the place of human value, I see warm fleshy artifice hiding a vast black sea, tucked away behind carefully chosen clothes and attitudes, accessories and turns of phrase. It gets easier and easier to look like you’ve got it all figured out when you’re wearing the right clothes, I find.
So I was born depressed. It’s a familiar story. But sometimes, on a good day, when there’s sunshine, I try to remind myself of what’s really important. I try to remind myself that I am just one person in an entire species, on a tiny blue planet, in an unfathomable cosmic ocean that stretches out beyond what we can observe from our insignificant station. And I think about the beauty in that, in being so small and insignificant in a universe so endless and unknowable. And I think back to a book that I like. I’ve read it a few times now. There’s one part that always sticks out in my mind on good days, because it reminds me what it really means to be alive right now.
And those are the days when it’s all worth it.