From the time I can first remember, I sensed distance and difference between myself and others that I didn’t have words to explain. Perhaps that is why I became a writer. For most of my life, I worked in communications nine-to-five and played with words the rest of the time, writing poetry, scripts, and short stories.
Over the years, I learned the words for many of the reasons I felt different, but it was not until a doctor told me I was depressed that I began understanding the distance I felt. I was first prescribed an anti-depressant in my 30s and took it reluctantly, hoping it wouldn’t be too many weeks before I was cured. 20 years and 27 drugs later, through the therapy alphabet (applied, behavioral, cognitive, dialectical, etc.), and brain stimuli electric, magnetic, and luminescent, I no longer think in terms of a cure. (Medical science can only do so much – and we’re all thrilled with the progress that’s been made in curing deadly diseases like erectile dysfunction and male pattern baldness. Depression will get its turn.)
I no longer see the distance inside me as something I need to close. My depression sets me apart from some people but brings me closer to others – and those others are the ones who can make me laugh. I have learned to accept the good fortune of a loving mother and fierce friends, even on days when I’m sure I don’t deserve them. I imagine I will be negotiating with depression forever -- accepting the contradiction that it can be the thing that makes me a writer and the thing that keeps me from writing. And in terms of 21st century survival, what skill could be more valuable than accepting contradiction?
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