If you were me you'd do it better.

Recently I received a letter from Walgreens asking if I'd be willing to participate in a study on depression meds. I was a little weirded out until I deduced that Walgreens knew of my depression as I'd been filling a prescription for ...I can never remember the name of the stupid drug (depressed? alzheimers? age?)...pristiq. And so I guess whomever needs to know, I am depressed. I have been depressed in the past, I had suicidal ideation, I did not take all the pills stashed in my freezer but called this rather bitchy, beautiful girl whom I barely knew but recognized as someone who'd stay calm enough to give me some good reasons not to take them. She did, I didn't, and I went home to my parent's house in Princeton and helped my mother cook Easter dinner.

It was barely a month after my oldest sister had been killed by a drunken driver while crossing a street and in that month I had plummeted down towards a darkness that was stunning in its power. I woke up longing to die, I stopped speaking to people, I had panic attacks, I was briefly addicted to valium, I cried constantly, I didn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't breathe. A doctor put me on a combination of literally killer drugs, nardil & elavil which according to the Physician's Desk Reference (there was no internet) I read at a bookstore caused "coma, paralysis and death." When I brought this up to the doctor he dismissed my fears and said it was to be taken Friday afternoon so I'd sleep through the weekend and that result would take away the temptation to kill myself and help me catch up on sleep. So I went to work, took lesser meds, and on Friday afternoons prepared to sleep for 36 hours, laundry done, gas turned off.

Why is this all so easy to remember? I responded to the Walgreen's request and went to an office on the west side of Chicago and spent hours explaining my past experiences with depression including a detailed interview with a computer that asked me to rate my sadness on a scale from 1-10, asked me if I was planning to kill myself and also asked me if I was currently interested in sex.7,no,no.

I had one other bout of depression when I was 20 and my best friend was killed, also in a car crash and after I went to her funeral and tried to kill myself but failed because I was drunk and went home and told my mother and was yelled at, I spent several months housesitting a house, smoking dope and drinking, floating around on a rubber raft and weeping. Then I went to Ireland and spent a year studying history at Trinity and cheered up. Sort of. I came back to my senior year in college and drank which seemed to keep the suicidal ideation at some distance.

My father is depressed. He has been depressed for so long I have forgotten I once had someone I could call and talk about writing and life with. I miss him. I've missed him for a long time. It's ruined these later years of my parents' life. It's made my mother crazy. She is someone who refuses to accept that people are capable of failure to thrive. She is believes in shaking off the injury and getting up and making things work. I am a product of both of them and thus have incredibly fruitful and bizarre depressions. I always get up, I always go to work, I always clean my house, I always try to act like I am happy. But I am not happy. I am aware of my good fortune, my luck, my blessings but I still feel bad. Thus, I am a desirable subject for this study. Possibly. Maybe they'll reject me and I can feel like even more of a failure. I feel like a failure.

But I felt like a failure when I got my huge book deal, when I had my play produced, when I looked around a room full of people and realized they were there because they loved me. That is part of being depressed. You are ungrateful and selfish and angry. Oh, I'm also quite funny when I'm depressed. Because that is what we do. I don't drink or take drugs anymore so I am self-deprecating and ironic. It's exhausting.


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