The Hilarious World Of Depression

Nov 28, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the quotes I highlighted were somewhat random.

Jen had to go sit on the bus for the rest of the field trip, too traumatized to taunt the actors like the rest of the kids, asking the 1600s costumed characters if they had VCRs at home.

I know why I highlighted this: it’s about Plymouth Plantation, my dad did this to the actors there, insisting that one of their fake felled trees could have never been cut down with a handsaw.

Being the funny one was shrewd, too, because all four of us kids were comedy nerds. My older siblings understood shows like Monty Python and Saturday Night Live and I watched too, smiling, laughing when they laughed, and usually falling asleep. By going as hard as I could into something everyone liked, I thought, I would therefore by loved. Solid logic, confused little boy!

Landing Atticus meant that I was good at something and that I had proven my worth. Only decades later would it dawn on me that normal people who never deal with depression have a sense of self-worth automatically. Just by being a person on the earth, they fell themselves worthy of respect and love and all that other cool stuff.

If I write plays, on the other hand, I can type out my own dreams for others to inhabit, allowing me to stay home and isolate myself from the world. It sounded a lot easier, and I could wear those sweatpants. Of course, now, the idea of isolation and sweatpants is a dead giveaway for depression, but at the time it seemed very sensible. I announced to anyone who would listen that I was now a writer, and since no one ever checks and there’s no official state certification for that, people believed me.

“This is common for people with all the different things that we have,” she said, “which is that if I can do it, then it must be dumb. If I can do it, it’s not that hard. So everything I ever did that was like a big deal, I’d be like, oh well, I guess it’s not a big deal. I though that would be a big deal, but it’s not because I could do it. So that means any idiot could do it, so on to the next thing that I think is hard. And then if I achieve it, then I guess, Yeah, that turned out to be not really important either….

I’d grown up in a house with substance use issues, traumas both inherited and generated, and a series of cultural beliefs that silenced any meaningful conversation or action to deal with them. I thought a strong undercurrent of pain and toxicity was part of being in a family. If I think it’s normal but it has always felt fundamentally bad, it’s not really normal at all. It is a problem. The problem has a name. The problem’s name is depression.

Mentally healthy people can intuitively regulate the time they spend in self-contemplation and balance it with time they spend just living. Normies such as these might do some yoga or meditation, possibly make lists of goals, read the occasional self-help book, but then they’ll hang out with friends drinking Chablis at Olive Garden or seeing a Bradley Cooper movie. Look, man, I don’t really know how the norms spend their time. They don’t have to worry about getting trapped in their own worst thoughts or running from those thoughts for years at a time; they parry away those thoughts with languid élan. It’s an instinct for the norms, like being able to show up to parties.

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