Tuesday, December 4, 2007

If I can be serious for a minute

Finals time is when my depression really kicks into gear. It isn't really because of the finals themselves. Oh, sure, they're worth worrying about and I always dread their outcome, but I dread lots of things. No, the real problem with finals time is that there's far too much down time.

There is absolutely nothing I have to do until Thursday. Then there's absolutely nothing I have to do until the following Monday. That's a lot of time to kill, and the problem with depression is that I don't really want to do anything at all. In past finals weeks, I've gone three or four days secluded in my apartment without talking to anyone, sleeping fourteen hours just because I can't force myself to do anything else.

Recently I watched Stephen Fry's The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. While I'm just plain old depressed instead of manic depressed, parts of the film really caught my attention. Fry asks several people with mental illness if they would press a button that would make their illness disappear. You might be surprised to hear that most of them say "no."

I wasn't surprised at all. I'm not sure if I want to stop being depressed. It's an integral part of my personality. If I were healthy, I'd be a different person. What kind of person would I be? Would I be like myself before I was depressed, an obnoxious kid? Would I be the kind of person people would like and/or respect? Would I be the kind of person I would like and/or respect?

I'm mentally ill, but I'm functional. I can pull my own weight in the world. Sure, I'm not happy most of the time, but so what? In fifty-some years I'll be dead and it won't matter if I was happy or not. I'm scared to make a fundamental change in my personality for such a fleeting thing. I suppose I wouldn't press the button.

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