If you should decide at some point to write about depression, either your own or someone else’s, you should be prepared for the ghost of DFW to descend and drape itself around your neck like a tight scarf or gentle noose. If you don’t know who David Foster Wallace is then this analogy won’t make sense to you until you have at least read The Depressed Person, which is frankly brilliant. And brilliantly frank. And so on.
In the past year I have written mostly depressing short stories, with some small publishing success, and with each one that I have shared someone inevitably says something to the effect of, “You should read DFW. He would tell you a lot about being depressed, because I’m not sure that you know, because you’ve never actually killed yourself.” I’m paraphrasing, but only slightly. For those of you who know me personally in person it will surprise you to know that I didn’t say anything like, “Well go fuck yourself in the fuck, you fucker!” I didn’t say much at all, because what would be the point?
Honestly, I didn’t respond because the effort feels too great to bother with. I’ve had a long year of being just depressed enough to turn it into a handful of decent stories, and still put pants on and go to the gym and knit some things and have sex and drink gin and kiss beautiful women, and not thoroughly enjoy any of it. I’m not contemplating a way to get it all over with, but I do feel like I am gazing at my life right now dispassionately through the thick end of a glass, and I don’t feel much at all. Irritable, I suppose, but not much else. If there is one thing I excel at it is going through the right motions though, and I can get through nearly anything. I am on autopilot. I am exhausted.
It’s been a shit year. It’s hard to get it up for the small victories this go around. Quitting smoking, publishing stories, reading amazing books and feeling them like small bursts of light in the dark. I could list them, and you might say, “That really doesn’t sound so bad, you fucking whiner,” and you would be right, but you would be late to the party, my friend.
I was already depressed when my father-in-law passed, so I’m not going to point to that and say, “Look! A reason.” And I’m not going to talk about it, because that moment doesn’t belong to the internet, to anyone else just yet.
I’m trying, mind you, and I think it’s a good thing that I finally am starting to feel… sad. When I see seasonal commercials where grandparents are tender and people are in love I have to look away so I don’t well up. I am welling up thinking about welling up. I hate being overwhelmed. It feels like swimming in tepid water, sober, and fully dressed.
But I don’t want to talk about it. And I don’t want to talk about David Fucking Foster Wallace anymore. I think he’d understand.