I AM ALONE
You’re not, though.
One in five Americans has been diagnosed with a mood disorder.
I have no idea why we are so sad. Vitamin deficiency? Widespread misalignment of chakras? Late stage capitalism?
My dad has a theory that the human brain is so complex, and depends on such delicate calibrations, that it is easy for something to go wrong.
I am tempted to assign blame to our modern way of life: humans were designed to spend most of their time outdoors, soaking in vitamin D. We evolved to live in tight knit communities, working together to survive. Evolution did not equip us to doom-scroll in solitary apartments. We were not meant to eat and sleep and work alone.
But humans have always struggled with despair. Andrew Solomon (who himself suffers from depression) wrote a profound book called The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. It traces mood trouble through human history. Turns out we were always this way.
I do not cite these facts to bum you out or delegitimatize your suffering. I cite these facts to show that suffering is universal.
And we depressives are not the only ones with chronic hardship. Some people have debilitating diseases. Some people have terrible childhoods. Some people have their children wrested from their arms at the border. Some people have barrel bombs raining down on their roofs.
Bipolar Bear & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance: a Fable for Grown Ups is a graphic novel about a bipolar bear who gets lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims.
When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a novel about an idealistic teacher who has a nervous breakdown and corresponds with her former students from an inpatient psychiatric facility.