Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Won't Be Depressed

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I've recently been playing my oboe in a pit orchestra for the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta  Ruddigore, an experience I've enjoyed although the show's plot line could have been conceived by the Honey Boo Boo Child. Anyone who plays in the pit orchestra of any operetta can tell you that there is a lot of waiting involved in the experience, what with you having to sit and twiddle your thumbs while dialogue between songs plays out. The bassoonist and I as a result used this down-time to read Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story. I'm very proud to say that this book almost made me break out the paper shredder.
     I'll make this frank, to the point--I was semi-depressed a few years ago. I'd loved childhood with a passion, so much so that I confronted all of my anxiety about leaving childhood with feeling terrible anxiety about entering adulthood. Does this make sense? Of course it doesn't, and that's what made this period of my life so frustrating. What it basically boiled down to was me worrying that I would end up being a pot-dealer, or a thief, or a murderer, or a child-molester--something so horrible that simultaneous thoughts both of me committing these crimes and my family's reactions to me committing these crimes were almost unbearable. To make the situation worse, I didn't identify with other middle-schoolers very well, which made two consecutive summers maddening deserts of social activity, social activity that could have distracted me from what what my mother--my impromptu therapist--called "bad thoughts". My summer days were spent in front of a computer, wasting time with slightly humorous websites and such, while nights were spent watching crappy sitcom after crappy sitcom on the television. 
     It was horrible. 
     Craig's life in Funny Story is hands-down much more horrible than mine was. He's not doing well in his excessively-demanding classes, he's upchucking everything that's able to sneak its way down his unwelcoming throat, and it's not getting better. He's letting all of his thoughts interfere with those things in life that he loves. This is something I'm very glad never occurred to me since what I loved most at the time-- school--distracted me well from September through June; my semi-depression wasn't like the deep cloak of darkness that's falling over Craig.
     But then that makes me think, because an element of that anxiety still lives inside of me like a scar (I'm a fervent believer in the fact that mental scars can exist just as much as physical ones). I think that maybe, if I get into the Ivy League schools I so intensely want to attend, I will become depressed. That the demanding classes will be too much for me as the classes at his gifted high school were too much for Craig, and some form of those "bad thoughts" will return to me, causing a complete destruction of potential self-sustainability in my life. Heck, what if it moves in right now, what if I become so bent on destroying myself with my own mind that I actually destroy myself--just randomly, out of nowhere, as nonsensically as the thoughts themselves are constructed. There's just this fear inside of me that I can't seem to eradicate. 
     What if I turn up like Craig, ready to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge?
     But then I think some more, and realize two important things. One of them is that I'm a highly ambitious person, and therefore simply have to face the facts that if I dedicate all that time to depression, I'm not dedicating it to improving my literary or academic skills. I will fall behind, and even if I do waste time in my life, do I really want that time to be wasted in depression? The second, more potent phenomenon is the scar theory--I have to always expect that this semi-depression will be with me since those middle-school years were so much of a funk compared to the rest of my life. And whenever I feel the scar, I'll just have to remember what Craig realized about how in life: that you must accumulate as many verbs as possible, that you should always be thinking less than you're doing
     After all, your legacy is not just the things you've thought, but the thoughts you end up doing.