A Brief History
My depression started when I was very young, around the age of nine or ten. This coincided with Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency. I do not think the two events were related but I am not ruling anything out. I do not know if there was an actual trigger which activated the precipitous drop in my happy brain juices, but I suspect living in a tiny townhouse with my lesbian mom, her verbally abusive partner, and three other kids, one of whom needed constant care due to Down Syndrome (not me), didn’t help. Chances are, I would have been a miserable fuck regardless of my life circumstances but who knows? Whether I was unhappy at home because of my depression or my depression made me unhappy at home I do not know. All I know is that fourth graders shouldn’t dress like Goths.
Things went south very quickly in sixth grade. I was always young in my class because of the way my birthday fell but I became a lot younger when I skipped fifth grade and moved up to sixth. In my town, sixth graders went to a different school, which combined all the town’s elementary schools into a huge “Lord of the Flies” type jungle environment in which the larger boys began hunting down and killing the smaller boys. I was almost two years younger than many of my classmates and I could not relate to their violent, pubescent ways.
To make things worse, as a kid I used to burst into tears frequently and without provocation. My mother used to say I was “sensitive,” which was her code for “probably gay.” My sixth grade peers used the word “faggot,” which was their code for “faggot.” So I got tagged with being gay from a fairly early age, a perception which has continued to this day, which is weird considering that I have always been deeply and profoundly attracted to girls, even ones without dicks. I’m not sure what it is about me that seems to scream “homosexual,” but sometimes when I see myself on TV even my own gaydar pings. Frankly it’s embarrassing, although you’d be amazed at how much tail this single character trait used to get me. Ladies seem to like soft girly men such as myself.
I mention my hyper-sensitivity only because I finally figured out how to bury all of my emotions around the eighth grade, which probably made my depression even worse. So I became, essentially, a zombie for the rest of my schooling. A very funny zombie, yes, who happened to own what can only be described as an “awesome” Miami Vice sateen jacket. But a zombie in a Miami Vice jacket, no matter how awesome, is still a zombie.
The depression stayed with me for the rest of public schooling, through college, and through my twenties. It wasn’t always there but it was there enough that it was a problem. Earlier diagnosis and treatment would undoubtedly have helped me, but therapy wasn’t really something people did back then. Unless they were New York Jews. As a New Jersey Jew I didn’t qualify.
So for a long time I didn’t even realize I had a problem. I just knew that I was miserable a good portion of the time, and rather than deal with anything that was going on with me, I put all of my energy into career. Acting classes, plays, and then the State. Had you asked me if I thought having my own television show at the age of twenty-two would help my problems go away, I probably would have answered, “I know I’m supposed to say no but I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.” As it turns out, the answer was no. I was miserable on “The State,” miserable on “Viva Variety,” “Ed,” and have been on and off miserable throughout. Not because of anything anybody did but because I have Crazy Head, which I later learned is the clinical term for depression.
Now, finally, I feel like I’m better. Not perfect, but better. Here’s what helps: medication, therapy (which I don’t go to enough, but should), and my family. Professional successes don’t help. Money doesn’t help. The very nice BMW does help a little but only because I look so good in it. And I have found that talking about it helps.
What I know is that depression is a lifelong battle and I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m grateful because there are lots of people, some in my family, who have much worse depression than me. Mine is sort of like a paper cut. It hurts for a little bit but it doesn’t last that long and then I can get on with my life. Until it happens again. Because I’m terrible with paper. The rest of it: the self-doubt and existential angst and everything else are just different symptoms of the same problem. So sure, I’m a self-indulgent, bipolar pussy. But I like to think I’m best kind of self-indulgent bipolar pussy, the kind who eats pills. And lots and lots of ice cream.