One time, at my government IT job, I was working out some software fiasco with a client while doing my best to stay friendly.
But no matter how nice I was trying to be, the client kept getting ruder and more condescending. The make-you-feel-like-an-idiot smugness of your standard “IT guy” may be a running joke in our country, but I hardly fit the mould… I don’t think I have big enough geek guns to pull it off, but what I lacked in cockiness, I tried to make up for in general decency.
But this guy wasn’t having it, and even after fixing the problem, I walked away frustrated. What was his PROBLEM?
Just as I was wondering where the interaction went wrong, “Carla” (one of my coworkers) pulled me into her cubicle for a little motivational talk. She had seen the whole thing go down and needed to talk some sense into me.
“Delilah,” she told me. “You seem like a really happy person who always has a smile on her face. Lot of people are gonna hate you for that.”
“It’s true. A lot of people are very unhappy and they don’t like to see anyone else BE happy. You seem happy and they want to cut you down. Some people in this office don’t like you because you’re in too good a mood.”
Was that possible? Her words have been floating in my head ever since.
Since this blog is my place to vent (my literary batcave, if you will), I probably come across much darker in it than I do in real life. I’m usually a happy, silly person who doesn’t take things too seriously. I’ve heard comparisons to Luna Lovegood more than once.
And that kind of irreverence may be off-putting to more rigid personalities, but the most ironic part is that I used to be depressed. For years.
We’re not talking a moody streak of blue, but a clinically-diagnosed, needed-to-be-monitored, type of depression. The kind where you can’t get out of bed because you don’t see any point anymore.
And I never want to feel like that again. It took a long time to climb out of that light-sucking rabbit hole and I never want to fall in again.
That place is a maze. Simple things are impossible. A string of meds drag you from one woozy emotional pole to the other as you struggle for equilibrium. You spend your days half-asleep and your nights in a painstaking attempt to rationalize life.
Because true depressives want to be happy; they just can’t see what there is to be happy about.
They are frustrated idealists, people who had huge sensitive dreams for this world and were broken by its reality. Unchecked greed, sadism, and loneliness eat the soul.
Just as there’s a criminal lurking in every cop and a pervert in every Puritan, a cheerful optimist is trapped deep within every depressive personality.
This pain isn’t born of indifference. Sociopaths believe everyone is basically self-serving but give zero shits about it. They see the world as they believe it is and wonder how to best make use of it.
Depressives, on the other hand, care deeply. They have lost their faith, crushed by all the misery. They fall into an empty prison of Self.
Because what’s the point, when all we do is work and die? When good fails and evil triumphs? When we work and work, only to keep living to work? Do people really care about each other, or is it all selfish bartering in the grand scheme of things? Will your life make any difference to anyone?
We fight to answer these questions, in the quiet tiny hours, in hopes of sallying forth again.
But this escape is an illusion. It isn’t… it can’t be about the ultimate triumph of good over evil, the “meaning” of it all.
The key to unlocking our cells, turns out, lies not the greatest pleasures, but the simplest ones.
The sun feeling good on your skin, a warmth of a snuggling cat, smiling at someone and having them smile back, not being in imminent danger… gratitude, for every blessing we have for as long as we’re lucky enough to have it.
And if you can harness this rope, you can not only climb out of your miserable prison, but understand why you are right to smile, just for being alive.