by Forest Petyon
Let’s start here: I still hate you. I look at what life could be like, and what it could mean to me. Then I look at you and I blame you for everything. Everything I was supposed to be, but am not. I know you’re just a crutch, but I’m still limping. And I really hate you a lot. It’s really important that you never forget that. Seriously. Fuck you.
With that aside, let’s move forwards: thanks. I know this is weird now, I feel it too. I still owe you something, even if it’s just a speck in the sea of debt that I should be collecting from you. A debt that I should be shooting your kneecaps out for. After all of the days you’ve ruined, all of the plans you’ve canceled, and all of the relationships that you’ve tanked; I still have to say thanks.
I’m not sure what it is to be happy in day-to-day life. I don’t think it’s a real thing, and I’m stuck on the fictional notion that happiness is indifference. I recently unfollowed Jack on Facebook. I know it seems like a meaningless gesture, but unfollowing someone is the way you cut someone out of your life in 2017. I’ve still never met anyone closer to my real-life clone than that guy. Five years ago, if I knew that this would have been the end result, I would’ve guessed that I caught Jack murdering my parents or something. He didn’t even do anything technically wrong, he just kind of got boring, and complacent and from my perspective, he quit. Jack was funnier than me, a better writer than me, he was way more charismatic than I am. But Jack changed: he grew up. Now all he wants is to be a sort-of-rich asshole like his father. All of these effortless skills, this natural and unearned excellence that he possessed is now crammed into an Excel spreadsheet, in the proper format, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, while his tie slouches over his heart like a blindfold. He had all of those skills, but he doesn’t have you, so now you are my advantage.
I unfollowed him because I was tired of seeing pictures of his car. Next time I see him I want to grab him by his shoulders and shake him, “We’re not supposed to be car-people Jack! We’re supposed to be artists! What happened to you?”
Also, I recognize that not all artists or writers or comedians or whatever else are depressed, but all of the good ones have to be. I don’t know for a fact that this is true, but I really believe it is. I don’t know anyone who’s got it all together and makes anything that I enjoy. I would be willing to bet that the person that wrote, the person that produced, the person that directed, and the person that stars as Flo the Progressive lady, all have zero mental demons. So yes, technically they’re doing it, but to me they’re not really doing it. I can’t not believe that.
Everything I’ve ever made that I liked, came from not liking you. Every story, every joke, every performance that anyone ever enjoyed, every piece of notebook paper that I illegibly scribbled on and didn’t throw away, they all existed because I couldn’t like anything else.
Depression, I joke about you being a crutch quite often. Just something I made up to blame my problems on, like a less cool Tyler Durden, that still punches me in the face. Other times I think you’re the realest thing there is, but some people can’t see you. Basically, you’re like Pennywise from It. (Sidenote: I also blame you for back-to-back movie references.) Some people think that you come from a chemical imbalance. Your victims have lower levels of endorphins and dopamine and serotonin. But if having more of a chemical makes you experience less of a thing, then maybe that thing is the part that’s real.
All the things I love about myself came from my ability to hate myself. Every day I haven’t completely wasted is a reaction to how you made me feel on the days that I did waste. Jack may be completely happy right now. Most people would pick his life over mine, and I have no doubt that I am over-romanticizing his life decisions when frankly its none of my god damn business. It’s a fundamentally easy decision that most people in the world have made.
Depression, we have a complicated relationship. Right now our battles are like the first fight in a long divorce. If I were Jack they’d be like the last fight in a long divorce. If I ever quit you, I’d owe you half of everything I ever accomplished. So begrudgingly I have to guess that it’s better this way. I still hate you, but let’s grab a beer tonight.