The Kid From Boston has depression. Serious depression. He has had it since high school and is very ashamed of the illness, which is probably why I hesitate to share it. It’s not my secret to tell.

And yet I just did tell. Oh well. I think his shame is somewhat ridiculous and he should get over it. Cancer victims don’t walk around feeling ashamed; neither should those suffering from depression.

But then, I don’t really know what I am talking about, as I personally do not suffer from the disease. I have been depressed; I do not have depression. I think that is the most important distinction to make when discussing the disease. My depression includes sulking and sleeping but never thoughts of suicide. A night and day difference. Not every condition deserves to be elevated to a disease. Likewise, as a migraine sufferer, I will get annoyed if you refer to your headache as a migraine. If your symptoms include: numb limbs, loss of vision and a severe case of stroke-face, then yeah, you have more than a headache and deserve all the available sympathy and medicinal benefits you can muster. But if you took two Advil to rid yourself of a “migraine” and are moping around the office, I will probably secretly hate you and want to punch you in the face.

So no, no depression for me, quite the opposite actually, I am a decently happy person. I just am. Yes, slightly neurotic but my joie de vivre is, on average, unmistakable. Life and I tend to have a good time together.

Throughout the relationship, The Kid and I kept each other balanced: he was the brooding cynic, I was the naïve optimist. I kept him from sinking too low and he kept my head out of the clouds. Hints at co-dependency, doesn’t it? I suppose any relationship could be skewed to argue that route; we had our moments but on the whole, it was complementary. We admired each other for having qualities the other lacked.

For the most part, his depression remained quiet during undergrad. Winter was always a little difficult, but I never saw a person happier than him to see spring arrive. He used to pick me up from my classes and suggest mid-day beers or hand-holding campus strolls. I loved spring for this reason. His proneness to winter depression is partially why his law school choice is in warm weather. To keep the SAD at bay.

The time when we were apart in those two years after college was the difficult part.

Once when he was trying to explain our downfall, he described me as his light. That all throughout undergrad, I was full of an inner light. A happiness exuding from every pore.  I made him laugh daily and have hope for the future. The light was contagious.

After college, I went through my own depression. Situational, not clinical, but difficult times nonetheless. He was the only one whom I trusted enough to share that I was not holding my shit together, that I was not in control and had no hope for the future. It was a heavy load for one person. What little light he had soaked up from our college years was not enough to carry both of us. When I would speak of dark things or save my daily cry for our phone call, he would have no clue as to how to bring light into our lives, as that had always naturally and effortlessly been my department. My depression caused me to be extremely self-involved. I was too concerned and consumed about my own misery to ask about his general well-being. We spent two years trying to support each other through the phone lines but that wasn’t enough; our brightness faded and, without any light, his dark cloud returned.

With the darkness, he tried to prove that he was unworthy of me. He felt that his disease, like my light, was contagious –he was causing my depression and I would be better without him.

Enter her. He once described her as a pharmacy with a fucked-up childhood and a mean sense of humor. When he was with her, he didn’t feel like he was out of his league; he could continue his downward spiral without judgment or someone wanting to save him. Because being with someone unstable is often normalizing.

When I gave him a chance to redeem himself, he assumed I would never forgive so he started dating her. It was the easier choice. I might have forgiven him, I might not have –I do tend to hold grudges –but I was never given that chance. He gave up and moved on immediately. The most significant difference between us was that my situational depression was a constant battle against the funk and the frustration; his clinical depression was the absence of hope and succumbing to the battle. Not everyone comes equipped with the energy to fight.

He finally sought treatment in late October/early November. The Happy Pills made a difference almost immediately. He described it as a haze clearing, that he could see through the fog again. That’s when he started having greater communication with me. And he was him again, not some apathetic boob. By then, it was too late for us. I am sure he does have feelings for her, but was I ever threatened by her? Not really (ok, yes, definitely at times).  But it’s hard to be threatened by someone when the boy is still in love with you. I was threatened by his illness. Still am actually. Because I worry that his shame over treatment will trump having a stabilized life.

Am I blameless in all of this? No. Is he? Also no. Do I have trouble hating someone suffering from an illness? Fuck yes.

His most common phrase was, and still is, “I am never going to get over what I did to us.” I don’t know if I will get over it either. But I do know that I have things and reactions for which I blame myself too.

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