Depression: at the Black Gate with Anton Chekhov and Leroy Jenkins

I admire Chekhov, and not just for his writing, and not just because he was startlingly hot either. To paraphrase Ivan Bunin, Chekhov was not a little bitch. Even when he knew he was dying from TB, he didn’t whine hysterically from the pages of Russian literary journals. He didn’t ask his readers for hugs. His last words were, “I haven’t had champagne in a while,” as opposed to “OMG OMG IS DYING HALP.”

Dear sheepie, won't you hold me tighter.
Dearest sheepie, won't you hold me tighter in this winter of discontent (and sketchy hot water issues)

As you can guess, I admire Anton Pavlovich for qualities I lack. It’s like admiring a purse on someone else’s shoulder – a heart-patterned Moschino, maybe – something you couldn’t afford if you pimped yourself out to every halfway-decent publication in this city. It’s not jealousy per se, it’s more like awe. “Anton Pavlovich, where did you get that heart-patterned… I mean, Anton Pavlovich, how on earth did you manage to keep your cool like that? Is it a genetic thing? An ancient art?”

Because of passport issues, I’m grounded in Ukraine right now. On one hand, this is good, as it forces me to save money. On the other hand, this is bad, because there is nothing that I can physically do to escape the soul-crushing, cold, deep, starless darkness that blooms in vivid, elaborate splotches all over my being, like the bubonic plague. I’ve been depressed since last year, since moving to Amman. But it’s like a fever that’s spiking now. I knew I’ve lost some weight recently, but nothing could have prepared me for the actual numbers when I finally stepped on a scale. It affords me with an excuse to go shopping, and I can’t even muster up enough energy to rejoice about that. Unmoved by bright-lit shops and the swish of plastic. The seventh seal has been opened.

A Vulcan would be bemused by depression. There’s nothing logical about it. Friends will say, “you have a job, a family, and your tits are still fairly perky. Snap out of it.” By all rights, you should. The world does not suffer from lack of tragedy. Your grandmother is in hospital with a crusty rash on her skin that makes it hard to move. Someone tried to rape your friend, and there will be no legal repercussions. Your aunt’s heart has been reduced to a vaguely pitter-pattering piece of gristle after her daughter’s death. Ralph Lauren is threatening people for making deserved fun of its “X-Files”-inspired Photoshop disaster. “Peace is an illusion, says Israel FM.” And so on.

Ultimately, it’s hard to get depression to kick off the blinders and be appraised of its own insignificance. Pain is narcissistic. It’s the belle of the ball. It’s a douchebag with spiky hair, a miasma of Axe, and a publicist.

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