The Death of the Deliberate
The other night, I got an ad on Facebook for a therapist.
It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. The background of the ad was a painted female figure whose distress was demarcated by the tear sliding down her cheek. This makes sense; markets — and companies, like Facebook — frame depression as this thing people suffer from visibly because it’s easier to sell a solution to something when you can see its symptoms, like tears on a face, or scars on a wrist. And while those things happen, more often, I think people suffering from depression suffer in silence, but of course, that doesn’t sell; they suffer at work, out with friends, home with family, suppressing their emotions to a point where finally they’re just gone, like the friends of the person who was fun in college but only because going out was inexpensive and proximally convenient, and it’s neither of those things anymore. So they stopped responding to texts, and eventually, you stopped sending them. When you do, and you rarely do — only when a friend from out of town visits and brings up their name and you don’t feel like explaining what happened — they respond either immediately or days later with questions about who is going and where the party is and what the vibe will be like; questions a different friend might ask were they curious how they could make it work, but that this one is asking only as means to best frame why it just doesn’t tonight. Another night, for sure, though.
The truth is this: they are not curious about the party, or an opportunity to see you — fuck, they’re depressed, they’re not curious about anything, except how to avoid sounding like they have no acceptable reason not to show up, which matters because depending on how effectively they do it and how long they do it for, you’ll keep inviting them, reminding them that they matter, even as they promise themselves over and over that they don’t. Eventually, though, they’ll have asked so many of those curiously uncurious questions that you stop forcing them to, insecure about your own role in exacerbating an issue that you weren’t instrumental in creating but that you aren’t ready to be instrumental in fixing, either. Their questions are exhausting because the agenda behind them has nothing to do with the answer; they’re not looking for answers, after all. Not yet…