Although I’ve only recognized it for what it was in the past few years, I’ve lived with depression for over a quarter of a century. In that time, there were days where I didn’t know what was going to happen, where I wondered what was coming next.
I spent three years almost homeless, crammed with my mom and little brother into the back bedroom of a single-wide trailer. Two boys, 15 and 11 years old at the start, and their mother, who was younger than I am now, all sharing less than 100 square feet of living space. That was my Y2K. Those were my teenage years. That was what I was doing on 9/11. But I was never really scared for my own safety or well-being.
A decade ago, my grandfather was on his deathbed, my brother was working himself into the next grave over at an Amazon warehouse, and my mom seemed determined to stay awake until she beat them both there. It was a miserable experience, made so much worse as I watched not only a beloved relative waste away, but those closest to him ignore every suggestion that might have helped or, at the very least, eased his passing. But I didn’t fear for myself, because I wasn’t 90 and suffering both the aftermath of a stroke and the deadly ministrations of a nursing home.
Now, though, I’ve never felt more afraid.
It’s rational to fear death; indeed, I’m of the firm belief that it is the only rational fear. The end of life is so final that we must approach it with some measure of trepidation. To feel otherwise is, in my opinion, the same as saying that your life doesn’t matter. While I’m sure many religious types would agree with that assessment, I’m not one of them. I can’t see the sense in throwing away what we have now in the hope that what comes after will be so much better. No, this is the life we’ve got, and the primary reason why I haven’t ended mine is because it’s the only one I’m sure of having.
That said, I have been thinking more and more about that ultimate end. Our world is sliding so far, so fast, that I can’t help it. I truly don’t see an out, a path forward that leaves me in a better place. There is a very real chance that I could be arrested for the crime of wanting to, as the famous poem puts it, breath free. Or I may be forced under threat of life, liberty, or family to undergo an experimental medical procedure that has already killed hundreds of thousands, injured millions more, and has an unknown long-term effect on my health and virility.
Even discounting the fringe theories—those do not include arrest for not wearing a mask, as that is a fact of life in some countries already—I still must contend with the other repercussions of this false pandemic. I’m effectively barred from non-emergency medical care. Entire fields of endeavor and even states are closed off to me. The communities where I might, under normal circumstances, find common cause have closed themselves to freethinkers like myself. Because I choose freedom, I am increasingly isolated, marginalized.
For someone who already suffers from depression and a severe lack of self-esteem, this is catastrophic. It’s one thing for me to turn away from the world, quite another for the world to turn away from me. And it’s happening in many places, to many people. More each day, in fact. I’m one of a million or more, and we simply can’t get the help we need.
I wonder what I could possibly contribute to a world that has rejected me on every level. I fear that my time will soon come to an end because of that rejection. And what will I leave behind? More books than there are people who’ve read them. A mass of code few developers would want to touch. Most of all, the pain I’ve caused for those I love most through actions that I probably deserve to spend eternity regretting.
I’ve spent more than half my life living in the house from which I write this. With each day that passes, I become more certain that it is where that life will end. More and more, I’m starting to believe that, literally and metaphorically, I will die on this hill.