Grace and Blame in the Real America

I struggle with depression on a daily basis. Metaphors fall short--describing depression as some dark octopus lashing tentacles around the human brain, that removing those creeping arms will cure the disease. But that's not true--it is part and parcel of myself, as much as my shadow, my love for mountains, my blue eyes. My depression strengthened after leaving Afghanistan--some vital barrier crumbled in the dust and heat and senselessness of it all. Yet the fault cannot be assigned to me or the war. We cannot point to a single instance and say, "Ah, this right here is where you forged your illness, and you could have done different." Those who live with darkness always at the edge of their vision know the seductive power of poor coping mechanisms--drugs, alcohol, distraction from thinking about why we can't seem to join the perfection of our peers. Some succumb, some fight--the rights and wrongs of it all jumbled together.

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