Last night I had a nightmare, one much like the others. I met an old friend at a fancy party, someone I hadn’t seen in decades. At first, he was happy to see me, but then as we caught up, he seemed less enthusiastic. I was friendly and joking like I usually am, but he could tell I tried too hard. As he learned I wasn’t very successful or as smart, he started ignoring me. He began talking to others, who had great careers and made something of themselves. By the end, I was only talking to his tuxedo’s back, all but an afterthought. My last words to him as he left the party was, “’Kay, bye. Keep in touch, yeah?” Of course, the back of the tuxedo continued walking away, into the distance.

I’m ashamed of my fear, this depression.

It’s self-pity and pointless. I’m not suicidal, but I’m numb. I go through bouts of emotional paralysis, hiding in my own room, deactivated like a robot without batteries. I think everyone experiences depression in their own way. To me, it’s not hopelessness or sorrow; it’s the raw candor of self-admitted disappointment. Sometimes I run out of pep talks and the doubt creeps over, sending me into a freefall.

I hate the unbearable loneliness.

Nothing makes sense anymore. I miss a world I used to know. I wish I was married; I wish I had kids. I wish I’ve done more with my life. I’ve lived long enough to have regret, and still, I dread change. We spend 90% of our lives chasing the 10% that we’re missing. No one ever believed in me as a kid. Last to be picked for kickball. Last chair in the clarinet. Although I’ve always ended up proving myself worthy, I hate the lack of faith. Nobody looks at me and say, “That guy. That guy’s my champion.”

Even when I succeed, I wasn’t anyone’s first pick.

I especially dread it when people get sick of me. It’s made me distance myself from friendship. Perhaps I don’t truly want to be an introvert; I’m just saving myself from hurt. I don’t want to go through another mirror, one more echo of how I’m a lower than a nobody, not even just a normal, everyday worthy person. Things always end up with my so-called friends disrespecting me, turning things against me, spreading rumors and lies because it’s popular to go after the unpopular, dumb Louis.

This fear, this depressed anxiety has fueled so many of my life choices. It’s why I’m so neurotic, such a perfectionist. One mistake, and the jig is up: I’m imperfect. People in my life are very unforgiving when they learn. They abandon me. Whenever I’m happy, it’s because I’ve temporarily found the strength to bury this fear, but as always, it returns.

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