One day, a few years before my father started noticing his left leg was no longer moving with the dexterity of a healthy man, my mother went to the town pharmacy to pick up his Celexa. I was almost 20 at the time, spending the summer reading existentialist texts and working 40 hours a week as a landscaper for the wealthiest people in Parkersburg, West Virginia. I didn’t know my father was on antidepressants, but he’d spent most of his life worrying about changes in energy politics, and how the world’s moral compass might destroy his livelihood as an engineer in a coal powered electrical plant.
Retrospectively, depression was a given.
“Why is dad taking antidepressants?”
I asked my mother, thinking back to signs that my father may have been skipping dinner to visit a psychiatrist. Nothing came to mind.
“It’s just his depression.” She said.
“Someday, you’ll have it too.” She said.
Flippant and disposable, it seemed at that moment my mother was speaking to me as an equal, as an adult, yet not privy to the atrophy of adulthood. Have what too? Clinical depression? Or just a prescription to address the feelings of dissatisfaction that my family hid from me for most of my life? And why wouldn’t I worry about it? Because it’s familial? Should I feel a sense of oneness with my father because we’d all be stricken with disease eventually? While our lives may differ in interests and expectations, maybe we were connected by our shared relationship with whatever it was my mom was running out to the pharmacy for.
Or rather, the reason for it.