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Hello? Anyone there?

What . . . what are you doing?

Just seeing if you’re still around.

I’m in your head, remember? Of course I’m still here.

And I’m also trying to think.

About what?

About what this article is going to be about.

That . . . that doesn’t make sense.

Ha! Very little about mental illness makes sense. And you claim to be in my head!

But if someone is reading these words, that means you’ve already not only come up with an idea for the article, it’s been written and submitted to your editor, right?

Well, maybe that’s the point.

What point?! What the hell are you talking about?!

You’re trying to apply logic to an experience that clearly falls outside of the boundaries of reason.

Still not following.

I mentioned how there’s very little about mental illness that fits neatly inside any organized logic box. There’s absolutely nothing rational about having a panic attack in the grocery store because there are too many people standing around you buying potatoes.

Clearly you’ve never been to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

Even then, you can tell yourself a thousand times that having a panic attack in a grocery store is completely irrational—that you’re not in any real physical danger—but reason doesn’t stop the panic from manifesting into a physiological response.

Like falling to the floor in the fetal position, shaking in terror, unable to breath, feeling ridiculous about the whole thing. Stop sugar-coating this shit. It’s debilitating!

Fair enough.

And aren’t anxiety and depression and all sorts of crazy mental illnesses clearly outlined in the DSM?

A tool that can be used incorrectly. Homosexuality was once outlined as a mental illness in the DSM, calling it “sexual orientation disturbance.”

Well then, f*ck that book!

Hold on. Remember our discussion about nuance?

That was like a month ago.

Don’t dismiss the DSM entirely. I’m just saying that—

SOD

What?

Sexual orientation disturbance. S.O.D. Short for sodomite. You can’t tell me that wasn’t done on purpose.

I’m just saying that there is a utility in using a sharp knife like the DSM to carve out all the variations of mental illness; just keep in mind that the knowledge gained using such a tool isn’t the entire picture.

Like illuminating a corner of a large painting with a small pen light. Who the hell relates to depression when it’s defined as a list of bullet points?

Depression is like tumbling down into a deep gorge, cracked fingers gripping sharp rocks before I slip and fall some more, reaching out with broken arms toward distant figures standing at the edge of the cliff.

And no matter how much I scream for help, no one can really hear me. They just go about their lives at the lip of all that darkness and madness I’m buried beneath.

You can’t reason your way out of such a place. And what do you do when you’re having an anxiety attack?

Umm … are you talking to me? Or is this a hypothetical question for the reader?

You’re taught to focus on your breathing. That’s it. Don’t try to think logically. Don’t even try to clear your mind of thoughts.

Who the hell can do that?

Just. Focus. On. Your. Breathing.

I get it. F*ck logic and reason.

Okay, no. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Remember nuance?

You do realize you’re using a logical argument to encourage people not to be so logical?

I’m just saying that there’s a danger to overthinking, to ruminating for endless hours over the causes of depression. I save that for trips to the therapist’s office, or at least with a friend I can confide in. But when I’m trapped inside those gorges, I just try to take care of myself without working so hard to fix myself.

I hate therapists.

Okay, I know you’ve had some bad experiences with therapists, but now you’re being—

How the hell would you know?

You’re a voice in my head, remember?

What if you’re the one yammering away in my head?

Fair enough.