I don’t want to write about my depression. I don’t want to make sense of it. Follow it around a path, a spiral. I don’t want to find the source of it. I want to wallow. To sink deep into it. I want to let it engulf me. To take over. Bring me down. Death by depression. Death by weighted blanket.

My doctor doesn’t ask me to make sense of anything, instead she wants to cure me. We, my doctor and I, are in our 30s. We, my doctor and I, are deciding together if I should go on antidepressants. I write us as a we because I do not want to be an I. I do not want to decide alone.

I do not tell my doctor I am afraid, but I’m crying, so she assumes. I tell her I’m afraid of being different. I’m afraid of not being with it. What if I’m catatonic? What if I stare into space and forget I’m in the middle of a conversation? What if my kid needs me but instead my head is floating above me? I’m a writer. What if my art isn’t the same? What if my art is uninteresting or unmotivating? What if I can’t access my deep, depressed self and instead I write something shitty and predictable? What if pills don’t help?

My doctor tells me that it’s okay to be scared. She tells me the medication might make my art better by allowing me to focus longer and easier. She thinks antidepressants should be in the water, that everyone could use a little. I think she’s lying.

I tell my doctor that I am willing to try the pills. She asks about my writing and wants to know what I write about. My life, I tell her. I write creative nonfiction. She says she would like to read my work someday even though I know she’s lying. I grin. I hold up the printouts with information about the new drugs and say, “Now I have something to write about.” We both fake laugh.

My doctor tells me to cut the pill in half. Since I’m new to the drug she wants me to work my way up to a full dose. When I cut the pill, it isn’t quite in half and white powder falls onto the counter. I wonder if people snort antidepressants. Probably not. I’ve never snorted drugs and maybe antidepressants are a start. I wonder why no one ever offered me drugs. Not even at that writer’s residency where all the cool writers were either high or talked about how high they were the night before. I was on the outside, waiting for someone to invite me to their group, to talk to me, to notice me. To offer me drugs. I’ve never been cool or a loser. Just on the edge. Watching. Even in my 30s, I’m watching, wondering how I can fit in. Please think I’m cool. Please talk to me about my writing. I lick my finger and pick up the pill dust and stick it on my tongue. I figure I need as much of this half a pill of antidepressant as possible. I put water in a coffee cup and wash it down.

I take my daughter to the park after I take half of the antidepressant. Fresh air. Sun. She plays and I sit on the bench and tears trickle down my face. I know she’ll call me to play but I’ll make an excuse. I’ll say Mommy’s head hurts. I’ll watch you from here. It’s 10 am on Sunday so I know no one else will come to the park. We often play at this park. It’s all we have to do in our small town. We could go to church but church is lonelier than an empty park bench. Afterwards, we visit my grandma. I tell her, “I’m just like you, I’m on antidepressants now.”

“Good for you,” she says like she’s proud.

I graduate to full pills after a week of half doses. I can’t tell if they work. I can’t tell if I went through all of this to end up being even more depressed. My depression could still engulf my life. I don’t know if pills cure loneliness. I hold the little pill to my mouth, willing it to make me happy. I swallow hard.

Ashley Espinoza

Ashley Espinoza is a writer living in rural Colorado. She received her MFA from the University of Nebraska. Her work has been published in Insider, Assay, Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, Forge Literary Magazine, Bending Genres and Mom Egg Review among other places. She is a nonfiction editor at The Good Life Review and assistant prose editor at Alan Squire Publishing Bulletin. She is currently working on a memoir. She can be found on X @ashley1espinoza and Instagram @ashley.n.espinoza.