I was labelled young because of the way I cry so easily. I sobbed when I laughed too hard; tears would leak when I got scared. Or hurt. Or angry. Or frustrated. “Overemotional,” they called me. It made me a target in school. Coworkers who were really just bullies in suits would tell me I needed to grow a thicker skin so that they could abuse me more.

I don’t think my emotions are actually more or less intense than anybody else’s. I simply have no control over my tear ducts. They leak at the slightest provocation, happy or sad. I have made my peace with it though others, of course, are uncomfortable when I cry, even if it’s only when I laugh. My mother is the only one I can remember who had something nice to say about it. You’re sensitive, she told me. You’ll be artistic, somehow.

Now that I’m not “flighty and young” anymore, my condition is getting me in trouble. People think I’m crazy. Or depressed. A suicide risk. They sent nurses to my home after I came home with my son from the hospital. My doctor administers mood tests, on which the only answer I ever check off is “sometimes I have trouble sleeping.” The oddest people, who barely know me at all, usually recommend that I go see someone to “check my headspace.”

I have been checked, years ago. Even shrinks with BMW payments to make have sent me away. I’m normal. Or at least, I have nothing wrong that they think they can fix. Depression can’t claim me, and I don’t slot neatly anywhere else in some of the scarier mood disorders (thank God).

I don’t want to try “better living through chemistry” to shut down my emotions more or level them out. I’m afraid that it might change who I am, and I like me, most of the time. Isn’t that “normal?” I enjoy life. I love people. I need to have more physical closeness to others than society thinks is cool, but as far as I can tell, that’s not my worst character flaw.

I’m normal. I think. I’m not really quite sure anymore. It’s hard to maintain a strong core of self when people think you’re mentally ill, somehow, in some yet undefined way. Who really is “crazy” when you’re the only one who disagrees? And so I sit in the dark in the wee hours of the night after someone has yet again questioned my mental health, wondering whether I’m crawling some undefined space between “whole” and “broken.”


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