I’m not depressed; I’m serotoninally challenged

Posted on November 18, 2011


Seratonin meterSon, there’s this stuff called serotonin. It lubricates your neurons or something. Apparently well-oiled neurons help ensure that you’re mentally healthy, happy and generally OK with things. If you don’t have much of it then your brain’s all out of whack and you’re depressed and generally pissy. Healthy people make serotonin and pump it around their brains keeping everything running peachy.

Then there’s your family. We’ve never been that big on serotonin. Somewhere at the roots of our family tree a serotonin rationing system was put in place. As far as I can tell, it’s a lottery system. If you’re one of the lucky few whose number gets picked, you get a healthy dose of the serotonin. The rest get vouchers for two free psychotherapy sessions and a lifetime prescription to Paxil or Xanax or both.

We have a long, proud tradition in our family of depression, bi-polar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, bad clothing choices and the occasional bunion. But don’t get scared; the chances that you’ll get a bunion are pretty slim.  As for serotonin, well the odds are stacked against you. But I can think of at least one cousin who’s got plenty of the stuff. So there’s that.

The good news is that I’ve got your back. See, being serotoninally challenged myself I know what to look for. I didn’t figure it out for myself until I was a few years out of college. The subtle clues included the complete inability to enjoy anything whatsoever, tendency to sleep until 3:00 pm, and an extreme aversion to the music of Bobby McFerrin.

Let me take a minute to answer your next question. Bobby McFerrin is a musician who, back in 1988 came out with a hit song called “Don’t worry, be happy.” Now, when you are chronically depressed and every 30 seconds the radio is playing a song imploring you to just get over it and be happy, you pretty much want to respond by killing yourself or the next living thing to come along. If that thing happens to be Bobby McFerrin, then you’ve hit the jackpot of all jackpots.

Watch this:

Telling a depressed person to stop worrying and be happy is like telling a short person to quit whining and just be taller. Um, thanks for that awesome bit of advice.

So one afternoon, I rewrote the lyrics to Mr. McFerrin’s song to reflect how useless his advice was to me. If short people were seeking his advice, I imagine he’d write this song for them: (Sung to the tune of Don’t worry, be happy)

Here is a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry be taller

In every life we have some trouble

When you’re short you make it double

Don’t worry, be taller……

Ain’t got no height to raise your head

Four of you fit in just one bed

Don’t worry, be taller

The landlord say you’re wasting space

Don’t need to have this big a place

Don’t worry, be taller

Look at me I am taller

Don’t worry, be taller

Wear children’s clothes, ain’t got no style

Can’t get a girl to make you smile

But don’t worry be taller…

You get the idea. I guess my point is that if you’ve managed to take after your dad in the serotonin department, just know that it’s not your fault and it’s not a choice; it’s chemistry. And where there’s chemistry, there’re drugs. It’s not a life sentence to misery but it is a challenge and it can be overcome.

My only suggestion would be that before you go and get that chemical imbalance fixed, knock out a few killer blues albums and write some books. Might as well get something positive out of it first.