Hyperbole Times Infinity: Adventures in Mania!

To everyone concerned about my hospitalization: Don’t worry, I’m not suicidal. A bit of mania with psychosis was all that happened—nothing too crazy, so no need to freak out about it.

(Honestly, it was probably just a freak reaction to abusing my SAD therapy lamp and not sleeping for like a week, so I doubt it’ll happen again.)

They sent me home with prescriptions to Zyprexa, Geodin, Depakote, Lithium, Abilify, Topamax, and Xanax. I’ve gotten so much better since then that I now feel fine skipping everything but the Xanax! In fact, I feel better than ever, albeit a bit agitated. If Dr. Pilsner would just triple my Xanax prescription in place of all that other stuff that I haven’t been taking anyway, I’d be golden.

But anyway, without further delay, I now present my long-awaited, uncensored…

⊙_ʘ Manic Episode and Mental Hospital Deets! ☼_☼

Initially, I bought the HappyLight online because I found it for cheaper than the pills I was about to buy from the neighborhood drug dealer to kill myself with.

All the Verilux advertisements featuring functional, hygienic people living life to its fullest with their HappyLights suggested to me that if the company could afford to pay so many models to pose and look happy, then maybe their products actually worked.

Broke and unmotivated to think critically, I thought, “Eh, what the hell, I may as well try this one last-ditch effort to save my sad, sorry soul with pseudoscience before giving up forever.”

The light box model I ordered is the same one my ex-lover Neurotic Nicole had. We used to cuddle in bed with her HappyLight between us, waiting for it to work while only partially following the instructions. I could never tell if it was really making me happier, though Neurotic Nicole had always sworn by it.

Figure: Bittersweet memory of sleeping with Neurotic Nicole and her HappyLight back in 2013

Now that I think about it, she may have just been using the HappyLight as a barrier to wedge between our bodies in order to be less close to me. I should stop thinking about that, though.

Point is, those past experiments with Neurotic Nicole’s HappyLight did little to prepare me for the crescendo of mixed-state mania that I would reach upon continuously beaming my own HappyLight point-blank into my face for all of last week.

It began on Saturday the 17th, when I powered up my brand new HappyLight immediately after waking up to start my day around 4 PM.

Shortly thereafter, I found some old pill crumbs under my mattress in a damp, half-moldy envelope labeled Abilify, Adderall, Ambien, Antabuse, Ativan, etc. in Neurotic Nicole’s handwriting, from that time last winter when she’d alphabetized my prescriptions for me. I ate the pill crumbs and fell back asleep with the HappyLight still on.

I awoke again at 8:50 PM, feeling unexpectedly rejuvenated, weightless, unencumbered—even a tad buoyant! All this, while still in bed.

Figuring it was a combination of moldy pill crumbs and placebo effect, I sat up slowly so as to suspend my disbelief for as long as possible before returning to my usual suicidal ideations.

I couldn’t maintain the slowness, though, for an invisible force from within my own psyche suddenly compelled me to leap out of bed and do jumping jacks! Yes, folks; quicker than Kurt Cobain could bat a ten-ton lithium carbonate eyelid, I was manic and at ‘em!

I looked at a bunch of charts about electromagnetic wavelengths and color therapy, and the epiphanies came raining down!

I built this dope-as-in-dopamine depression research lab in my basement in 24 hours with no breaks!

Figure: Don Depresso’s depression research lab shortly after he started building it; photo features the HappyLight SAD lamp and various brain charts.

CORRECTION: Although the HappyLight is labeled here as a Selective Melatonin Reuptake Inhibitor, I have since been illuminated by the scientific journal article Dissociation of circadian and light inhibition of melatonin release through forced desynchronization in the rat. The HappyLight is actually better described as a Selective Melatonin Inhibitor, since it sustains wakefulness by suppressing melatonin.

Anyway, another 24 hours later, I was still awake and installing a pharmacy in the lab.

I figured it was an important enough task to be worth missing some sleep over, since no serious mad scientist would ever work in a lab without a pharmacy. How else would Dr. Frankenstein have conveniently refilled his Prozac every 30 days with minimal disruptions to his monthly workflow?

The pharmacy is an essential one-stop shop that belongs in every lab, home, and garden.

It was at this point that I began addressing myself in second-person as “Dr. Depresso” simply because it felt natural, even though I’m not actually a doctor. I realized I could make this into more than just a pharmacy.

Many people like to wash down their prescription medications with an alcoholic beverage, so why not make it into a bar-macy?

Obviously I’m too broke to start a business on my own, but I could always just take out loans. How could the banks possibly refuse to lend out money to such a euphonic, good-humored, and subtly family-friendly business name as “The Xanny Bar”?

Photo: Dr. Depresso poses with a crow, a rat, and a bottle of Jameson at The Xanny Bar

By the 48-hour mark, I was recruiting depressed volunteers left and right from a local New Seasons market to try out the HappyLight in my depression lab. I introduced myself to everyone as Dr. Depresso but didn’t mention the part about not actually being a doctor, lest it cause people to take me less seriously.

Photo: Depressed Portland resident, initially spotted walking out of New Seasons market while grumbling to himself about the price of organic beer, now tests out HappyLight in Dr. Depresso’s lab.

Photo: Experimental research participant from New Seasons shows increase in maxillofacial motor activity while using HappyLight, proving depression treatment a success.

Photo: We be all night, ligh-igh-ight, ligh-igh-ight / Drunk in light

Sometime around the 72-hour mark, Sinead O’Connor’s face materialized to me in a baseball cap covered in mental disorder buttons, long blonde curls flowing out from the sides.

Photo: Dr. Depresso hallucinates Sinead O’Connor at The Xanny Bar during bipolar episode of mania with psychosis.

It was then that I knew I was hallucinating, since the real Sinead O’Connor doesn’t have hair.

Photo: Sinead O’Connor hallucination sings Nothing Compares 2 U to Dr. Depresso, further fueling his delusions of grandeur

Everything—and I mean everything I’ve ever known and felt—started to make sense. Of course, melatonin! Of course, circadian rhythms! Of course, music-reactive LEDs!

I had to tell the world!

Figure: Manic Facebook update from Don Depresso, posted just days before psychiatric hospitalization

A couple of nights later, I realized that I should be sharing my discoveries not just with my friends (who couldn’t care less), but with people in actual positions of power who could really help spread them.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to find any neuroscience labs open at 4 AM, but this was urgent. The sooner I released my data to the public, the more depressed people it would save!

And so it was that I arrived at the emergency psych ward at 4:54 AM, my best scientific charts in hand and prepped for peer review:

The psychiatric nurse they sent me to was clearly unqualified for her job, seeing as she couldn’t even read my charts.

I began to file them away in my Trapper Keeper, preparing to walk out and try my luck at the next closest emergency psych ward, when things took a dark turn.

The nurse asked me what drugs I’d taken.

Without thinking, I answered honestly: “Everything I took today started with the letter A.”

As soon as I said it, her eyes widened—a sure sign that she thought I was delusional.

Indeed, the psychiatric nurse refused to believe that Neurotic Nicole was anything other than one of my delusions, let alone that Neurotic Nicole had alphabetized my pills, and she responded to my repeated requests to show her Neurotic Nicole’s Facebook page only with repeated refusals to give me the hospital’s Wi-Fi password.

So anyway, yeah, that’s how I ended up getting committed to the mental hospital. But I’m fine!

Yours always through the ups and downs,
Don Depresso


Otto Neurath, Modern Man in the Making, 1939. Published by Knopf. University of Pittsburgh Library. Via constellations. More to see in dutch: imaginerymuseum

Published on the eve of the Second World War, this book addresses many issues still of great relevance today: globalisation, war, the economy and emigration. The book was created in what Marie Neurath called ‘picture-text’ style: a chart inserted into the text was not merely an illustration but constituted a ‘paragraph’ that had to be ‘read’ in order to follow the argument. The graphic matter was printed in seven colours. Isotype revisited