Before Antidepressants, and After

There once was a man who lived in a hole. This might seem strange to many for the obvious reason. Why would someone live in a hole? Surely you could upgrade to a box or a cave. If it were winter you might even be able to construct an igloo from bricks of compacted snow. Maybe down the road with a lot of hard work you could erect a shack using repurposed lumber.

The six-foot-tall man with brown eyes liked his hole. The dirt was soft and cool, and people walking by only saw the top of his head. His dark and gray hair made him easily mistaken for a rock imbedded in the ground. Sure, sometimes people stepped on or tripped over the rock but he didn’t mind. “That’s the cost of doing business when you live in a hole,” the man said to no one, because he lived by himself in a hole.

When it got dark and all the other people were sound asleep, he ventured from his hole and went out into the world. He tried to befriend the possums and the raccoons, which was really stupid because they’re animals and lack the ability to communicate and conceptualize friendship. “If you don’t want to be my friends I’ll just return to my home!” he yelled, chasing the animals into hiding.

One day a well-dressed gentleman walking by and stubbed his toe on a rock. Much to his surprise the rock groaned. “Rock, are you okay? Did I hurt you?” the well-dressed gentleman called out, concerned.

“I’m fine,” the rock called back. “Thanks for checking on me.”

The well-dressed man went happily on his way, but stopped short when he realized, “You there, rock? Are you really a man living in a hole?”

“Yes, sir. I am. Now kindly let me be, please.”

The well-dressed man approached the hole and looked down into it. “That’s a mighty fine hole you have there. I’m somewhat of an expert on holes.”

“Thank you. Now, please let me be,” the man in the hole answered as he moved dirt around to appear as though he was tidying up his place.

The well-dressed man rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a spell before remarking, “What if I told you I had a surefire way to get you out of that hole and into a better home? I know you like your hole. I know it feels safe and secure. But if you really look deep down inside, I think you’ll see you don’t want this to be your home, do you?”

The man in hole didn’t say anything, but kept busily moving dirt around.

The well-dressed man placed a bottle by the hole and said, “I’ll leave this here for you. All you need to do is take one of these pills a day and you’ll be out of your hole in no time.”

The man in the hole crossed his arms and refused to answer.

“Well, I wish you the best, my friend. Sorry I mistook you for a rock.”

A day went by and the man in the hole played with dirt and rescued worms that unsuspectingly happened upon his home. The bottle just sat there and he kept noticing it out the corner of his eye as if the bottle had legs and enjoyed inching its way into his peripheral line of sight. “I know you’re there, Bottle. If you don’t stop tormenting me I’ll throw you as far as I can and let the raccoons and possums have their way with you,” which was really stupid because the inanimate object could not process concepts such as wild animals and torment. “I like my hole and I don’t want to move.”

The next day, many more worms than usual happened upon his home. Before they seemed like a pesty neighbor who kept coming by asking to borrow hedge trimmers and wanting to talk about the weather. The man scooped his hands under the damp soil by his feet, picking up the dirt and two worms who had invaded his space. Holding them to his mouth he yelled, “I have been more than polite and careful not to step on you when you’ve fallen into my hole. I would very much appreciate it if you found somewhere else to dig!” which was stupid because he was the one living in the ground and invading the worm’s home, after all. “I like my hole and I don’t want to move.”

The next day, many more people than usual tripped on his head. First it was a large man in heavy work boots, then a woman wearing sandals with gum stuck to the bottom. As soon as he stood up to pack more worms into the walls another heel cam pressing down on his crown. And the sleek white bottle kept catching the corner of his eye. “This is your doing, isn’t it, Bottle? YOU brought these worms and these people. I was perfectly fine until you showed up,” he said as a group of kids ran by trampling over his head leaving child sized scuff marks on his forehead. “That’s it! I’ve had enough! I am getting out of this hole!”

Plopping a pill in his mouth, the man waited to see what would happen. After thirty minutes of nothing, he cursed the well-dressed man for having gotten his hopes up. But as night fell, the man in the hole found that he was excited to venture from his home for first time in a very long time.

The first thing he did after leaving his hole was stretch his arms high above his head. “I think the pill has made me taller,” he said. Walking along the path that lead to where the possums and raccoons foraged, the man noticed something different in is gait. “I think the pill has made me faster,” he said. As he spent the rest of the night going on about how excited he was to start looking for a new home the man noticed something different in the way he spoke. “I think the pill has made me more sociable,” he said.

In the morning when he awoke the man was in a new hole. This hole was cramped and cool and wet, but it was shaped more like a square or a rectangle than a cylinder. It might have even been a little more spacious. He could almost lie down if he were so inclined. Just then, someone walking by accidentally stepped on his head. The man in the hole didn’t mind. He popped a pill in his mouth and said, “That’s the cost of doing business when you live in a hole,” to no one, because he lived by himself in a hole.