Whenever I’m sick or my emotions are out of whack, I sometimes envision myself talking to the cells that make up my body. Standing upright like a professor, I give them a lecture that this isn’t how it’s supposed to go.

“Look, it’s easy,” I say to them as I gesture to the healthy, smiling girl across the room. “Just be like that.”

But of course it isn’t easy. The New York Times recently published an article on how young adult mental illness such as depression is rapidly increasing and yet no one is doing anything about it.

But it’s because no one is willing to take the notion of isolation seriously, because most people who are vocal about it announce their illnesses like badges of honors, and because depression in of itself is not easily boxed into definitive, qualitative guidelines set by the DSM.

Depression is like a fingerprint. However it manifests from individual to individual will be different. And is it ever because of just one factor? It’s neither entirely environmental nor genetic. It’s neither entirely your fault nor entirely the world’s.

But one thing that isn’t unique about it is that the balance always tips when you realize that no one cares, and while most of the time you are able to rationalize it to feign indifference about others’ indifference, you can no longer pretend you don’t care that no one cares. The cells in your body are errant students.

To end this on a more hopeful note, perhaps taking a page from a teaching manual is what needs to happen. Learn every one of your errant students’ names. Figure out the ridges of your emotions. Maybe that’s called mindfulness. Recognize that for a professor, it’s easy to say it’s easy, but a student? They’re still learning. Maybe that’s called patience.

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