Junction City, OR —

Brianna Bowler was always the stable friend, the kind that people with mental health issues could turn to. “My whole life, all around me, it was depression this, bipolar that. Sometimes I would ask myself, ‘When is it going to be my time?’ I was starting to give up. Well, my moment has finally arrived. I’m anxious as fuck and live in constant agony.”

Describing the diagnosis as “better late than never,” Bowler tried to explain what took her illness so long to develop. “Your guess is as good as mine. I was pretty easygoing all my life. There was some trauma and abuse in my childhood, but it never really affected me. I’d just blast my music and play some video games, maybe get a little drunk by myself in the backyard. I haven’t felt much of anything for 20 years, but that can only be a good thing. But more recently, I’ve been having these episodes, as if all my denial is erupting to the surface and rendering me incapable of living a functional life. But you know what’s crazy? My younger cousin went through the exact same thing when he was 14! Boy, do I feel like a grandma.”

“Still,” continued Bowler, “even if it’s belated, I’m excited to go through all the mental illness rites of passage. I can’t wait for a Baby Boomer to tell me to just calm down and snap the fuck out of it, or for some wealthy mom to tell me to travel around the world or to hire a private yoga instructor. That’ll be a blast. If anything,” she said, throwing back a handful of Xanax, “I’m kind of embarrassed it’s taken me this long.”

By William Boffa