• It seemed to me the basic definition of mental illness, this persistent, painful inability to simply be with someone else. It might be lifelong, or it might descend like a sudden catastrophe, this blankness between ourselves and the rest of the world. The blankness might not even be obvious to others. But on our side of that severed connection, it was hell, a life lived behind glass. The only difference between mild depression and severe schizophrenia was the amount of sound and air that seeped in.