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Academics such as Kim Fuller describe depression as "a condition that makes problems seem unsolvable." But this phrasing seems too pat; the fact is that depression is almost impossible to define to those who have never suffered from the disorder. Winston Churchill's appellation of his dark moods as a "black dog" seems as accurate an elucidation as any, given melancholia's spectral nature.

This can seem like a self-indulgent and melodramatic way of looking at depression, which, unlike deep-seated personality malfunctions such as sociopathy or borderline personality disorder, is relatively treatable. Surely any person with the family and friends and money that Marcy Hine was surrounded with must live in a world where almost any problem can be overcome, in time. There was no shortage of helping hands, and at her age, no shortage of time to come to an understanding with life. And she may have reminded herself of these things over and over. But in the grip of depression, the meaning of these sentiments, no matter how often they are repeated, is lost, dissolved in the condition's attendant chemical imbalance.

The friends who spoke with New Times say they don't know what happened Marcy's last night. Her family wouldn't comment. An analysis of her blood shows a moderate amount of cocaine and alcohol. At some point late that night or early the next morning she went to a closet or a drawer, removed an extension cord, tied one end around a stairwell post and wrapped the other around her neck. What she was thinking during that entire deliberate process is impossible to know. Then she let her body weight sink until unconsciousness set in.

"There's not a way to talk about it that explains it," says Edward, about the phone call informing him of Marcy's death. "It sounds stupid to say, 'I was surprised.' I mean, fuck, of course I was surprised. Or, 'I was shocked.' That sounds really dumb because it doesn't explain it. I was something else, like just kind of cold and weird and nontalkative. What I was feeling I'll never be able to explain, but I know everyone else was the same way because I could see it in their eyes."

The first phase was a sort of autopilot maintenance, the three male friends agree -- worrying about the Hines, worrying about Kirsten, attending the funeral.

"Some people started saying that a burglar or an intruder must have broken in and done this to her, left her like this," says William. "The doors were all locked and nothing was stolen."

Shock is the necessary mental insulation protecting against sudden, horrible pain. It also clouds hindsight, and maybe this is comforting as well. "Between denial and shock -- look, I know from personal experience that this isn't something you can just absorb," Simon notes. "You go back and invent scenarios or try to figure out how this didn't really happen the way it actually did because you just don't want to believe it."

William says some in the group were so protective of Marcy's memory they excoriated others for even talking about her. Eventually there were disagreements among friends. "Everyone handles this differently and at their own speed," says Simon. "But when you add in a group dynamic and there are all these strong feelings swirling around -- people can support each other, but anger is also part of grieving, and it's often misdirected."

"Hey, you know, some people just started partying like crazy after this, and that pissed other people off," William remembers. The theorizing about "what really happened" also caused at least one screaming match, he says. "That pissed some people off. It just seemed ridiculous, like an obvious attempt to rationalize. But I was like, 'Who can blame someone for wanting to think that?' Personally, I just think she looked around and said, 'Fuck it.' I feel like that some nights."

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Forrest Norman
Contact: Forrest Norman