SAN DIEGO—Shortly after losing grip of a helium-filled balloon and watching it float into the air above the San Diego Zoo Tuesday, local child Caleb Tremont, 3, reportedly began a battle with chronic depression that will last for the rest of his life.

Before Tremont even realized what was happening, sources confirmed the balloon’s ribbon slipped from his hand, drifting up and out of reach and etching into his memory an image that years later will come to represent the overwhelming despair at the core of his life-defining mental illness.

“No, the balloon,” said Tremont, who as an adult will work with his physician and several psychiatrists to find a suitable combination of anxiolytic and psychotropic medicines to quell the disease’s debilitating symptoms, ultimately turning into an over-medicated and unresponsive husk. “It’s flying away.”

“Come back,” added the toddler who will never feel entirely happy or normal again.

The symbol of melancholy and loss that will haunt Tremont for his entire adult life.

Sources indicated that upon seeing the balloon disappear behind a line of trees, Tremont began to grapple for the first time with the same feelings of irreversible loss and guilt that will eventually prevent him from enjoying activities he once loved and cause him to become utterly despondent in the face of a seemingly hostile world.

“I told you to hang on to it, buddy!” said Tremont’s father, inadvertently encouraging his son to blame himself for losing the balloon, sowing the seeds for neuroses that will render the 3-year-old unable to connect emotionally with other people, ruining many of his relationships and eventually causing him to be overly harsh on his own children for their mistakes. “Don’t cry, it’ll be fine.”

The increasingly distraught 3-year-old, who will gradually come to believe that he is a complete failure and a burden to everyone he knows, then reportedly burst into tears in what was only the very start of an inexorable, decades-long descent into severe clinical depression.

“It’s only a balloon, honey,” said Tremont’s mother, unaware that the dismissive response only served to compound the anxieties forming in her young son’s mind. “Come on, let’s go and see the animals.”

Tremont, whose sadness will swell over the course of years into what seems like an infinite, gaping dark void that neither monoamine oxidase inhibitors and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors nor dietary changes will be able to close completely, was reportedly uninterested in seeing the animals.

“I didn’t mean to let the balloon fly away,” said the person who, while undergoing extensive psychotherapy in his mid-30s, will sometimes recall his childhood and try in vain to pinpoint some particular event that may have triggered the depression. “I didn’t mean to. I want the balloon back.”

At press time, Tremont’s parents had reportedly bought him a replacement balloon that was the wrong color.