Tokyo, Japan

November 10, 2019

Anticlimactic

On Tuesday morning, I woke up to find that the pretty severe depression I've been wrestling and wading through for the past few weeks - was gone.

No rhyme. No reason. I didn't eat anything different, do anything different, think any magic thoughts, or come to any kind of realization. I didn't even get a particularly good night's sleep.

But as I looked around my mind on Tuesday morning, it was like the sky had cleared. The sad, crazy thoughts weren't shouting their craziness. The weight and energy drain weren't present. It was like Aunt Dee had gone out for a walk during the night and just gotten lost in some back street in Tokyo.

It's moments like this that bring home to me why it's so difficult to understand mental health. Things just happen, inside your brain, and you don't have control over them. There are no indicators, as these thoughts come along, that they're from depression or anxiety or whatever instead of being real concerns or feelings based on real things out in the world.

It is bizarre.

Over time, if you're someone like me who gets to deal with this stuff on a regular basis, you get better at identifying these thoughts and feelings, and trusting your judgement, "so, I know I'm thinking all these thoughts about how everything I've ever done is utter shit and feeling so, so deeply sad - but I'm pretty sure that's just depression and not reality." And that learning and identification really helps - it lets me do the get up and do something meaningful that I've come to really value.

But it is still really, really unnerving.

One of my biggest fears - backed up by watching my grandmother slowly lose her lucidity - is becoming senile. I'm terrified of the idea of being out in the world, talking to people and doing things, and having no idea of what's real, what's not, and what I'm doing.

And in some ways, dealing with depression feels a little like this to me - my clear, lucid grip on reality slowly slides away from me - wet, rubbery. It becomes harder to see, to feel, discern what's true from what's not.

On balance, I'm quite enthusiastic to become old - I've been practicing my "get off my lawn" voice for years - and I'm keen for the experience and perspective I'll get in the years between here and there. But old, with a fading mind and depression? That scares me.

This wasn't the letter I planned to write you this week. I have one I've been working on around these amazing polished mud balls that folks make here in Japan. But this is the one that found its way out.

Thanks, as always, for listening.

I appreciate you.

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all all week was Iz Harris' amazing videos. Maybe start here. And be prepared for a binge-watch.

Enjoy this letter? Share it!