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Dear People of the Future?
I am writing this on the morning of Sunday, July 24th, 2022.
Yesterday, while I was in the middle of rough Depression day, someone I’ve been passing friends with for a really long time did something incredibly nice for me, and it took me a few hours to kind of mentally force myself to feel happy and grateful about it instead of feeling guilty and terrible about everything else.
Depression is an asshole. Even when the causes are entirely legitimate, it wrecks the way your brain works.
Living through a slow motion trainwreck is bad for your mental well being. Living through a global environmental crisis that humans are only making worse, and a pandemic, and the potential collapse of your nation’s democracy into far right totalitarianism, and everything else, all sucks.
History must be full of billions and billions of depressed people that we will never hear from.
We learn about World War I and II, or the Black Plague, or The Great Depression (it’s in the name!), or countless pandemics or revolutions or coups, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about how people really felt living through them.
I think I can safely say it sucked.
It sucks to live through an era of great upheaval and chaos and avoidable suffering. It sucks and it makes your brain work worse.
(A random aside: the phrase “May you live in interesting times” is commonly said to be an “ancient Chinese curse”, but it’s actually an English phrase from the late 19th/early 20th centuries with no roots in any Chinese phrase. The idea of course is that interesting times to read about in history are really shitty to live through. It’s a useful phrase, but if it’s still being passed around as an ancient Chinese curse in your future, you should probably go ask some Chinese people.)
A bit about me: I have ADHD, which was diagnosed but has never been treated, moderate and major Depression, which had a real mixed reaction to medication and has been untreated for about 7 years now, and probably some kind of anxiety disorder that’s developed in the last two years, that is of course undiagnosed and untreated.
I live in a country with a healthcare system that is so much worse and more expensive and less accessible than it is in every other developed nation, by design. And I live in a state ruled by racist assholes who literally hate poor people and want us to die.
It’s not great, and my mental health has absolutely gotten worse during the Trump administration and the ‘Rona pandemic and the *waves hands at everything*.
If you’re reading this from some kind of nightmarish hellscape future ruined by global warming and ruled by fascist oligarchs, then I imagine you are all too acquainted with the mental health problems that come from living through tragic and terrifying times.
There’s probably some small percentage of people living today who are just fine, who are just trucking along through life, and honestly congratulations to those people, well done on whatever chemical balance lets you just live your life. But in general everyone is doing badly. Even people who were previously “normal” are more stressed, angry, and overwhelmed than they were.
Those of us who were already mentally unwell are just fucked.
I suspect that your historians and researchers can track a marked increase in suicides in the 21st century, but every single one of those statistics is also a heartbreaking tragedy.
Hopefully our unresolved trauma hasn’t become your weird generational trauma. Looking back at the 20th century, it’s obvious to me that the horrors of the first half of the 20th century caused some major issues in the people who survived all that, which they passed down to their children, who became the Boomers who make so much of 21st century life so awful, and who passed down their unresolved trauma to their children.
I can imagine a similar future, where the children of Gens X-Z have become the shitty old people who are making things worse for everyone because of their unresolved issues growing up with parents who had severe untreated mental health problems from living through This Shit.
Perhaps there’s another future, where we realized “Holy shit everyone is fucked and we need an army of therapists and mental health doctors to help them!”, but I am not optimistic about the future. (But also my brain doesn’t work right and it can take me two hours to be happy about a good thing, so maybe I’m not the best authority.)
I don’t know if writing these is helpful.
I think it’s good for me to get this stuff out of my head and into the world, and hopefully one day into the hands of some future person who will find some value in reading about life in the ancient days of the early 21st century.
There’s so much more I could write about living with Depression and the mental health stresses of the 21st century, but this is long enough for today.
If you’re reading this in the near future of 2022, or the distant future of 2099 or 2174, I really do hope you’re doing as well as can be.
Take care of yourself, and each other. It’s rough out there. 🖤
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