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I like the idea that there is no “me” associated with Mike Yost.

But that’s your name in the byline.

It’s just a name. Merely a sound made by vocal chords.

And “you” are not just a sound.

Exactly. The name in the byline is something I associate with the person drafting this article.

And the word “person” comes from the word “persona”—a derivative from Latin, meaning a mask.

There are many masks of Mike (such as writer), but none of those masks are wholly me.

And there are also a ton of Mikes in the world—who are not you.

I once met another Mike Yost.

Did he have a goatee and come from an evil mirror parallel universe?

Nope.

Meeting an evil Mike Yost would have been awesome.

He was just another person. A mask with the same name.

So, if you are not your name or your persona, what are you?

I’m a series of things that I am not.

I think you’re overthinking this.

To quote the famous contemporary philosopher Tyler Durden: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not your f*cking khakis.”

I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about Tyler.

But I find myself identifying with my depression the way I used to identify myself with a career or an income.

You just did it there!

Did what?

“My” depression. Is that something you can own, like a car? How is depression ever “your” depression?

Good point.

Especially if you’re just a persona, a mask.

Depression is owned by no one.

That sounds like an epiphany or something.

Life-changing epiphany!

But how does it help?

Help what?

Focus! How does this help if depression is not “your” depression?

I’m not sure.

But you’re the writer with the mental monsters meddling with your life. Focus!

Well, there’s an idea floating around that consciousness isn’t really an entity hidden deep within the skull. I’m not a thinking thing as much as I’m a pattern.

A pattern?

Imagine a whirlpool. It’s something you recognize immediately but can’t quite isolate from the rest of the flowing water. Clearly there is a part of the river that is not whirlpooling, and part of the river that is whirlpooling.

But the boundary between the two can’t be precisely outlined.

And it’s always changing and churning, depending on the current of the river.

So you’re a woeful whirlpool. Now what?

If you walk into the river and try to remove part of the whirlpool, all you get is a glass of murky water.

You’ve lost it as soon as soon as you try to identify it.

Because a whirlpool is a pattern. I’m a pattern, a series of personas I wear to create what everyone knows as Mike Yost.

And part of that pattern is depression.

Not just depression. Patterns of happiness when I’m with friends. Patterns of grief at the losses I’ve endured.

All of it a whirling vortex swirling around the nothing that is Mike Yost.

And if my depression is a part of me, like the part of the pattern that makes up a whirlpool, then my duel with depression becomes something else entirely.

Because it’s not “your” depression.

It’s not something I can isolate and dump out of the whirlpool. But depression doesn’t define me any more than the truck I drive defines me.

Wait, you drive a truck?

And people will often judge or define me based on the truck I drive or the depression that drives me down.

That sounds unfair.

Perhaps. But it’s only a problem when I take that identification with my truck or my depression too seriously.

You mean “the” depression.

Exactly! I try not to take the identification with the depression too seriously. I fight it, and I often get beaten down by it over and over and over and over again.

Until you’re absolutely weary from the fight.

But I don’t identify the fight as me, because there is no “me” to be identified. I can always choose how I react when THE depression makes me feel like I’m drowning in hopelessness.

The “I” isn’t really drowning in hopelessness.

Because the experience of how I feel can never wholly define who I am.

So, how does this perspective help?

I’m not sure. I’m just not as scared anymore.

*Photo by Mike Yost