do you know what one of my biggest fears is? losing my fucking mind.
i was just reading about the singer from spirit of the west, who is only 52 but has early onset alzheimer’s disease. he now no longer plays guitar in the band, and has a teleprompter on stage for when he forgets the lyrics. i think it’s brave of him to make the necessary adjustments to his life so he can keep doing what he loves for as long as he can but when i think of myself in that same situation, i think i would probably just give up, become a depressed recluse, and slowly die in my bed. i don’t think i could handle the shame, embarrassment, fear, and depression that would surely accompany my gradual mental erosion.
a long time ago, my pal steph said that she felt like her mind was everything that makes her steph, while her body was just a flesh vessel that moved her mind around this physical world, that hopefully wasn’t too hard to look at. that always resonated with me. similarly, i’ve always liked the line i saw on the back of the douglas coupland book, life after god (which i really liked when i read it 15 years ago, btw). here it is.
i’ve always felt like even as i age and my body degrades, i could still be happy as long as my mind was intact. as long as i could think and imagine and remember shit, i could keep myself entertained. obviously, an intact and functional body provides for all sorts of fun distractions, but worst case scenario, i think i could stand a chance of getting by as basically just a mind. i don’t think the same could be said for a body without a mind.
jenn has said that she thinks if you lost your mind, you probably wouldn’t know it and would feel fine, but i disagree. i’ve dealt with so many people with dementia and by and large, most of them are terrified. i think it’s because their malfunctioning minds have no idea who they are, where they are, why they’re there, who YOU are, what you’re doing to them, etc. if any sane person woke up not knowing those things, i’m sure they’d be just as fucked up over it.
if i ever reach that stage, i hope that the part of my brain that is talking right now will have completely shut down long before and be unable to register any of the fear and confusion. i hope that if i am terrified and confused, it’s just a primal, basic, reptilian aspect of my brain, like a body functioning on autopilot despite that fact that no one is actually at the helm.
at least in that case, no one would have to feel guilty about putting a bullet through what’s left of my enfeebled brain since i wouldn’t be in there anymore anyway.