Previous: Soft launching potato.
Next: It Wasn't Supposed to be Thanksgiving Yesterday



View count:182,476
Last sync:2024-02-03 14:30


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "Minus Its Charms." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 21 November 2023,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2023)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2023, November 21). Minus Its Charms [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2023)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "Minus Its Charms.", November 21, 2023, YouTube, 04:00,
In which John discusses mental health and his recent struggles.
The debt jubilee in honor of Casey McIntyre:

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
If you're in Canada, you can donate here:
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. So this is a video about mental illness. I think I'm going to do it in The Format actually.

So I've had a rough couple months. My OCD and anxiety have been really high and I've also had this lengthy bout of depression. It started about nine weeks ago amid really good news actually. Our community had this huge win. We helped encourage this company Danaher to lower the price of its tuberculosis tests which is gonna allow five million more people to be tested for TB every year. It's incredible. But when that news happened, I just--I felt nothing but dread. It was just this like terrible indescribable fear. In fact, the Indescribable is part of the problem, right, because that's part of what makes it so difficult to share or to feel unalone in. I can really only approach it through metaphor or simile. it felt like a blanket of dread just descended.

Honestly, I don't know what else there is to say about it. It just--it just kinda sucks. When I was in my 20s, there was some naive part of me that thought if I could just make it to middle age, all of this would be behind me and that hasn't turned out to be the case, but what is the case is that even when I can't feel it, I understand intellectually that this is temporary and that this isn't telling the full story of what it means to be a person in the world. And I know that if I just keep pursuing treatment, work with my doctor, take my medicine, move my body when I can, all that stuff, eventually, I will feel different. I do think I might be starting to get better. It's been a little better in last week. That's why I'm able to make a video at all but, uh, y'know there have been a lot of false dawns and you never know.

Speaking of which, let's get a check on the dawn. So it's, like, too gray and rainy for there to even be a visible dawn, which you know as a metaphor is a little bit on the nose. Susan Sontag described depression as, "Melancholy minus its charms," which I like a lot because first, it acknowledges the charms of melancholy, like, when you're driving alone at night, there's something sad about it but there's also something beautiful and lovely about it. Like, when I feel melancholic, there's something beautiful and rich and productive about it, whereas when I feel depressed, everything is stolen away except for the sadness and the weight on my chest.

I worry this video is gonna suck because, like, the thing that it's about sucks. It's just like a piano that's off-key playing one note over and over. Despair. Despair. Despair. But I have to reject the idea that that tells the whole story because it just doesn't. A young woman I knew a little, Casey McIntyre, just died of cancer. She was married to my friend Andrew Rose Gregory of the Gregory Brothers and she also worked for many years at the same publishing house where I published my books. Anyway, in lieu of like flowers at a memorial service or whatever, what she really wanted to do was erase people's medical debts. One of the many insanities of the U.S. healthcare system is that so many people are bankrupted just for being sick and so Casey wanted to have this like debt jubilee. And incredibly, people have raised enough money to cancel $50 million of medical debt over the last few days in Casey's memory. I'll put a link in the doobly-doo if you want to join us in donating but what a lovely way to remember someone and to take care of each other.

To be honest with you, sometimes I just hate the world. The hopelessness feels so complete but then think of all these people coming together to cancel $50 million in medical debt in memory of a lovely person. To me, that's the complex story of being a person. We cannot save those we love from suffering as much as we desperately want to. We cannot make life fair or just, but we can reach out to each other, help each other, cancel each other's debts. We can be careful of each other. As Philip Larkin put it, "We can be kind while there is still time."

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.