"There were some really difficult years. I didn't want to admit it at the time."

"Really? I had no idea."

"I think I hid it pretty well. We were taught the right thing to do was to never let it get us down right?"

"True, we're working on that."

"I knew then how I was supposed to deal with it but still couldn't. I just pretended like it was under control."

"You never mentioned anything."

"I guess I didn't want to look like someone who was failing no matter how hard I tried."

"You seem to be much better now."

"I still fight it. On the surface, it's mostly gone. But I'm still chased by fear."

"It's hard to imagine you afraid."

"I put up a good act."

"And you're helping people, people in situations like what you went through."

"It's not enough. I'm honored and thankful I'm in a better position to help, but the decay just attacks in different forms. I feel so fake, acting like I know the answers, while still spending so much time running."

"You're well enough to help others. That counts for something."

"It's easier now than my darker years. But I worry it's just short-term relief. That it's useless in the long run."

"Don't short-change yourself. It's still important even if it doesn't last. Until we have a cure, we can only try to survive until the last battle is won."

"I'm not sure I'm a whole lot better. I question my own competency all the time."

"Look, a lot of us fight this too. You do it your own way, and until we find a better way, we keep doing what has worked. I think you've been doing great, considering the alternatives."

The decay was going into its 40th year, longer than I had been alive. It wasn't until only recently that it became an important issue. 40 years ago, nobody thought much of it and let it go mostly unchecked.

It only became a serious problem during my generation, something not many of us had spent much time thinking about. Yet we would have to change so much if we didn't want it to consume everything we held dear. My years fighting some of the worst of it helped make me stronger, but that didn't mean it wasn't still a struggle to find my way through its maze.

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