Bruce Springsteen sums up 30-year depression battle with car metaphor

If you've ever struggled with how to explain chronic depression to those without firsthand knowledge of the illness, Bruce Springsteen has an explanation. And it couldn't sound more Springsteen-y if he tried.

“One of the points I’m making in the book is that, whoever you’ve been and wherever you’ve been, it never leaves you,” he says in Vanity Fair's October cover story. “I always picture it as a car. All yourselves are in it. And a new self can get in, but the old selves can’t ever get out. The important thing is, who’s got their hands on the wheel at any given moment?”

He's referring to his memoir Born to Run, due out on Sept. 27, just four days after he turns 67.

The problem for Springsteen is that he had to wrestle for control of the wheel with the version of himself that was torn up about his relationship with his father Doug, who had a family history of mental illness.

The rock icon, who has been treated with talk therapy and antidepressants, worries that his own depression will become unmanageable like his father's: “You don’t know the illness’s parameters,” he said. “Can I get sick enough to where I become a lot more like my father than I thought I might?”

But he's actually done a good job of disguising his own down periods from fans and even his E Street bandmates, continuing to record and tour, admitting he's had two bad years in this decade alone and that 2012's Wrecking Ball was written at such a point.

Springsteen says Patti Scialfa, his bandmate and wife of 25 years, has learned to recognize the signs of an impending depression, which she likens to a freight train "quickly running out of track." Though she's not completely comfortable with that part of his book, ultimately, she feels writing about depression has been cathartic for him. "A lot of his work comes from him trying to overcome that part of himself," she says

USA Today


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