What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
There’s an incredibly moving post that Daisy sent around to the XO editors, linked to on Gawker as an example of “basic human kindness online," about a comedian writing a heartwrenchingly beautiful letter to help a suicidal fan. As Louis Peitzman says of why this so stood out on an often toxicity-filled Internet: “There are anonymous people willing to be decent and helpful to one another.”
As someone who suffers from depression and is friends with so many awesome people who also are attacked with bouts of “what the fuck is the point of anything anyway,” I decided to put together this list, reaching out to the editors here, reaching out to Twitter and Facebook: to develop a go-to, ever-growing resource of happiness, love, hilarity, silliness, pandas, movies, joy, humanity, and to help you to remember, it really does get better. Even if right now the feelings you are feeling are the absolute crushing worst. Sometimes it can take a while, and it doesn't always look like you imagine it will. But it does. I promise.
Please: If you are at all thinking about hurting yourself or having any kind of suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is 24/7, free and confidential. The number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Ironically, while I was putting this list together, I felt headache-splittingly alienated about everything. I felt so alone and sad and hopeless and tired and overwhelmed and scared and fearful and tapped dry. I thought, "Stupid fucking list. Stupid fucking everything. I have no one close to me in my life who I see every day in a devoted loving way, and I am fully alone in the universe and have no time to meet anyone, and it's all too much and..."
Paralyzed. Then I thought of stuff I had read on this list today as I put it together. But being kind to other people didn't snap me out of it. Music didn't snap me out of it. Cuddling next to my roommate's dog didn't snap me out of it. You know what finally did?
Thinking there might be someone who is reading this and who knows that I am right this very moment as I write this loving you so much, just unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Yes, I thought. I am lonely. Yes, I sometimes wish life were more straightforward and easy, but you are helping me by existing. You are giving me such a gift letting me love you right now.
(And always, getting appropriate medication and counseling is top of a to-do list about suicidal feelings or depression. I’m a huge fan of the Caron Institute for recommendations on good counselors in your area and as a wonderful support network in general. And please don't rule out medication like I did for most of my adult years. I find my life so much better on Zoloft, and it took me more than 30 years to consider the route. There are also so many awesome support groups that are life changing. If one sucks, it's OK. Go to the next one! That sucks, too? Cool. Maybe try another one. Maybe don't. Action steps are great, though. So give yourself that credit for even thinking about taking them. You're not alone, friend. I swear to God you are not.)
And while you’re waiting to get your first therapy appointment, maybe, just maybe, something from this list will remind you of stuff you like out there in this world.
1. “I think about being 15 and alone and know that nothing will ever be that hard again and that this will pass too. Also, I try to be as kind to myself as I would to my child or pet. And let friends come and feed me burritos.” -- Jane
2. “I really like Cheryl Rainfield's Reasons Not to Hurt Yourself, which is about self-harm but also applies to suicide: http://www.cherylrainfield.com/articleView.php?id=28. Also, Kittenwar. http://kittenwar.com/” --s.e.
4. “I've had bad times as a grown up but I've never been closer to killing myself than I was as a pre-teen (like 9ish or so). And what kept me alive at that point was, honestly and frankly, a slow-burning rage and a determination not to let anyone who'd be happier without me in the world win. Because FUCK THEM. I had a suicide prevention hotline accessible just in case I ever got too close to the edge, but it was there as a tool. My motivation really did come from the idea that if I could just wait things out, things would be different. This is different, I think, than the situation suicidal adults face -- when the part of the depression is this inescapable certainty that things are going to be the same forever and you will continue to be ground under the heel of life. I think it's because we tend to view 'grownup' as a static state -- we don't think about how fluid our identities continue to be. So, I don't know if that helps but, yeah, being pissed the fuck off is one of the things that has kept me alive to the ripe old age of 35. I don't have any pithy sayings or links. Just a whole lot of rage." –- Marianne
5. “Foie gras and champagne, bubble baths with gossip mags, that indescribable smell of late October, snow days, red velvet cake, when a stranger smiles at you for no reason at all, your team winning, 'Clueless,' 'Dazed and Confused,' 'My So-Called Life,' Paris Hilton's 'Stars Are Blind,' crisp cotton pajamas and a really good book, cheese and wine for dinner, cookies for breakfast, Saint Bernard puppies, people you can sit with in comfortable silence” -- Daisy
6. “For one thing, it's my own ambition/competitiveness. I hate the thought that somebody else is going to achieve my goals if I give up on them. On the day-to-day, Googling quotes from my favorite Pratchett books. This one in particular:
He smiled at Crowley.
“I’d just like to say,” he said, “if we don’t get out of this, that … I’ll have known, deep down inside,
that there was a spark of goodness in you.”
“That’s right,” said Crowley bitterly. “Make my day.”
Aziraphale held out his hand.
“Nice knowing you,” he said.
Crowley took it.
“Here’s to the next time,” he said. “And … Aziraphale?”
“Just remember I’ll have known that, deep down inside, you were just enough of a bastard to be worth liking.”
“I like to think that there's a spark of goodness in me (and everybody), but also that everyone's just enough of a bastard to be worth liking.” –- Kate
7. “Things that keep me going: Talking to my mom and dad and sister, my awesome psychiatrist, 'Downtown' by Petula Clark and 'Take A Chance On Me' by ABBA, they make me feel silly and stupid, things from my childhood because they remind me of my innocence an curiosity and make me want to return to that so ... Beatrix Potter books, the 'Chronicles of Narnia,' James Herriott books, taking baths and exercising, swimming (preferably in ocean but a pool works), taking myself out to dinner, walking in nature, looking at photos of my dog and my cat, animals in general. Also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcdkbcjTBoE&feature=youtube_gdata_player And um, medication!!” -- Hannah
8. “I hate to say that the Sneezing Panda video is what helped me out of a major depression (not suicidal, just lead weight on my heart and psyche) a few years back but yeah, I watched it about 75 times a day. Baby animal stuff in general is my happiness drug. Plus it's only like 12 seconds long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ZBcmcje_s&feature=youtube_gdata_player” -- Alison
9. “I find a lot of life-affirmation in the realm of entertainment:
• Videos of Maru, famous Japanese cat: http://www.youtube.com/user/mugumogu
• The music of Prince (like, late 70s-to-mid-80s Prince, especially the song "Controversy")
• That really pretty wordless film 'Baraka' http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103767/
• Big Bird singing about mistakes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHkymY6yKMg
11. “I always just think about all the stuff I want to eat and then stay alive so I can eat it.” -- Emily
12. “The puppy channel on YouTube!” -- Corynne
13. “COOKING!!! Gotta eat no matter what. Soups especially :)” -- Madeline
14. "This scene from 'Enlightened' (and the series as a whole but this scene in particular) always makes me happy cathartic I-am-not-alone weep in the best possible way, thinking about just how much love I have to give: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzaNfWF71qY" -- Mandy
15. “John Roberts' YouTube channel and anything Billy Eichner. 'CYNTHIA NIXON ON A CAMEL!!!! CYNTHIA NIXON ON A CAMEL!!!!'" -- Heather
16. “Watch Steve Martin 'King Tut' on YouTube.” -- Carrie
17. “Always this: http://whatshouldwecallme.tumblr.com” -- Amanda
18. “Nothing but creative writing, sleep and exercise.” -- Carl
20. “Talking to someone that cares about me. They don't even need to say "the right thing,' but just listening & knowing they love me.” -- Michelle
21. “Doing something nice for someone else.” -- Jeff
22. “Listening to showtunes!” -- Mark
23. “Marathon Season 1 of 'Veronica Mars,' or 'Firefly.' Doesn't make me less depressed so much as thoroughly distract me.” -- Sonya
24. “This encouragement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaIvk1cSyG8” -- Kate
25. “Changing the batteries in my vibrator: opting for highest setting.” -– Alex
26. “I wish it was laying in bed reading, but it's actually going out, taking walks, talking with people I genuinely like, good music.” –- Victoria
27. “When I was younger, books really helped pull me out of a depressed mood, but the older I get, I find my mood affects my ability to concentrate. Now, a good film does it or jazz. Also flirting with waitresses.” -– Shelby
28. “Sunshine. Vistas. Little kids. Puppies. Baseball. Reggae. Latin Jazz/Salsa. Marx Brothers movies. Being offline. Being onstage. Frank Sinatra music. Elvis movies. Louis CK. Helping someone. Listening to someone else's problems. My nieces and nephew. Also, a licensed therapist.” –- Adam
29. “For me: exercise, comedy podcasts up the wazoo, trying to make others laugh and watching crazy videos.” -- MJ
30. “I get in calm water & float in my boat. There's something about the rock & sway that causes my mind to go blank in a good way.” -– Suzanne
31. “I escape into my favorite books. Usually 'The Little Friend' by Donna Tartt, some Flannery O'Connor & some childhood favorites. And by 'childhood favorites' I mean rereading the entire Harry Potter series until I feel like a whole human being again.” -- Taylor
32. “Watch 'Princess Bride,' 'Sex and the City,' Jenna Marbles YouTube videos & eat lots of junk food. All with good friends.” -- Andi
33. “A fight between @KenMarino and @nickkroll.” -- Wayne
34. “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X12ikZML1Pw. And Napolean Dynamite Book; anything Iyanala Vanzant.” -- Emily
35. “Lil’ Kim.” –- Yvonne
36. “Eps of funny tv shows. Respite for 22-minute periods. Pretty sure 'Arrested Development' saved my life.” -- Jessica
37. “'Cinema Paradiso'…especially the finale.” –- Ron
38. “Joking with friends about suicidal depression! Talking to trees, getting advice from trees. Yoga. 'Power of Now.' This too shall pass. Talking gently to myself. Exploring the seeds of the darkness with wise people. Tara Brach podcasts. I can go on. I could write a book about spiraling upwards!” -- Kara
39. “Hilariousness :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FFQ_g8OoQM&feature=youtube_gdata_player” -- Richard
40. “Looking through http://damnyouautocorrect.com I always end up crying with laughter. But a few words with a loved one really helps too.” -- Julia
41. “I also enjoy eating my feelings in the form of delicious 'comfort food' that sits in my stomach like a rock afterwards. (Which for me means Foodswings.)” -- Jamie
42. “Green tea. No pants. Getting stuff done. Road trip.” -- Jeffrey
43. “Maru videos. The Princess Bride. Ratatat (band). Re-reading a favorite book. Putting on makeup. A friend letting me cry. Also, quotes about recovery from Stephen Fry and other famous people who've struggled and come through.” -- Penny
44. “Extreme amounts of chocolate, poetry by Anne Sexton and anything of or pertaining to Italy.” -- Cari
45. “Homestarrunner.com vids. Also 'Knight Rider.' -- Nyssa
46. “This song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-vqTBS7Hwc” -- Don
47. “Richard Brautigan, Jack Kerouac and Xanax.” -- Savannah
48. “Michael Connelly books. My dog is the only thing to cheer me up. Laughing babies on YouTube is fun too. Best distraction for me is teaching myself something new on the computer.” -- Ro
49. “Old Bert and Ernie sketches from Sesame Street always put me in a better mood!” -- Amanda
50. “Tons of Tom Waits, the darker and clangier, the better ('Bone Machine' works best). Also talking to my son, Charles Dickens, chocolate, feeding the homeless, writing music, teaching music, hearing someone tell me that they love me, telling someone I love them. (That's the best of all.)” -- Julia
Everyone reading this, please share. Spread the wealth of joy. What do you suggest that saves your life and your sanity and your soul again and again and again? Music? Movies? Books? Speeches? Animal videos? Let’s make this an awesome resource of stay-alive, we-love-you-so-much joy.
What a gift that is -- to all of us.
You can subscribe to Mandy's free podcast at http://bit.ly/newswhore.