Happy Things That Make Me Sad and Sad Things That Make Me Happy

Shopping malls, neglected animals and horror crap -- am I alone in this madness?
Publish date:
November 9, 2013
life, depression, stuff, happy things, sad things

Last week I interviewed actress and all-around awesome human Mariel Hemingway about depression (she's in a new documentary, "Running From Crazy," about her famous family's history of mental illness). During our chat, she talked about how, in the past, her depression manifested as a near-inability to drag herself through the day -- even one full of "easy" little tasks that, to other people, seem like totally NBD. You know, simple shit like putting gas in your car, or making a doctor's appointment, or calling your aunt back.

That resonated with me, because one of the bigger issues I've struggled with, when my depression has been especially awf, is exactly what Hemingway said: mustering the drive, gumption and wherewithal to get through a regular day full of seemingly endless banal everyday chores (ones that seem almost laughably painless, though irritating, to "normal" people).

When you're depressed, everything feels wrong, somehow upside-down. Things that are supposed to make you happy (like picnics! or a lunch date with your oldest childhood friend!) just ... don't. They fall flat; sometimes they can even make you feel worse. And sometimes the things that typically make you feel sad/morose/shitty don't translate, either -- instead, they can actually make you feel strangely ... good, or at least a little bit better. It's like your entire emotional equilibrium has been run through the washing machine before being cavalierly tossed off a 10-story building. FUNS!On that note, I made this list of things that are generally considered good/positive/happy/awesome but that, to my skewed-ass noggin, can -- especially when depressed -- translate to anything but. I also made a list of things that are usually considered crappy that, to me, feel good/happy/totes fine. Do you experience any of this?

HAPPY THINGS THAT (SOMETIMES) MAKE ME SAD:1. Other people falling in love (I may be a jealous bitch, but I'm not evil; of course I'm happy for my friends when they find love. But I can't lie, there may be a twinge of sadness for myself in there, too)2. Other people getting engaged/married (see above)3. Other people having children (sorry, this is getting stale, even to me; plus, I don't even know if I WANT kids)4. Animals being saved from abuse/neglect/abandonment. Obviously I'm psyched when critters get a second chance at a decent life (I got all three of my beloved pets from rescues). But the fact that ANY animals had to endure abuse or torture or neglect makes me want to stuff my face in a vacuum cleaner and leave it there. How could anyone, anywhere, EVER, under any circumstance, purposefully inflict harm on a defenseless creature? (Often a defenseless creature with WHISKERS, to boot!?) 5. The suburbs. I realize that not everyone finds them "happy;" I also realize my disdain for suburbs might sound snobby or cliche. But, depending on the location in question, it's more than just distaste -- I have an intense, almost visceral reaction to entering certain subs; I start feeling suffocated, and all-around creeped the f*ck out, the second I set foot in a town like Vienna, VA (a particularly colorless, cultureless suburb of DC). It's just my deal.SAD THINGS THAT (USUALLY) MAKE ME HAPPY:1. Shopping malls. I love malls in the most major of ways. Instantly upon entering one, I feel safe and cozy and serene, like I'm ensconced in a protective little bubble of frills and perfumes and pretty things that will make it all better. I love the sterile smell, and the cheesy music, and the blatant, bright-eyed confetti of consumerism. Forgive.2. Depressing-ass music. This is a no-brainer for depressive sorts. I've already endlessly extolled about my love for miserable music with dark, dolorous lyrics. I like it because it makes me feel less alone, OK? Nothing wrong with that.3. Gore and horror. (On TV, in books and in movies, of course.) Horror stuff gives me a rush of adrenaline that otherwise seems missing from my generally meh little life. 4. Serial killer stuff -- books, letters, TV specials, all of it. It's fascinating, right? Also it really helps me appreciate the good stuff I DO have when I remember that UMMMMM, I COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED BY TED BUNDY. Shit could have turned out a LOT worse for me.5. Chain restaurants. This goes hand-in-hand with the shopping malls thing. I realize chain restaurants are kind of gross. I know they tend to drive out mom-and-pop restaurants, and I know their menus are all the same. But I actually kinda like that about them, because, again, safety feels.

What "happy" things make you feel icky, and vice versa? Please share!

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