Category Archives: depression

Jackie’s Foolproof Process for Furniture Assembly and Losing Your Soul

Occasionally, despite my college education and now 31+ years of experience living as a Human on the Planet Earth, I make a Life Errorso gargantuan that it shakes the very fiber of my being and makes me doubt whether I am worthy of success, happiness, or love.

I order self-assembly furniture online.

I know, I know, but it wasn’t my fault! I am A WRITER, DAMN IT, and writers need desks. I could write while sitting at my kitchen table, but it’s cold in the kitchen. I can also go to a coffee shop, but a coffee is two bucks MINIMUM and it’s much cheaper to just make coffee at home. The obvious solution was a small-ish desk that fits into the bay window nook in my warm-ish bedroom with the cheap homemade coffee only feet away!

So I went on Wayfair and ordered a desk. Five days later, the desk arrived. And thus began my descent to the ninth level of hell, where I joined Brutus, Judas, and…Cassius (is he the third guy? too lazy to google) in being chewed in the giant maw of Satan.

The process began auspiciously when the FedEx guy cheerfully offered to haul the giant desk-containing box up three floors to my apartment. I immediately set out to assemble the desk, whereby I rediscovered Jackie’s Foolproof Process for Furniture Assembly and Losing Your Soul:

  1. Using a knife, cut through the tape along the edges of the box.
  2. Attempt to open box, and discover that there are apparently three more layers of taped-up cardboard between you and the desk.
  3. Hack through these layers while dripping sweat everywhere. Finally remove all the cardboard to discover the furniture is encased in a sarcophagus of styrofoam, which is all stuck together with a kind of tape that is probably used to seal airlocks on the International Space Station.
  4. Hack at the styrofoam, getting bits of it all over your apartment and inhaling a good 20% of it into your lungs.
  5. After 30 minutes of chopping at styrofoam, reveal the desk. Take a water and stretch break and realize that if you can’t open a box without getting breathless that you might want to sign up for the gym.
  6. Using the included mini toolkit, attach the four legs to the desk. Easy peasy! You’re 90% done- the last step is attach the knobs to the two little drawers that are built into the desk.
  7. You go to pull out the drawer. The drawer falls apart in your hand:wp-1452825930873.jpg 
  8. Ok, you can fix it! Get out your hammer and nails to see if you can cobble the drawer back together.
  10. Breathe through the pain, breathe through it. Ok. You’ve got this.
  11. Go down the block to the local hardware store and buy superglue. Return home, glue the drawer back together, let it set for 20 minutes per instructions. Huzzah! It looks great! YOU ARE A GODDESS!
  12. Lightly touch the drawer with one finger to test the strength of the superglue. The drawer explodes.
  13. A single tear escapes your right eye. You remove the drawer and put the desk right-side up. The desk leg lands awkwardly and stubs your right toe.
  15. Call your mom, who is bewildered but manages to calm you down.
  16. Ashamed at your outburst, you try to go online to request replacement drawers for your desk, only to discover that the new Comcast set-top box that Infinity made you install earlier that day has DESTROYED THE INTERNET and the only network in range is called “We Can Hear You Have Sex” but it’s fucking PASSWORD PROTECTED.
  17. Cry.
  18. Remember that your phone has internet, and use that to request the parts. Ok, they’ll be here in a few days. It’s all good.
  19. Go out to a friend’s open bar birthday party to destress and consume three of these:
    Yeah, that’s a shot that gets poured into it in addition to the rum.


  20. Go home and vomit up everything you ever ate or drank, but because you’re an IDIOT you throw up in the shower and not the toilet, and so when you wake up at 3 am and go in the bathroom you discover that you have to clean up a hell of a mess. You go back to bed and at 6 am you clean up and hydrate and go to the laundromat when it opens to wash your vomity clothes. Call Comcast, fix the internet, and wait for your replacement drawers as you recover your dignity.
  21. A few days later, the drawers arrive, in perfect condition! You replace them and the desk looks GREAT! HUZZAH! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOOOOORRRLD! wp-1453430169027.jpg
  22. Decide to take a walk to celebrate. Pull out your headphones so you can listen to some TUNEZ while you traipse through the park.
  23. FUCK
Ain’t it always the way?



Last. Self-assembly. Desk. Ever.

The Thirty-First Year of the Jackie

So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).

Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.

This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby!  What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”

I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.

This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.

What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.

I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.

I experienced the love of my family, and the grief of saying goodbye to a family member, albeit a furry one. I also experienced the excitement of welcoming a new love into my life, though this created drama with my old love, which was iced coffee (sorry bae).

I experienced the stress and exhilaration of travel, from people-watching the crazy costume-clad nerds of San Diego Comic Con to getting knocked up by food in Florence and trudging through the rain in Paris in super ugly shoes and seeing Britney dance way worse than when I saw her on tour when I was sixteen.

I witnessed two amazing couples get married on opposite-ish sides of the country and cried my eyes out both times because I AM A SAP, OK?

I experienced breakdowns and bad nights, and discovered new coping mechanisms to pick myself up when I fall or when the world seems too much to handle.

In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.

So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂


The Birthday Girl



Visualizing Utopia

I took an involuntary blogging hiatus over Thanksgiving due to the DeathColdwhich laid me out flat for a good eight days; I’m still hacking up phlegm on an hourly basis (you’re welcome for the mental image).

As a return to blogging post-DeathCold, I was going to do a beauty post with my recommendations from my latest Allure Beauty Box, but I couldn’t because my mind is still spinning from the latest high-profile incidence of domestic terrorism that took place on Black Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs as well as the revelations regarding Laquan McDonald’s murder at the hands of police last year, among, as usual, other horrific things.  Hell, as I’m typing this, my Twitter feed is telling me that there is a mass shooting incident ONGOING in San Bernardino with as many as 20 injuries possibly reported (Update as I finish this article: 12 dead possibly. My God.)

I’m so, so, so tired of this. Exhausted, in fact. Aren’t we all?

I’m so tired of the culture of violence, especially against women, children, people of color, and the poor. Tired of the racism and Islamophobia. Tired of the unwillingness of so many people to see that things need to change, from rape culture to reasonable, commonsense restrictions on gun ownership and use (BTW, if you want to post a comment here on how gun violence is solely a mental illness issue vs. gun availability, please just don’t. As a mentally ill person myself, you’re not gonna convince me and I’m sure I won’t convince you. Feel free to ignore this post and go find someone else to talk to about it; the internet should have plenty of safe spaces for that. Thanks in advance.).

I feel like I do what I can, you know? A lot of you feel that way, too, I bet. We donate money to causes we believe in, support and vote for candidates to public office who we hope will be able effect positive change. And yet, it still feels like nothing gets better. Part of this, I know, is due to the fact that we have access to news of horrible events 24/7 thanks to social media. Awful things have always happened, but now we hear of them more often, with video and audio recordings of the carnage as it happens to bring the horror even closer to home.

So what do we do? What do I do, not just to make the world a better place, but to keep myself sane? Other than continue to donate money and vote and speak out where I can, I’ve had to rely more and more these days on a super-lame-sounding but effective technique to keep myself going: visualization.

About a month ago, I read the fantastic book The Feminist Utopia Project, which is a collection of about sixty stories, cartoons, interviews, fake news articles, etc. imagining a better future, courtesy of dozens of feminist thinkers in many fields. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not that big into feminism. Reading this book gave me a new tool to deal with the horror of the everyday world: visualizing utopia.

When things get awful, like they are getting right now in San Bernardino as well as in thousands of places around the world, I try to take a breath and imagine that fifty or one hundred or two hundred years from now, those who come after me (or maybe even me, if I’m lucky) will see a world that is measurably better than this one. One where the term “mass shooting” is only discussed in history class, the way we discuss the Spanish Inquisition today. A world where we take care of our planet instead of treating it like a disposable coffee cup. A world where no one’s life is better or worse than anyone else’s simply because of their gender identity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or where they live in on the map. A world where religion, if it exists at all, is ONLY a source of peace and inner strength for believers and a cause for generosity and love rather than an excuse for hatred. A world without violence. A world where gun control is a non-issue because no one feels like they would ever even need a gun to protect themselves. A world where a woman can go for a run in the park at 3 am with no worry for her safety. A world where no one is homeless. A world where no one is hungry. A world where fewer people are sick, and those who are receive free, top-quality care from medical personnel who are caring and well-treated themselves. A world where there are no borders, and people pass freely from one place to another, sure of hospitality and interest and love wherever they go. A world where I spend every day cuddling with doggies.*  In a word, utopia.

Today especially, we are really, really far off from that world. As it seems to do every couple of days, my heart is breaking for a new group of victims of violence as I type this. I don’t want to become desensitized to it, but I want to believe that things can be better. I want to believe in my utopia. I choose to believe in it today, and I actively wish for it. If the holiday season brings anything good with it, any sort of power, let it be the power to bring humanity closer to this utopia, or any version of it. I’m visualizing, hard. I hope you can take a moment today to visualize it, too. If enough of us do, it can only soothe our souls and bring us closer to making it a reality.

Peace. And I promise, back to beauty posts and funnier shit later this week.

*Ok, this one is a little selfish, but, come on, what is Utopia without doggies?

Roxie would definitely be part of Utopia.




Paris, je t’aime


Sappiness Warning: this post is sappy but I am sappy so yeah.

Last week was pretty terrible.  On top of ISIS The First Evil’s attacks in Beirut and Iraq, earthquakes in Japan, the continuing Syrian refugee crisis, general racism, and a million other awful shitty things I am no doubt forgetting, there was Paris.

Paris is one of my favorite places in the world.  I returned there for the first time since college this past August, when I was overjoyed to introduce one of my best friends to the city where I first discovered the joy of cheese for dessert (and lunch, and a snack, and breakfast).  Paris is the subject of more than half of the “artwork” pieces “decorating” my lame apartment.  It’s where I spent more evenings than I care to admit drinking two euro wine next to a dirty canal while various Frenchmen asked me if I was Mexican(?).  It’s where I fell sleep on the bus after a night of clubbing and ended up stranded in the suburbs at 3 am in a skimpy dress and heels higher than any I’ve worn since the age of twenty.  It’s where I got the news that a friend had died in an accident and cried my eyes out in a café at the thought missing her funeral while the usually stuffy waitstaff looked on sympathetically.  It’s where I learned to be an adult.  It’s where I first understood that I am a citizen of both the United States and the world. Seeing Paris under siege for hours on TV Friday night left me paralyzed for a good 24 hours.

None of this is different from what anyone else who loves Paris (or Beirut, or New York, or any other place ravaged by terrorism) has said or written before, but I just had to get it out, here and, as it turns out, on paper.  A new piece of (extremely lame) “artwork” now adorns the walls of my (extremely lame) apartment, in honor of the city that helped me grow up.  Paris, je t’aime.  Mon coeur est à toi pour toujours.



The Power of the Doodle

I had a great weekend.  On Saturday, I worked on NaNoWriMo and followed it up with a fantastic evening complete with Thai food, wine, friends, and Mad Men.  Then, yesterday, a friend visiting from out of town and I took the Caltrain down to South Bay to see our other friend’s (too adorable to exist) new baby.  Finally, last night I started knitting a new sparkly scarf and decided to re-watch a couple of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls before conking out for NINE UNINTERRUPTED (HUZZAH!) HOURS OF SLEEP!  It was a fantastic weekend, full of friends and activities and fun and personal time.

It was also the weekend containing one of the worst breakdowns I’ve had in recent memory.

From about 11 to 2 am from Saturday night into Sunday morning, I cried uncontrollably and felt like a horrible, worthless, bad, evil person.  The demon voice in my head was at full volume.  I’m not sure why I lost it so hard.  It’s likely that the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine I drank had something to do with it (note to self–when your brain chemistry is already effed up and making you clinically depressed, do not consume additional substances that are known depressants), but I know it’s also likely the effect of the season and the upcoming holidays.  November and December are two of the best and worst months of the year.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas in general, but I hate the pressure to enjoy food and drink without gaining weight (ha! hahaha!) and the societal expectation that I have a significant other to share all the festivities with (whether or not I want to be coupled at present).  I love the decorations and lights, but hate the fact that the sun sets IN FREAKING CALIFORNIA at 4:45 pm, which makes me want to vomit endlessly and also live inside a giant onesie until March.  As Dickens said, it is a good and bad epoch at the same time (I think that’s what he said…ish?  I’m paraphrasing.  I haven’t read that one since high school because I have an aversion to stories depicting decapitation).

The point is, I had a really bad night of weeping and dark thoughts.  I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, but it was too late to call friends or family without being exceptionally rude.  So I had what turned out to be a good idea: I went online to my favorite website’s Saturday Night Social open thread, where a wonderful poster gave me the following advice:

If you’re at a loss for something to do tonight, while you’re in this dark place, create something beautiful. A painting, a sketch, or (as a friend of mine who battles self-harm herself does) use markers to draw beautiful designs wherever you’re tempted to harm. Make beauty there.

I read this person’s post and immediately went to my “Crafts” box (yep, I have a crafts box because I AM IN MY THIRTIES AND LIKE TO MAKE HOMEMADE GREETING CARDS SOMETIMES OK?) and dug out my markers and colored pencils, and I drew this:


It took about 30 minutes to make, and it’s obviously not, you know, good*.  But in those thirty minutes, I stopped crying.  I also had some fun.  I explored, uh, symmetry (is that a thing you can explore, art people?  You know what, I’m just going to say it is.  Go symmetry!).  Best of all, after finishing my doodle I was able to curl up in my bed and finally fall asleep so I could spend the following day with my friends and one hella cute baby without passing out.

So it was still was a great weekend despite the breakdown–not just because of my great friends and fun activities (and in spite of too much wine), but because I discovered a new tool to dig myself out of a tough spot.  I discovered the Power of the Doodle as yet one more way for me to manage my often unruly brain.  All Hail the Doodle!

Have a great rest of the week, and stay strong through those early sunsets 🙂

*So, art people, if you actually do think this is good in some sort of avant-garde way please let me know so I can sell it for one million american dollars.  That’s how art works, right?  RIGHT? 

How to remain sane in a crazy world

I haven’t blogged in over a week, and there are several reasons for this:

  1. I became engaged to Iced Coffee and have been spending a lot of time planning our wedding (wedding planning is no joke, especially when your fiancé is a chilled caffeinated beverage and also SO EFFING NEEDY AND YES HONEY THE WEDDING WILL BE IN A REFRIGERATED ENVIRONMENT CHILL OUT – WELL, CHILL OUT MORE, OK?).

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.26.22 PM2.  I had like actual editing/writing things to do which took actual time because I AM A PROFESSIONAL WRITER NOW OK?

3.  I may or may not have started reading Twilight Reimagined and then cried because I spent twelve bucks on a CTRL-F name/gender replacement of a book I didn’t like too much to begin with it because I thought it might be mildly interesting, and, you know, an actual new, original book (Lies.  All lies).

4.  The world SUCKS.

This last one has been the biggest reason for my radio silence.

Murder, rape, bigotry, mayhem, climate change, gross pictures of Justin Bieber’s naked body – these are just some of the atrocities we are bombarded with on TV, in the newspaper, and on the internet on a daily basis.  However, the shooting last week in Roseburg, Oregon kicked off such a week of complete and utter world stress shit that it shut me down, including but not limited to: the Kunduz bombing, presidential candidates saying more ridiculous shit about how victims of gun violence are somehow at fault for their own deaths (?), that new Muppets show, and another TWO school shootings in the last two days alone.

So I did what you sometimes have to do to remain sane in a crazy world: I hid.  I hid in work, and long walks, and HGTV (David won on Love It or List It and it was NOT OK), and long talks with my mother on the phone, and even in that new Twilight book (seriously, though, guys, just don’t buy it).  And all of that was ok, because it made me more ready to face the world again.

So I decided today was the day to jump back in, starting with this post.  Ironically, I found out from Twitter that today, my day of jumping back in, is actually designated as World Mental Health Day.  What a great day to acknowledge that I needed a break from this imperfect, stressful, often sick world, and that there’s no shame in that.  What a great day to remember the things I’m grateful for – things like family, and friends, and my new fiancé Iced Coffee (love you bae), and humor, and art, and all the people who work so hard to fix everything wrong with the world.  What a great day to celebrate the necessity and beauty of self-care.  What a great day to remember that I’m not alone.  What a great day to go get some more iced coffee.

I wish for you, dear reader, the ability and time to step away from the world when you need to, so that you can rejoin it stronger and ready to help make it better in your own way 🙂 ❤

Fall and SADness: When the SAD Pumpkin Gets You Down

sad pumpkin

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE Fall.  There’s a perky chill in the air, everything has pumpkin spice in it (even those things that really, REALLY shouldn’t have pumpkin spice in them), HALLOWEEEEEEENNN!  It’s a time for apple picking, and haunted hayrides, and sweatshirts.  Unfortunately, it can also be a time for depression.

Most people have heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It can really suck.  It can especially suck if you have baseline depression that you’re already managing with medication and therapy, because it’s like an extra depression garnish your body decides to add on to the soup bowl of your general malaise.

sad soup
The green stuff is SAD, in case you didn’t get the metaphor.  The soup is general depression.  This soup actually looks pretty good.  Now I want soup, but I don’t have any 😦

I generally don’t get SAD until the holidays/January (which is also my birthday), but for some reason I’ve been feeling a bit of it these last two weeks.  Part of it was being SO COMPLETELY ILL with an awful stomach flu last week, but today, which was a rainy (which is actually great as we’re in a drought) and chilly day in San Francisco, seemed to sap the energy out of me and make me an irritable, anxious mess.  It was hard to get out of bed or force myself to be productive.  Today, I doubt EVERYTHING I do and every decision I make, from my writing to social engagements to what to eat for lunch.  The demon voice in the back of my head telling me that I am a useless failure who is most definitely going to die alone in a pumpkin spice-colored van down by the river is piping up more than usual.

Now, I KNOW that I am NOT a useless failure.  I KNOW that while I maybe didn’t exactly need those chips with my sandwich yesterday, I am not a disgusting blob person who deserves to die alone.  I KNOW that I am making progress with writing and other professional endeavors.  But the SAD Pumpkin of Fall is trying to make me forget what I know.

I’m going to monitor things over the next couple of days, and if I need extra help I’ll ask for it.  I’m going to try to exercise every day, structure my work time more efficiently, and eat well and do fun things to try to stave off the SAD Pumpkin.

I’m sure there are many of you out there dealing with the same thing, and I wish you luck – and remember, when the SAD Pumpkin gets you down, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, family, medical professionals, therapists, or even (ha!) the internet.  It’s not something we have to go through without support – just because it’s seasonal doesn’t mean it’s something we just have to put up with until days start lengthening again in the New Year.

Love you all, and remember – the SAD Pumpkin always rots, if he’s not smashed to death by neighborhood punks in the dead of night – so keep truckin’!

smashed pumpkin
Bye, SAD Pumpkin!

Darkness lifting

Nine months ago I was in a really bad place.  A place where I, not for the first time, had horribly dark thoughts about my worth as a human being and whether or not I was worth living on this planet.

I sought help from my doctor, therapist, friends, and family, and made some big life changes, and I’m in a much better place now.

However, the last few days, I was sick with the flu and, as so often happens when my body is ill, my mind’s illness, which is always humming along in the background, emerged from the compartment of my mind where it lives when it’s not running the show and tried to take over.  I binge-watched Netflix without paying attention to a single line of dialogue; I cried; I called my mom twice a day.  I took a nap when I otherwise might have been productive or social.  And, as my body has healed and my sleep deficit has been corrected, I can feel the darkness lifting.  The little demon is going back into his compartment – for now – and I’m in a better place.

If you’re out there and you are suffering or have ever been suffering from that voice that tells you all sorts of hopeless, terrible things, please know that you’re not alone and that you are loved and wanted and worthwhile because depression lies.  And if you need them, please use the resources below – I’ve used them myself, and they truly help.

1 (800) 273-8255: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish
I wish anyone reading this peace, light and love.  And, when it’s needed, a margarita.

My family dog is dying and it sucks

So I started to type some witty blog post about kitchen stores and why I love them (they are great, don’t get me wrong), but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it.  My family dog, Jazzy, is dying, and it sucks and I can’t concentrate on much else.

I wrote about her before, back when I was visiting my family in NH in June.  I’d found some cancerous tumors on her and she ended up having surgery to remove them.  The surgery was for naught, however, as we found more tumors only days after the procedure, and now she has more than we can count, including one huge ugly one on the underside of her right foreleg that bleeds pretty much continuously (sorry I know that’s gross).

She still eats and drinks and wanders outside and likes to cuddle, but she only has weeks left, at most.  I’m back in NH to dog sit for her while my parents go on a vacation that was long-planned and couldn’t be canceled, and while I’m grateful for the time with her, I’m also just depressed.  I hate that she is cancer-ridden and dying, even though she has lived a very long life and I don’t want her to suffer.  If I have to put her down in the next couple of weeks while my parents are gone, I will – I won’t let her be in pain (right now she’s just fatigued).  But it just completely and utterly sucks.

When Jazzy passes away, a part of my childhood will die with her.  I still consider her my childhood pet, even though I was halfway through high school when we got her.  She’s brought so much joy and love to our lives.  I think pets are so beloved to humans because they truly provide us with unconditional love.  They don’t care if we’re in a bad mood, or if we gained ten pounds, or if our makeup is smudged, or if we snap at them; they love us fiercely all the time, no matter what we do or how we look.  Jazzy has spent her whole life loving – she loves me and my brother and my parents, and the grass, and the snow, and the wind, and her toys, and the world.  She loves sleeping and eating and playing and snuggling and pressing up against our legs so she can be close to us and we can pet her more easily.  She isn’t capable of meanness; I can count on one hand the number of times she’s ever snapped at another animal or human (they were all instances of self-defense).  If more humans approached life the way Jazzy does, the world would be a calmer, happier, and more peaceful place.  With lots and lots of treats, of course.

I’m sorry for the depressing post, and I know some people might say that I’m too caught up in my feelings over a dog, but I don’t care – she’s what’s occupying my thoughts these days, and so I’m sharing that here.  If you have a fur baby, please hug him or her for Jazzy in the next few days and spread the love. ❤

I’m sad…are you mad at me? (Subtitle: how ‘Inside Out’ hit me in the feels)

*Spoiler Alert* Plot details from Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out abound below, so don’t read unless you have seen the movie or don’t care about being spoiled.

Guys, I saw Inside Out this weekend and it might be one of my favorite movies of all time – and not just because it hit me right in the gut, emotionally – it’s also funny, visually stunning, and features some remarkable vocal performances.  But from a personal standpoint, if you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks, you know I’ve been posting about different pieces of me and how I manage them (or how they sometimes manage me).  There’s my Personal Demon, who likes to yell at me for, well, everything.  There’s Awesome Girl, the confident piece of me that I’m trying to recapture from my childhood, bit by bit.  And then there’s The Blob, who makes anxiety his special purview.  I developed these images and classifications for the different pieces of myself in therapy, and they’ve been a tremendous help as I work through my (many) issues, so you can imagine a film that uses characters to personify the primary emotions in a little girl’s head would strike a chord with me.

The story revolves around the anthropomorphized emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear who reside in the “Headquarters” of a ten-year-old little girl’s (Riley) head.  When Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, the subsequent upheaval in her life (any San Fran resident can attest to this – crappy, overpriced housing and broccoli-covered pizza are indeed two of our less endearing aspects as a city), causing Joy (who has been the HBIC most of Riley’s life) to get lost in the deeper parts of Riley’s brain, along with Sadness.  As they make their way back to headquarters and Riley slips into a numb depression as the result of Anger, Disgust, and Fear’s well-intentioned but misguided attempts to right the ship, Joy comes to the stunning realization that she is not what Riley needs to adjust to her new life – she needs Sadness.  When they make it back to Headquarters and Sadness allows Riley to cry and tell her parents, who have always referred to her as their “Happy Girl”, how she’s really feeling, the truly heartbreaking moment comes.  After revealing with tears in her eyes that she misses her old home, her friends, and her school, she asks her parents: “Are you mad?”

This is where I lost it.  I didn’t stop crying the rest of the film, and am tearing up a bit as I type this.  If you’ve ever suffered from depression, I’m betting you leaked a few tears at this scene, too.

The worst parts of depression are the fear and guilt that accompany your sadness – the fear that people will be mad at you for feeling down, for hating yourself, for wanting to hurt yourself, and the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way, that you are wrong, that you should just be able to snap out of it and not bother anyone else with your feelings.  So what do you do?  You try to go numb.  You block everything out, because it’s better, you figure, to have no emotions at all than to experience (or even worse, show) your sadness.  If you show it, people might be mad.

Here’s the thing, though, that I’ve discovered after years of therapy and self-exploration: people are almost never mad that you’re sad.  They might be sad that you’re sad, or worried, and that might lead them to say or do the “wrong” thing, but they aren’t mad at you.  People who love you – your friends, family, significant others – they will never be “mad” at you for showing how you really feel, even if how you really feel isn’t filled with joy and gratitude for the glories of life and the universe.  And if they are angry because you are sad, then there is something really, really wrong with them – not with you.  I’ve learned this through my family, who’ve supported me through years of depression and suicidal bouts.  I’ve learned this from my wonderful friends, who love me and are nice to me even when I lose my shit in a bar over a work email and actually, physically, hit myself in the head (0/10 would not recommend this strategy).  I’ve learned this from the internet, where people have responded to me writing about real emotions on this blog over the past few weeks with empathy and friendship and humor.

Of course, the tough thing about depression (and being human) is that you can never learn life’s key lessons too many times – your confidence in them waxes and wanes depending on the circumstances and your brain chemistry.  So for me, the moment in the film when Riley’s parents tell her that of course they’re not mad, and then share their own sadness at leaving their new home, hit me right in the feels (as they say on the interwebz).  With this scene, Inside Out validated a truth that should be obvious but that many people (those who suffer from mental illness, especially) struggle with recognizing every day: you cannot have joy without sadness, and you are not wrong for being sad.  Sadness is human, sadness is healthy, and sadness is a part of you.  Denying it, pushing it down into the depths of your brain and soul, will only hurt you in the end.  When you cry, you’re showing other people that sadness, and that’s ok, too – crying is healthy and can often lead to you getting help you need, whether it’s with a major depression, huge life stressors, or a tough breakup.

To that end, I want to share the drawing of my own “Sadness” character, who I drew about a month ago.

Hello, I shop at Hot Topic
Hello, I shop at Hot Topic

I still struggle with this character – honestly, I’ve probably worked with her the least.  But Emo Jackie (lol) is just as important to me as Phyllis Smith’s (fantastic performance btw) Sadness is to Riley.  She has an important job to do, and Inside Out was a beautiful and wonderful reminder of that fact.

Go see it if you haven’t already, and remember that your sadness, whatever he or she looks like, is a part of you.  Treat that part with love.