44,965 people in the U.S. take their own lives and for every suicide, there are 25 attempts.
The rates of suicide in the United States have dramatically increased since 1999. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, it’s the tenth leading cause of death in America.
I’m not sure about a lot of things in this world, but I’m certain about this: Not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. In fact, ignoring the terrifying monsters that haunt us only makes them stronger. I’ve lost way too many friends to suicide. I too have been so paralyzed by the weight of a debilitating depression that it felt too painful to stay alive. Depression is real. Confronting the demon is the only way to overcome the beast tormenting us when we can’t sleep at night. Which is why National Suicide Prevention Week (September 9th to 15th) is so vitally important. It shines a black light on this issue that our society would rather leave neglected in the darkness.
When I was so deep in the hole that it felt like there was nothing for me to live for anymore, I remember many people throwing all of these didactic self-help books in my face, all written in a robotic language I couldn’t quite connect to.
And then one evening, I found myself watching some dumb show on some dumb network, highlighting the bohemian beach clubs of Ibiza. I had never been to a bohemian beach club in Ibiza. I had never been to Ibiza. I don’t want to die without having gone to Ibiza, I thought.
It was literally that simple thought that *saved* my life. I can’t die because I have to go to Ibiza first. I wasn’t in a place of analyzing how I became so depressed—I just needed to be reminded that a sliver of beauty, of light, could gleam at the end of the tunnel.
When you’re depressed, the simple pleasures of everyday life, the possibilities of feeling joy ever again, are completely void from your spirit. Which is why I created a little list of simple things to live for.
So honey, don’t give up…
1. Because it’s about to be fall, which means, my darling, it’s about to be leather weather.
No matter how depressed and sad and paralyzed with anxiety I happen to be, I always feel sexy and powerful when I adorn my body in a fierce leather jacket. Cloaking your body in buttery leather (or pleather, purr) is an intoxicating, empowering feeling that’s totally worth staying alive for.
Don’t have one? Go get one. The only thing better than wearing leather is buying leather.
2. Because it’s worth giving antidepressants a shot!
Before I went on antidepressants, I was at the lowest point of my life, ever. I was falling to pieces in London, feeling so utterly depressed that I wasn’t able to leave my apartment. (And the UK has the worst food delivery options, so I starved myself into a fawn.) I ended up going legitimately bonkers, curled up in perpetual fetal position, tripped out by my own mind, and wildly afraid of the texture of the exposed brick in my living room (dark as hell, I know).
I went a month without washing my hair—because what the hell was/is the point of having a clean scalp if you don’t plan on leaving the confines of your bed? After about eight weeks of total isolation, my parents sent a family friend over to my apartment, who literally picked me off the ground like a crumpled pile of dirty sheets and drove me to the doctor. Four hours later, I strutted out of the doctor’s office and into the brisk London air with my first-ever prescription for antidepressants stuffed into the pocket of my cigarette-burned peacoat.
I was terrified that the pretty blue pills were going to turn me into some kind of vapid femme-bot. I feared they would strip me of my fire. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Exactly fourteen days after popping the first dose into my chapped lips, I finally had the wherewithal to leave my prison of a bedroom! After a month, I was noticing things that my depression had rendered me blind to for months—like how pretty flowers are and how cozy the sun feels when it shines against my face. I hadn’t experienced a simple blissful moment like that in months. It was wild! It reminded me of how I actually do attain the ability to feel joy. That I wasn’t broken.
I’m not going to claim that my experience with antidepressants will mirror yours, but I will say this: If you’re feeling hopeless, if it hurts to open your sore eyes every single morning because the world is simply too ugly to gaze at, if you’re starting to wonder what the point of anything is anymore, if you haven’t showered in weeks, I encourage at least striking up an honest conversation with a doctor about the possibility of meds.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be walking down the street one afternoon and suddenly become hyper-aware of how damn refreshing the scent of freshly-cut grass is, and maybe that tiny moment of reprieve will make you feel grateful to still be alive.
3. Because now they make adult coloring books with swear words!
I know, I know, adult coloring books as a concept is sort of depressing in itself. I thought they were for Pinterest moms who had found themselves on the verge of a nervous breakdown until I realized: Shit. I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown too. Why am I throwing Pinterest moms so much shade?
My girlfriend eventually surprised me and bought me a copy of “Color Me F*cking Calm: Swear Words To Color And Display” along with a set of super fun glittery gel colored pens, and that very evening I went to town!
Now one of my favorite pastimes is pouring myself a cold glass of sauvignon blanc (a New Zealand blend only), cranking up my vinyl of Lana Del Rey’s Paradise to the highest possible volume, and coloring the word “F*CK” in gorgeous shades of pink. It’s oddly meditative and puts you in a lovely “flow state” that’s extremely soothing to the incessantly tortured soul.
So if you’re sad, anxious, lonely, heartbroken, or simply contemplating the meaning of your existence—head to the store (or go on Amazon!), buy yourself on adult coloring book full of lewd words, and color your forlorn heart out, baby.
4. Because you’ve never had platinum blonde hair!
Or maybe you have had dramatic, platinum hair but you’ve never had violet-colored hair, or titanium-colored hair, or blue-black hair. Or maybe you never cut that asymmetrical bob you always secretly lusted after but never had the gall to try. Well, what the hell are you waiting for? You don’t want to leave this earth without ever having experienced the electric thrill of a super-badass new look, do you?
5. Because there are *so many* hilarious podcasts about depression!
Whilst in the throes of one of my worst episodes of depression, OCD and panic disorder (what a blast!) I discovered a fantastic podcast called “The Mental Illness Happy Hour.” Hosted by comic Paul Gilmartin, the podcast is a series of interviews with sad comedians, depressed actors, traumatized writers, and so many more fun, interesting people with even more fun, interesting mental illnesses.
The podcast doesn’t sugarcoat anything at all, but it’s incredibly comforting to listen to because it makes you feel so much less alone in this cruel, cold world. Most importantly, it gives you permission to laugh at your situation. Because even though depression is harrowing and painful and isolating, it can be funny. I mean, I didn’t wash my hair for a month! That’s pretty funny. Also the Prozac I take to keep from weeping all the time makes my orgasms suck! Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a dark game show, where the host cheerfully prompts me with twisted questions such as, “Have a healthy normal sex drive?!” or “Be so depressed you can’t wash your hair, clothes or body!?” Having to choose between a powerful orgasm and the will to live is funny in a way that’s totally unique to us depressives. And you need to be reminded to laugh. After all, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ve done enough of that.
Laughter is a powerful tool for when you’re able to laugh about the thing that’s tormenting you. It takes some of the power away from that thing. It suddenly makes that thing seem not *so* scary, and when things aren’t *so* scary, we’re less afraid to confront them. And when we confront them, we’re able to conquer them.
6. Because there are some great fashion options for depression!
Now my depressed darlings, I have some pretty rad news. There are certain clothing options only we (by we, I mean the mentally ill, the traumatized, the sad and the deranged) can pull off. Angsty, bitchy, bratty, sad/chic attire that happy girls just look, well, fundamentally awkward in. Here are some prime examples, all from my favorite damaged-girl chic website, Dolls Kill.
Oh, and check out these chic “anxiety” and “depression” and “bipolar” necklaces from amazing lifestyle brand Bando!
You owe it to the fabulously cruel world of FASHION to strut around town in these awesomely bleak styles, OK?
7. Because taking a tiny break from drinking/drugs can really lift your depression! So try it!
I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the thick of a black depression, all I want to do is self-medicate with wine and my ex-girlfriend, Xanax.
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And all it does is make you more depressed. I know you already know this, but alcohol is a depressant, meaning it disrupts the natural balance of the brain, causing the central nervous system to slow down, which can make you feel off-kilter, wracked with anxiety and filled with generalized sadness. I totally get the natural tendency to want to numb the pain of depression with substances (after all, they *do* put a pretty pink band-aid over the dark feels, temporarily). But I swear to Lana Del Rey (my higher power) that taking a break, even just for two weeks, can breathe new life into your lifeless body. Waking up not feeling like physical shit can give you a new lease on life! I hate to get all Gwenyth Paltrow “Goop-y” on you, but the mind and body are completely connected. When you’re feeding the body with wondrous things that fuel it, you’re mental health will improve. It might not be magically cured, but it will, at least slightly, improve.
9. Because none of this is your fault.
Hey, depressed bae. Hey, sad girl. Hey, my mentally ill sisters and brothers and humans. I’m sure that you’re feeling pretty bad about yourself right now. That you’re rattled with irrepressible shockwaves of guilt.
You feel terrible about what you put your family through this past year, huh? You feel shitty because you told that lie in the eleventh grade. Or you because you f*cked that awful person in an attempt to feel pretty and worthy, and all it did was make you feel lousy AF. Or maybe you’ve been getting drunk and making a total ass of yourself. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all of the above!
Either way, I’m here to deliver a very important message: It’s not your fault. You did what you felt you had to do at the time. Guilt is a useless emotion. No one is perfect. No one. Not even Blake Lively. Not even Oprah. Everyone has done things they’re not proud of. Being depressed, or scared, or addicted, or anxious or anything really is not your fault. Take some bolt cutters and snap the cord that’s keeping you chained to this incessant… shame. Release yourself from the shackles, own your story and give yourself permission to forgive yourself.
10. Because WE DO DESERVE DOGS!
I hate when people say, “We don’t deserve dogs!” Yes, assholes don’t deserve dogs, but us sensitive creatures were made to bond with pure, sweet, big-eyed canines!
They get us and we get them.
So foster a dog. Play with your friend’s dog. Adopt a dog. It will get you out of your own head and remind you that there are some non-corrupt things that still exist in this cruel world. And they will provide you with the companionship that you oh-so-desperately need right now.
Also, it will force you to walk. Studies show that walking for only 20 minutes a day can work wonders for your mental health.
11. Because whatever you’re feeling right now is temporary.
I know that whatever you’re feeling right now feels so harrowing and intense, it feels like a monster swallowing you whole. When I was stuck in the thick of my depression, I couldn’t imagine feeling any other way. I thought this heavy sadness was my new baseline. Guess what? It wasn’t. Eventually, the sadness faded. And one morning, I woke up feeling sort of peaceful. And then that peacefulness faded, and I felt excited. And then that faded, and I felt nervous. And then that faded, and I felt excited again!
Everything in life is temporary. Especially feelings. You’re not going to feel the way you feel right now forever, babe. Acknowledge your very real pain, but please understand that pain isn’t a monster that can kill you in your sleep. Feelings actually can’t physically kill you. Running from them by numbing yourself with booze or drugs can. It took me forever to learn that! So don’t give this bad feeling so much power.
Sit with it, feel it, respect it, but know in the deepest pit of your heart, that it’s not going to last forever. I promise. You’ll see the light again soon. And when you do, it will be so intoxicatingly gorgeous because when you’ve experienced such dire darkness, you truly appreciate the way the light glimmers when it shines through.