Christa asked me to participate in her blog series focusing on inspiration and empowerment amidst all of the shit that has been this year. I was both honored and terrified to contribute because (a) I don’t radiate positivity on my best day and (b) I’d been feeling the lowest I have in a long time (which realistically is probably a month) for nearly a solid week and I had trouble even getting through the weekend.
It’s well established that I can’t talk about anything topical without losing my shit. (The first draft I put together reached a level of angst I haven’t achieved since my teenage journaling days.) Other years have been a challenge too, but this year feels especially like a sucker punch to the gut. I’m really tired of hearing about how the world is heading to hell in a handbasket when you know, the same thing was said about women riding a fucking bicycle. (Thanks, Kate Beaton.)
That being said, I’ve still been staying up late to follow the Republican National Convention, which only succeeds in aggravating me right before bedtime. I KNOW it’s bad for me, and I follow politics way more than I intend to because I care about social justice. I honestly don’t know how you can be a librarian if you don’t since it’s essentially about helping people find information and learn things for themselves with no financial incentive whatsoever.
But so I don’t lose my goddamn mind (further), let’s talk about a familiar topic that is a mere stone’s throw away from the bad movie blog: TV. My latest binge-watch is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is a relatively short binge as it’s only 18 episodes so far. Despite what you might conclude from the show’s title and truly terrible promos, it’s an incredibly funny, subversive, musical dark comedy.
The show follows Rebecca Bunch, a career-driven New York lawyer about to get everything she’s always wanted and become partner at her law firm. Or so she believes. She receives a wake-up call in the form of a butter commercial and a chance meeting with Josh, her ex-boyfriend from summer camp 10 years prior. Realizing she’s miserably unhappy, Rebecca impulsively moves to Josh’s hometown, West Covina (an LA suburb).
Stay with me because I KNOW the premise sounds cringe worthy, cliché, and anti-feminist. But like so many current TV shows, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend takes a familiar premise and twists it into a self-aware, satirical social commentary. And refreshingly, Rebecca carries a great deal of emotional baggage without being dismissed as crazy (except, you know, in the show’s name).
I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that I love so much about this show, but the characterizations of its main and supporting characters are certainly a huge part of it. Honestly, Rebecca is the character I’ve related to most since Liz Lemon (well, also sarcastic supporting character Heather). Don’t get me wrong—I’m not sure either of these characters are great to emulate, but they feel real to me in a way that so many female characters don’t.
Rebecca is one of the few characters I can think of who has anxiety and depression that isn’t used solely for comedic effect. We see her processing her problems logically but ultimately choosing the most self-destructive path possible. She worries about not really having any friends, being a bad feminist, and not being able to convince everyone that she’s doing fine. Among other things, there are songs about Rebecca’s depression, self-loathing, and being a good person (or not)–all of which get stuck in my head for days. Whenever I’m watching, I constantly swing between laughter and the terrible suspicion that someone has stolen my memories and made them into a TV show.
It’s nice to see a character trying and often failing to stop lying to herself and allow herself to feel what she feels. Sometimes the only thing you’ll be able to do is sit on the couch all day and fail to motivate yourself to go outside. Not that I speak from experience…
Which is, of course, a blatant lie. My experiences with depression are a major part of this show’s appeal to me. Reading was my escape for a really long time, and I fell apart a little when it stopped working for me. There are still days when I pick up a book that I’m desperate to finish only to put it down a few paragraphs later when all I can think about is how badly I fucked up that one conversation from weeks ago or why I haven’t done more with my life.
I wish reading were still my escape because it was for years and years, but I’m working on giving myself a break for my needs and interests changing and simply giving myself time and space to be nice to myself. True, reading is a more intellectual pursuit than watching TV or terrible shark movies, but sometimes my brain just needs a fucking break.
This is also a reason I fail to understand the drive for constant self-improvement. I appreciate that goals help push people to achieve their dreams and look back in satisfaction on their accomplishments, but sometimes a goal feels like the opportunity to break another promise to myself and to fail (again). There are days when I just need to survive. As TV is currently proving, it can be something really stupid that gets you through it. And when I say “through it,” I mean temporarily because there’s nothing that will ever drive the bad thoughts away entirely. And I’d be an intolerably peppy person if I never had any dark thoughts whatsoever.
I don’t like to give advice because it’s a really bad idea to follow in my footsteps, but these are the things I try to remind myself. It’s ok to not feel strong, but you are, especially when you know you need help and support. It’s ok to reach out to people and tell them you’re feeling shitty. It’s also ok to have your own personal feeling space where no one is allowed to enter. It’s ok to be fucking sad. It’s so ok to do nothing except breathe and remind yourself to keep on breathing. And journal, you guys. I can’t say enough for journaling.
Of course I want to feel happy and I want you to be happy, but I think it’s more important to find the strength to accept what you feel. Even when you’d prefer to gloss over it or repress the shit out of it (I’ve been there so hard).
This self-care reminder is something I look at A LOT and probably one of the best things to come out of Tumblr:
Finally, NEVER get rid of your old iTunes playlists because Eva Cassidy, Missy Higgins, and Brandi Carlile got me through last week.
On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sad songs, “Penny to My Name” by Eva Cassidy. ❤
All images via Unsplash