Unknown Pleasures

[Note: I have to thank Andrew Norcross of Reaktiv Studios for his stellar redesign of the site. He's fucking genius. Check out his portfolio, I'm proud to be a part of it.]

This might make me the target of ridicule – which I dig in that S/M please degrade me, I like it sorta way -but considering how many times The Cure has had singles on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, and the fact that Morrissey still has a career, I have a feeling that some people may relate.

I left Los Angeles early.

Why?! you ask. It’s sunny in Los Angeles. There are ample fake breasts, celebrities meander among commoners, blonds of all shades giggle and drive like Stevie Wonder, and California as a whole has damn good produce. The Clippers are in LA. So’s my best-friend Bean. Why would anybody in their right mind leave the City of Angels early if they didn’t have to?

Because I was sad. That’s why.

When I was twelve, I started cutting myself with a Victorinox floral knife I stole from my mom ‘cause I was sad.

I also started wearing all black at around that time because I was sad, though one could argue that it was also because black clothes hid stains well and Nine Inch Nails had just started to become successful.

At the end of high-school, after years of being straightedge, self-righteous, and shockingly unpopular, I started drinking because I was sad. Got popular. Got laid. Still was sad.

I’ve done a lot of crazy, stupid, often hilarious shit all because I was sad. And smart stuff too, I suppose. Like sobriety, that was a result of being sad. Moving, multiple times? Ditto. Applying to graduate school? Cue up Joy Division.

Actually, being sad fueled a lot of my cochlear choices, like listening to Cat Power, The Smiths, Fever Ray, Cocteau Twins, etc. Much of my musical taste can be traced back to this inherent, crushing, ever-motivating sadness that I’ve tried to run from, stifle, drown out, or actually drown during my time on the planet. It was a large part of why my last relationship failed, I think, though that could also be a chicken-or-egg argument. (Neither vegan.)

My melancholy, and its accessories of irritability, poor decision making, and inexplicable bouts of weeping, have all been things I’ve dealt with off and on over the years, and like a fertile woman’s menstrual flow, all have had fluctuations in their severity. I rankle at calling it “depression,” since I’m no doctor and I think the term is used too liberally, kind of like the prefix ‘eco’ or Lil Wayne on pop tracks. So in case you’re following along at home, here’s a quick guide to diagnosing yourself with really bad sadness, also commonly referred to as depression:

  • Have you experienced writer’s block – the kind that levels you and keeps you staring at the cursor’s strobe light and tearing your hair out in frustration by the fistful – for three months straight, even though you’ve never suffered from this malady before?
  • Do things that used to make you giddy – such as frozen yogurt, your dog, the NBA Playoffs, photographs of Trent Reznor in the ‘90s, the prospect of eating sushi, and a vacation with your best-friend in West Hollywood – only make you feel hollow or unmoved?
  • Have your naps started becoming mini-sleeps? Has your bedtime started coinciding with that of your eight-year-old cousin who probably has narcolepsy?
  • Do you exist in a fog of nostalgia, idealizing past experiences and relationships that probably weren’t that good to begin with, otherwise they’d still be humming along like a Hitachi Magic Wand?
  • Are you unable to drag yourself out of the house, even if it’s to ogle the hot barista with a like-minded pervy pal?
  • And speaking of perviness, are you, possibly for the first time in your life, disinterested in sex? I mean literally, if somebody attractive is throwing themselves at you, offering their body up like an endless dinner buffet at Golden Corral, do you just shrug, say “meh,” and opt to stay fully clothed on the couch, with a rerun of Jeopardy! and SportsCenter on mute?
  • Have you stopped masturbating?

Seriously, have you stopped fucking masturbating? That’s awful. You should see someone about that.

Obviously if you answered yes to any/all/some of these, you might have gotchyerself a case of the depression and, yeah, you should see someone about that. ‘Cause if, as the saying goes, knowing is half the battle, then seeking treatment is the other half.

It’s estimated that, by 2020, depression and related depressive illnesses will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children. Think about that for a minute. It’s a disability. And, really, it is.

And there are a lot of disabled people out there, handicapped spots be damned. Roughly one in five adults, or 22.1% of all Americans over the age of 18, suffer from a diagnosable mental illness or disorder, with over 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men struggling with depression in the US. (Yup, ladies, it isn’t just PMS. Nearly twice as many women than men suffer from depression.)

Although it can be argued Kurt Cobain’s self-administered haircut glamorized suicide for a generation, depressive disorders have exhibited some shocking statistics that seem to have shuffled by under-the-radar. This might be because the act itself is often smeared with a stigma of being cowardly, and tainting the victim’s family with shame. But suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in this country, with an average of one person killing themselves every fifteen minutes, which tallies up to about roughly 90 suicide victims per day. Understandably and tragically, over 90% of suicide victims have a mental disorder that is able to be diagnosed, with over 60% having been plagued by depression.

The cost isn’t just in lives. Each year, untreated mental illness accounts for over 100 billion dollars of expenses in the United States alone. The sad part is, many mental illnesses are treatable, depression included. Not only is it treatable, its symptoms can be minimized to the point that life’s worth living again: frozen yogurt is worth putting sprinkles on, your dog is worth a scratch, and Blake Griffin is worth an extra pack of batteries for your vibrator. Between 70% and 90% of sufferers report improvement in their quality of life and a reduction of symptoms with psychosocial and pharmacological treatments.

I’m in the market for some of those happy pills, though it pains me a bit to say so. I’ve always looked at psychiatric medication as a sign of defeat, a white flag that I was waving in tandem with my liver, a clear indication that I wasn’t tough enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t a writer enough to usurp my depression and just turn it into an aspect of my life that informs my work, like traveling or my clitoris. Besides, if I was going to rely on something to feel better every day, it would be at least 80 proof. Doesn’t taking medication to alter my mood compromise my status as a teetotaler?

Not quite.

I’ve had to recognize that sadness – depression, if you want to go all pop-psych on the bitch – shouldn’t be a reason to leave my best-friend in her bizarrely plastic new home, it shouldn’t be a masochistic barb to justify addiction or make sobriety more difficult, and it sure as fuck shouldn’t be a hindrance to self-pleasure. If pills will make me a less selfish friend, a better right-handed lover, and a more active member of my already isolating tech-heavy slice of society, then sign me up. I already take vitamins to keep my immune system as tough as a PED-enhanced Big Man and cranberry supplements to keep my tubes clean in case I’m able to use my Venus fly-trap to lure some willing prey. Why not just add another handful of happy helpers to keep me more-or-less sane?

Though if the pills make it impossible to orgasm or turn me into an unemotive walrus, I will throw myself in front of a bus, so help me God.

And if any ‘scrip I’m written makes this blog transform into a sing-a-long about puppies, tulips, and gentle hugs, feel free to do the throwing.

If you or someone you know is at the end of their own Morrissey album, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255