When depression or anxiety chews away on your brain for weeks, carving time out of your day for self-care is essential. I work to unplug from the perpetual preposterousness inside my skull by engaging in activities that help me reset and recharge for the next duel.
For some that may be reading a book or listening to music. For others that may be wearing nothing but black boots and a leather dog-mask while on all fours as your lover walks you around Wash Park on a leash.
Whatever works for you.
One of my favorite self-care strategies is watching (sometimes binge watching) the greatest science-fiction show ever to be put on film. EVER! This is not hyperbolic rhetoric, and you can tell just how serious I am because I am not even using any contractions in this article.
I am writing, of course, about Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K for short), which first aired in 1988 and ran for 197 episodes until it was cancelled in 1999. Thankfully, the show was recently resurrected from the dead by a fan-funding campaign.
In the original show, a guy named Joel (not too different from you or me) is shot into space by his evil mad-scientist bosses (I think we have all been there before) and forced to watch awful movies while marooned on an orbiting space ship.
These are really bad movies. Monster movies with a giant turtle named Gamera who flies, destroys dioramas of Tokyo, and befriends annoying child protagonists. Movies meant to make an innocent human nuttier than a jar of unsalted peanuts. Who the hell eats unsalted peanuts?
But Joel finds ways to cope by building robot friends to help keep his sanity. They sit in the space ship’s theater cracking Gamera jokes and riffing on the bad dubbing that makes the bad acting worse.
They roll their eyes and ridicule the very movies that are supposed to be making Joel bonkers, much to the chagrin of the mad scientists.
In the not-too-distant past, I sat in the dark of my parents’ living room drinking Mountain Dew and watching the midnight airing of MST3K, a show that helped keep me from going bonkers when I was a closeted teenager suffering from depression.
Joel created buffers against the movie lunacy thrown upon him every week to stay (somewhat) sane. Joel’s self-care was using his creativity (to create the robots), then fostering and nurturing his persistent humor and scathing sarcasm in the face of a hopeless situation.
MST3K taught me that I could separate myself from the very thing that was driving me down Main Street of Crazy Town. Like Joel, I cannot control where that film of depression in my head begins or ends, but I still have control over how I choose to react to that film.
Work to find your own self-care in the face of a hopeless situation, whether it is watching silly science fiction shows, wearing a leather dog mask in Wash Park, or making movies with giant flying turtles.
Whatever works for you.