Thought for the day

Be who you were before they had to tell you “shoulders back.”

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World Smile Day

Hey hey and happy Friday!

Today is World Smile Day! I don’t know who decides that kind of thing, but it seems like something to celebrate!

What makes you smile? Let us know in the comments!

Runnin’ down a dream

Hello hello and happy Tuesday,

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death of Tom Petty, who has over time become one of my true faves. I thought I’d share the (truly trippy!) video for my personal favorite Tom Petty song, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” which I think has something to say to a lot of us.

Peace be with you,

Schlomo

Just do it

Hello hello and a happy weekend!

Sorry I haven’t been around much of late. I’ve been getting accustomed to a new (much better) schedule because I have gone and got myself a new job.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post: I want to invite you to just do it.

My old job reached down in my soul and pulled out whatever it could, and I believe it very nearly killed me. But I did it because of the expectation to ‘be a grownup’ and because it came with some nice perks that helped me ignore the life slowly draining out of me.

But it wasn’t worth it. The schedule negatively affected my social life (i.e. canceled it), while the actual job tasked me to get verbally kicked around with a smile at 3 in the morning.

This job threw all my shit out of whack, but I ignored that for a long time because I felt boxed in. I felt like this was the only job I could ever get, and that I needed to stick with it to prove that I could “adult.”

I was like the man in the gray flannel suit, except it was just normal flannel.

It made me a worse friend, boyfriend, cat dad, and all-around person, and it took an immense toll on my psyche.

And that it way more fucking important than a 401k.

Wouldn’t have mattered if I saved for retirement if I wasn’t there to see it. Your life is way more important than your social status, and you can’t keep doing something out of obligation or fear.

It is easier said than done, but you have got to do it. You don’t need a better meditation technique. You don’t need to just suck it up. You cannot hate the thing you spend a third of your life doing and expect to have a happy life.

You will find another job. Another situation will come along. Be smart, and prioritize your health. Wanting a job that doesn’t make you break out in panic sweat every day does not make you a “weak millennial” or whatever age you are!

I wondered for so long if it was even possible to like your job, never thinking about the fact that I had the woefully inadequate sample size of, um, just my job.

And it’s not just jobs. This is not the only thing you have going for you. This is not the only relationship/religion/major/apartment/or overall life path that you could possibly be on. All you have to do is step off.

You are not fated to suffer, you’re just suffering. There’s a difference.

You are not trapped. You always have options. They may not always be perfectly equivalent, but, say taking a pay cut is better than crying all the time.

You can do it. You can!

Life update

Hello hello and happy Friday!

I’d like to share an important thing in my life with you. After living with untreated bipolar II for over a decade, I finally made an appointment with a psychiatrist, and will be starting medical treatment for my mental illness.

  • There is no shame in being mentally ill.
  • There is no shame in seeking treatment for mental illness.
  • People who disagree with either of those statements are dicks and you shouldn’t talk to them.

I’m sharing this with you because you can run an actual anti-suicide website and somehow not take your own advice.

Do what you need to do. Find a therapist. Get help paying for medications. Watch a compilation of puppy videos. Sign yourself up for National Novel Writing Month. Check out these fucking jellyfish galaxies.

PS sorry I curse so much, but you guys know you can submit!

Please pretty pretty please get the help you need.

<3, Schlomo

 

Subscriber challenge

Hello hello and happy Monday!

I’m extremely proud and blessed to have a small but extremely loyal following. And this week I want to shout out to you guys to see if you’ll submit.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna name names or follow up haha, but I’m just saying: if you like every post on this site, I bet you have something to add to it.

I can’t pay, it’s true. If trends persist, this site will be in the red for its entire lifespan. Love as I would to pay contributors, the site has zero revenue and lacks that kind of subscriber base.

Which is where the power of collaboration comes in. I am not in any way looking for personal glory with this site, and actually never thought I would…well, write this many posts in the first person. The site was always meant to be collaborative to just get good tips about staying alive to people who need them.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-2577813_1920.jpg

It got too real. Just look at this thing.

Anyway…TLDR, please submit any tips, tricks, links, activities, recipes, undiscovered ancient epics, etc., you have that you find useful in the daily art of staying alive.

Peace be with you,

Schlomo

Vsyo budyet horosho

Hello hello and happy Friday!

I thought I’d end the week with an uplifting and decidedly weird blast from my past.

I am by training a Russianist, and in the course of my studies I became acquainted with the work of Verka Serduchka, Ukraine’s favorite drag queen (and Eurovision contestant!).

I give you now one of her biggest hits, “Vsyo budyet horosho” (Всё будет хорошо) – Russian for “Everything is going to be good.”

I did something I was supposed to do this week. I checked on someone, and it turns out they really needed it. If you’re thinking about reaching out to someone, please do it. You never know when you can save a life.


Schlomo

My brain’s favorite bad song

Hello hello and happy Thursday!

As you might expect from someone who started an anti-suicide website, I am personally affected by suicidal thoughts. Twenty years ago, five years ago, this week. I don’t have some kind of outsider mental-illness-shaming perspective on suicidal thoughts. I know exactly what they’re like.

You do learn some things when you survive depression and anxiety for this long. Today I want to talk about what I’ve come to think of as my mind storms – or my brain’s favorite shitty song.


If you’re anything like me, you know the words to hundreds, maybe thousands of songs you don’t even like. Sometimes you can’t help but absorb something, just from sheer repeated exposure.

I realized recently that this is what my suicidal thoughts felt like. It felt like a record I don’t like, skipping on the turntable of my mind.

You’re not thinking any new thoughts when that storm sweeps up. You’re thinking the same old ones, in a familiar cascade that repeats and repeats. One sad thought becomes two, and they multiply until every sad thought you’ve ever had is marching through your brain.

Realizing that depression can make you despair about things you’re not even sad about is a helpful step. That cognitive dissonance gave me something to grab onto.

So did noticing the patterns. This thought flowing into that one, like the chords of a song on the radio. The song keeps playing even if you stop paying attention, just like you don’t need to will a sad thought for it to follow the last.

My brain is just playing me a shitty song, I finally thought. This is just a repetition of everything I could be or ever have been sad about. My brain knows the words, and it knows the music, and sometimes it just picks this shitty tune.


So?

So you might not even be sad. Your brain’s shitty song defense mechanism might just have gotten activated.

I don’t want to launch into a list of triggers, because obvious reasons, but here is a helpful resource for identifying and managing your triggers.

In the same way that we are not our illness, we are not our thoughts. If you can stop for even a second and ask yourself where this cascade of thoughts came from, you can start to see that you are not it.

You are not the stream of your consciousness.  And you don’t have to go fishing.

Meditation can help cultivate an understanding of the difference between you and your thoughts. Try to observe your thoughts without engaging them. Don’t talk back. Don’t try to keep them from going down the stream. Observe your thoughts without reacting or judging. (Here is a good resource to help you stop identifying with your thoughts.)

Why is this important? It means that I am not my suicidal ideation; my suicidal ideation is just a pollutant in my stream. That does not that it’s not horrifying and unwelcome and sad, but it means that it is a thing that is happening to or in me, but not me.

I may have to experience it, but I don’t have to attach to it.

I do need to have a wide variety of plans at my disposal, though. The rest of what I have to say is what I find helpful when my brain puts on its favorite shitty song. I hope you find something, lots of things that can work for you. I’m serious, the more and more different plans you have, the better. And you can always add more.


Things to do other than listening to your brain’s favorite shitty song:

  • Listen to actual, non-shitty music. It doesn’t matter if it’s happy or sad so long as it makes you think. Thinking something, pretty much anything other than “I want to die” is the most important step. Listen to something you admire the musicality of, or that has complex, engaging musical structures. Make a playlist and have it handy on your favorite device. 
  • Get your heart rate up. I personally don’t recommend taking a walk or meditating at the worst moments, because I personally find that being too still leaves me vulnerable. The last time I was feeling this low, I found I had to jog pretty fast across the street, and by the time I got across, I didn’t want to die anymore. Even a short burst of activity can provide both endorphins and a much-needed distraction. If anger or nervous tension is part of your sadness, I think a punching bag would also do handily in this situation. They’re readily available at sporting goods stores. (Here’s some tips on exercising with limited mobility.)
  • Memorize some words. I’ve been trying to memorize bible verses, but you do you. Find something that pumps you way the hell up and memorize it word for word. Also recommended: the kind of song lyrics you’d get a tattoo of, getting an actual tattoo of those song lyrics, motivational monologues from your favorite TV show or movie, and any line Cher has ever had in a movie. 
  • Get yourself a physical or digital copy of Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein and keep it handy. I have both and I treasure them.
  • Pet an animal or spend time with a child. Oh, I promise it works.
  • Google what Donald Trump did today. Then get pissed off about it, because pissed off is an emotion so much more active and hopeful than the mean reds. Once you get pissed off, you can also donate time or money, or contact your representatives about issues that matter to you. Use your life to piss off the right people, and you won’t regret it.

<3,
Schlomo