The Inner Monologue

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Bojack Horseman. Yes, partially to purposely procrastinate and screw my own academic career over, but also because it resonates with me. On a deep level I never thought a cartoon show about a horse could.

When I first started watching it, I laughed at the nonsensical, frankly messed up world Bojack resided in. Wacky characters like Mr Peanutbutter and extravagant plot lines like stealing the D from the Hollywood sign took me to a world completely different from my own- or so I thought. Until I started recognizing parts of myself in the show. Bojack’s self-destructive nature, his tendency to push good people out of his life, his fear of irrelevancy– holy horseshoe Bojack, that’s me.

And as I continued to watch I didn’t only relate to Bojack, and Diane, and Princess Caroline, but I saw story lines they went through in parts of my own life. It’s not new news that Bojack Horseman is a show about depression, and that it depicts it accurately– but seeing it for myself has really opened my eyes.

In episode 6 of season 4, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t”, the show highlights a part of depression that I particularly connect with: the inner monologue. As Bojack goes about his day with his newly found teenager daughter and estranged mother, we hear Bojack’s thoughts as he goes about his decisions. It begins off humorously as he eats cookies for breakfast, while his mind says “Stop eating cookies. Cookies are not breakfast. Don’t eat that cookie. Don’t- I can’t believe you ate that cookie.” But as the show goes on, and he continues to make bad decisions, we here his inner self berating him, insulting him, continuously calling him a “stupid piece of sh*t”, justifying why everyone in his life hates him.

This is a part of depression I experience regularly. The voice inside my head, commenting on my every move. “Your friends don’t really like you”, “what you’re doing doesn’t matter”, “you’re never going to accomplish what you want to”,”you are insignificant”. These thoughts weigh on me day after day. I try to drown them out with school, television, writing, working for the Mental Health Outreach Team, hanging out with friends, and yes, admittedly, drinking, partying, and in the past, self-harm.

At the end of the episode, Bojack’s daughter reveals to him that she has these thoughts too. She asks Bojack if they ever go away, if it’s “just a teenage girl thing”. To comfort her, Bojack lies. He tells her yes, they do.

As someone with depression, I know these thoughts don’t go away. They lessen as I distract myself, or when I’m feeling better, but they are always there, residing in that dark part of my mind.

But what I have learned is it’s not about getting rid of the voices. It’s not about drowning them out. It’s about fighting them back, challenging them. “No one likes you”. Wrong, I have at least 5 friends in my contacts who would text me back almost instantly, I have a boyfriend who loves me, I have a family who cares for me despite my flaws. “Nothing you do matters” Wrong, I started a team that may be small, but has begun to make positive change on my campus. “You are insignificant” Wrong, I might be in the grand scheme of things, but I mean something to some people, and I mean something to me.

Bojack is an imperfect character. He makes bad choices, he hurts people, he self-destructs. But he has heart, he means well, and most of all he’s in pain. I won’t go too deep into the character because hey, I didn’t write the show, but Bojack doesn’t fight back those thoughts. He lets them devour him, and he suffers for it.

Depression lies. It’s an ugly, mean monster who disguises itself as you. But it’s not real. You’re feelings are real, the bad thoughts you have are real, but that doesn’t mean that those bad thoughts are truth. Battling these thoughts is not an easy fight, but keep reminding yourself that it’s worth it. You’re worth it.


The Cloud

Lately I’ve felt a cloud loom over my mind.

It’s not an unfamiliar cloud; it has visited many times before. It has rained and poured and stormed for weeks, months, even years before.

Not long ago the cloud caused the worst storm it ever has, and its flood almost won. I didn’t let it though. I Noah’s-Arked that shit. I built a boat of the smallest piece of driftwood and survived that drought.

And for a long while now I’ve lived in the sun. I now remember what it’s like to let the sunshine in again and feel the warmth; and I love it. I thrive in the sun and have mimicked its shine in my own way.

However the sunshine can’t stay forever, I’m learning. The clouds do come back and rain falls. But this time I’m prepared– I have my umbrella. I have strong supports in friends and family, I have my causes and my passions, and I have myself.

So bring it on rain, I’m not afraid to get a little wet.

And if you too have a cloud in your mind, there is room under my umbrella.

A Love Letter (Write it for Yourself First)

I’m only (almost) 21 years old and have a lot to learn about love yet so take what you will from what I say. It doesn’t matter to me if it sounds serious or experienced because the fact is it’s not.

Something I have learned recently, however, and am still constantly learning, is how to love myself. See, I never believed the saying “before anyone can love you you must first love yourself”. I thought it was utter bullshit actually. I thought, “How can anyone ever love me then? Because I will never love myself. Isn’t loving yourself vain and selfish and petty?”

The answer is no. Absolutely no. Loving yourself is not petty and vain because loving yourself is not believing you are perfect and without fault. It’s loving yourself despite your flaws. It’s working on those bits and pieces you don’t love, and differentiating the ones that can and should be changed, and the ones that can’t be changed. And then it’s learning to love those little imperfections anyway. It’s loving yourself on your best days, when you feel great and happy and blessed and utterly in love with life. And it’s loving yourself on the days you don’t want to or feel like you can’t. On the dark days where every little negative thought you’ve had or that has been said to you eats you alive. It’s fighting back those negative thoughts and reminding yourself you deserve love anyway.

Learn to love yourself in the way you want others to love you. Or rather, learn to accept that others won’t love you the same way you want them to. Give yourself the love you so desperately crave from others. Tell the thought “no one will ever love me” to fuck off, and love yourself instead. Stop searching for others to give you the specific reasons of why you are worthy of love, and give them to yourself. If you are waiting from validation from another person about a specific reason to love you, you know the reason already, so they don’t need to confirm it. So when you finally accept the reasons you are lovable, people will say them without prompting. And you won’t feel validated, but instead truly loved.

Love the good things about yourself. Love your pretty smile and your fashion sense and your talents and your virtues. Love yourself, but be humble in accepting compliments. Don’t usher them away but accept them with grace. Don’t take them for granted. Know that just because you have these good qualities and are loved because of them, it does not make you God. Yes you are lovable, but so is everyone else.

Love your imperfections, but not your vices. Work on improving your bad habits, but remind yourself that no one is perfect, and your demons don’t make you despicable. They make you human. Stop striving for perfection, it is not achievable. Instead be constant, and love who you are daily.

I do not love my mental illness. I love that I am fighting it and working on myself despite it. I do not love my tendency to become irritable or want to control others. I love that I can recognize these faults, and apologize to those I hurt. These are things that I can change, and I love that I can.

I don’t love my long toes, or my upturned nose, or the facial hair I constantly have to remove. But I’m learning to. Because these are things that maybe I could change, but I do not need to. Because they do not make me bad. Learn to accept the things about yourself that society says you shouldn’t.

I love my weird laugh. I love my way of looking at the world. I love my eyes. I love my strange interests. I love that I believe I can change the world.

And I don’t need you to anymore.