It’s interesting to live with both anxiety and depression: sometimes I am overwhelmed with feelings and sensations and other times I feel absolutely nothing. On rare occasions, I feel everything but don’t care about it, which I call an “anxiety/depression combo.” For the most part, I consider myself “functioning,” but sometimes the depression and/or anxiety creeps in and stays with me for a day, weeks or even months. Life and everything that comes with it becomes that much harder and my functioning status quickly deteriorates. During those moments, there are few things that can make me feel better — and that’s relative, sometimes “better” is simply getting out of bed, and sometimes it’s going to work and getting through the day.
I recently thought about things that always make me feel better, no matter what or how I’m feeling. While this list is in no way comprehensive, these are usually my first go-to’s.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”
It’s hard to summarize my feelings toward Ellen (whom I’ve never even met and is technically a complete stranger). But the woman makes me laugh, cry and laugh until I cry — not many people have that effect on me. She brings genuine happiness to millions of people, me being one of them. Depression often leaves me feeling empty, while my anxiety often leaves me feeling everything, so channeling my energy into the good that is Ellen DeGeneres, gives me hope, which is all I can ask for.
“A true diva is graceful, and talented, and strong, and fearless and brave and someone with humility.”
As with Ellen, it’s hard to summarize my feelings toward Beyonce. Music has always been a major part of my life, especially when feeling high levels of depression and/or anxiety, but Beyonce’s music, in addition to her overall fierceness, makes me instantly feel better. A favorite “you go girl” moment is her 2013 Superbowl performance. Considering the power went out in the stadium almost immediately after her performance, I like to think that she literally shut it down. It’s 15 minutes of pure joy.
3. A Cuddle From My Cat
One Saturday nearly 11 years ago, I was at an animal shelter looking for a new member of the family. And there she was — the last of her litter — and she looked at me and I looked at her and I knew we were going to be besties. When my depression is at it’s worst, she provides me with two primary things: 1. Accountability to take care of another; and 2. With unconditional love. The second I come through the door she meets me there for a hug. It’s a small moment where I can take a deep breath and feel safe and calm.
4. Talking to My Favorite Little Human
There are many reasons I don’t want to have children, and all of them are private and nobody’s business thank-you-very-much, but one of, if not my favorite humans is my best friend’s daughter. She tells it like it is, she’s extremely smart and she’s one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met — and she’s four. I’m the long-lost auntie who buys her books like “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by President Barack Obama” and “She Persisted: 13 Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton.” Most evenings, she sends me voice messages via text, along with some very well-thought-out emoji’s, and it completely makes my day. When I talk to her via FaceTime or just on the phone, it puts things back in perspective and reminds me there is good in the world, and that good comes in the shape of a fantastic 4-year-old who lives in Minnesota.
5. “Will & Grace”
I’ve been watching “Will & Grace” since the beginning — that’s 20 years ago. I have seen every episode at least five times, and that’s being modest. It always makes me feel better and has now turned into a comfort — a way to quiet my mind after a bad day. Want to laugh until you pee? These are my two favorite episodes: “Alive and Schticking” (season eight, episode one) and “Last Ex to Brooklyn” (season six, episode two).