Ever since moving back to Los Angeles, my favorite thing about the internet has been Depression Memes. If you’re unfamiliar, hello and congrats! You’re either a) Mentally Healthy or b) too old to understand memes. Either way, nice! Good for you.
Humor has always been a defense mechanism. Or often pure survival. Make ‘em laugh, you know? Self-deprecate. Take away some of the power. Turn the black hole into the punchline. It’s not so bad that way. It’s not so dark.
I save Depression Memes to my phone and I share them with my friends, coworkers, anyone I think might laugh. Or get it. Or just see me for one second. Is depression more palatable if it’s a comedy routine?
I don’t actively hate myself. In fact, most who know me well would say I like myself a lot. There’s a self-obsession I can fall into. I want to be adored. I love being liked, being loved, being messaged, being told I am funny or good or pretty or cool. I like my photo taken. Or did, before this move.
There’s something about Los Angeles and catching your reflection in the mirror and remembering you are not the size zero you were most of your life that makes you sick. There’s something soul-crushing about it. Even though you know it shouldn’t be. Even though you proudly stand for body positivity and want to plaster Instagram with your new rolls and cross-eyed breasts but know if you do that shit will be flagged in a second. Take it from personal experience. Even though you love your kindness and intelligence and open heart, there is a lot to still hate. You don’t always love you. I mean, I don’t always love me. I mean, I don’t know. I’m confusing my Yous and Is and sometimes writing about myself turns into this amorphous blob and there’s nothing poetic about it. Just scattered. And messy. A lot like me, actually.
I love Los Angeles in the same way I love myself. Which is to say, yes, I love it. And me. But it’s layered with other stuff. It’s peppered with doubt and anger and numbing agents that make the loving easier. And even when I hate it, hate me, I’m hating the process of the hatred. I am annoyed at all the good I have and how I still don’t feel complete. I am annoyed at the sunshine all the time and how I’m supposed to love it and sometimes I feel ungrateful.
I’ve come to the conclusion shame is the worst thing you can feel — beyond heartache and grief and sadness and anger. Shame is on a different level. Shame is out there orbiting in a different universe. Shame makes you swallow your tongue. Whole.
On nights I hate myself, it is the shame that comes first. Shame is always the root. It’s why I make dumb decisions. It’s why I hide from them. It’s why I pretend I don’t deserve the good moments. Shame is even the birthplace of my occasional narcissism. It is always shame. Shame morphing. Shame projecting. Shame dancing around itself.
Los Angeles has brought the shame front and center. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not necessarily a complaint.
The shame in hating myself, in what I do to unhate myself, is not going to disappear. It’s not going to fade into the background. Maybe I’m just in a city that means I can’t ignore it.
I can’t ignore reality.