Maybe it’s the rotating schedule of Dayquil & Nyquil, but I think I’ve had a nanosecond of clarity — that is as long as my clarity ever lasts.
I do this thing a lot right before bed, where I search the iTunes store for new apps when my Instagram feed isn’t cutting it. After all, I do have a shopping problem and I find all forms of shopping to be semi-therapeutic. Anyways, I start with all the best categories: 1) Productivity (DUH!) 2) Lifestyle 3) Entertainment, so on. I do a similar ritual with podcasts, even though the only podcasts I ever consistently listen to are “This American Life” and “DJ Tiesto.” Don’t laugh, it’s not my fault that I can only run to electronic music. It’s not like I listen to it in the car or anything, okay?!
Anyways, I came across a podcast called, “The Mental Illness Happy Hour.” It’s a weekly podcast by a comedian Paul Gilmartin who interviews other creatives, comedians, and so on about their “mental illnesses.” I think the show’s disclaimer is a memorable, succinct description: “It’s not a doctor’s office. Think of it as a waiting room that doesn’t suck.”
Of course, I was interested, but I had an immediate hesitation. It seemed too indulgent. Listen to people talk about their problems for an hour? That hardly seems productive. I already have a sneaking suspicion I make up problems that I don’t actually have. Where do you draw the line between a healthy dose of neuroticism and OCD? At what point does sad become depressed? Despite my hesitations, I did decide to subscribe and downloaded at random several episodes titled by the name of the interviewee. Childhood sexual abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, anorexia, self mutilation. The episode descriptions were chockfull of therapy buzz words and it just felt so overindulgent to download these.
I make a pilgrimage between Orange County and Los Angeles at least 8-10 times a month that lasts anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half. I know…it’s a light pilgrimage, but it’s definitely something I consider sacred. I swear, if not for that hour-long drive, I would never self reflect…ever. This is where 99% of my clarity nanoseconds occur.
On my way up to Los Angeles today, I listened to Teresa Strasser talk about her troubled childhood, her eating disorders, the disappointment of a mediocre-selling book, and a mental breakdown that lead her to call her father and confess to him “she just wanted to go.”
As she began to cry, describing how her father responded, “I’ll never be okay if you go,” I started to cry. And just as I was pulling into my driveway, I realized, I think this makes me feel better. I think listening to someone else’s problems, indulging in this way, is therapeutic. Maybe all therapy is… is indulgence in yourself. Letting yourself wallow for constrained periods of time on a regular basis.
And then the moment of clarity passed, and I parked, and unpacked my backpack. But I did decide to start a list, typical me, titled, “Therapy of Admission & Indulgence.” I’m not totally clear what this list is supposed to achieve, but I wrote down 8 problems I have. I’m not ready yet to broadcast it to the world, but I think all this boils down to one truth: I should let myself have some hot cheetos — the ultimate indulgence.