Most artists I know spend a great deal of time living inside their own minds—I for damn sure do. It’s easy to get turned around in there, stumbling into dark, depressing corners without a metaphorical flashlight to find a way back to your bright, happy place. When I find myself slipping into negative-Nancy land, I make a conscious effort to shake off my bummer ‘tude, get moving and do some things that bring me joy. Here are some of my methods. Hopefully, this list helps you out if you’re feeling down, too.
Play Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al” video on YouTube and turn the volume up loud enough to rattle some windows. Go to a coffee shop, find a spot in the corner, and write down back stories for every other patron explaining how they fit into the Gilmore Girls universe. Walk around your neighborhood until you see a feral cat, then make up a name for them like “Margaret Scratcher” or “Toe Beans McGuire.” Cook up a giant-ass stir fry with all the goodness. Pop some wheelies on your skateboard or bike in the parking lot of a strip mall until a security guard asks you to leave (do so graciously). Burn some Nag Champa incense while blasting Gravediggaz’s 1994 classic EP 6 Feet Deep. Go through your contacts and send a friendly text message to the person least likely to expect it. Brew two teabags of Yerba Mate, steep them for about twenty minutes, pour them over ice, add some mint extract and chug the elixir as quickly as you can. If you’re one of those no-caffeine people, maybe just drink a cup of lukewarm water and primal scream at a wall. Bury your face in a cat’s tummy and make motorboat sounds. If you’re allergic to cats, find a bunny or a hypoallergenic hedgehog
Think of your favorite T-shirt from when you were a kid. Make a bootleg version on a blank shirt with some Sharpies. Make a list of thirty tattoos you’d never get—then read through it and feel grateful that you don’t have any of them. Do yoga. Take off your shoes and socks, throw on some headphones and run through a grassy field while listening to Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard” on max loudness. Write a short poem about your favorite local tree and then go read it to them earnestly. Close your eyes and envision two pterodactyls listening to P.M. Dawn while making a baby pterodactyl. Go to Taco Bell and tip the cashier five bucks on a two-dollar order. Turn off all of your electrical devices and listen to the universe for a hot minute. Send an anonymous postcard to a friend complimenting them on their progressive fashion sense or cool hairdo. Put on some workout gear, crank Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” and dance your ass off in your kitchen while using a wooden spoon as a make-believe microphone. Follow it up with Bowie’s “Space Oddity” if you need more serotonin released into your bloodstream. Plop your ass down on the couch and watch We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen (trust me on this one if nothing else).
Note: I’m not a mental-health expert and by no means am I trying to make light of depression. Please consult a therapist or physician if you’re suffering from severe despondency. —Michael Sieben