on one hand, i am a huge fan of stylizing your depression. whether or not the slings and arrows of “don’t romanticize mental illness!” are aimed squarely at the perfectly sane, the bad novelists, the shitty scriptwriters, etc. hardly matters to me: what i care about is the collateral damage, the people who struggle with mental illness who are implicitly instructed to limit the way they express their personal lived experience.
it is perfectly okay to look in the mirror and admire the dark hollows burned under your eyes by days on end of crying. arrange your limbs carefully while lying on the bathroom floor so as to make your posture as dramatic as possible. imagine a camera on the ceiling. create mood lighting. then stare moodily into middle distance while maintaining a perfect awareness that you’re staring moodily into middle distance. light every candle you own and sink into a warm bath. cry. lounge. recline. splay. if you can find a way to deal with your misery by aestheticizing it, do it. don’t feel bad if you find yourself getting a perverse enjoyment out of it. always always always do everything you can to stay alive.
on the other hand, i am sick of being sick of being melodramatic. i would like to be able to stop apologizing for the parts of depression that are aesthetically uninteresting, turn off my internal copyeditor for a few days. it’s true that “i want to die” is a cliche, narratively boring after its 10,000th repetition, fails dismally at advancing the plot. but i have (so far) been unable to edit out the worst, dullest parts of depression. it all belongs on the cutting room floor but i can’t get it to stay there.