The Surprising Way I Cope With Feeling Depressed

I have a running joke that librarians must really wonder about me. If you were to take look at my reading list, you’d mostly find books on true crime, biographies of people who escaped cults, war accounts and so on. Likewise if you browsed through my viewer history, you’d find I watch lots of documentaries in those same genres — “Law & Order SVU” and other shows that likely wouldn’t be considered “uplifting.” After a lot of thinking over why I’m drawn to this these types of stories, I think I’ve figured it out.

I read and watch sad material so I have a place to focus the sadness of depression.

When I consume these things, I have a place to focus my sadness. Not only do I have a place to focus it, but also it’s a place that makes more sense. Depression doesn’t need a reason to exist, and that can be difficult. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so great to have to say, “I don’t know why” when people ask, “Why are you sad?” If a book or movie is what’s making me sad, I can understand it, and so can those around me.

Again, unlike depression, I also know these stories and shows will have an end, and not only that, but typically a satisfactory one. I can focus my sadness for one or two hours, and in the end feel contentment when it all wraps up. Sometimes if I’m lucky, my mood actually improves, having released some tears and sorrow.

Unfortunately this habit of mine does have its drawbacks. While it can provide relief, it is of course temporary. Once I exit the story world, I enter back into mine. Sometimes the exposure is enough to keep my own sadness at bay, but other times it rushes back in fairly quickly. Additionally the material can also lead me into a different deeper depression I can’t shake.

Like most things, I think this method can be both helpful and harmful. It’s important that I am able to balance it out, and I don’t always get it right. If you find yourself also drawn to sad material, perhaps it is for similar reasons. Take a moment to reflect on how these books and shows influence your mood, and consider how you might be able to balance it out. It may be wise to include some comedies and light reading into your repertoire.

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