The Dig doesn’t get all serious on you too often, but when we do, it’s important. This is one of those times.
Americans sympathize for those going through physical pain without batting an eye. When it comes to mental health and emotional issues, though, the majority of Americans can’t extend that same care and compassion. Depression and suicidal thoughts are just as debilitating of an issue as a raging fever or broken limb, and it’s about time we start not only acting like it, but acting on it. So that’s why we want to make one thing clear: you matter, we care, and anything you’re going through can be overcome one step at a time.
On Thursday the 22nd, four acts will gather under the roof of Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery to raise money for suicide awareness and prevention. While all that cash goes directly to Samaritans Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to reducing the incidence of suicide by individually befriending those struggling, there’s still a gap where those stuck in a rut of depression and isolation may find themselves looking for a simple reminder of how to escape that state of mind. Derek Desharnais of Sneeze, Mike Nevin of Leaner, Sami Martasian of Puppy Problems, and Mateo Garcia of Gauntly all sat down to share advice on the matter. After all, money solves a lot of problems, but knowing someone’s there for you helps even more.
What advice do you have for someone who’s struggling with depression?
SNEEZE: I’m not known for giving great advice but I can tell you what I try to do. My number one is to stay active. Find a project and devote all your free time to it so that’s the number one thing on your mind. Arts are a wonderful way to keep your mind positively active.
LEANER: As someone who struggles with depression, the most important advice I could give anyone is don’t ignore those feelings. It’s really hard to face your depression head on, I know that, but if you want to figure out ways to cope with it, you need to accept your situation and move forward with helping yourself. Things will get easier, you will enjoy things, you’ll find ways to make your life better, but you won’t be able to do that without taking the first step in helping yourself — and that is something that no one can make you do except for you.
PUPPY PROBLEMS: Allow yourself to prioritize your own health and make space to take care of yourself. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work right away, it takes time more than anything and let yourself be as open as you can be to the process of finding ways to cope.
GAUNTLY: I think my biggest suggestion to anyone dealing with depression is to be honest and open about it, to themselves and to friends. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that we need some help from others, but it’s an incredible support during tough times.
There’s never one simple way to feel better, but there are tiny actions you can make to help in at least some way. What’s your go-to method to cheer yourself up?
SNEEZE: Put on your favorite record and surround yourself with good people. Give your best bud a call and talk it out. If this isn’t an option then write it out musically, poetry, or in a journal. It feels great to get things off your chest. Go to a show! There are always great people there and loud live music can do wonders.
LEANER: I have a couple methods for cheering myself up. Some are more straightforward, some are a little more counter-productive but work for me [laughs]. Normally, if I want to get cheered up, I’ll go do something I like doing, be it watch a movie or TV show, work on some music, spend some time with friends or call someone. Those are pretty normal ways to cheer yourself up. Other times, I dig myself pretty deep in the hole and listen to really sad music or watch a really sad movie. While it may seem counter-productive, isolating myself and really embracing those sad feelings help me get all the sadness out that I can. Often times when I do that, I’ll end up just not wanting to be sad anymore and sometimes I’ll actually be able to snap out of the rut that I’m in. I’m not sure if I fully recommend doing that, but it does work for me sometimes!
PUPPY PROBLEMS: I try not to think about it just as “cheering up” because sometimes part of it is needing to let yourself feel something, not just snapping myself out of it or tricking myself into believing that sadness is somehow wrong. I usually give myself a little time to feel upset, to sit with those unpleasant feelings and then at some point I get an inkling that it’s time to challenge those thoughts and try to look for new perspective. Like listen to sad music for a little and then do something active or get out of bed and make something, even if its just dinner. Don’t tell yourself that being sad is somehow wrong or that you should feel guilty for being unhappy. Respect that this is a part of you, but don’t let it consume you if you can help it.
GAUNTLY: My go to cheer up method is to go to or play shows. Nothing beats some beers and friends at a loud rock gig. Apart from this, indulging in something really absorbing like a good movie, record or book is awesome too.
If you need to get out of the house and clear out your mind, where do you head in the Boston area to chill and collect yourself?
SNEEZE: Honestly, I try to avoid busy areas while upset. I put on some headphones and ride my bike down to the Arboretum or walk down by the Charles over by the Lower Allston area, even in the rain. Reading in the library also is very relaxing on those cold or rainy days.
LEANER: I really like walking around the city a lot. I used to just lay on my couch or sit in my room when feeling really down and just melt into that, but over the past year I started taking long walks a lot more. Sometimes it’s walking into Cambridge to Harvard Square or walking down Comm. Ave to the Common or walking out to Allston or Brookline. I’ve found that’s been really great for me. Just walking and listening to music alone really helps me regroup. I used to take long drives until my car died and that would always really help. Now it’s walking and it works even better!
PUPPY PROBLEMS: I usually get a bagel and then go for a walk in Coolidge Corner even if it’s cold or something. I like to stake up in Bourbon Coffee in Porter Square with a book. The MFA has always been a safe, reflective space for me. I try hard not to buy things as a comfort.
GAUNTLY: If I need to get out of the house I usually go to the Corey Hill Park on Summit Ave in Allston and Brookline. It’s a really nice quiet place surrounded by some nice houses.
What gets forgotten when people talk about depression and suicide prevention?
SNEEZE: It’s really hard to pin point suicide prevention since there are so many people out there that all think differently. You can’t just say go out, get friends, see a therapist. I know I get very stubborn and caught in my head when depressed. The main thing is to remember you aren’t alone. Even if you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to and I think that there is the problem. It’s very hard to “get out” if you’re depressed and a lot of people “can’t” make the effort alone. Not everyone has friends or family they can turn to. To get these people aware that hotlines or groups exist is very important. It might not be the solution for every case but I feel right now it lacks, at least the knowledge that they exist. You see more prescription drug media than a simple, “Call us and chat about your problems, we can point you in the right direction.” I feel like a lot of people also keep suicide cases quiet, so a good amount of people don’t even know this is an issue. There need to be more of an effort to reach out to these people and make them aware.
LEANER: I think people just need to know how much help there is out there and how many organizations work hard to help each and every situation someone is in. It’s so easy to feel incredibly alone and feel like no one can understand what you’re going through and that a world of problems is sitting on your shoulders and a war of self-doubt and self-hate is going on in your head. But you have to remember that you aren’t alone. There are so many people that feel what you feel, albeit differently and in their own unique way, but you have to remember that you CAN keep going. There is so much good in the world, and while it can get foggy, there is always someone who cares about you, whether you know it or not.
PUPPY PROBLEMS: It’s stuff I struggle with a lot on the daily. But I will say that it often does really get better. I think capitalism tells us that being sad is wrong, but sometimes it really is ok and appropriate not to be happy. What matters is keeping yourself and the ones you love safe and healthy even things are hard and sad.
GAUNTLY: Suicide is a hard issue to tackle because it affects people differently. I think support is huge, firstly from friends and family, but also professional help like a therapist, and if necessary theres medication and things. We have to help people believe that there is an answer and a solution out there and that suicide isn’t the way.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or having thoughts of suicide, call Samaritans Inc anytime at 877-870-4673 to talk with someone free of charge.