I began sending out a newsletter every time I cried because I thought it would be funny. A compulsive journaler obsessed with keeping track of my various mental health issues—depression, anxiety, severe suicidal ideation, ADHD—I never had much desire to keep any of my mental health issues a secret. Talking about what I’m going through openly helps me overcome the worst, to release my emotions out so I can be free of their weight, to be not embarrassed about who I am. I wasn’t sure who would want to get the email and what I would even say in them. But having to explain what’s been going on with me over the past six months has helped me better understand why I feel and who I am. Here’s what happened, excerpted:
subject: teared up
life is hard.
subject: crying, unexpectedly
i was walking home, rushing because i have work, feeling anxious about picking the ideal food, a food i could stomach eating, a food i could desire because i’ve had issues with my appetite lately but feel really hungry — whatever besides the point — when a car full of men began catcalling me. it was flamboyant catcalling. loud and silly and performative. i think one of them howled “scooby dooby doo” at one point and there were a lot of “damns,” comments about my body, etc.
i’ve been getting catcalled since i was quite literally 10-years-old — grew up in manhattan — i can handle it, BUT there was a group of sort of hipsterish looking guys walking toward me who witnessed the whole thing. being silently watched amplified the feeling of deep inhumanity that comes along with getting sexually harassed. there’s a real humiliation to getting catcalled — an implicit understanding that, A. this might not be happening if i was dressed differently, and B. it’s a reminder that, as a rule, strangers have no fucking respect for you for reasons that are largely outside of your control. i can usually swallow that. but having one group of men witness another group of men aggressively catcall me felt like shit, and not because i was looking for them to save me, just because having someone witness something, especially someone who is going to construe you as a victim, makes your innate victimhood more real. had women bore witness, at least they would understand.
then there’s this anger that comes up with all this shit stealing away your time and energy — i walked a couple blocks out of my way because i didn’t want to walk in the same direction as the car. i didn’t end up getting food. i fucking spent time tweeting about it. then i started crying. then i wrote this fucking email. it took up a moderate portion of my time because i am who i am, for sure, but i want to be in control of how i spend my time.
anyways, the crying was brief and now it’s over. i’m fine. i should order food and get to work now.
welp, suppose it’s all right summer is ending. i love wearing shorts, but the repercussions of doing so almost seem not worth it.
until next time,
subject: cried a little bit in a bar last night
approximately half my sexual experiences from ages 15 to 20 were nonconsensual. i don’t say this to shock anyone. it just comes with the territory of being a woman. you become sexually active; bad things happen. the thing no one tells you about getting sexually assaulted is that you’re not always sure if it happened, if it was your fault, because sometimes, it sure feel like it partially is.
it’s easier not to discuss sexual assault in this way. the reason we talk about it in such black and white terms is because no one believes women when we say we got assaulted. what i mean to say is this:
i’m 18, visiting a friend from high school in chicago, first time there and he’s the only person i know, i’m more or less stuck with him. one night, he takes me to a party at his friend’s apartment, where we’ll sleep because it’s in a supposedly unsafe neighborhood. my friend hasn’t been particularly nice to me throughout my stay and i get tired-drunk at the party and go to sleep early. he comes into the bedroom hours later—we’re sharing a bed, which is no big deal to me—to go to sleep. when he comes in, i realize i’ve fallen asleep with my very tight uncomfortable jeans on and i take them off and proceed to try to fall back asleep. suddenly, i feel him groping my breasts, reaching his hands around my underwear, and i’m frozen in shock. i say nothing. finally i muster the courage to grab my pants and go, but i’m in stuck in this frigidly cold stranger’s apartment in an unfamiliar and i don’t know anyone else there. (this is pre-iphone, like, damn.) i spend the night trying to sleep on the couch, using my coat as a blanket because i can’t find one, shivering. i am so so trapped. the next day, we have breakfast, i say nothing. (was it my fault for taking off my jeans?)
that is, when it comes down to it, what i cried about last night. that trip to chicago certainly is a small bad thing that happened to me; it’s certainly not the worst that’s happened. the crazy thing? i was triggered by seeing the bed intruder meme video.
i cried about it last week too but didn’t send out an email.
subject: cried all last night, crying now, will likely cry tomorrow
i feel cold and extremely alone and also lonely. i really don’t enjoy being alive or my life and i’m very overwhelmed and i can’t stop crying about it. i don’t have much more to say. don’t @ me.
subject: this comes as a surprise to no one, but i cried again last night
i had some important meetings last night. they all went so well! then i got home and cried for hours because i really, really, really, really wanted to kill myself.
i cried for a very very very very long time. probably hours. i cried because i wanted to kill myself and i didn’t know what was stopping me.
i didn’t end up killing myself. look at me, here i am, writing this email, alive.
also, i appreciate everyone’s concern, suicidal ideation is scary and you wanna help, i get it. but i do this newsletter as a way to track my emotions and as an art project. none of us need to fear crying!!! it’s ok to cry!!!! it’s ok to want to kill yourself all the time and it doesn’t mean you’re broken or bad. in fact, you can be functional, like me. (except when you’re not functional, like me, last night.)
so for the love of god, stop suggesting i do XYZ to get better. first of all, i didn’t ask for your opinion lol. but moreover i have a good therapist and a good psychiatrist and good friends and good family and a ton of support. i have people to go to. i just also write this KOOKY-ass newsletter.
ok should go do real work now.
subject: teared up a tiny bit on friday, but haven’t really been crying
on september 30, the night before my 23rd birthday, i half-assed a suicide attempt. i’m glad i didn’t go through with it. the next day, my birthday, i made the decision to quit drinking, at least for the time being. i also began taking zoloft. those two things combined have improved my life drastically. i feel happier, more awake, refreshed, actually excited to be alive!! it’s truly beautiful. but the combination of the new meds and the no alcohol means i haven’t been able to cry.
so i flourish but my newsletter dies? maybe. who knows what pain stands before me, what will trigger my next bout of uncontrollable weeping. the future is unwritten. but for now, my eyes are dry.
i managed to muster a couple measly tears—a tiny, virtually impotent load—when i was flying from portland, oregon to new york city on friday. they weren’t tears of sadness, but tears of longing. i wish i could’ve cried more, but i’m glad i’m no longer a weeping machine.
until next time,
subject: unsurprisingly, I cried on 11/9
when I woke up the morning of 11/9, I cried a little bit. if it weren’t for Zoloft, I imagine I’d still be crying. I’m so afraid for what will happen to women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ folks in this country. I’m concerned for mentally ill people like me, all the people who are silent and terrified and want to die. I’m scared of what happens if I lose my health insurance, if I can’t afford my medications. It’s a scary fucking time. I’m grateful to have amazing friends and family and mental health professionals in my life.
Fight the white supremacist heteropatriarchy.
Until next time,
subject: why I cried last night
while I was crying last night I begrudgingly said, “oh great. now I have to write a newsletter.”
since I returned home from a two-week trip to Oregon earlier this week, I’ve been feeling very depressed, overwhelmed with this anger—that I have to be alive, that I have to deal with the utter exhaustion of existence, that I have to take a cocktail of pills to be a functional person in this world.
when will being alive get less exhausting? when will I be able to have real fun, to feel joy without pain? when will the self-hatred rest? when will I become less reliant on other people to feel worthy?
I felt mad and indignant about my mental illness because even though things in my life are going well—friends, family, romance, work are all very good right now—that I still have these feelings. circumstance helps depression, but doesn’t fix anything. I know this and I’ve always known this. but it nevertheless felt so deeply unfair that my psychology propels me toward these death-thoughts, this haunting misery.
I ended up FaceTiming with someone I really like for hours and that made me feel a lot better. having support and love is so important, and I’m lucky to have it.
today I feel less bad than yesterday. that’s the life of a depressive—things are better now than they were and it will forever be a struggle to remember life is worth living. but it is.
until next time,
subject: do you ever start imagining all the terrible ways your life could play out…
do you ever start imagining all the terrible ways your life could play out and start to tear up? being alive is scary and hard—having depression means it’ll always be hard. even though things are better now for me than it has been in the past but it doesn’t mean things are easy. so the world keeps turning.
until next time,
subject: happy inauguration i cried again
yesterday i found out i won’t have health insurance until march and there’s nothing i can do to get it before then and cried about it. i cried about it again this morning. also donald trump will officially be president in a matter of minutes. i’m fucking terrified. i’m so fucking terrified.
until next time,
subject: cried yesterday and today
unsurprising considering what’s going on in the world.
i cried because a lot of the suicidal thoughts i’ve been working so hard to overcome began flooding back this weekend. my boyfriend, who was visiting me went back home, and i had to go off my zoloft for a bit after i lost my health insurance. i was feeling so scared and afraid for the future and all i could think about was wanting to die so so badly. a video about suicidality popped up in my facebook feed and i lost it because i related.
i wept all morning, and then the zoloft my doctor sent from canada finally arrived, which made me feel infinitely better.
i worry for all the other people who will struggle to get their medication if the ACA is further gutted or repealed. i worry for the muslim immigrants and refugees who have been banned from entering our country. i am worried.
until next time,
subject: i cried again but i swear it’s not my fault
over the past week, my depression and anxiety surged, slowly engulfing me—hasn’t felt so bad since before i quit drinking. i hate the feeling—severe depression turns you selfish, lazy, and worst of all, it compels you to do nothing but feel bad for yourself.
the narrative goes: why me why do i have to be alive why is being alive so hard for me why am i not dead i wish i was dead if i was dead i wouldn’t worry about all this stuff i wouldn’t be in all this pain.
though i was barely able to leave my apartment this weekend, today i felt determined to do better than yesterday, to leave the house before the sun went down, to get some work and errands done. no crying, i told myself. i didn’t want another day helplessly stuck in the prison of my bed.
my mission to have a better day was, however, wrecked once i realized something can gone awry with my finances. i know i’ll ultimately be OK, but the whole ordeal exacerbated the pain and anxiety i had been trying to move past all day. i broke down and wept and probably (definitely) screamed a little.
even though i was “in a state,” having a lil breakdown ultimately brought me some feeling of catharsis. even though i’ve cried a bunch the past week—and will likely continue to cry in the very near future, if history’s taught me anything—this cry felt more necessary. some cries, you just ruminate in your pain and your self-pity and eventually you stop but only because you tire yourself out. other cries, better cries, begin with that self-pitying feeling, but the act of crying allows you to release it; in this case, you stop crying because you stop feeling so sad. i’d like to think my cry today was one of those better cries, but i’m still too close to the situation to make an evenhanded assessment.
i also talked to my mom and my best friend, who both really helped me feel better. i know i say this all the time, but i really am forever grateful for all the support i have in my life.
until next time,
Eve Peyser is a writer and comedian who lives in New York. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, GQ, Esquire, the Washington Post and Gawker. She is currently the night editor at Gizmodo. Get an email every time she cries: tinyletter.com/crying.