My first grade physical education class gave us the option of sitting out most days. Since I preferred to use that time to escape into other worlds, this was a boon for me. There was another reason I loved sitting on the bleachers during P.E.: there was a young girl who would often volunteer to play with my hair. The sensation this caused in me was like any other. It was comfort and warmth, but it was also a physical tingling that I felt below the surface of my skin. It was the most relaxing thing on Earth.

The Right To Die debate in the U.S is seeing a slow increase in states willing to take on statues allowing terminally ill people to peacefully end their lives when they want to. People like Brittany Maynard, who moved to Oregan so she could end her life before brain cancer made her life unbearable, give faces and stories to champion the right of an individual to legally end their life when they’re up against the ravages of a devastating illness. But, should patients be able to end their lives over distressing chronic mental disorders like depression and anorexia? In Belgium and the Netherlands, people are doing just that.

Fresh off the heels of consuming Season 2 of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning of the hit series about depression, alcoholism, and loneliness.

The fact that it’s a cartoon with the further absurdity of anthropomorphized animals helps the Raphael Bob-Waksberg-created series get deep into to the dark little heart of melancholia. Distance can give us sharp perspective, and helps us open up about things often kept hidden in the stark light of real humans in real human skin. Animation can help us be more honest sometimes, (and so can funny voices.)

Social anxiety is fueled by ego, it’s fueled by that terrifying sense of ourselves as the center of everything. It’s huge burden to be the core of the world. It’s no wonder we freeze with terror at the thought of doing anything at all, of standing out, of creating ripples that might be felt. The thought that there are other worlds out there just as fragile and large as ours can make the terror and dread even worse. What if… Read more »

Sadness is such a difficult part of ourselves. Life, it often seems, would be better without it. But that’s not exactly true. I kind of like my sadness, as long as it’s balanced. When things go wrong, I’d rather just be quiet with it than to feel nothing at all. It can feel good to hurt, or to at least bring the hurt up to the surface enough to get it out through tears, words or hugs. Life itself is incredibly tough, and that’s why we need sadness to get us through. If we ignore it too much, the world takes on a dishonest veneer, and we feel a bit dishonest ourselves. We need to just talk, listen and rest sometimes. Sometimes we just need to say, simple as it is, “Yeah, it’s sad.” Pete Docter’s Pixar animated film Inside Out examines this importance of sadness in a way that’s never been done before on screen, maybe never been done before at all.

Amy Winehouse drank herself to death with vodka while watching videos of herself on Youtube. That fact, a fairly simple and sad demise labeled as a “misadventure” by the British coroner, came out two years after her death. Before the official report was released there was a lot of speculation about what transpired on Amy’s last night on Earth, and which drug, or drugs, was the one that took her away from us. Most of us, her parents included, didn’t want to believe that it was alcohol, the legal, highly marketed toxin most adults imbibe fairly regularly. We wanted it to be a “harder” drug, something more complicated and difficult to procure. Her parents seemed to want to deflect, to deny that it was anything at all, to say Amy had been doing well. Despite their will to believe otherwise, her public appearances shortly before her death seem to point to the fact that Amy was doing worse than ever. Her only drug at the time may have been alcohol via episodic binges, but that’s more than enough. If her parents couldn’t truly see her, how could she expect anyone to?

Ken Cosgrove has in his reach the perfect setup for an aspiring author: thanks to his marriage situation, he could take of advantage of all the money and time needed to hammer out his first novel. He only toys with this dream briefly, though, this glimmering life not lived, before going back to tracing the same old circles with his hours, this time fueled by revenge. Is that all there is?

It’s intentionally difficult to gauge when It Follows is supposed to be set. Everything has a vintagy feel. The old televisions, cars, and black-and-white movies make it seem like a hipster’s dream. A driving 80’s horror-synth soundtrack (by Rich Vreeland of Disasterpeace) follows the characters as they live a sleepy life in an run-down suburb of the further disintegrating Detroit, and their lives are accented by stylistic beauty of a curated mix of relics from different decades. The only nod to the “present” exists both in the future and the past: a pink kindle-iphone type device that looks like a 1960s pink clamshell compact. It’s a brilliant touch that had me craving it immediately and hating that it didn’t actually exist.

David Sutherland’s three part documentary Country Boys is one of my favorites. It lasts six hours, but I wish it went on for hundreds. The series follows two interesting young men growing up in Appalachian Kentucky: Cody Perkins and Chris Johnson. While Cody has a tragic back-story and is extremely open-minded, thoughtful, and articulate, Chris is the one who truly haunts me. I hope and I wish that Sutherland films an update about these two since it’s about a decade since he first embedded himself in their lives. Spoilers ahead.