“When you grow up, your heart dies.” That line from The Breakfast Club is so painfully true, it shatters me every time. The good news is that you can grow a new, improved one if you’re up for it. As we mature we learn hard truths about the world, and ourselves, our innocence shatters, and we feel betrayed by all the lies and misunderstandings we had as a child. We see how ruthless people can be, and how devastating hard it is to live your dreams or find any little scrap of happiness. Growing cold and bitter can seem like a perfectly reasonable response of a sensitive creature to a cruel world.

We all know grumpy older people, and may even feel that we are becoming one ourselves, but in reality it may actually be younger people, teenagers and twentysomethings, that struggle the most with blaming their problems on others, and having sour world views. You can make disillusionment work for you if you realize you don’t need illusions to begin with.

Mariel Hemingway is attempting the lift the “curse” of self-destruction that plagues her gifted and beautiful family. The patriarchal figure, Ernest Hemingway, whose golden words still seduce the masses, is at once a symbol of robust life, and of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. There is growing research that indicates these traits: alcoholism and mental illness are often linked to genetics. Of course, a toxic or emotionally unstable family life can lead to mood problems regardless of the genetics – whether it’s nature or nurture or a poison soup of both, madness tends to run in families. In Running From Crazy, a Barbara Kopple directed documentary film that came out last year and is now getting a run on Oprah’s OWN Network, Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel Hemingway confronts her family’s decades-long curse of despair in an attempt to understand it and break free of it.

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.

The second I caught a glimpse of John William Keedy’s It’s Hardly Noticable series, my heart skipped. This is what anxiety looks like. Anxiety is about our futile attempts to control the uncontrollable. It’s a human reaction to chaos. This fence looks like notebooks I kept in adolescence (thank god I’m over my counting shit.) The clocks piece one is not my favorite visually, but it resonates with me. We’re all helpless against time. “At its worst I had a… Read more »

On October 12, 1978 20-year-old Nancy died of a knife wound to the stomach. Just a few months later her 21-year-old boyfriend Sid died of an intentional heroin overdose while awaiting a trial for her murder. Already notorious for their bad behavior, they became a myth of a couple, a punk rock Romeo and Juliet. Sid was a rock star who couldn’t really play music, but Nancy was more than a rock-n-roll groupie. She was a force unto herself.

“It hurts to look at you.” – Angela Chase, My So-Called Life Stendhal syndrome, also called Florence syndrome is a condition where it’s unbearable to confront beauty. It overtakes your senses. It overwhelms you. Turns out being slayed by beauty is another disorder. Symptoms can include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and hallucinations when exposed to great beauty, especially a lot all at once. It came happen when confronting man-made art, or just the natural world. The “illness” is named… Read more »

Rumination. It seems the most insidious symptoms of depression and anxiety all lead back to negative thoughts stuck on repeat, or creating pathways to new negative thoughts. The smarter or more creative you are, the more varied and complicated your negative thoughts can be, and that leads people to think, erroneously, that most smart people are depressed because they are logical, because they see and understand more about the real “truth of the world” than other people. I’ve heard this… Read more »

Why does my heart feel so bad? Why does my soul feel so bad? – Moby When our hearts break, it seems our whole body cries out in agony and shuts down.  We get chest pains, head aches, muscle aches, fatigue, stomach disturbances, insomnia, we sleep to much, we eat too much or not at all, we get sick. We long for some sort of relief, something to fill the massive hole we feel inside of us from what was… Read more »

Here’s a personal thing about me: when I was a teenager and younger I would sometimes find relief from my turmoil by daydreaming that my future self was visiting me to tell me everything would be fine. My future self was beautiful and healthy and told me everything would all turn out okay, and that I would be happy after all. All the details weren’t sorted out, but it was a way for me to give myself a sense of well-being.

Memories are powerful. They are the secret things that in many ways define the true essence of who we are. We’re a collection of processed experiences that shape the perception of our current reality both consciously and unconsciously. We are buoyed by the good memories, and plagued by the bad ones. The bad ones seem to linger behind every negative thought, every fear and anxiety. Just when something awful is forgotten, an unexpected trigger can send it all rushing back. Regret can smother you, even the good memories sting like a wound on fire.

We get caught in unproductive flashback loops that can flood us with depression, make us second-guess ourselves, and punish someone for a past hurt again and again. We also punish ourselves again and again.

It might be kind of wonderful to forget. To not just forget, but erase forever, and that just might be possible. would you do it if you could?