The Hommemaker Guide to Getting Over It

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Dear Complete Stranger on the Internet,

The year 2013 was not my year. If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you know what happened. A relationship ended, one that was very important to me and a first in a lot of ways. My career was in flux as I stopped working daily with Emily Henderson to break out on my own, a decision that was difficult for both of us as we were (are) best friends and working together every day felt like being with family.  My financial situation was a roller coaster, dire, and stress-filled. Basically I got dog-piled by life. I was at the bottom of a horrible, depressing heap. It happens to a lot of people. If you go through life without having a span of experiences that results in a depression, you’re extremely lucky. Or a sociopath.

It may come as a surprise but I am not a psychiatrist so everything I say here is based on my own experience and understanding of the world, but I hope my year-long depression spell and my escape from it can be inspirational for people experiencing the same thing now, so despite my lack of confidence about whether I actually have the authority to write this kind of advice, I’m going to anyway. Thank you, Internet!

Every calendar milestone that has happened this year, Valentines Day, Memorial Day, my birthday, Halloween, etc, have been a reminder of how absolutely depressed I was last year. My birthday especially. I remember throwing a party at a friend’s house, which I was house sitting for the summer because I couldn’t face living alone in my apartment which I’d shared with my ex. My ex came to the party, it was awkward. And extremely sad. About 100 people attended, it somehow turned into a larger party than I’d anticipated. Maybe I tried to make it into that to somehow feel validated that so many people showed up for me, after months of feeling like nothing. As the night dwindled, and guests tapered off, I finally was left all alone in a large, dark, echoing house in Windsor Square. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as lonely in my life. The candles had all burned out. The music was off. Dim light poured in the windows from street lights. And I was completely alone.

I cleaned up party cups long enough to convince myself that I was substantially sober and drove back to the apartment I’d shared with my ex and tried to sleep. But couldn’t. I just stared at the ceiling thinking. “How am I going to get over this? How am I going to feel better?”

So I guess that’s the reason I’m writing this. Just remembering how awful that feeling was. How incredibly heavy my body felt, as if it might sink through that bed, into the apartment below, until it reached the center of the earth. Not in a funny way like in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” when the mom falls through the ceiling (wait? was that funny? I actually haven’t even seen that movie). In a sort of out of body, terrible way that makes you question if life is ever going to be good again.

The following are things I did that ultimately resulted in me becoming happy again. If you have serious, clinical depression, obviously consult a doctor. If your depression is symptomatic of a series of misfortunate events, perhaps try doing what I did. If you’re not depressed at all and have never been depressed, stop reading this immediately and go watch a cat video or something.

moca011. Get Out of Your House 

It’s important to remind yourself of good things, things to be glad for. So get out and taking advantage of beautiful things around you. I made a pact with myself to go somewhere new every weekend, just on little day trips I took in the car. Often by myself. I went to Ojai, Joshua Tree, Santa Barbara, all over the state. I went back to New York a few times, it’s a place that’s always given me confidence because I spent so much time there, ending up there post college was the realization of one my deepest childhood dreams. Find a place that inspires you and go there. It might not be the outdoors like it is for me, but I’m sure you know of a place you can go that you love. Getting out, appreciating, enjoying places you love (or perhaps discovering some new ones) is such a great way to revitalize your life and remind yourself that you still have an entire life to live.

tumblr_n9i1vgIIzI1rs81xfo1_12802. Randomize Your Routine

Changing your routine on a daily basis is a good way to rip you out of your own life. I switched gyms and would workout at totally different times. I’d eat different stuff every day, try out new recipes, do anything to escape monotony. Being distracted by trying new and exciting things is a good way to distract yourself from your own depression. Monotony and staleness are the enemy here because they allow you to play into the story you tell yourself when you’re depressed. That nothing is new, life is boring, there’s not much to live for. Switching it up, trying new things, making new friends, helps you realize that you still have potential to grow and learn.

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3. Look for New Things to Put in Your Brain to Replace Dark Thoughts

If you’ve lost your faith in yourself, humanity, your community, whatever, there are places that will help restore your faith. For me it’s art museums. Looking at all the crazy things that come out of other people’s brains is kind of inspiring. I was particularly taken by one Cy Twombly painting at LACMA (above). It’s so expressive, illogical, and beautiful. Looking at art (or watching films or reading books) is a wonderful way to remind yourself of the potential of human beings. And ultimately of your own potential. It’s a nice way of restoring hope for the future.

Only-A-Little-Scary-An-Interview-With-Jeffery-Self-14. Overshare Everything All The Time Until You Feel Better

I like this tip because it’s actually not what I did at all. My approach to dealing with my breakup, depression, and anxiety was to keep it as quiet as possible, mentioning it here and there on my blog when I thought it might be useful to someone. I kept almost everything to myself. During the same time, my writer/actor/comedian friend Jeffery Self took the opposite tactic. He unleashed a rage upon the internet, calling out his ex for everything from stealing the dog to his dating choices. While his actions were admittedly extreme, they ended up ultimately being productive and led to him being able to have a friendship with his ex – they worked through their issues in public. I admired his approach, because it was one I was too worried about being responsible to my ex to take (I didn’t want to write a one-sided story while he had no voice to respond). Jeffrey definitely experienced backlash, but ultimately he got to say his piece without a filter and that was both cathartic and community building for him. He alienated some of his fans, but many appreciated his candor because it was relatable and genuine.

Sometimes you just have to scream out your feelings, get them out of you, and move on. Those who truly care about you will forgive you for not being diplomatic.

orlando-soria-bedroom-35. Rearrange Your Furniture. Daily If Necessary.

Those who know me know I rearrange my apartment about once a week. I didn’t think about it until recently, but there is something completely therapeutic about it. Moving furniture helps you see your space in a new way, makes your life feel less routine. But it’s not just about keeping the view fresh. Refreshing your space, adding new art, painting the walls, changing out lighting, is a way of showing yourself some respect, reminding yourself that you’re worth having a nice space. Making your place beautiful is the perfect confidence booster. Also, if you’re doing it yourself, the physical labor involved will likely be good for your depressed body (side note: I’m not going to give you the “exercise more” tip even though I think it’s a good one because it’s usually the last thing you want to do when you feel so depressed you want to die).

So there you have it, my tips for getting over whatever you need to get over. From the depths of a depression, it’s hard to imagine things ever feeling better. But I’d like to remind you that I am proof that they will.

Good friends will tell you that you really need time more than anything, which is true. Sometimes you just have to wait it out until you feel better. But that shouldn’t stop you from at least trying to feel better. You’re definitely worth the effort, even if it might not seem like it now.

Love,
Orlando

Images: Manuel Moncayo via Filth & Wisdom, I Am Yours, LACMADesign BoomNils Staffan Liede,

27 Comments

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27 Responses to The Hommemaker Guide to Getting Over It

    • You are telling my story and it’s making me feel so much better. I have be doing many of the things you suggest . . . except the moving furniture and now I’m super excited about cultivating that habit. Thank you, thank you for the right words and the right time.
      xoxxox
      ps- my dad’s name was Orlando. Every time I read your name I smile.

  1. Orlando, just want to say you are my absolute hero. I thought this was an awesome post. I went through something similar recently as I was living in London and hating it and working in a job I didn’t like. Now I have my own business and moved to Paris and everything is epic! Yay for both of us. Thank you for being the one of the two funniest men I know of in the world (the other being my husband 🙂 xoxo

  2. Thank you for your honest and sincere post!
    I am right with you on rearranging furniture. My hubby hates it but I need it once in a while- something to make things looks promising again!

  3. Kate

    The rearranging furniture is a trick I employ often any time I feel stuck (work, life, days that end in y).

    Thank you for sharing. I totally agree – you rock.

  4. Lisa

    Lovely piece. Thank you. Always enjoy your writing and this one particularly resonated. X

  5. Kristin

    This is a great post. I had never really felt as sad as I have in the past year & a half so it’s taken me some time to work through it. It was both issues with myself & issues dealing with my boyfriend of 10 years so it has been tough on the both of us, but I’ve been making my way back up. It can be easy to stay in your slump, but changing things up like you suggested definitely helps & it’s worth all the effort it takes!

  6. Amazing post, thank you so much. Love all your work, but I love this in particular x

  7. Great advice and great writing. Thanks.

  8. Lacy

    I always look forward to your honest and often hilarious posts!
    Thank you for sharing you life with the Internet.

  9. Lee

    The most practical, and yet emotionally real, post I’ve seen in a long time. We all have those years and I’m sure this will help many for whom 2014 is that year. Thank you for sharing!

  10. M

    This is the best timing. This year has been my rough year, including a bad car accident, the end of a work assignment that I’d had since 2009 (that was amazing during the good parts), and, in the last few weeks, a bunch of things going wrong (and I’m not even getting into all of it). Everything is situational so I know it will eventually pass, but…dayum. I’m taking your advice starting now. Thank you (fellow Cornellian).

  11. Lynnie Gill

    Hi Orlando, I got to know you initially via Emily Hendersons blog. Your words here have reached across the ocean and touched my heart in Australia. thank you! Such a brave and honest post. You rock, and fab karma coming your way… Lynnie

  12. Wow, Orlando, this post touched me deeply, and I applaud you for having such clarity about it. (Granted, a year later.) I particularly like your #2 because I tend to find monotony comforting, but you’re right–it does lead to staleness and staleness leads to sadness for me. Thank you for this heartfelt reminder, and I’m happy that you’ve emerged from the “tunnel” and are starting to see brighter days. I am touched by your honesty, as I’m sure is everyone who reads this. Sending good vibes your way…

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  14. Megan

    Thanks for sharing, Orlando! We all get stuck in ruts (or depressed) and I think what you posted here is so true… breaking the cycle of monotony, experiencing new things, and appreciating what we have is the best way to bring new purpose to your life.

  15. Callie

    Thank you for sharing!!!

  16. Marilyn

    Can’t thank you enough!

  17. Janet

    Orlando,
    Beautiful, touching, healing, real. True Blessings and Gratitude,
    Janet

  18. I think you’re terrific

  19. Danielle

    This is awesome. And so are you!

  20. Hilarious and touching. Nice to hear that from a male’s POV the steps echo a female’s. I’d add or take a away here and there, but what’s life but personalized variations of same journey we’re all on?

  21. Some great advice here, and bravo to you for being so open and honest. Many people, especially young men, keep things to themselves and the depression just gets worse and worse and in some cases can lead to suicide, which I have written about as an experience that has marked my life http://macarthursmutterings.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/suicide-takes-way-too-many-lives-and-damages-those-left-behind/ and made me have to deal with bouts of depression over the years, so thank you again for sharing

  22. Carol

    Orlando, Thank you for such an honest post! 2013 was also an awful year for me and everything you have suggested is true. I also want to say how much I love your posts, your work, and you! Sending hugs and love from NYC!

  23. danielle

    Thanks for sharing Orlando- I look forward to your kooky sense of humor-and I also reeaaally appreciate that you are willing to share topics like this as well that let some of us know we are not alone. Sending some disgusting love vibes your way.;)

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