Sad Sack Status, or Demolition Man Saved My Life

The problem with writing about something that’s close to your heart is that it feels like the words are never right. You start to overthink every letter of every word until it seems like there’s no point. There’s never any point, is there?

This is how my brain works all the time. I find a point, I start to think, and then I think it down to “what’s the use?”

Every. Single. Time.

When I was in therapy, my therapist told me that this is a type of catastrophizing that I do to cope with… I don’t really know what. But it’s a problem. (I’m sure you could have guessed by now that I’m also exceptionally good at plain ol’ catastrophizing as well. I can turn the happiest of occasions into a potential inferno of death and destruction. It’s a skill, just… not a good one.)

I’ve learned a lot of coping skills over the years. When I start to feel down, I remove myself from my feelings. If I’m sitting around getting sad, I get up and get moving. I go somewhere. I get a coffee. I call my mother. I listen to happy music and dance around and read books. I keep my brain distracted (1). It’s better for me, and everyone involved, if I dance my way through feelings of negativity when those feelings have no root in reality. If I dwell, if I keep letting myself dig that hole deeper, I’ll be halfway to China in tears before I realize that no, not everyone hates me, and it isn’t worth assuming that my dog also hates me because, well, she’s a dog and, let’s face it, that Muppet loves me. The cat though? That little shit definitely hates me.

But, for all my coping skills, sometimes my brain gets overloaded with negativity. I call this, naturally, Being An Unrelenting Sad Sack. These are the times when hiking, dancing, talking, laughing, and stuffing my face won’t do it. I have a special way of hoping with Sad Sackyness (… I may need a new term) – I bust out my best friend: Demolition Man.

Wait… What the hell, Stephanie? Demolition Man? That Sylvester Stallone movie with Wesley Snipes that everyone vaguely remembers but no one actually liked? You say.

Yes. That one.

Anyone who’s talked to me for longer than five minutes knows my love of Demolition Man. It is listed as my religion on Facebook, and I have no shame in that. There’s a really simple reason why…

Demolition Man Saved My Life [2].

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Last year, I spent a lot of time wallowing in self-pity and depression. A lot of my life had changed, and even though it was slow change, it was still a lot of change to cope with at once. I was so overwhelmed that none of my coping mechanisms worked. On top of all of it, I got diagnosed (sort of) with a super rare, super fun health thing (that I will expand on later) that required me to be on extremely high does steroids for treatment.

I was gaining weight rapidly. I had acne. My face looked like a full moon. I couldn’t regulate my feelings, or even identify them well. I was, without a doubt, in deep, deep Sad Sack Territory. It was on a particularly hard day, a day where I cried until my eyes were dry (literally), and couldn’t call anyone or talk to anyone or hug my dog any tighter to feel better. Thanks to chance, I caught Demolition Man on TV. I think that John Spartan knew I was in the bitter throws of depression and was reaching out to me from 2032. I sat still under my blankets and watched that movie from start to finish. I didn’t laugh, but I snorted, chuckled, and forgot all about whatever was keeping me from seeing the entire world in front of me that, quite frankly, doesn’t suck all the time. I paid attention to a movie that deserves no attention. I turned my brain off. Demolition Man helped me hit the reset button in my brain.

After that solid 115 minutes of mind numbing action, damaged but entertaining plot, and stupid but fun dialogue and jokes, I felt refreshed. I took 115 minutes and turned off my brain. I hit pause, and when I hit play on life again, it didn’t seem so awful.

Over the next few weeks, I watched Demolition Man more than 5 times a week (one day in particular, I watched it 3 times in one day… No shame!). I spent time watching other action and sci-fi movies that I loved and had forgotten – The Fifth Element, and a number of Jason Statham flicks. I committed myself to dumbing myself down, not spending time wallowing in my brain, and feeling a metric fuckton better about everything.

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Did it work? No, not really. Kind of.

Eventually the depression always crept back in. In was a combination of things that helped me recover – the movies, my trip to Ireland and Amsterdam, therapy, a new job, and finally accepting that it was absolutely fine to feel things sometimes because fuck, we’re human beings, and we have feelings… At least until they can make us robots [3].

I wrote this because I don’t know if anyone has ever truly grasped why I like and defend Demolition Man as much as I do. It is, and may always be, the second most important film in my life [4].

Plus… who doesn’t love a blonde Wesley Snipes?

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I wrote this in a rush in the Newark Airport. I’m sure there are typos and the grammar is probably a mess. But I wanted to kick myself back into the habit of using this, and the best way to get in the pool is just to throw yourself in.

Hi again. I’ve missed you.

Notes.

1: I would like to take a moment to point out that I don’t distract myself from valid feelings. It’s taken me a lot of time to come to terms with having feelings (sign me up to be the first person to become a robot, feelings are stupid, etc., etc..), and while I still apologize for them more than I should, I cry them out.

2: This might be a slight exaggeration.

3: Seriously. Make me a robot. I hate feelings. They’re dumb.

4: The first is The Bride of Frankenstein. Thank you Dads & The Kennedy Center for that one.

5: Gifs stolen from wherever. Sorry?