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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Doctor's orders

I took one of those depression-quiz thingies online today, and out of 45, my score was 42. I win at depression! Which I guess means I lose at life right now.

Right now. I'm stressing that. This day is not so good. Yesterday was bad. Today is even so much worse, like you would not believe. And yet I'm hanging on. No choice in the  matter, after all.

My doctor has prescribed, in addition to an increase in the medication that I am not 100% sure is working in the first place, a complete work stoppage for the next two weeks. No work. That means no blogging, which I argued was not "work," per se, but he argued back that it does in fact tax my already limited mental/emotional reserves, which I can't argue with. It is staggeringly hard to think right now. Plus it's like the keyboard designers TRIED to make it harder for us to type. I have to put so much muscle into it!

In addition to not working, I have been commanded to entertain myself like it's my job, until (please yes soon?) the meds are working. I just finished watching "Eat Pray Love" on Netflix. Julia Roberts has such a veiny face! I found the movie smug (not surprising) but diverting.

So while I won't be updating with much of anything for the next two (2!) weeks, I will be checking in. And if you have any ideas for non-challenging, soothing diversions, I am all eyes. And appreciative (if mis-firing) brain. I love you guys. I kind of mean that, like a lot.

Reader Comments (178)

1. Get chocolate.

2. Get cheesecake.

3. Get extra soda.

4. Watch Pushing Daisies. It's about DEATH! You'll feel so much better when you realize you can touch stuff! And nothing dies! Also, it's funny!


Dang, that all sounds so good it makes me wanna get a little depressed.....

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

Oh gosh, Alice. I know that blackness. Hold on tight. Things will get better.

Some things that help me:
- opening the blinds/windows
- repeating quietly to myself "I have NOT always felt this way, I will NOT feel this way forever" or "I have been happy before, I'll be happy again" or "Everything is going to be OK." Sounds stupid but it beats the endless gunk I'm usually telling myself.
- colouring in colouring books
- Harriet the Spy
- cloudspotting
- showering and brushing my teeth with absolutely no plans to get dressed or blowdry my hair after
- making a cup of tea and sipping it as slowly as possible

Be gentle on yourself.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTana

Here are a few film suggestions which are available on Netflix Instant. These range from beautiful, intense, lovely, REALLY shallow, funny. Maybe not what you're looking for, but what the whell. You've probably seen most of these anyway!


-Ballerina (Lovely. follows four young Russian dancers)
-Dominic Dunne: After the Party
-The Kid Stays in the Picture
-John Waters: This Filthy World
-Exit Through the Gift Shop

And these...

-Broadcast News (!!!)

-Slings and Arrows – Hilarious, touching series about a repertory theatre company in Toronto. Mark McKinney from Kids in the Hall co-created.

-Swimming Pool – Charlotte Rampling plays a writer who borrows her editor's home in France to get inspired/away from everything...I loved this film, but the scenery alone is worth it)

-Bright Star

-Victor/Victoria (!!!)

-Harold and Maude

-All About Eve

-Dangerous Liaisons

-Upright Citizens Brigade: ASSSSSCAT ( 2-3 of the live shows)

-Howard's End

-Party Down

-The Larry Sanders Show

-Sherlock (3 eps. of the 2010 version)

-A Room with a View

-Damage (intense, but beautiful)

-An Education

*Gosford Park (not instant)

* Waiting for Guffman (not instant)

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuinn S.

Hang in there! As a fellow sufferer, I prescribe a good brisk walk outside for at least 40 minutes every day.

I also recommed, um, doing some "handwork." Knit, embroider, learn to make hexies. Depression tries to tear you apart, and somehow putting something tangible together cancels out the shrieking in my head and makes me feel better.

You will ride through it! Hang on.

Also, maybe read some awesome fiction like Voices by Ursula LeGuin or Hounds of the Morrigan.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHP

This is a very random diversion suggestion. Go to the library, pick up "Marjorie's Vacation" (it's a YA novel written in the 20's... that will astonish you. Marjorie thinks poor people are poor because they are LAZY! Marjorie has discovered the reason for the impending Great Depression, LAZY AMERICANS. Oh, Marjorie....) Anyway, in this book, Marjorie entertains herself by building dollhouses out of shoe boxes and taking cut outs from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue and pasting them into the shoe boxes to decorate them. Sort of like an advanced version of playing with paper dolls. Which, I think you could might enjoy, I know I did as a pre-teen stuck in North Dakota at my boring grandmother's house. Crate and Barrel! West Elm! Pottery Barn! All those things white people like in one happy shoe box. I find myself wishing I had depression rest time to do it.

Anyway, I wish you well, and I'm glad you're getting the help you need. xo

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

Oh, and one more thing - if you haven't seen Downton Abbey, you must! It's streaming on Netflix and I haven't met anyone who doesn't like it. Even people who made fun of me when I described it.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

GAH. Fuck depression. Been there. I recommend eating the shit out of every processed food you can find. It will only help in the short-term, but when you feel like you want to die all the matters is the short term. Also, any ice cream with really intense dark chocolate in it. And a dark chocolate flourless torte with saigon cinnamon and ancho chili powder in it. And a long bath (with no razor blades) and some music turned up really loudly so that you can't think. Also, no thinking in general. At all. There is no good that can come of thinking when you feel like this. You need to be either doing, eating, or sleeping. Or driving someplace where you can put headphones in and walk around outside. Or watching super shitty tv, like Sex and the City while shoveling chips slathered in processed, melted cheese into your face. That's it. When we get like this, our brains need a real break and thinking doesn't help anything. I hope your meds kick in and you start feeling better soon. This shit is the worst.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I recommend coloring. Seriously - get out there on the web and find yourself some coloring pages, steal Henry's markers, and sprawl on the floor. It can be particularly satisfying to color in Disney princesses as if they are from some long-lost (original) Star Trek episode - Cinderella with green skin and orange hair!

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermek

We can sit in a bar in Park Slope and make fun of hipsters. That always makes me feel better. You call me if you need a partner in crime. I'm all over it.

*hug* hang in there, Alice. We are all rooting for you.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber, theAmberShow

Oh, also forgot - simplify anything simplifyable for the next two weeks. Someone else can do laundry. Pick out something comfy and okay to wear in public and wear it like a uniform. Don't worry about anything you don't have to worry about.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Oooh baby darling. Watch episodes of Game of Thrones. Complete trash, soft pornography, horses, wolves. Seriously. DO NOT watch movies about women who get book contracts. Yikes. Call for more help if you need it. We will all come running one way or another.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

we love you, alice!

1. veronica mars. OH YES. it is oh-so-diverting, much like mary poppins' games.
2. cee--lo's 'fuck you' on repeat.
3. so many twizzlers.
4. the barefoot contessa never ever fails to make me feel even a tiny bit better.


May 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbluejeanamy

Oh, I am so sorry you have been feeling this way! I was going to suggest yoga, until I read your previous post. What about swimming? Being buoyant has always made me feel better in my own skin. I second someone back on page one of comments who suggested Alexander McCall Smith books. I find them soothing and reassuring as to the civility of the world. Sunshine--wherever you can find it. And cooking and eating fresh and healthy food always seems like an affirmation for me. Be good and kind to yourself! You are worth it.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Alice, hang in there. I don't comment often, but I love your blog. I'm sorry you're dealing with such a hard time right now, and I hope the meds and your enforced recreation work out. I'd suggest definitely getting some exercise - something fun like dancing (I know you're flexiblity-challenged, but that doesn't mean you can't shake your tush to some great music) or riding a bike. The endorphins should help. Go be a tourist in your own town, see some live music at a lounge, get together with funny friends, find a coffee shop you've never been to before and strike up conversations with strangers.

Hope some of these ideas help - they are what help me when I'm feeling down.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBethany Seto

As I'm suffering from depression myself, I was interested to read all the comments here. Honestly, they really stress me out. Like a super long to-do list. I can't even bring myself to do something that I know I would enjoy, let alone knit, meet people, or go out of the house. That's just way too stressful / difficult. So I have no suggestions for you but lots of empathy.

Sending you lots of love. I think you are extremely brave.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTally

Yup--my friend asked me to read that book to see whether I hated it as much as she did. DING DING DING DING!!!!! I'm not watching the movie--even for Julia Roberts.

Someone has no doubt mentioned this, but just in case they haven't--spa time! massages! Facials! I'm wracking my brain for other diversions, but I suck in the entertain myself department.

But Bridesmaids is supposed to be good (and Melissa McCarthy--good stuff). As is movie popcorn. Wow--other than that, I'm useless. I really suck at this. But the thought is there!

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

1. read everything Laurie Colwin ever wrote, because she is the best, most open-hearted writer who has ever lived. ever. Then I would suggest a course of Elinor Lipman and Cathleen Schine.
2. read Weird NJ because I always read it when I am stuck at home with a sick child and for some reason it makes me feel better. Maybe because I am relieved my house is not actually a gateway to hell.
3. Watch weird foreign films. I suffer from anxiety, not depression, but I know movies about totally different places take me out of myself. Some suggestions: the lovely Danish movie Mifune; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Tampopo; Antonia's Line; Spring Summer Fall Winter; Babette's Feast. Oh, and Riget (Kingdom), a Danish miniseries about a haunted hospital that was made into a crappy remake in the US, is totally engrossing, too.
4. Nerdy fantasy fiction. COME ON YOU LOVE IT. Or, the body of memoirs concerned with people who go live in the woods or way out in the country. I have an entire shelf of that crap. Best one: Winter by Rick Bass.
5.Several friends who were battling depression in grad school (okay, let's be honest, it was basically the entire graduate student body in the English department at Brown) read Andrew Solomon's memoir of depression, the Noonday Demon, and found it comforting.
6. Repeat, This too shall pass, as many times as you need to.

And when you feel a tiny bit better, it is true, you should force yourself to go for a small walk, building up gradually. When I had my particular "episode," I took up running and I think it was vital in my recovery. I am still built like a tank, but my calf muscles and my coping skills are LIKE IRON now.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMermil

Oh, honey. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. The best thing for me whenever my depression gets really bad is to go outside and take long walks with my dog. I've enlisted my husband to kick me out and make me do it when I'm sad, and even though I'm pouty about it when he does it, I always feel better after. There's something about the sheer joy on a dog's face while he's prancing down the sidewalk next to me that always pulls me up a bit.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie

Anne of Green Gables! and a nice snuggly blanket on the couch. and grapefruit la croix. and be gentle, be gentle, be gentle.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuz

Oh Alice,

I hope the darkness lifts a bit soon & bit more each day. Depression runs in my family & every now & then I feel it too.

When this happens, I try the following:
- watch movies that make me bawl like a baby
- read books that make me bawl like a baby
- curl up in bed with above books & movies like a baby

Do you see a pattern here?

Marian Keys is one of my favourite authors & she suffers from the same (link:

Perhaps to know you are not alone helps just a bit.

Hugs from Canada,

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Light therapy is good. I have used a grow lamp (instead of paying $$$ for an official light therapy lamp). I had it suspended from the ceiling over a chair where I read a lot and would bask under the warmth. Stringing Christmas lights on a wall behind the computer (so that you can see them, not overhead) offers a lot of diffused light. Go see movies in a theater. There's quite a lot of light that is reflected off the screen and because you are in the dark, it's focused on your eyes.

Go out and window shop. Being among other people where you can lightly converse will make you feel better than being alone with your thoughts.

Learn a new instrument or a new language, both of which are extremely good for the both sides of the brain. And it will take your mind off the depression, if only for a short while.

And this will sound silly, but talk out loud to your brain. The right side and the left side of your brain have different personalities, but only one of them is dominant. If you mentally have a conversation with your brain, you are really only addressing the dominant side, but if you speak aloud, both sides of your brain can hear you. I felt really goofy the first time I did it, but the feeling of well being that I got afterwards made me a believer.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelle

Meg Ryan movie marathon: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail... all the good ones. And then try and get out of the house for 5 minutes.

Hope you're feeling better soon. Hugs.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Depression seems to hound those with powerful intellect, razor-sharp wit and blinding insight. It is beyond cruel that you bring so much joy to others, yet you suffer such excruciating personal pain.

Alice, you'll win this battle just by getting up everyday. If you can get washed as well, then that's a major bonus.

Winston Churchill once said: When you're going through hell, just keep going. Mrs Malchman says: There are better days ahead.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsmalchman

Hoping your difficult times end soon and the sun comes out.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm sorry, Alice. Thinking of you and sending you lots of lovely thoughts.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

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