"Solomon paraphrases Tanners argument that "sentimental people indulge in their feelings instead of doing what should be done." and cites the example of Nazi commander Rudolf Hoess, who wept at an opera staged by concentration camp prisoners. Perhaps this wasn’t simply ironic but actually casual: His sentimental experience was an escape valve releasing pressure that should have been troubling his conscious.
While its moral critics attack sentimentality because it accords an undue agency to emotions-distracting us from conceptually rigorous or logistically tenable ethics-its aesthetic opponents attack sentimentality from another direction, claiming it does our emotions a disservice by flattening them into a hyperbole or simplicity. Wallace Stevens called sentimentality a “failure of feeling,” but his syntax is ambiguous: does he mean that we’ve failed our feelings or that they’ve failed us?
This ambiguity seems to circle back to Solomon’s distinction. Is the idea that feelings are not enough, that they will fail us if we rely on them too exclusively (for ethical decisions) or milk their excessive impact too shamelessly (for aesthetic value?) Or is the idea that our language is often not enough for feelings themselves, that sentimentality forces them into artificial vessels or cheap bulk-good volumes?”
I haven’t slept in 48 hours
and this manic excited part of me is just brutalizing the living shit out of my depression out of some sadistic kind of fun just because it can. Meanwhile my eyes get darker and tired, if I stare at something long enough it becomes sort of an LSD trip and I just really want to be cute and fucking ridiculous.
I think one thing you can do to help your friends who are depressed is to reach out to them not in the spirit of helping, but in the spirit of liking them and wanting their company. “I’m here to help if you ever need me” is good to know, but hard to act on, especially when you’re in a dark place. Specific, ongoing, pleasure-based invitations are much easier to absorb. “I’m here. Let’s go to the movies. Or stay in and order takeout and watch some dumb TV.” “I’m having a party, it would be really great if you could come for a little while.” Ask them for help with things you know they are good at and like doing, so there is reciprocity and a way for them to contribute. “Will you come over Sunday and help me clear my closet of unfashionable and unflattering items? I trust your eye.” “Will you read this story I wrote and help me fix the dialogue?” “Want to make dinner together? You chop, I’ll assemble.” “I am going glasses shopping and I need another set of eyes.” Remind yourself why you like this person, and in the process, remind them that they are likable and worth your time and interest.
Talk to the parts of the person that aren’t being eaten by the depression. Make it as easy as possible to make and keep plans, if you have the emotional resources to be the initiator and to meet your friends a little more than halfway. If the person turns down a bunch of invitations in a row because (presumably) they don’t have the energy to be social, respect their autonomy by giving it a month or two and then try again. Keep the invitations simple; “Any chance we could have breakfast Saturday?” > “ARE YOU AVOIDING ME BECAUSE YOU’RE DEPRESSED OR BECAUSE YOU HATE ME I AM ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU.” “I miss you and I want to see you” > “I’m worried about you.” A depressed person is going to have a shame spiral about how their shame is making them avoid you and how that’s giving them more shame, which is making them avoid you no matter what you do. No need for you to call attention to it. Just keep asking. “I want to see you” “Let’s do this thing.” “If you are feeling low, I understand, and I don’t want to impose on you, but I miss your face. Please come have coffee with me.” “Apology accepted. ApologIES accepted. So. Gelato and Outlander?”
P.S. A lot of people with depression and other mental illnesses have trouble making decisions or choosing from a bunch of different options. “Wanna get dinner at that pizza place on Tuesday night?” is a LOT easier to answer than “So wanna hang out sometime? What do you want to do?”
I know enough to accept that loving someone will not fix any of their problems. I know that I cannot pour myself into someone else and fill up all of the empty spaces the sadness has created but, god, I wish I could.
A Breaking Bad sequel where Walt and Gale stop making meth, open a coffee shop and all Walt does from this point is yell “Fuck you! And your eyebrows!” at customers leaving Gale to pick up the pieces of Walt’s bad actions.