Back in December of 2017, I was suicidally depressed. Depression had been a big part of my life for a while, but by that point all I could think about was my way out. I couldn’t help but come up with a plan, a date, and a list of conditions that, if not met by that date, I’d execute the plan. One night, for some reason, I had a strange moment of clarity about what was happening to me and I called the suicide hotline.
I felt like such a fraud on the phone. If I was calling a suicide hotline, that meant I wanted help, which meant I didn’t really want to die; at best, I didn’t want to live, which isn’t the same as wanting to die. I can see how silly that is now, but at the time, I was scared of being called out for my hypocrisy. Regardless, I called and, on their advice, drove to my local psychiatric hospital’s emergency room and spent most of the day there, being interviewed by various nurses and doctors. They told me they considered admitting me for a few weeks, which I would have agreed to, but ultimately decided I should be part of the outpatient program. They set me up with a psychiatrist, started me off with a prescription for new antidepressants and encouraged me to find another therapist. I’d been on various antidepressants for years and tried a lot of different therapists, but I felt like I needed to approach this optimistically. At the very least, I’d now done my due diligence. If I could walk away from the suicide hotline’s advice, the last line of defence, and still want to off myself, I knew I’d be able to rest peacefully, content in the knowledge that I hadn’t half-assed the decision.
But it worked. Probably because they came from a psychiatrist rather than a GP like my other meds, the new antidepressants were far and away the most effective I’ve ever had and, whether it’s because of the benefits of my new meds or just the luck of the draw, I connected instantly with my new therapist. The last two years have been good to me. I’ve got a long ways to go and I’ve run into some setbacks, but I can honestly say this is the happiest I’ve been in my whole life. I owe that, of course, to the wonderful mental health professionals who helped me, but, a part of me wants to give some credit to BoJack Horseman.
When I was in the depths of my depression, BoJack helped me understand myself in ways I don’t think I would have without it. For example, I remember thinking one day about how BoJack has a tendency to overthink the consequences of his actions, and assume that the worst possible thing will happen, and I was trying to figure out why. Until I realized that I do the same thing. I think depressives are filled with such self-loathing, and consequently spend so much time thinking about themselves, they develop a weird sort of narcissism. Whereas people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder tend to think of themselves as exceptionally talented or gifted, depressives tend to think of themselves as exceptionally bad, so any bad actions they take must lead to catastrophic events, and even innocuous actions will probably manage to fuck something up anyway. It’s an odd thing to spend so much of your life in self-loathing and then decide you need to work on managing your own self-importance, but I’ve been trying to keep in mind lately that most of my actions aren’t even memorable, let alone disastrous or capable of making multiple people hate me. Other people just don’t think about me as much or as critically as I do, so I don’t need to walk on eggshells around them. It’s still hard for me to know when I genuinely screw up and when my shitty brain is making me think that what I did is worse than it really was, but that’s something I’ll have to keep working on.
Now that I’m more emotionally stable, BoJack Horseman mainly serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come and, sometimes, how far I still have to go. In the final batch of episodes, released last Friday, a character makes an offhand remark about how he had been suicidal but held off from committing the act because the Knicks were having a good season. When asked what he would have done if they’d been having a bad season, he nonchalantly responds, “I don’t know. Gotten into baseball?” It’s a funny line, and the scene moves on quickly without dwelling on it, but it resonated with me in a way the show hadn’t for the last two years. I don’t think, before hearing that line, I’d realized how tightly I’d held on to my insecurity over calling the suicide hotline. At the root of it is something that the show touches on elsewhere in this recent half-season: people’s insecurity over whether their damage is sufficient enough to justify the ways it’s affected them. A part of me still believed that the fact that I reached out for help meant I wasn’t properly depressed enough to need that help, and all the improvements I’ve made over the last two years were predicated on a lie. But that brief moment, that acknowledgement that even people in the darkest pits of depression can and should latch on to any reason to keep living, made me feel better. It comforted me on an insecurity I’d otherwise be too scared to mention to anyone, and made me feel less alone, because if these writers were able to pinpoint exactly what I’d been feeling, then I can’t have been the only one feeling it. It was a feeling that the show had managed to stir in me many times before, but I was amazed at its ability to still do so when I was out of the deepest parts of my depression. It’s such an insignificant, throwaway line, but it’s a perfect distillation of what BoJack Horseman is to me: funny, comforting, and deeply insightful.
I don’t want this blog to come across as too sad sack-y. Like I said before, I’m doing well these days. But the show ending has, admittedly, put me in a very melancholic mood, so I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what it’s meant to me, and say goodbye. I’m really gonna miss this stupid horse show.
You need to be logged in to comment