It's the dead of winter. It's cold, it's lonely, it's frozen and it's jarringly dark outside.
The twinkly lights of Christmas and the champagne buzz of New Year's Eve are OVER. And the landscape is looking pretty damn bleak out there, isn't it, sweet kitten?
Oh, isn't it tempting to just throw on your warmest jacket, slide those over-the-knee, faux leather boots over your faux leather leggings and strut over to the bar, drink your face off and find someone to FUCK THE PAIN AWAY with?
I get it. You're sad. You're experiencing a post-holiday depression... or you're just chemically depressed like me. And the gray skies and bitter temperatures aren't helping, are they?
I've been where you are, babes. In fact, I'm still pretty depressed. But I've learned the hard way that feeling the warm body of undeserving, random person isn't going to make you feel any better.
So here is this weekend's very important PSA: A meaningless hookup isn't going to make you any less sad.
Let me explain.
I was hit with a debilitating clinical depression when I was in my early 20s. I was living in rainy, sunless London and couldn't stop thinking about how pointless my life was, how empty my connections to other people were and how hollow my heart was.
I couldn't even go outside because I was so raw and fragile. It felt like I felt the pain of every passerby on the street. (And there is a lot of palpable pain festering in the London streets.)
I had never been to therapy. I had never read a self-help book. I had never been in any sort of program that gave me healthy tools to deal with my depression.
Fuck, I didn't even know waking up every single day wanting to die was depression. So what did baby-dyke Zara do to deal with the incessant pain destroying her life? She threw herself into a wild sea of meaningless hookups.
I was so afraid of how dark my brain would get when I was alone, I became terrified of being alone.
I didn't have many close friends back then. I was too embarrassed to open up to anyone, and when you have that kind of dumb pride, you don't make real friends.
So I did exactly what I'm warning you about in this PSA. I put on my over-the-knee boots, threw a crop top over my skeletal body (having a clinical depression can really quell your appetite), went to this disgusting, toxic pub across the street from my flat and found someone to go home with.
I didn't always have sex with them. Usually, I just wanted to kiss, cuddle and be rescued. You know, the typical damaged girl drill.
And let me tell you, it never once made me wake up and feel better.
Hooking up with another person might distract you from the dark feels in the heat of the moment, but when it's over, it'll just make you sink deeper into yourself. The sadness will creep back up no matter how many orgasms you had.
Everyone deals with sadness differently, and there is no surefire remedy that's going to make everyone feel better. But I can pretty confidently assure you, if you're seriously sad, a meaningless hookup this weekend isn't going to help.
The truth is, there is no shortcut to easing your sadness. There is no quick-fix solution to depression.
So take the energy you're giving to this random meaningless hookup and invest it in yourself. Spend the hours you'd spend in a stranger's bed sitting with your sad feelings.
Then, write about your sad feelings. Confront your sad feelings. Talk about your sad feelings, and figure out where you can get sustainable help.
When I'm feeling depressed and anxious, with a brain full of dark thoughts, I like to retreat in my apartment.
I like to do things that make me feel like a person again. I like to read books about other people who have felt the same way I'm feeling and have come out the other side feeling OK-ish now.
I also go to therapy. Seriously, if you're feeling sad this weekend, it's not a bad idea to call up a therapist and book an appointment. Leave a voicemail. Book online. There are so many affordable mental health resources out there.
The last thing I feel like doing is squeezing my body into spandex and traipsing into a gym full of blonde yoga girls and triggering frat boys who are judging the fact that I'm sweating lifting meek 5-pound weights.
(PSA: They're not judging me, but sadness can make us feel like everyone is STARING AT US, even when no one is.)
But working out will increase your serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter that plays a role in lifting your mood). Exercise is truly a great healer.
Go for a long walk outside. Get out of the darkness of your apartment, put on a pair of headphones and walk through the city listening to your favorite album from high school on repeat.
I like to stare at all the interesting people and remember how small I am and how big and undiscovered the world is compared to little ol' me, and I'll take a great comfort in that.
And the music of your youth will remind you of who you were before you started using people like they were drugs, before you started using meaningless hookups to quell the sadness and when all you had was music and creativity to heal your aching soul.
Even doing tiny acts of "self care" makes me feel a little less depressed. You know, stupid shit, like smearing my skin with a green, slimy face mask, taking a hot bath with yummy-smelling bubbles or rubbing essential oils on my inner wrists.
This makes me feel cozy and reminds me it's possible for me to soothe myself. That I don't need sex or another person to take care of me. That I can pamper myself.
I've also made appointments to talk to doctors about antidepressants, and I've gone on them, too. (I currently take 10 milligrams of Prozac.)
If you do feel like you might need some chemical help, don't let anyone shame you out of it. Don't let the fear of gaining weight or losing your sex drive or stigma from judgmental assholes stop you from doing something that could change your life.
Obviously, be responsible and see a great shrink who will guide you in the right direction. Be careful with the benzodiazepine (Xanax, Valium and Clonazepam). Those pills will definitely chill you out, but they're super addictive and extremely difficult to wean yourself off.
Cut out the people who make you feel weird or disconnected — who don't get you. Cut out the people who are mean to you or who are using you because you're glamorous, a great listener, good in bed, have a drug connection or have a club connection.
Hook back onto the people who love you unconditionally. The people who really love us don't want anything from us. They aren't going anywhere. They just want us in their lives, whether we're depressed or whether we're beaming and killing it in our careers.
Let me tell you the dangerous part of quick fixes like meaningless hookups: When we rely on quick fixes to make us feel temporarily high, we get stuck in patterns. Oh, that hookup with that asshole made me feel beautiful for a night! I MUST do it again, so I can feel pretty again!
These seemingly harmless habits strip us of the confidence that we can feel good on our own, and we become addicted to these toxic little buzzes. Before we know it, years have gone by and we've never looked at the real problem.
And then we crash. Because quick fixes aren't designed to work forever.
So tomorrow morning, when you wake up in a stranger's bed, and you feel ashamed because you READ THIS PIECE and you promised yourself you weren't going to have a meaningless hookup, I want you to close your hungover eyes.
Imagine me sitting in your hookup's bedroom, curled up in the corner like a cat. I'm wearing a tattered La Perla bra and underwear that aren't my own, if you catch my drift.
My smoky eye makeup is clearly from the night before, and I look like I've had a rough night. My hair extensions are coming out. There is eyeliner on my forehead.
I look at you with empathetic, nonjudgmental eyes and say, "Sister, don't stress out about it. I've been there. Look at me. I'm a wreck, too. But we're going to forgive ourselves. And instead of shame spiraling, we're going to go home. We're going to make a green smoothie, go for a detox walk, call up a good therapist and write our feelings down in a little notebook. We're going to retreat and be nice to ourselves. We'll take a Epsom salt bath, baby. Stop panicking. I promise it's going to be OK."
And I grab your arm and lift you out of bed, and together, we brave the subway and do the walk of shame as a united force of girl nature and begin to heal.
If you need me, message me on Facebook. I'm your lesbian big sister, and I'll be in all weekend, here for you, sweet kittens.