I am on a sad-movie-watching binge. It started a few weeks ago. Wait. No. It probably started when I was in third grade and there was no grownup home until 8pm, so after school I went to the movie theater every day for a week to watch Wilbur lose Charlotte and learn to fend for himself.
I think people who have sadness in their life use movies to work out their sadness by seeing it in other people. You know that truism about how we see other people so much more clearly than we see ourselves? It’s true for seeing other people’s disorders as well. Wilbur doesn’t work for me anymore, but trichotillomania does.
Because while I was sitting for school pictures with no eyebrows, thinking I was the most insane person in the world, four percent of all people were also pulling out their hair. And while I was playing beach volleyball with shorts on because I couldn’t stop plucking pubic hair, doctors were adding trichotillomania to the DSM as a form of OCD.
I wish I hadn’t spent so much time hating myself for plucking. I was doing fine, I just needed help with anxiety and OCD. Well, and with carpal tunnel, which is a common result of pulling hairs so obsessively for so long. So you can be sure that when I saw a reference to the movie Trichster, I was captivated. Trichster? I haven’t heard that term before. Now pulling hair is for cool kids? They get a nickname?
So, I watched the movie. It’s a great way to understand what makes people pull their own hair out. I got sad all over again about how lonely it feels to hate yourself.
Last week I watched a documentary about logging. Loggers wear earplugs so the chainsaw doesn’t make them deaf, but then they can’t hear when a tree is about to fall. So they die. One hundred loggers die each year. Should they choose deafness instead?
I also watched a documentary about the Fyre festival. It turns out the whole Frye debacle is the result of Billy McFarland’s incredible hubris, but also his incredible social media skills. Generational schadenfreude makes me giddy when the narrator focuses on the millennial need to be part of everything important—or simply imply involvement with a photo.
One interviewer says McFarland was always surrounded by people, but it was like there were no people because no one ever gave him useful feedback. Relying on input from other people could have saved McFarland. In another interview an influencer says it’s his job to promote his brand. When asked what his brand is, the guy says, “My brand is about happiness and wellbeing.”
Happiness and wellbeing? I hate him: so much BS.
Then I have an epiphany: my brand is about negativity and mental health! That’s where I should put my energy.
Immediately I tell my epiphany to Amelia. Because I have new ideas all the time—like they are trees and I’m a logger and I need a friend around or I’ll get hit.
She says, “What? That is not your brand. Your brand is authenticity and being true to yourself.”
I say, “Oh.” And then, “Thank you.” Because see? She saved me.