I don’t know about the rest of you, but during these past six months, I’ve been chasing every serotonin high I can possibly wrap my brain around. For a while, my entire life was video games. The cheerful certainty of Animal Crossing: New Horizons kept me company when the world was too big and too dreadful to think about. And then when the sickly sweet nature of that game became overwhelming, my focus turned to conquering Breath of the Wild, exploring a magnificent world from the comfort (and safety) of my couch. Stardew Valley was next. Hours and hours and hours of my real life were dedicated to this virtual farm. It was comforting, not having to worry about anything beyond whether my plants were watered every day. Pixelated or not, sunflowers are always pretty.
Any ounce of joy I’ve managed to find, I’ve clutched on to it with as much willpower as I have, grasping that good feeling in my fist like a dandelion about to scatter in the wind... Which is a pretty way of saying the pandemic depression has been real, y’all.
Even as I marvel at the resiliency and creativity of human beings and their ingenious solutions to impossible problems, I can’t help but miss hugs. There are days where I can’t remain positive, where that doesn’t even seem like a viable option. Some days I forget words or find myself behaving awkwardly around people I think of as my found family, because it’s almost like I don’t remember how to be a human. It’s rough. But I know I’m not alone. The other day I was having a conversation with a fellow Book Squad member, someone who has been lovingly nicknamed "the book fairy” because she’s eternally cheerful, incredibly kind, and somehow knows the perfect book to recommend, every single time without fail.
I brought up my inability to think, to remember words, and I found solace in someone saying, oh yeah, that happens to me, too. We also talked about Art, and the importance of creative professions, and how, as a collective, we’ve all relied on films and books and music to make it through the day. To remind ourselves what it is like to experience joy.
With that in mind, here is what has been giving me the boost I need when I’m at my lowest. Snatches of serotonin that make me laugh, bring me to cathartic tears, or inspire the muscles in my face to move upwards in a smile.
Are you in need of a hug, too? Well, I’ve got something for you.
It's no secret that One Direction is my all-time favorite band (yes, you heard me correctly) and this is my go-to album whenever I need to get my body moving, when a solo dance party is in order, when belting along to "Best Song Ever" is the cure for my low mood.
When I want to wallow, there's nothing better than "Falling." What if I'm someone I don't want around? Oooof, those lyrics get me every single time. The music video is a marvel of production value and art direction. Watch when you seriously wanna cry it out.
Hazy, moody, atmospheric, this album is the equivalent of walking through a sun-dappled forest wrapped in your favorite sweater. It's the equivalent of that box you keep under you bed filled with mementos. Wistful. Hopeful. Melancholy. Drenched in nostalgia.
I've talked about this series a thousand times so I won't go on about it anymore, but two years later, these are still the books that my mind goes to when I need to spend time in a universe that feels maybe not better, but more. I think it's time for a re-read.
This book came as a total surprise. I went into the novel fully expecting to hate everything about it, and I was rewarded with brilliant storytelling, fantastic world-building, and a main character who is, quite possibly, the goodest boy to have ever existed.
Darius the Great Deserves Better
Speaking of good boys, I finally got around to reading the sequel to Darius the Great Is Not Okay, a book that addresses depression in a thoughtful, non-judgmental way. Read the first book, and feel your heart expanding to make room for this character.
I haven't actually read this book yet, but I figured I'd mention it here, because Queer Book Club will be discussing this on October 6. Need some virtual hang out time? Some friendly banter? You know who to email. (We'd love to have you.)
My friends, I watched this television show for the very first time recently, and it was an experience. I could write an entire book on my feelings regarding this show, and how absolutely perfect it is, so instead I will say, "Do yourself a favor: watch it, immediately."
As a bonus recommendation, you should check out Dimension 20 on YouTube, which is College Humor's brand for all their Dungeons & Dragons content. I know what you're thinking, but here me out. Fantasy High is hilarious, regularly makes me laugh until I cry, and is something myself, and many of my friends, have been relying on for our regular doses of serotonin. Seriously. Give it a try.
And finally, it would be remiss if I did not add that the library has Peer Support Specialists for anyone who is in need of emotional support, or who just needs to vent, or who would really, really like to talk to someone. And don't forget about our SAD Lamps.
There it is, that's my hug. Mask on, and six feet apart, but a hug nonetheless. Be gentle with yourself and know that you're not alone.
-Kimberly Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.