a mixed bag of life-changing media for when you’re sad

i don’t know if it’s the second semester of senior year hitting me, or if i genuinely need to go see a psychiatrist, because it’s getting rough. like, unimaginably rough. i can barely get out of bed. even after class, i sleep the entire day and then take melatonin so i can sleep more at night. i’ve been in this phase for a while now. the stress of this school is really starting to way down on me. when i get this way, i usually turn towards media. despite what you may think, i don’t reach out for happy media. rather, i consume media that is absolutely gut-wrenching. for some reason, it’s the only thing i can take when i’m like this. so, i thought i’d share some of my favorite gut-wrenchingly beautiful media. you don’t have to be in emotional distress to consume this stuff, but it helps.

lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven – an album by godspeed you! black emperor

as im writing this, this is the album i’m listening to (that’s how bad it is rn). this album really changed my life. the circumstances around me hearing it for the first time is sort of a sore subject now, but we’ll dance around it so i can explain the context of this album within my life. it’s a 1 hour and 27 minute album with only four songs: storm, static, sleep, and like antennas to heaven… the album is completely instrumental, with the only voices coming in the form of samples and short dialogue. no singing whatsoever. despite this, this album makes me feel more than any other out there. i could not recommend this album more. especially if you’re listening to it alone in the dark, eyes wide open and staring at the visual deformities in your eye. the vivid scenes i see in my head from this album are terrifying, and resemble the likes of the great artist Zdzislaw Beksinski. speaking of him, he’s also included in this list. 

works by zdzislaw beksinski

the works by zdzislaw beksinski give me a feeling of absolute tragedy and dread like no other. i’m in love with them. i’ve always been a fan of surrealism, and beksinski pairs surrealism with a dystopian future and it is the perfect mix of absolute inexplicable dread. there are scenes of great walls with bodies strung from the top made out of bones thin as wire. great black birds with bellies full of blood fly above giant cathedrals made of the dead. faces are wrapped in layers of gauze and bodies crawl on all fours away from a burning fire. this is a nightmare world. beksinski creates this sense of horror and dread by making everything that is unimaginable and terrifying giant, and making us so so small. the album i previously mentioned can be best described as the soundtrack for this dystopian nightmare world. it’s a world i find myself lost in all the time. i don’t know how to describe it, but it’s everything i believe beauty and horror is. 

the end of evangelion 

if you’ve ever watched neon genesis evangelion, then you know that is has a rather optimistic ending. if you don’t know about the ending to the show, read my blog about it here for context. basically, in the movie the end of evangelion, we see a more terrifying and unfulfilling ending. shinji rejects himself, and he succumbs to his darker parts. in turn, the world around him crumbles and falls as the third impact takes place. shinji rejects instrumentality. decomposing entities and blood oceans can be seen throughout the ending scenes. what was supposed to be a new existence of endless companionship and the end of depression and loneliness is now ultimately hollow and worthless. shinji stands on the shore and looks at the emptiness, mirroring himself. this movie practically threw out the optimistic ending of the show that brought me to tears, and took the show down a route that left me feeling as empty as the world i was watching. this movie is beautiful, but almost hard to watch. i couldn’t recommend it more. 

six feet under

six feet under is a television show that follows the life of a family that owns a funeral home. every single episode starts with a death. the first episode, the death of the family’s father. the final episode, the death of the family. everything in-between is various deaths of unknown strangers. yet, we find ourselves getting to know those strangers through the actions of the main family. this show basically deals with death. all kinds of death. there is not a single episode of this show that doesn’t have some kind of death in it. this show left such an impact on me because of the way it ended. it is said to have one of the best endings in all of television. i think this is true. you watch these characters change and grow and in the end you watch every single one of them die. as a teenager with a suffocating fear of death, the ending broke me completely. i couldn’t take it. this show takes a very long time to finish, so i only recommend it when you truly feel like you’re at rock bottom, and you won’t be getting out anytime soon.

bojack horseman

this is an obvious one. bojack horseman is a show that follows the life of former tv star bojack horseman as he navigates his personal grievances and mental issues. there are so many different characters in this show that i feel like represent a different part of me. the empty longing and cycle of suffering of diane. the self sabotage of bojack. the unfulfilling life of princess carolyn. there is so many things i could say about each character, but as a whole, this show is 100% life changing. not sure if it’s in a good way or not. but if you haven’t seen it, then it’s a must watch. the ending isn’t satisfying– not at all. and that’s because it’s real. this show doesn’t bullshit you. it doesn’t try to convince you that any of these characters are redeemable, or that they’ll get their final closure. because that’s not how life works. this show puts the ugly on show. it shows you the real grit of life. and that’s why it always hurts so much to watch. but i love it. 

cry of fear

cry of fear is a video game that i hold very close to my heart. i’ve played it over 5 times now, and it’s a game i turn to often. it’s older and flawed, but is universally an agreed masterpiece. the game follows 19 year old simon after he gets into an accident. when he wakes up after the accident, he is alone in a world full of terrifying entities. as he navigates this world, all other signs of life get slim and slimmer. the girl he loves dies in front of him. he chases after a crazy doctor only to fall behind over and over again. he goes through these nightmare episode worlds that are surreal and terrifying. and he all wants to do is go home. when he finally reaches home, he realizes no one is home. and as he turns around, he is met with himself. there are many different endings to this game, and each reveals a new secret about the story. the real underlying truth about the storyline is that simon is immediately paralyzed from the waist down after the accident. he is brought to the hospital and told by his doctor to write a book to help him deal with the depression and depressing thoughts made prevalent by the accident. when simon wakes up alone in the game, that is where the book starts. the book ends when simon decides the fate of his own life. there are no happy endings to this game. in each one, death lingers and takes the lives of someone close to simon. in most, simon is that person. the game itself is terrifying and one of the most life-changing video games you can play for free.

so yeah, that’s all i have for today. i have plenty of life-changing media that i could share, but these are the things i reach for when life gets pretty hard, as it is. if you decide to look into any of them, i hope they comfort you like me. that’s all from me. peace out.

Author: Erin Erter

erin (they/them) is a published writer who creates in their darkest moments.

3 thoughts on “a mixed bag of life-changing media for when you’re sad”

  1. I know exactly how you feel, I’m just at a point where I don’t even care bro just give me my diploma. Also the graphics in this post are really cool!

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