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I gotta say, I'm having the time of my life being depressed!

The holidays fuck me up. For so many years I was living at my parents’ house and whenever my sister would be coming over I’d instantly start feeling insignificant and stupid and bad about how I looked, to beat her to the proverbial or literal punch so she wouldn’t get to me as much. I set a timer one year to count how quickly it would be before my patience would be worn out. I don’t know if it even reached 5 minutes that year. They stayed for a week, their trauma stayed with me for years.

Family-centered holidays make me itchy. They make me feel like I need to do stupid things. This year it was sending an email to someone who wore out their welcome in my life because I did a watch-through of Bojack Horseman and got reminded of the fact that he was my Bojack and I was his Diane. I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt the need to rewatch the show. It was my depression show. It was the thing I turned to when I was most in a pit. But I’m not in a pit, so it was seemingly random that I’d feel like it would be helpful and not like it was bringing up pain to the surface that I’d already put to bed.

Below is the aforementioned email. Normally I wouldn't put myself on display this way but I laughed when I looked back over the email the next day and didn't want to deprive you all of the joy you could get from it too.


Annual Bojack Rewatch The Sequel The Musical

Charlie Joplin <>

Wed, Nov 23, 5:14 PM

to Proverbial_Bojack_Horseman

Hey -

I’ve been rewatching Bojack. I always know it’s going to bring things up but I never know what. It’s like a mystery box advent calendar where every box is trauma processing. Maybe this Christmas I should wrap up boxes with various traumas written on them and then mail them to people. If you want to use that idea you legally have to pay be $100.

It’s funny, I never noticed before how much Bojack is not a show that’s meant to be fully absorbed on its first watch through. There’s so much you don’t pick up on. Or maybe I’m Bojack hearing his mom say “ICU” reading the sign and he thinks his mom has finally become a good person in the 11th hour. Why is that such a trope anyway? Why is it such a thing people want you to believe that your parents are going to be on their death beds and suddenly they’re not going to be a giant piece of shit anymore and their sudden “i’m sorry” or “i’m not sorry, you understand, I had parenting to do, I had to do what I did” is going to mean anything more than “‘I’m scared of dying and don’t want to go to hell”.

Anyway I’ve been watching Bojack which is really like watching us in cartoons which is weird and not at all comforting or relieving or cathartic and I wish it wasn’t but it is. This is just a really long winded way of saying I was thinking of you.

Hope whitey isn’t too terrible tomorrow and forever.

- Bojack


Horseman, obviously


"Life's a bitch and then you die, right?"

"Sometimes life's a bitch and then you keep living"

I got into the show and then remembered I also rewatch this show because it helps me process the trauma I got from my own personal Bojack. And I guess part of me felt there was something that needed to be worked-through from the show because at 5:14pm on the 23rd, I felt itchy enough that I reached out to the person I can’t stand the most, hoping he’d write back and give me a reason to fight with him or yell at him or remind myself that I cut him off for a reason and that reason hasn’t cleared up in the time it’s been since I’ve gone without speaking to him. Because he’s Bojack, and the whole point of Bojack’s character is that he’s the epitome of the middle-aged trainwreck of a man who never really changes his ways. He might go to AA, or spend time in therapy, or take up running, but truly nothing, even a jail sentence, is going to actually change him in the end.

Diane is the one we look at and see what it means to grow. Diane punishes herself endlessly with her own depression and leveling herself with Bojack to try to make all of the hurt and bad that she went through mean something, all the while, the question looms over her making her wonder “But what if none of it meant anything”.

But it does mean something. Of course it means something – if you want it to. For Diane, her trauma both from growing up and from Bojack exclusively were parts of her growing up. Now, this isn’t to say trauma is necessary for growth. I’m not one of those Live Laugh Love MLM moms saying everything happens for a reason. But if we’re going to look at Bojack and Diane as two sides of the trauma coin, both of them end up in vastly different places from their respective life traumas. Its Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. We’re all dealt a hand, and sometimes from that shitty hand, defying seemingly all odds, we grow into someone completely different and have to bear the “resilient” label for the rest of our lives.

Truth be told, this was the best thanksgiving I’ve had in years, if ever. My best friend and her husband and kiddo came over, we had good food that we made and bought from a store, we lived, we laughed, we loved, it really was a lovely weekend, even though I got sick and basically slept through Friday and Saturday. At one point the kiddo interrupted conversation to say “Sometimes girls have penises” while munching on her cinnamon roll, to which we all said “Yeah, that’s totally true” and carried on. I reflected during thanksgiving dinner about how glad I am to know my best friend and how happy I am to know she’s raising a child conscious of trans and queer lives, and knowing how to change name/pronouns for someone.

The thing is though, it was lovely in spite of a much longer list of holidays that have been absolutely fucked up. In spite of the laundry list of traumas we carry with us daily and in spite of the people who gave us those traumas. My chosen family and I all have one common thread: We have pretty shitty and traumatic birth families. We all span the range of amount we’re in touch with our families, me probably being the least, others living with their family and practicing healthy boundaries. When we come together, no matter what the reason, we have a collective mind to ensure we all laugh and enjoy each other’s’ company and give each other what we never got from the families we were born into. We make our holidays what we want them to be because we know nobody is going to go to that effort for us and we go that length for each other.

I want so badly to live everyday for me and my loved ones instead of living in spite of those who made me wish I was dead. Some days I succeed. Other days I email my Bojack to tell him I’m thinking of him and get silence in return (which is somehow more humiliating than actually emailing in the first place). But the point is I’m making the effort to live for me and not for the schadenfreude joy of living in spite of those who caused me trauma. Honestly I feel like Zuko when he loses his fire-bending and realizes that for so long his purpose was hunting Aang and now that he's not hunting him anymore he needs a new purpose. How do you just give up years of living out of spite? Pick up scrapbooking? Start baking bread? Who knows. All I know is that if this holiday season you’re feeling grief, either because people are being generally awful or because you cut them off because they were being generally awful, I feel it. There’s not really winning when it comes to awful biological family, because there’s only losing out on good relationships at the direct result of their abusive behavior.

Just remember: You’re winning when you’re being yourself if the real, most authentic you is not who they want you to be. And that counts for something.

Ps. For bonus points, name where the quote is from.


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