Back in August, I had a big sad. I don’t necessarily consider it depression, because the cause of it was well-known to me and obvious. I had a relationship end after four years. I felt pretty worthless and hopeless, and yeah, I guess maybe it did trigger some depression, too.
I figured out the emotional benefits of exercise. So that was good. But I also learned how good crying can feel.
Now as tempted as I am to make this a post about toxic masculinity, I feel like that’s already served by the fact that I’m an adult man writing about the benefits of a good cry. A lot of us as boys are brought up with the belief that “boys don’t cry.” Because crying is for girls. The belief that men should withhold and not talk about their feelings has often been correlated with suicide rates for men.
What’s that about not writing a post about toxic masculinity? Oh, right. My bad.
At any rate, this post isn’t just for men. I’m one of those people who can’t just cry because of a thought or a feeling. Sure, it’s happened, but those moments are rare.
I used to be quite an angry person. My temper was always on the edge. A few panels of drywall have suffered for it. I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m getting heated, and I have an internal conversation with myself asking a few important questions: Why am I angry? Is this worth getting angry over? Will I feel better if I show my anger? Will it solve anything? Has it ever? I’ll probably just look stupid. Breathe deep and let it pass.
But I had never really tried crying before. And while I won’t do it in public except when a dog dies in a movie (damn you, Marley & Me!) I’m open to being vulnerable around close friends or, more often, when I’m alone.
Here are a few things that have made me cry.
Minecraft: Story Mode
Yeah, I’m starting with a weird one. It’s a video game and, as its title suggests, it’s based on Minecraft, and is a Story… Mode.
It’s made by the same folks who made the Walking Dead game, which is a very emotional game and probably a lot better than the TV show. (I admit I only gave the show one episode before I decided not to keep watching, and I heard later it kind of just devolved into a lot of arguing and occasionally a main character dies and sometimes there are zombies.)
So, yeah, I didn’t expect to cry while playing a video game. I really don’t want to give away exactly what happens in case you have any interest in playing the game and don’t want spoilers. But I will link the following video of YouTubers reacting to this moment in the game in case you’re interested. Here Be Spoilers.
I will tell you it relates to a character dying. It’s unexpected and, well, the fact that it’s a video game actually probably adds to the effect. What happens when a character dies in a video game? They come right back to life, right? There have been few exceptions, with one of the most notable being Aerith from Final Fantasy VII, nearly twenty years ago. I feel old now.
The most tragic part is not knowing if the game is going to actually let the character die. It’s such a hopeful scene. Like, maybe they aren’t hurt that bad. Maybe it’s a trick. Nope. Dead forever.
It’s hard to play a game when there are tears in the way of the screen. Who put those there, anyway?
This movie’s old enough that I don’t feel bad spoiling it. Adam Sandler dies. But don’t worry, he gets better.
This movie came out shortly after my grandfather passed away, and I can’t rewatch it without remembering that fact. I cried the first time I saw it and every time since. Adding to the heartbreak is the moments leading up to it.
The premise of the movie is that Adam Sandler gets a magic universal remote from Christopher Walken (who may or may not be Death?) that can control life itself. But he sets a lot of his life on autopilot, so he misses important life events, like birthdays and sex.
He also skips through his father’s final days, and though he can’t rewind and do events over, he can replay it, so he watches like a fly on the wall as his father’s health deteriorates and Adam Sandler’s too busy to notice or care.
The scene where Sandler’s character dies might not have affected me so much if not for these scenes and the fact that he’s just so funny about it. Even in death, he has a sense of humor. More importantly, he’s learned from his mistakes, but it’s too late.
Dodie has become one of my favorite musicians and YouTubers and (surprise, surprise) she’s British. She talks openly about her mental health issues, especially depression, depersonalization, and derealization. Yeah, I didn’t know about these things before, either.
Her videos helped me through August, and also helped me find even more British YouTubers to follow. She also has a video with Hazel Hayes where they discuss depression and how it can be misused by people with a large following, basically by romanticizing depression and making it look “cool.” This was a pretty important video to me, for personal reasons.
I just want to highlight two of her videos.
From a musical standpoint, this song is incredibly simple. Instrumentally, there is only one note, played repeatedly. But her voice and the harmonies are all the song really needs. I didn’t even notice it was only one note the first time I heard it.
The song itself is about getting through the bad times. It’s a song about how everything will be okay, if you can just get through the pain you’re dealing with right now.
There will be a day when you can say you’re okay and mean it.
This is one song that I can’t sing along to in the car, because if I do, I’ll get choked up halfway through the chorus.
The comments on this video are inspiring, unlike many YouTube comment sections. People talk about how this song helped themselves or a friend when they were feeling suicidal. One person made a card for their friend who was going through a rough time that included the line I quoted above.
This is a cover of a song by Christina Grimmie, a fellow YouTuber and musician who was shot and killed after one of her concerts. This video was recorded the day after.
I don’t think anything I say here can truly capture the effect of this one, so I’ll just show it to you: