If you’re anything like moi, you dream of a blissful, sun-adorned, bathing-suit-clad, bohemian-chic, champagne-soaked, glamorous, palm-tree-speckled summer all winter long.
“Everything will be so fabulous in the summer!” I’ll sing-song to myself as dreams of string bikinis and visions of sparkly oceans dance across my delusional brain.
“I know. I can’t wait for summer!” My best friend Ruba will purr back gazing longingly into the distance, visions of a far more blissful reality creeping its away across her equally delusional brain.
We’ll proceed to neglect the rest of our responsibilities for the rest of the day and gab to each other about how much prettier we’ll look in the summer, and how much less depressed we’ll be in the summer, and how much better and more meaningful our lives will be in the summer.
And then before I know it, April will catapult into May and May will catapult into June and the promise of summer will no longer be a fantasy gleaming in the distance — it will be a reality. A reality, that — like most realities in this cruel, cold world — isn’t quite as glittery as it appeared in my dreams. Sigh.
You know that song by the Queen of Melancholy (Lana Del Rey, obviously) “Summertime Sadness”? The first time I listened to that song I was in the thick of a deep summertime depression and the moment I heard her croon “I got that s-s-summertime, summertime sadness o-o-oh” I thought to myself, Lana fucking gets it, doesn’t she?
While the summer does provide us with a dose of that ever-important Vitamin D (great for those of us with depression!), summer also comes with its own set of very specific triggers. Triggers that can send us spiraling into a dark binge-drinking/drugging, disordered eating, depression, and generally sad/anxious rabbit-hole.
And the fucked up part of it all is this: we’re not even allowed to talk about our summertime sadness. It’s all flower-crowns and poolside selfies and sandy-skinned hook-ups and oiled up bodies flaunting themselves on Instagram (Ew. Shoot me between the eyes please).
Until now. Purr!
In this piece, we’re going to safely examine our summer triggers, without guilt. Because guilt, baby — GUILT is a useless emotion. So let’s set our guilt on fire and get down and dirty with the raw TRUTH.
1. Bathing Suit Anxiety.
Maybe some girls have been dutifully going to their torture/barre classes three days per week for the whole winter and feel fantastic about rocking that skimpy string-y bikini on the beach all summer long.
However, I know in the deepest pit of my (very wise) gut that some girls (like moi) maybe had a tough year, OK? And maybe they didn’t like, make it to the gym, because they were dealing with other things. Like maybe their psychotropic meds stopped working or their boyfriends or girlfriends broke up with them which left them paralyzed on the couch for the whole month of January. Maybe some girls (like moi as well) did make it to the gym, but no matter how many squats they suffered through, they still aren’t happy with the results and quite frankly — never will be — because their body-shame cuts deep and will take years of therapy (which they can’t currently afford) to overcome.
There are a million and some reasons as to why women are wracked with bathing-suit anxiety in the summer — I can’t even begin to map them out in this little 1200 word piece! All I can say, is the anxiety is real, babe. The body shame is real, babe. And harboring shame and anxiety of any kind, is like swallowing toxic poison. It destroys you from the inside out.
And sometimes drives us to do things like…
2. Drink Our Faces Off In The Sunlight.
Oh, all that drinking in the summer! Yes, we do drink excessively in the winter too — but winter drinking is different than summer drinking. Namely, because summer drinking tends to happen in the day. In the hot, beating, ever-dehydrating sunshine. When we’re feeling wildly insecure about our bodies in our scantily clad attire. When we’re trying to keep up with the sorority girls who seem to be able to take shot after shot after shot in the stifling humidity without blacking out (I’ll never understand how those Alpha Beta bitches do it). Or, when we’re just like “oh my god I’ve been trapped indoors for seven months, I just want to PARTY!” and decide to guzzle back an entire bottle of wine before noon.
All of this can lead to an epidemic that I like to refer to as “summertime shame.” Summertime shame happens when you drink your face off at the daytime party and wake up with the unshakable feeling that you burned a bridge, or took your top off at the beach party, or slept with that horrible guy, or kissed that cruel, toxic girl who has a girlfriend. It often comes with a brutal and painful sunburn that scorches itself across your fragile chest and serves as a reminder of what a drunken fool you made of yourself.
As your internet big sister, I have some sage advice for you: You don’t have to drink in the day, babe. I take Prozac which is not supposed to be mixed with booze or excessive sunlight. If I day drink in the sunlight, I’ll fall into a deep, unshakeable depression for at least two weeks.
This summer I’m going to say NO to day-drinking. And if day-drinking triggers you in any way, you can say NO to day-drinking too. We can be chic and drink like — I don’t know Kombucha during the day and save our champagne-guzzling for the evening when we’re safe from the tethers of body-shame and the added dehydration of the heat.
And if you do screw up and day-drink…don’t let it destroy you and make you feel depressed for weeks, OK, babes? Strong women don’t let embarrassing moments win. They don’t care about the opinions of the f*ckboys they might’ve acted like loons around when intoxicated. And most of all, they own their mistakes. So release yourself from the shackles of shame and live your best life, sister.
3. The Pressure To HAVE FUN All The Time.
The summer can feel like New Year’s Eve, you know? There is so much acute pressure, pressure, pressure to be super giddy and have so much unabashed FUN all the time.
Personally, I detest pressure. Especially pressure to be happy. There’s something fucking depressing about forced “fun.” As soon as I hear the frantic voice of a friend squeal “It’s the SUMMER! We’re young! We have to party!” I fall into a dark hole of sadness that I can’t seem to crawl out of.
So let’s uh, let go of the pressure to be ecstatic, accept our feelings as they are, and sink into the summer with the grace of an evolved yogi, ok? Even if you’re anything but an evolved yogi. I’m a un-evolved former benzo addict and I try to do many things with the grace of an evolved yogi. You don’t need to have blonde hair or live in Venice Beach to be yogi peaceful. I live in Manhattan and have black hair and am a dyke, and I can be calm. And so can you, OK?
4. The Sad Reality Of Not Having A ~Real Summer~ Anymore.
Now that we’re grown-ups summer isn’t all “sleepaway camp” and “bonfires” and “sweet summer romances” is it? No.
We have real jobs that we can’t escape from whilst in the throes of the sunny summer months, and sometimes that makes me feel trapped. Trapped in the prison of adult-hood where to you don’t get eight weeks off to cartwheel around a lawn like you did as a kid. And that sad reality sometimes makes me want to drink and do drugs in order to briefly feel the carefree lightness of my lost youth.
Only, I’ve realized, that drugging and drinking in the summer makes me even more depressed, because the dark fact that I have to ingest chemicals in order to escape my stressed-out mind, is too ugly for even me to bare (and I can bare a lot). So I stopped doing drugs and I stopped drinking like I was going to the electric chair. And instead of getting so down about being a grown-up, I’ve decided to focus on the positives of being a grown-ass woman. Like…No one can tell me how to dress anymore (and dressing as yourself is the ultimate freedom). No one can tell me when to go to bed. There are no goddamn curfews, and that’s pretty cool.
See, there is a silver lining to everything in this life, my sweet internet little sisters. You just have to look for it.
5. The Slower Pace Forces Us To Deal With Our Demons.
Whether you work 9-5 or live le freelance life, the pace of most work environments slightly slows down in the summer. Which in theory sounds super fabulous! More time to party and daydream and fall in love, right?
Well yes, but also it leaves more time for you to deal with yourself. Any lurking trauma or dissatisfactions you feel about your life will bubble up to the surface when you have time to ruminate over them. I used to loathe a slow-paced environment because it gave me the brain-space to think about how much I hated my job and how unhappy I really was underneath the Instagram filter of it all.
However! Girls! Listen to me: You can use this luxurious time of depression and anxiety to your glorious advantage! Yes, it’s hard to confront the real shit stewing inside of you, but it’s necessary if you want to lead an authentically happy life (read this piece for more on this topic). So, instead of getting all “wahhhh” and down about everything, make a list of all the shit in your life that’s coming up for you. Example:
- I feel stuck in my job.
- I don’t think I love my boyfriend anymore.
- This city doesn’t feel like home to me.
Writing this down is the first step in transforming your life! You’ve *identified* what’s been secretly bothering you all along and now you can work toward *changing* it. You can start googling new, beautiful places to live and revamp your tired resume and break up with that boyfriend you no longer love.
The summer is the perfect time to make a radical change. After all, it’s hot in the summer. It’s intense. The sunlight exposes everything as it truly is. Use the extreme vibes of the summer to shake up your life, babe.