Tsach Gilboa discovers that indulging a gloomy mood with cathartic television can have a surprisingly good outcome.
We all have our ups and downs. I, for one, am suspicious of people who are always up and sunny. (It’s almost as bad as those who are always down and overcast.) I am also suspicious of folks who like to give you the “cheerful treatment” every time you have an off day or are just down.
To clarify and head off expected righteous comments, we are not talking here about levity in face of the clinically depressed which is a serious medical condition that must be diagnosed and treated (not that there is anything wrong with levity while going through crisis. In that case it is actually recommended.) We are talking here about most of us who tend to periodically get blue, especially when life’s not always the “picnic” we hoped for.
When one of those blue days hits, I highly recommend giving into it, reveling in it and milking it for any and all cathartic benefits you can get. And that is exactly what happened last Saturday. I woke up to a grey misty morning (my very favorite kind of weather) tired and in a down mood.
Being without my son for that weekend, I had complete freedom to do as I please. So I decided to make myself a nice bowl of my proprietary gourmet oatmeal (recipe available upon request), get my small non-fat latte, extra shot, from Peet’s Coffee and settle in front of the TV–Netflix on–to enjoy my depression.
The big issue of the moment was, of course, what to watch? Being in a down mood I needed corny escapism. It didn’t take long for my depressed brain to come up with melodramatic medical drama. After a short search, I settled on Three Rivers, a medical TV drama following the exploits of a transplant team in Three Rivers Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is important to note that this series only lasted one season, which could be an indicator of complete crap. However, that also means limited episodes (perfect for watching the whole series in one binge sitting) making it ideal for that limited one-day depression wallowing experience.
As it turned out Three Rivers was just what the doctor ordered. It is a perfect, albeit cliché, blend of the personal and professional lives’ of the “renowned surgeon” Dr. Andy Yablonsky (Alex O’Loughlin of the current Hawaii Five-0 fame) and his team of transplant specialists. A complete tearjerker, and if you are open to the experience (which I was) you will find yourself (and I did) sitting on your sofa, eyes filling with moisture as you “experience” and “live” the personal tragedies of people in desperate need of a transplant unfold, enhanced by hospital politics and the personal turmoil of the staff. It was escapism at its best and it would not have worked for me at all, was it not for the blue mood I was in.
At the conclusion of my little Three Rivers marathon, I felt relieved of all negative and self-pity emotions that overwhelmed the start of that day. I was left with a great feeling of release and relief. I got all that emotional garbage out of my system and recharged for the next day and the day after that, all at a very modest price, substantially cheaper than therapy.
The fact that a down day with a TV medical drama was all it took, speaks highly of similar limited indulgences when one has to deal with non-clinical “normal” depression and work it out of your system. (Although this laymen therapy of choice should be studied and put through the rigors of a clinical trial before wider application.) It also indicates that it is OK to take a day, once in a while and when appropriate, to wallow and feel sorry for yourself, indulging in your own personal escapism of choice.
I probably would not have enjoyed this show as much any other time, and would not have followed it when it aired on network TV, but on that grey and moody Saturday it was perfection itself. I wish there were more seasons of Three Rivers made. Another blue day is sure to come back sooner or later and I might just be at a loss to find the perfect companion Three Rivers was last Saturday, when I next need it.
Feature photo: Flickr/Peter Gerdes
Three Rivers Image: Public Domain