BrokenJPG

A Copywriter’s Blog
Because I'm not a teen girl, it took me 15 minutes to take a decent picture of my chest in the bathroom.

I'm not a teen girl, so it took me 15 min to take a decent chest selfie in the bathroom.

A friend of a friend started #WeGetDepressed recently. It’s a shirt. Really, an idea. The idea is to wear the shirt, and that will get people talking about depression. Because despite it’s impact and prevalence in society, we really don’t talk about it much.

And I’m as guilty as anyone. Because despite having a blog that covered my life for 4+ years, I never once mentioned that I was depressed.

Not at the time I was writing. Or at least, not usually. My major depressive episodes happened in college. I almost planned to start this post out talking about how I used to be depressed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that mental illness is a lot like cancer. Once diagnosed, you’re never really free of it. You might be in recovery. In remission. Maybe you’ve been “depression free” for a week. A year. A decade. But the potential for a relapse, and the scars that exist on the inside? Those are always there.

My depression during college came with panic attacks. Heart racing, sweating, on the floor in the fetal position, crying for hours begging for it to please end I can’t do it anymore how do I stop this? It came with mood swings. Food lost taste, but because I logically knew my body needed fuel I would force myself to eat. It was like swallowing sand. I couldn’t get a handle on my emotions. Fear of panic attacks would literally trigger them in a self-fulfilling prophecy that was always worse the night before something was due. I cried constantly. I apologized for crying. I apologized for apologizing. I cried because I knew I was apologizing too much and please I just don’t want to feel like this anymore and I’m sorry. I want to be better but I don’t know how and I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.

I had some tremendous friends in college. It’s a strange thing to say, but I’m certain that I still can’t appreciate the extent to which my friends and family sacrificed themselves for me before I went to seek help. For most of that period I was simply too sick, too unaware to realize how much time and energy they were putting into me. I was never suicidal, but it’s not hard to imagine my story going far differently if they hadn’t been there for me.

One of my friends was actually planning to go into social work. Like so many others she spent hours with me while I cried, shook, hyperventilated. Talking me back down to some semblance of humanity, if not sanity. One day, when I had gone maybe 36 hours without a panic attack (an incredible accomplishment at that time) I called her. It was a short conversation. I was feeling close to human, so wanted to know if she’d like to do something normal. Y’know, maybe play racquetball instead of “see how many panic attacks I can fit into an evening.” And her response was along the lines of “If you’re feeling ok right now, I’d rather pass. I’ve spent a lot of time with you lately. I’ll always be there for you, but at this point I need to sort of save myself for those times when you need me.”

For whatever reason, that was my wake up call. That was when I decided to get help.

I went to therapy. I got prescriptions. Slowly, things got better. Good days weren’t just days where I didn’t have a panic attack, they were days where I actually felt good. Eventually the medicine got my chemical levels back to where they were supposed to be, and I could stop taking them. Eventually, I understood myself well enough that I was able to stop therapy as well.

If I got depressed, I was able to recognize it much sooner, talk it out with one or two people, and take steps to move past it. Panic attacks became legitimately rare, although I’m pretty sure I can tell you every single one I had after I “got better.” For me at least, the longer I went without them, the easier it was to recognize what was causing them. It’s been 8 years since I had one. I know exactly when (and equally important to me, why) it happened.

And occasionally I run across someone who’s suffering what I did. I turn a corner at work to find someone holding their chest and crying. Or completely drained by life. And I’m able to talk to them about it. Because I’ve been there. And I know what works for me, and maybe that will work for them. And I’m happy to talk about it with them, because I like to think that some benefit came from all the torture I experienced.

But that’s only a few people, in very specific situations. And really, I should be talking about it more.

Because I know I’m not the only one, and #WeGetDepressed.

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3 Times A Lady Author Ben Levy 4, July

Got so excited about the kid, I almost forgot about the book:

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 12.44.18 PM

Before I wrote the Owl Book, I did a lot of research. Went to a lot of bookstores. Read a lot of cardboard-backed bestsellers.

But, guys. Nothing, I mean nothing, is going to prepare you for children’s book writing like owning an actual child. I have read, on average, 4-to-4-bazillion baby books a night for the last two years. I can recite “Are You A Cow?” and “Click Clack Moo” and even “The Wonderful Sounds Mr. Brown Can Do” by heart.

So when it came time to write another one, the only preparation involved was figuring out where I was going to get the time to illustrate it.

I’m really proud of this book. I love how it came out. I want to share it with people. So I’m releasing a free pdf copy right here.

Literally. Click right here and get a free pdf of my latest children’s book.

And if you do love it so much you want it in book form,click here.

And to answer an FAQ- Yes, a Coo (or Cou) is a real creature. I discovered them on a family trip to Scotland years ago. I thought the name sounded fun. It still does.

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On fancy furniture Ben Levy 9, December

It happens like this:

You buy a place, and suddenly you’re inundated with all these magazines that you’ve never heard of, or at least haven’t looked at before.

Then you look at them, intending to laugh at the imaginary people who buy that shit when an Ikea table is just fine.

And then you get to one page and go “oooh, that one’s kind of cool, actually.”

And now someone somewhere is laughing at you.

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June To-do List Ben Levy 12, June

Get promoted
Double size of client account at work
Help The Wife get settled in new job
Put Molly in new daycare
Close on condo
Move into condo
Put Molly in a different new daycare
Turn 30
Get back in shape

Exhale.

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It all makes sense now. Ben Levy 10, March

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Also, this is going to be the reason and excuse for every short story I write between now and my 40s.

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Google Glass Ben Levy 20, February

At first glance, Google Glass looks absolutely pointless. It’s like if a race of sentient eyeballs became jealous of all the super-dope bluetooth headsets the ears get to wear, and came up with this in retaliation. But then I realized what the true implications of this technology are. And I have to say, I’m pretty excited:

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It Begins
The second Google Glass hits the market, all the iHipsters will purchase a pair. This is because people with the disposable income to spend on a pair of $1500 glasses that don’t block the sun or improve vision are desperate to find ways to inform the rest of us just how rich they are.

It Continues
Half of them will of course get robbed for their glasses. Particularly enterprising thieves will then make use of Google Maps to find the quickest escape route.

The Dark Ages
This rash of glasses-thievery will spark a recurrence of the trend of “people with glasses getting knocked down, beat up, and their lunch money stolen”. This is how life used to be for the geeks, kids. It wasn’t pretty.

The Empire Strikes Back
In response, the geeks will throw all their combined brainpower into perfecting defensive nanobot technology.

Fwoosh! Zap!
Within two years’ time, we will all be running around wearing Iron Man style armor under our clothes. Fights over bespectacled individuals’ lunch monies may still happen, but now they’ll occur 40 feet in the air, and with lasers.

As you can see, Google’s latest device will usher in an amazing new utopia for all of us. It will undoubtedly forever change the way we interact with one another. And, if there is a just and loving God, not a single one of you mouth-breathers will live-stream it from a pair of stupid glasses.

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Dear 2011 Ben Ben Levy 31, December

An open letter about the future 365 days too late to be useful.

Yo, 2011 me! Sup, brah? Life was good, yeah? All that stuff you told 2010 us about came true, obviously.

I’m gonna tell you man, this is a big year you’re heading into. Lotta firsts.

You should start the year by changing the way you post on the blog. Stop killing yourself to update it weekly. It’s kind of a minor thing, but it’ll actually result in exactly what you’re hoping for- more energy spent on new creative pursuits.

That kid you impregnated our The Wife with comes out. Winds up being by C-Section. This will result in the creation of two things: our daughter, and the greatest picture we’re likely to take in our lifetime*:

Nat Geo, call me.

You’ll publish our second book. Huzzah and cheers all around. It should be noted however, that the silly idea you have that this book will be easier than the last one -whether because it’s your second, a children’s book, or whatever- is absolutely laughable.

That awesome job at a place you never heard of that you took last year? Yeah you’ve still got that. You know we don’t talk about work much on the blog, because we strongly believe that leads to pink slips and having to look for new jobs. But if we did, this post would wind up being about three times as long. Lotta stuff gonna happen, man, lotta stuff. Suffice it to say that you’ll finish the year with some of the coolest stuff you’ve made since the last coolest stuff you’ve made.

You’ll finally do NaNoWriMo. That’ll be a bit intense. I commend your impending dedication to that cause. It won’t be easy. And then, somewhat shockingly, it will be.

And just because that wasn’t interesting enough, you’ll move in December. In a week. Like, you’ll find a 2-bedroom in the building, and then you’ll swap apartments 6 days later. To be honest, it’s one of the least painful moves you’ll have made. Still exhausting though.

Oh, and you don’t need me to tell you this, but the Mayans were totally wrong.

-The Ben from “now”, which is your “then”.

PS- Hey, one last thing. In October a really freaking enormous storm is going to hit your area. It’s going to fuck shit up. You’re going to lie awake at night at your parent’s place and try to come to grips with the fact that according to all the information you can find your apartment is underwater and nearly all your possessions are gone. In fact, you’re going to be incredibly lucky and the entire place will be untouched, so try not to worry about it, ok?

*Holy crap, the tense in these letters is/will be/was murder.

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50,828 words later Ben Levy 26, November

Done. 50,828 words in 26 days. NaNoWriMo can suck it.

I’ll post some kind of reflection later. Right now I’m going to sleep.

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VIRUS Ben Levy 21, August

When I was 12, I wrote a comic book. I don’t think I finished it until I was 14, and I know I bugged the shit out of everyone with it for those two years.

I found the comic, scanned it, and spent entirely too much time retyping dialogue. Then I added commentary to nearly every page. Partially so you could all enjoy reading my inner voice, and partially to ensure that no one would ever come across this and think I did it yesterday.

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 10.37.34 PM

From the forward:

When I was 12, I started a comic book.

When I was 29, I wrote a 1,000-word critique of it.

This is VIRUS. A comic drawn by 12-year old me, about 12-year old me getting struck by lighting, zapped into my computer, and fighting a digitized villain through a series of games.

I’m the hero of the story. The room, hairstyle, and games are all accurate to my life in ‘95. If you keep this in mind while reading, everything is roughly 400x funnier.

Thank you, Joe, for reminding me this existed. Thank you, Mom, for making sure I kept all my old art.

Click here to download.

Enjoy.

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29 Ben Levy 25, June

The last two years, I had awesome explanations for how I was actually aging backwards. That ended this year.

This year, I turned 29. In itself, not a bad thing. But it’s 29-with-an-8-week-old-daughter, which is 45 in parent years. Many of my friends are in their 30s, but they can all sleep easy knowing I’ll always be older than they are.

The Spawn is two months old now, which means she’s ten pounds and smiles and laughs. Her gift to me was seven straight hours of sleep. It was the first night since she was born that I didn’t have to get up to feed her at least once.

So while I might be older than ever, I’m terminally behind on life, and I’m in a constant state of exhaustion, I could be feeling a lot worse.

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