Angst Declassified: Teen Survival Guide

So, you just turned 15, and like many other teen girls out there, you feel sad. Misunderstood. Like a bialy on a plate of bagels. You feel like you might be depressed but you don’t want to say anything because, well, you saw what happened to the last girl who said anything. Logically, you have one question: How do I hide this? Look no further! By following these simple steps, you can shame your sadness into that dark, decrepit part of your brain we like to call The Subconscious.

Step 1: Add “lol” to the end of every sharp utterance to seem cool, casual, and unaffected, kind of like a comatose cucumber. For example, the phrase “I wanna die” becomes so much funnier as “I wanna die, lol.” If you can laugh at sadness, perhaps you can distance yourself from it.

Step 2: Take mental health days, but hide them under the pseudonyms of obscure illnesses with multisyllabic Latin names. You don’t come to work because you have a touch of “situs inversus” and you miss your AP biology final because your “lymphatic filariasis” is acting up. Everyone will extend thinly veiled sympathy towards you. You’ll mistake their platitudes for care and start showing up for life again.

Step 3: Exonerate your worries through a fad diet. Juice cleanses are the most effective, but the Paleo diet has had moderate success when coupled with binge drinking. Busy your mind with how many calories are in 8.5 ounces of distilled carrot juice and drown your fears in unfiltered antibiotics. Side effects include hallucinations and extreme irritability, but you’ll be 7 pounds lighter and unburdened of heavy demons.

Step 4: Get a boyfriend. Break up with him. Get another boyfriend. Break up with that one, too. Repeat the process until all the people-shaped holes in your heart are plastered over with the memory of you having the upper hand.

Step 5: Buy yourself really extravagant gifts like hoverboards, commissioned busts of worthless dignitaries, and tickets to shows you’ve never heard of and think sound pretentious anyway. Take yourself on the worst dates. Spoil yourself until you’re a rotten peach. Yes, things are not the key to happiness. But they’re so damn fun, aren’t they?

Step 6: Bleach your hair and then dye it red, or blue, or any color but brown for Christ’s sake. Watching your hair turn into limp, rainbow-colored straws guarantees weeks of enough nail-biting excitement that you’ll stop writing cryptic tweets. Then, in the aftermath, you’ll be too be preoccupied with covering up your bald spots that maybe, just maybe, you won’t wonder if he still likes you.

Step 7: Find yourself a good corset, one with lace and enough underwire to compress your sadness until it whittles down into nothing. A 25-inch waist can’t possibly bear the weight of an existential crisis. Why do you think models always look (emaciated) and happy? Their bone structure isn’t conducive to depression.

Step 8: Develop an online alias with a sexy name like Eliza, Brandy, or Candi. Give her a rom-com profession, such as artisanal baker or heiress to Dad’s paper clip throne. Then, proceed to catfish as many guys as possible. This will give you tons of practice at lying. You’ll be doing a lot of that soon.

Step 9: Take your coffee black and when people ask why, tell them, “It’s because it matches my soul.” They’ll mistake this as a cry for help and maybe it is. There’s nothing more polarizing than an unsweetened existence or a person who’s too “real” for artificial sugar. These people will ask concerned questions about your life and your feelings and you. You’ll probably like this whole being the center of the galaxy kind of thing. Perhaps it will center you.

Step 10: Hit things, not people. Punch pillows, smash trophies, and burn pictures. Turn every worldly possession you have into scraps of abstract art. Nothing matters when it’s in pieces. Nothing matters, anyway. We’re all just projections floating on a sphere in space. Money is just a man-made concept. So is time. The sooner you realize all of this, the less sad you’ll feel because feelings don’t matter, obviously.

Step 11:  Yell a lot. Text in all caps. Shout in libraries. Scream in movie theaters. Loud sounds are cathartic. That’s why wolves never stop howling, I think.

Step 12: When all else fails, take these meds: Prozac. Klonopin. Xanax. Robitussin. Advil Extra Strength. Dry swallow them until your throat feels scratchy and your stomach is bloated with cure-alls. Your brain won’t know what direction is up, but it won’t know what direction is down either. This isn’t quite sadness or melancholy. It’s a new feeling: confusion. You’re going to love it. It’s less blissful than ignorance but it does a good enough job distracting Depression and Loneliness. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to think.

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