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Aunt Hariette's Tips for Beating Depression
by Hariette Surovell

This past Spring, I suddenly underwent my first major depression since my college days. I developed all the classic symptoms: a fear of leaving the house, a loss of interest in food, a sense of hopelessness. I felt like I was submerged in Dante's deep forest, with no paths to guide me out. My nutty neighbors, whom I have written about so explicitly in the "Men's Planet" before the Corpse went cyber, began to seem threatening.
     I stayed in the apartment 24/7. I didn't want any fellow residents asking me how I was doing--ditto for the local waiters, bodega owners, music and health food store employees, etc. who were accustomed to my big smile. As I lay on the sofa with my eyes shut, my cheery, mellow husband Robin became increasingly distressed. He kept pleading with me to: go take a walk, eat in a restaurant, listen to live jazz gigs, and to call all my friends. He knew that the situation had become drastic when I spurned his suggestions of seeing movies! Tradionally, no matter how sucky life is, the five magic words, "Let's go to the movies" have me running out the door. Hey, I didn't even want to buy clothes or shoes!!!
     To compound everything, a mouse took up residence in the bedroom closet. Rodents skeeze me out to the point of nausea, but this particular new visitor seemed ominous. I, too, began feeling like a mouse--furtive, afraid, content to live in the darkest corners. It was as if the mouse had symbolized all my self-loathing and desire to hide.
     One day, our best friend, Ricardo Llorca, asked Robin, "What's up with Hariette? I haven't heard from her in a month!" Robin replied, "She hasn't been out of the house in a month!"
     When Robin relayed this conversation to me, I felt even more miserable for having hurt Ricardo's feelings, but I was still too depressed to call him on the phone. I suddenly remembered that five years before, Ricardo had lent me a biography of Truman Capote which I had never read. As I reveled in Truman's drug addictions, alcoholism, humiliating and self-destructive public appearances, and general silliness, I began to feel a bit better about myself. No matter what had happened in my life, at least I hadn't appeared drunk and goofy on the Dick Cavett Show; nor had I spent years writing the despicable "Answered Prayers". Suddenly, I remembered that I also had an unread Elvis bio. Then I picked up Jerry Lewis, and learned about him scoring Percodan from bell-hops, shitting in his pants, and sticking a gun into his mouth with his finger on the trigger. My path out of the forest was illuminated! Onto Groucho Marx, who verbally and emotionally abused all his wives, alienated all his children, and was generally a miserable motherfucker. Montgomery Clift ruled. He was such a stone-cold alkie, and took so many different drugs on a daily basis, that at any moment during a dinner party or on a movie set, he would just keel over and fall flat on his face. Liz Taylor was Monty's dear friend. How sublime it was to learn of La Liz's multiple hellish marriages, moronic money management, and the drug and alcohol combinations she has ingested which began almost killing her since the 50's. Robin the jazz musician was so thrilled to see me taking an interest in something that he even listened patiently as I described Liz's first visit to The Neverland Ranch--a true historic hallmark for pure surrealism.
     I began feeling guilty about my new obsession, and attempted to redeem myself by delving into "Miriam's Song" (the life story of Miriam Mathabane, sister of Mark, who wrote "Kaffir Boy".) Wow, did I learn all about apartheid and the current political climate in South Africa...but the next day, I was back to Judy Garland.
     Somehow, the mouse, too, had mysteriously bailed during this process...
     Which is how I derived Aunt Hariette's Cure for Depression.
     Read celebrity bios. I suspect that they are written for this very purpose. No matter how dreary your life seems, I guarantee that you will perk up and re-discover joie de vivre after immersing yourself in tales of people who had brilliant careers; mega-millions; lavish, indulgent lifestyles; glamorous love affairs...and who all ended up as bankrupt suicidal drug-addicted alcoholics.
     The skies will be turquoise again, the sun will become your personal overhead lamp, and everyone you know will ask, "Where have you been??? I missed you!!!"

Please e-mail Hariette at for a list of favorite degrading celeb bio highlights!

Hariette Surovell is a freelance writer living and working in New York City's East Village. She is an investigative reporter, fiction writer and media critic. Two of her true-crime articles have been optioned by Hollywood. Hariette has been an EC contributor since its inception.



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