Man, this year has been rough. We’re in a global pandemic, the climate crisis is worsening, and we might reelect a demagogue as our president. With all this going on, it’s easy for me to forget to disconnect and make time for myself. That’s why I love unwinding after a long, stressful day by watching a documentary about a man who murdered his wife and children.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged our economy, and I know first-hand how demoralizing unemployment can be. Especially in a country that tethers food, housing, and healthcare to our jobs. But after a hard day of job-searching, I love to kick back and escape my many problems by throwing on some real archival footage of a man who horrifically murdered his entire family. It may sound selfish, but I need to put my own mental health first sometimes.
The looming political election has been draining, too. Neither candidate seems to be very concerned about climate change, even though the scientific community has told us in no uncertain terms that we have less than 11 years left to transform our energy system from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, or millions could be killed. Sometimes I feel like nothing will change, regardless of my vote. That’s why I have to remind myself to turn off the 24/7 news cycle once in a while, and turn on a documentary that details the gruesome story of a man who ruthlessly murdered his pregnant wife and two kids and hid their bodies in an oil tank. If I didn’t, I think I might go crazy.
There is nothing easy about adjusting to life in quarantine, either. Everything we do is done at home, and sometimes that can drive us to the brink of insanity. My kids are experiencing extreme isolation during a formative time in their lives, and it’s a full-time job just keeping them off of their iPads for more than an hour. So, once the kids are in bed, and my wife is asleep, I like to indulge in a little self-care by eating my favorite ice cream and watching actual police footage of a man confessing to the brutal, execution-style murders of his wife and both of his children. It’s important to remember that self-care isn’t selfish.
I always ask myself: is today a productive day, or is it a survival day? If I don’t have enough energy to search for jobs or take care of that unruly stack of laundry, I let myself unplug for a while. And there’s no better way to unplug than to run a hot bath, put my feet up, and enjoy some “me time” in the form of a monstrous American familicide. That, or I take myself out to lunch.
I’m so thankful for streaming services like Netflix that realize the importance of mental health. They could show us sensationalized, trauma-porn to give us a cheap adrenaline rush at the expense of the privacy of real families, but they don’t, they show us true crime documentaries. I can’t wait to share this documentary with all of my mentally unstable friends who have recently been laid-off and broken up with. We all need an escape during these dark times.