help my friend is depressed

My Friend Is Depressed: An Incomplete Guide To Helping Your Suffering Friend

First of all, kudos for you if you opened this post because you’re worried about your friend. It’s really hard to see someone you care about sink into a mental illness, not knowing what you should do or say.

One out of every ten adults in the US suffers from depression.  Not to mention that this number would probably be much higher if there wasn’t any stigma attached to this disorder, or going to therapy at all. At worst, depression can lead to suicide – the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds. As someone who has suffered and has seen people suffer from this mental illness, I wanted to share some thoughts on the subject.

Understanding What Depression is (And Isn’t..)

I think the first step is to understand what your friend is going through. From another person’s perspective, depression can look like regular sadness. Your friend might not get out much, they’ll say they are sick, don’t feel well but that it will pass. Regular sadness will pass with time, but depression doesn’t work the same way.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ― Laurell K. HamiltonMistral’s Kiss

Depression is much more extreme than regular sadness. It lasts longer. It’s more intense. Depression is not sadness. It feels like a dark hole, like all the air has been squeezed out of your lungs, and at worst, it will make you feel completely numb. It’s important to know that – just like many illnesses – the symptoms aren’t the same for everyone, which is one of the reasons I called this guide incomplete. Some people suffering from depression have trouble concentrating, while others are irritable or just feel empty. Read More »

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Why I Decided To Go Back To College At 21

It’s funny to think of my sixteen year old self. I had just graduated high school, and I went to college for the exact same reason everyone else goes to college here: Because it’s the logical next step. It’s what everyone else does. Because where would you be without a college education?

So I went to college. Knowing that I had a knick of writing and at that point, had been published in a few (online) magazines, I went into journalism. Looking back, I loved my degree and the school I went to. I’m happy I chose to follow my degree at an art school, because my college was very open, creative, and we got lots of space to work on projects with students who were in completely different courses than we were.

I learned a lot about myself in those years, and I remember how proud I was (and am!) for getting that diploma at the very end. But I also remember myself thinking: now what? Read More »

The Old Taylor Swift Is Dead: Writing A New Narrative

I was actually going to blog about something else today, but I can’t wrap my mind about anything but Taylor Swift right now So here I am.

Because Taylor Swift, an artist I’ve been a fan of since 2007, has just released a new single.

Look What You Made Me Do & its interpretation

Look What You Made Me Do is the introductory track to Taylor’s new upcoming album reputation (small R, according to her official website). The song is darker and more vindictive than anything she’s ever done before. Taylor Swift is an artist with very distinct ‘era’s’ – with a new era starting whenever she releases new music, every two years or so. From 2006 till now, long-time fans will be able to tell when a certain song was released or a picture was taken based on her music style and fashion choices.

Since it’s release just a few hours ago, everyone left and right has accused Taylor of releasing yet another victim song. This is something I personally disagree with, at least to a certain extent. The lyrics are something I read as hyperbole, not only meant to reshape the narrative around Taylor, but also to create buzz around the album. Lyrics like ”I don’t like your kingdom keys / they once belonged to me” and ”All I think about is karma / Maybe I got mine, but you got all yours” Tell me there’s a certain type of self-awareness in this song, disguised by anger and frustration. Not to mention ”I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”, letting us know that she’s aware of her own portrayal in the media, mistakes she’s made in the past and how it has affected her and how people view her persona.

With the song, Taylor is pointing out her own imperfections. It shows that she’s petty and holds grudges, that she never forgets or lets go. She’s not presenting herself as a hero here, she’s presenting herself as a master manipulator ready to attack. And that’s not a flattering portrait. Read More »

Why I Hate The Secret

The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)

I hate The Secret. There. I said it. Can’t go back now.

I know I’m a self-help blogger, and this book is like a bible to those who like to consume self-help content, but I hate it. It’s a godawful book and I feel like I need to tell you why.

I feel like every generation has it’s own self-help book, at least in the past century. In 1936, Napoleon Hill did it first with Think And Grow Rich. Hill was also a fraud by the way, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is a really interesting 20,000 word longread I recommend. Twenty years later, The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage, written by the guy who was also Donald Trump’s pastor when he was a child. Which is just a weird fun fact I wanted to share.

And for our generation, it’s Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a short book that describes the so-called ‘law of attraction’. A philosophical concept that basically comes down to this: if you want to attract positive things, you need to think positive thoughts.

Each of those self-help books, from Napoleon Hill to Rhona Byrne and many books that were published in between, focus on the same ideas, each tailored for its own generation. Think and Grow Rich was released in the time of the Great Depression, and mostly focused on making money. ‘The Secret’, launched in the age of social media and the smartphone, reads very self-centered. It’s full of questionable advice, superstitious bullshit and entitlement. I believe that anyone who reads this and applies the advice given will be off worse in the end. But first, let me explain the main points in the book, so you don’t have to read it and instead, can read something that’s actually worth your time.

What’s ‘The Secret’ anyways?

The book is simply a rehash of ‘The Law of Attraction’: the belief that whatever consumes your thoughts will be what you end up getting in life. So if you only focus on the things you don’t want, you will only get those things. And if you focus on the things you do want – a nice house, lots of money, happiness, a good job – you will get those things.

“Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.” ― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

There aren’t many self-help books that bother explaining why the law of attraction works, but Byrne gives some half-ass explanation about the universe and how it’s made up of energy and that all energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a certain frequency, and therefore the frequency of your thoughts will resonate with the frequency of other energies. Or something like that. It sounds just as weird as it is. Read More »

How To Get The Most Out of Self-Help Books: 5 Tips

You know how some people treat their books like sacred beings that need to be protected at all times? Yeah, that’s not me.

I’ve been reading self-help books for a long time, and throughout the years I’ve perfected the way I’m reading them: because in the end, it’s not about reading the book, it’s about applying what you read. 

So I thought I would share five things I do with every self-help book I read, to help you get the most out of them!

Read actively

Don’t be afraid to highlight passages that you like and write notes on the pages. I do it all the time! I believe reading should be an active experience, not a passive experience. Doing this somehow helps me to take in the information better and it’s a nice point of reference if I ever want to go back to the book – something I often to with self-help books.

Stop reading shit books

Give it 50, maybe 75 pages. If the book is not for you, put it down. Seems really straightforward, but many people are so determined to finish a book when they start, and it’s a waste of time! We’re all individuals, and some self-help books are not for us. That’s totally okay. Life is short, read books that matter to you. Some books that I’ve been loving recently:

Read More »

The Week After A Sexual Assault

A little more than a week ago, I stepped onto a tram after a football match. It was a lovely day, and I had enjoyed myself so far. Of course, after a match in a stadium that holds over 50 thousand people, public transport to and from the stadium will be busy. I knew that, and didn’t think much of it.

Public transport was so busy that everywhere people pushed into each other to make sure the doors could close. At most, I thought it was hot on the tram. In the end, I only had to be in there for a few minutes. I was standing close to lots of people, wearing a skirt and a sweater. Just hoping that the minutes would go by fast so I could get some fresh air.

Then I felt someone’s hand go under my skirt, groping me inappropriately. Not knowing what to do, I froze for a second and shifted my weight, trying to turn myself away from this person. This person I had never talked to before, that I didn’t know, that was touching my most intimate parts in a tram stuffed with people.

Then, he did it again. More aggressive this time. I’m someone who usually knows what to say and do. I’m someone who is not easily scared of people. Most people know me as quite a tough girl with a foul mouth, not scared to put up a fight and stick up for my friends and family. But at that moment, I froze. It’s like I lose my ability to speak and the panic took over my entire brain.

Then, I managed to push his hand away, having to use quite a bit of physical force to do so. On my right side, someone else on the tram noticed what was happening and immediately put himself between me and the assaulter. I’m really thankful for this person physically putting himself between us, and in that way protecting me.

Feeling like I couldn’t breathe, I got off the tram early. At that point, I felt so scared and not in control. I felt violated, dirty and small. I was reminded that for some people, I’m not considered a whole person with emotions, desires and boundaries, but merely an object for them to touch whenever they please. Read More »

Building Confidence And Self-Esteem: 3 Things That Helped Me

In my opinion, the importance of confidence and having a high opinion of yourself is vastly underrated. We act like having confidence would be nice, but it’s not a necessity.

Guess what. It totally is.

I think there is some confusion as to what it actually means to have self-esteem. Some people think that having lots of friends and being successful will improve our self-esteem. Others think that losing weight will get rid of their low self-esteem. Or that you have to actually accomplish something in order to be able to have self-esteem in the first place.

None of that is true. Put simple, Self-esteem just means that you appreciate yourself for who you are, including your faults and flaws. Self-esteem means that you know you are worthy, that you are good enough and you deserve everything you have.

In the past few years, I’ve really improved my self-esteem. I went from being a girl who thought she wasn’t worth the space she took up in a classroom, to a passionate, much more confident person that has come to appreciate her own strong personality. Of course, not every day is amazing, but I mostly feel good about who I am and I take pride in the things I stand for and my abilities and accomplishments. Today, I want to share three things that have really helped me get there.

Take a self-esteem inventory

‘You can’t fix what you don’t know’ is a sentence one of my therapists once said to me. It always stuck with me. Before we can start working on our self-image, we need to identify irrational thoughts and negative self-talk.

When I was in therapy at the age of fourteen, my therapist made me draw a line on a piece of paper. On the left side, she wanted me to list 10 strengths, and on the right side 10 weaknesses. I didn’t have a lot of difficulty coming up with ten weaknesses, but it was hard to come up with the strengths. My therapist made me look at it from a different perspective: had others told me they thought I was a good at something? I recalled times where people had called me smart, witty, a good writer. People had told me that they enjoyed my blog posts (man I’ve been around for a while) and they thought I told cool stories. Viewing it from this perspective, it was much easier to come up with 10 strengths.

Read More »