mtv lifer writing a Joss Whedon biography to come out in 2014.
i watch a lot of television. a lot.
and i talk about fandom and television in general a lot.
when not slacking off, i'm rambling at PopGurls.com
(not as much lately)

One of the best things I’ve read. Please read if you’re going through a dark time or share with someone who is.

amypop:

I’m very sad to hear about Ned Vizzini’s death. It’s a very hard time of the year — it’s not cheery and happy for everyone, especially those who are having a difficult year. Sometimes the spiral down gets going so fast it’s hard to stop it.

I was moved by this tribute until I got to this line: "As I thought of that yesterday, and wondered how somebody so selfless could commit such a selfish act…"

That made me so incredibly angry. That and “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” are such ignorant, pompous and trite platitudes that basically scream “I have no understanding of depression and you’re making me uncomfortable by not being happy so just get over it.” (I once unfollowed a blog immediately after she wrote the permanent solution line.)

And we wonder why people don’t talk about dealing with suicidal urges, no matter how strong. It’s hard enough to get through the day, sometimes the hour — why then try to open up to someone who will blame you for your depression and call you selfish? Or better yet, you try to talk to someone and either they tell you that they have no experience/understanding of depression, yet they know you can “get over it” and you’re not trying hard enough OR they decide to take your depression as a personal attack on them and in turn attack you in the most personal of ways. Another third option that I’ve become very familiar with recently, is that they go against the grain of therapeutic advice and forgo an actual conversation in order to have you involuntarily committed. Because nothing says “i know you’re hurting and i care about you” than sending the police after someone in pain, then washing your hands of the situation and walking away. 

People are afraid to talk about their feelings because they know that they are being vulnerable in two ways — in an emotional level and a legal level. Because opening up is hard enough, adding in the fact that you have no idea if a trusted friend will suddenly report you to the police and you will have no say in the matter makes any conversation 100x riskier. 

Did you know that as of January 2013, New York state requires psychiatrists to report any patient to the authorities if said patient discusses suicidal thoughts in any serious way? It’s no longer up to the doctor to work with the patient who has come to them seeking help — they must report them to the state and thus are held blameless for anything that happens to the patient. You know, like involuntary commitment for someone who just needed to talk. 

I’m so angry about this. And I’ve been scared into silence by the actions of some people, but not anymore. Last night, I was afraid to post a link to Andrew Solomon’s incredible and important TedTalk on Depression for fear of the repercussions. (I was blindsided last time and i don’t trust anyone anymore.) Today, seeing A FRIEND of Ned Vizzini call him selfish because he could no longer deal with the pain of this all-encompassing depression pissed me off so much that I’ve pushed past that fear. 

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. I’m by no means an expert on any of this, but through my own experience and many, many sessions with my therapist, I just ask that if you are worried about someone — reach out to them, keep trying to get them on the phone until you are having an actual conversation. Then talk. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say — say that. Just talk and get them to talk. Yes, there are severe cases but for most in the moment, they just really need someone to listen and try to understand even if you don’t. Just keep talking, keep them talking and do it for as long as you can. It won’t fix everything, but it’ll certainly help in the really hard moments when the spiral is spinning fast and they’re doing the best they can to get to the next moment where they can catch their breath.

Reblogging in light of the sad news of Robin William’s death. 

I just wanted to say again that if you have a friend that seems off, even in the smallest of ways, check in and listen. Truly listen. Imperfectly & awkwardly listen. Listen without trying to fix the situation or the person. Just be present & listen 

slackmistress:

sarabenincasa:

It’s early. I’m nervous. I’m waiting out the morning rush hour so I can drive to high school. It’s not my high school. I’m 33. It’s been ten years since I taught high school and fifteen years since I attended high school. I’m going to a high school to talk about mental illness, which is a thing…

You should read this.

Seconded. 

Although i’m not bipolar, so much of this resonated with me — most of which being the part about the boots. I do the same thing. I’ve often mentioned how most of my shoes are Fluevogs, but I have a select few that I wear when I’m going to an event where I’ll be nervous/anxious/onthevergeofanutterpanicattack. They’re the ones that make me the happiest, but more importantly, they’re the ones that people compliment regularly. They are my armor and my secret weapon to make people like me without realizing it. They are worth every one of the hundreds of dollars that i spend on them because they have paid me back tenfold in strength and comfort.

Thank you for that post you wrote about Ned. Even though it's frustrating that suicide/depression are still so misunderstood, I'm glad that there are people like you who understand and write about such sensitive topics. I'm gonna miss Ned a lot...
Anonymous

Hi Anon,

I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to your message. When I wrote that post, I wrote it out of the exasperation that I’ve had for a very long time about how people view others dealing with depression and suicidal ideation. I’m still processing my thoughts on it. I think there has been progress in explaining what depression is to those who have been lucky enough to never have been overcome with it — and I honestly believe that Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half comics on depression are very helpful in that regard because they are so honest and simple. It’s an easy share — a quick email we can send with a link that says “this explains a lot about me” — and since they are funny, and, you know, comics, it makes them so much more accessible to a non-depressed person.

The suicidal ideation area is still a much more sticky situation, because while people can understand being very down and sad (even if they’ve never experienced depression), the very thought that someone would not want to exist any longer usually evokes this reaction of “OMG! THAT’S INSANE! WHY WOULD ANYONE NOT WANT TO LIVE? EVERYONE WANTS TO LIVE!” (I had a very hard time listening to this Freakonomics podcast because the idea that someone wanted to commit suicide was treated like an insane anomaly.) I’ve lived with that feeling for almost 30 years and it was maybe 10 years ago that i realized that not everyone else felt like this. I thought that the shitty platitudes like it being the most “selfish act” or “a permanent solution to a temporary problem" were only repeated by people who subscribed to the anti-choice concept of "ALL LIFE AT ANY COST" until i heard it from people that were very close to me. I’m sure that happens to everyone dealing with these thoughts and urges, and add that to the knee-jerk reaction to report someone to the authorities and we’re marginalizing people and keeping them from the very thing they need — conversations with people who care about them and conversations with trained and understanding mental health professionals. 

I’ve read A LOT of comments about how Ned’s suicide took away their hope that their own struggles would finally get better. I don’t that’s fair — as much as Ned’s honesty and words helped so many people, he (nor any person, really) should not be held accountable for the well-being of the masses. Hanging the survival of a group of mentally ill on one person can overwhelm a non-depressed person. He helped so many understand that they were not alone, and that what they were feeling was legitimate and they should not be ashamed to admit to their struggles. And he also was very open about how it could be a lifelong struggle, as it had been for him.  

I think it’s up to each of us to look for the things that ease the pain — I really liked what Andrew Solomon said in that TedTalk:

If you have brain cancer, and you say that standing on your head for 20 minutes every morning makes you feel better, it may make you feel better, but you still have brain cancer, and you’ll still probably die from it. But if you say that you have depression, and standing on your head for 20 minutes every day makes you feel better, then it’s worked, because depression is an illness of how you feel, and if you feel better, then you are effectively not depressed anymore.

And I think that being open about our experience with depression, suicidal ideation and other mental health issues both lessens the shame we feel and gives strength to those who’ve been struggling in secret, hopefully emboldening them to speak up to someone they trust because they now know that they’re not alone in the fight.

I’m very sad to hear about Ned Vizzini’s death. It’s a very hard time of the year — it’s not cheery and happy for everyone, especially those who are having a difficult year. Sometimes the spiral down gets going so fast it’s hard to stop it.

I was moved by this tribute until I got to this line: "As I thought of that yesterday, and wondered how somebody so selfless could commit such a selfish act…"

That made me so incredibly angry. That and “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” are such ignorant, pompous and trite platitudes that basically scream “I have no understanding of depression and you’re making me uncomfortable by not being happy so just get over it.” (I once unfollowed a blog immediately after she wrote the permanent solution line.)

And we wonder why people don’t talk about dealing with suicidal urges, no matter how strong. It’s hard enough to get through the day, sometimes the hour — why then try to open up to someone who will blame you for your depression and call you selfish? Or better yet, you try to talk to someone and either they tell you that they have no experience/understanding of depression, yet they know you can “get over it” and you’re not trying hard enough OR they decide to take your depression as a personal attack on them and in turn attack you in the most personal of ways. Another third option that I’ve become very familiar with recently, is that they go against the grain of therapeutic advice and forgo an actual conversation in order to have you involuntarily committed. Because nothing says “i know you’re hurting and i care about you” than sending the police after someone in pain, then washing your hands of the situation and walking away. 

People are afraid to talk about their feelings because they know that they are being vulnerable in two ways — in an emotional level and a legal level. Because opening up is hard enough, adding in the fact that you have no idea if a trusted friend will suddenly report you to the police and you will have no say in the matter makes any conversation 100x riskier. 

Did you know that as of January 2013, New York state requires psychiatrists to report any patient to the authorities if said patient discusses suicidal thoughts in any serious way? It’s no longer up to the doctor to work with the patient who has come to them seeking help — they must report them to the state and thus are held blameless for anything that happens to the patient. You know, like involuntary commitment for someone who just needed to talk. 

I’m so angry about this. And I’ve been scared into silence by the actions of some people, but not anymore. Last night, I was afraid to post a link to Andrew Solomon’s incredible and important TedTalk on Depression for fear of the repercussions. (I was blindsided last time and i don’t trust anyone anymore.) Today, seeing A FRIEND of Ned Vizzini call him selfish because he could no longer deal with the pain of this all-encompassing depression pissed me off so much that I’ve pushed past that fear. 

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. I’m by no means an expert on any of this, but through my own experience and many, many sessions with my therapist, I just ask that if you are worried about someone — reach out to them, keep trying to get them on the phone until you are having an actual conversation. Then talk. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say — say that. Just talk and get them to talk. Yes, there are severe cases but for most in the moment, they just really need someone to listen and try to understand even if you don’t. Just keep talking, keep them talking and do it for as long as you can. It won’t fix everything, but it’ll certainly help in the really hard moments when the spiral is spinning fast and they’re doing the best they can to get to the next moment where they can catch their breath.

zestydoesthings:

The Real Monsters are reborn! 

Upon getting so much attention for my previous designs, I wanted to redesign the monsters and develop the concept a little more. You’ll notice most of the monsters have subtle alterations and the descriptions have been changed to better reflect my original concepts.

Over the coming weeks I will release more (never seen before) monsters and will also release concept sketches and developmental work for each monster shown here- So stay tuned! (They may also be little animations…)

Disclaimer: The artwork is not at all intended to make light of these conditions but instead is intended to give these intangible mental illnesses some substance and make them appear more beatable as physical entities. 

All work (c)Toby Allen 2013

These are gorgeous, brilliant and profound. And I feel like it might be easier to deal with such personal issues by seeing these feelings as a tangible character.

the1janitor:

at the risk of sounding offensive,

why is everyone depressed these days? When I was younger no one ever talked about being depressed, and not many people seemed that depressed, It has always been a thing for sure but it was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is these days. now it seems to be more common among young people than not-being-depressed is.

has it always been that way, but people didn’t understand it/talk about it? Have people always been depressed but didn’t have a forum like the internet to discuss it? Are some people diagnosing themselves with “depression” when it may be something else? Did something change in society that is causing more people to be depressed? Is there something in the food? Or is it one of those things where I am conflating what it’s like on the internet to what it’s like IRL?

honest question

I think there are a lot of things going on — on one side, people say “I’m so depressed” when they’re upset about a situation, which can often be more aptly described as “sad.” “I’m so sad that my favorite restaurant closed” or “I’m so sad that my mom won’t let me go to XX.” I don’t doubt that the feelings are truly painful and full of disappointment, but I don’t think they are “proper depression.”

There is still a huge stigma on mental illness, especially when talking about it in person. If you’ve never had to deal with it, then it’d hard to understand the pain and frustration when people say to you “what’s wrong with you? why don’t you just choose to be happy?” or “so many people have it worse than you, what do you have to complain about?” And when you’re being told that you have absolutely no reason to feel this overwhelming, suffocating depression because your life isn’t “as bad” as someone else’s then you stop talking about it and feel even worse and it spirals down. 

Then you see someone talking about their own struggles online. And you realize that you’re not alone and that if you say, “hey, me too” in a conversation about depression, people aren’t going to jump down your throat and tell you that you have no right to complain or feel the way that you do. So you go from “hey, me too” into a slightly more detailed explanation of how you’re feeling and maybe someone else says “me too” and you feel even more understood and less-alone.

It’s much easier to do it online because it’s far less intimidating — you don’t risk your family and friends telling you that you are making things up for attention, nor do you have to deal with their personal biases when it comes to your feelings. It’s a relatively safe space to put your story out there — especially when it can be anonymous like on tumblr — to test the waters and hopefully find the resources to get help.

Hyperbole and a Half — Depression Part Two by Allie Brosh

While it breaks my heart to see someone else go through this, I so wish that I have had this article to show people for the past 25 years. I’m sure that they’d ignore it and continue to feed me the bs that the fish are alive and not give up hope that they’d come back one day, but at least when i was/am drowning in the utter loneliness and desperation to be heard, I’d know that someone else out there truly understood.

Allie does an amazing of describing depression — at least the kind that I’ve dealt with for most of my life. And she also explains what it’s like to be suicidal. i know that it’s a difficult conversation to have, especially when people don’t understand how one could feel that way but she nailed it with her explanation of coming to certain realizations and then being in a position to “comfort” other people when you try to share what you are feeling with them. 

And the part where her dog looks at her and she wishes that nothing else loved her so that she wouldn’t feel obligated to keep on existing? That is what I have gone through countless times — my one cat loves me like no one else ever has in my entire life, and like no one else ever will. Knowing that she would not understand and feel alone is usually the only thing that keeps me here when my life and future seems like such a pointless waste. 

despite being online for over 15 years now, i’m always taken aback by how affected i am by people i’ve never actually met in person. seeing allie pop up with a post, even a “transitional” post made me teary to know that she’s okay. 

21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed.

There’s some really great stuff here — all the bolding is mine, for things that i’ve found to be helpful. 

I starred/bolded #20. I can be a mess in my own life, but i’ve been dealing with depression and other issues for over 20 years and i try to be the person that i wish i had. if you need someone to talk to, drop me a line. 

rosalindrobertson:

A while ago, I penned a fairly angry response to something circulating on the internet – the 21 Habits of Happy People. It pissed me off beyond belief, that there was an inference that if you weren’t Happy, you simply weren’t doing the right things.

I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember. It’s manifested in different ways. I did therapy. I did prozac. I did more therapy. My baseline is melancholic. I’d just made peace with it when I moved, unintentionally, to a place that had markedly less sunshine in the winter. I got seasonal depression. I got that under control. Then I got really, really sick. Turns out it’s a permanent, painful genetic disorder. My last pain-free day was four years ago.

So, this Cult of Happy article just set me off. Just… anger. Rage. Depression is serious – debilitating, often dangerous, and it’s got an enormous stigma. It leaves people to fend for themselves.

It’s bad enough without people ramming Happy Tips at you through facebook. There is no miracle behaviour change that will flip that switch for you. I know, I’ve tried.

A friend of mine suggested that I write something from my point of view because, surprisingly, I manage to give an outwards impression of having my shit together. I was shocked to hear this. And I find this comical, but I see her point. I’m functioning. I’ve adapted. I’m surprisingly okay. I think the medical term is “resilient”.

So, here it is.

My 21 Tips on Keeping Your Shit Together During Depression

1) Know that you’re not alone. Know that we are a silent legion, who, every day face the solipsism and judgement of Happy People Who Think We Just Aren’t Trying.  There are people who are depressed, people who have been depressed, and people who just haven’t been hit with it yet.

2) Understand that the Happy People are usually acting out of some genuine (albeit misguided) concern for you, that it’s coming from a good place, even if the advice feels like you’re being blamed for your disease. Telling you these things makes them feel better, even if it makes you feel like shit. (If they insist on keeping it up, see #12.)

3) Enlist the help of a professional.  See your doctor. You need to talk about the ugly shit, and there are people paid to listen and help you find your way to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

4) Understand that antidepressants will only do so much. They’re useful, they’ll level you out and give you the time you need to figure out your own path to getting well. They can be helpful. There are lots to choose from. They may not be for you, and even if they are, they take some time to kick in. Conversely, they may not be for you. Work with your doctor.

5) Pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, an activity you got joy from in the past and re-explore that.  Or, sign up for the thing you always wanted to try. There is a long history and link between depression and creativity. It’s a bright light of this condition, so utilize it to your best advantage.

6) Eat nutritionally sound, regular small meals. If you’re having trouble eating, try to focus on what you’d like to eat. I went through a whole six week episode of tomatoes and cream cheese on a bagel twice a day. Not great, but it was something – helpful context, I’m a recovered anorexic. Conversely, if all you want to do is scarf down crap, try to off-ramp it by downing a V-8 and doing #9 for 15 minutes, and see how you feel.  Chucking your blood sugar all over hell’s half acre is going to make you feel worse.

7) While you’re doing #3, get some bloodwork done. If you’re low on iron or vitamin D, or if your hormone levels are doing the Macarena… these can all contribute to zapping your energy or switching your mood to Bleak As Hell.

8) If you’re in bed and the “insomnia hamsters”, as I like to call them, are on the wheel of your head, watch Nightly Business News on PBS. This has the effect of Nyquil.  Swap out your coffee for herbal tea. If you just cannot sleep, try the next tip….

9) Learn how to meditate. Start by focusing on your breathing. Not sleep, not thoughts. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Meditation is focusing on being present in your body, not careening around in your brain. It may not be as good as sleep but it will give you some rest and recharge you.

10) Face a window as often as you can – at work, at home. Look out into the world. Watch. Observe. Try to find something you find pretty or interesting to focus on. And, handily remember that one in five of those people out there feel the way you do.

11) Cry. Better out than in. Sometimes it’s not convenient or career-enhancing to cry, so find a private place as best you can and let the tears go. Carry Kleenex and face wipes and extra concealer if you wear makeup. You can always claim allergies.

12) Any “friend” who resolutely believes that your depression is because you’re lazy, because you’re not trying hard enough, who blames you for not bootstrapping out of it- that friend needs to be cut off. Polite (#2) is one thing, but there is a limit. You don’t have to explain, you can just not respond. You feel badly enough, you don’t need their “assistance”.

13) Limit your time with people who drain you. You know who they are. Often you don’t have a choice- but you can put the meter on. And, subsequently, be aware of what you’re asking of those close to you.

14) Everyone has shit they’ve got to deal with. What you have been saddled with is your shit. Recognize, just as you’re not alone, you’re also not unique. The grass may look greener, you may be jealous or envious of others who don’t have to deal with depression, but you likely do not know everything that’s going on with them.  

15) Let go or be dragged. This is an old Buddhist saying. It’s a very useful way to frame aspects of depression. Betrayal, anger, fear… letting go is a process – often a painful and difficult process - but it’s ultimately going to show you the path out of this terrible place. Repeating the mantra can help when you’re feeling gripped by these feelings.

16) Wear clothes that make you feel confident. It takes as much time to put on nice clothes as it does to put on sweatpants. You will want to wear the sweatpants. Fight the urge. The whole “look good/feel better” campaign isn’t limited to cancer and chemotherapy. Or women.

17) Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague. No Grey’s Anatomy, no to The Notebook, or anything that won a Pulitzer prize. You’ve got enough going on In Real Life. Comedy only.  Or trashy stuff. Old episodes of WonderWoman? I’ve got the box set. Mindless drivel, like the latest CGI blockbuster. Or clever, funny books. David Sedaris. Jenny Lawson. Fiction exists to elicit emotion, and the emotion you need to express most right now is laughter.

18) Simple exercise, if you can. It can be something as simple as taking the stairs up a flight, or walking around the block. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t have to involve climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Baby steps.

19) Depression will lie to you. Depression will try to tell you what others are thinking.  That you are unloved and unworthy, that others think little of you or don’t care – or even wish you harm. You are not a psychic. Keep repeating that. “I am not a psychic”.  Repeat. The only way to know what another person is thinking is to up and ask them.

20) If you are well and truly losing this battle, reach out to someone. I’ve been the random friendly-but-not-close person who has fielded the occasional outreach. I like to think I’m not judgemental and generally resourceful, and others have thought the same, so they called and asked. You know someone like me. And they will help you.*

21) Forgive yourself. I’m writing out all these tips, and I can’t always muster the strength to even stick my nose outside, or walk up the stairs, or eat my vegetables. Today, I got outside for ten minutes. I will try again tomorrow. And I will try again the day after that.

This list will not cure you. This list will not flip on the happy switch. God, I wish it were that easy. The theme here is to not to unknowingly sabotage yourself. All these little things? Like your blood sugar, or watching nonstop episodes of House, or endless Try Harder lectures from your Perpetually Perky sister?

They all make dealing with depression just a tiny bit harder than it needs to be. And it’s hard enough, all on its own.

UPDATE:

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