Coping mechanisms, Feel good feelings, Funny stuff, Opinion, Soft news

Laugh Your Depressive Ass Off

Laughter is the best medicine. Don’t you just love that expression? I love the simplicity of thinking that a good laugh could cure my troubles or at least distract me from them for a little bit. It’s an especially wonderful idea when your mind is at its worst and just won’t behave.

One thing I’ve learned when coping with my own anxiety was that laughing really did help me. It helped me to find some joy when I’m spiralling into depression. I’ve decided to help out my fellow depressives and throw out my top three books that have always made me laugh no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. Hopefully, they’ll work for you too.

5 Very Good Reasons To Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth By The Oatmeal

If you’re unfamiliar with The Oatmeal please go and check out his website, get some snacks and get comfortable. After reading one post that a friend sent me I spent the next week actively avoiding work and laughing myself silly at comics that perfectly mirrored the ridiculousness of life.

Taking compliments
Hands up if you’ve ever felt like this

His comics are honestly brilliant, gorgeously illustrated and tremendously funny. Look, guys, we all know that life is kind of terrible and we’ve all come close to that moment when we’re about to lose it and just slap a bitch. When that happens to me I know I need a break from the stupidity of humanity and I’m telling you that The Oatmeal has become my first stop when I need a pick-me-up. If you think you’re not a fan of comics I seriously suggest you give these ones a go. Unless you’ve got something against joy and pure, unadulterated happiness, I dare you to try them and not become hooked.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened By Jenny Lawson

It’s not every day you come across a book about fisting real live-action squirrel sock-puppets or accidentally stabbing yourself with chicken, but that’s what Let’s Pretend This Never Happened has got up its sleeve plus so much more.

Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) has a strangely unique way of experiencing life that makes you realise that yes, life is indeed shit – but it’s all the better to laugh at yourself. To be honest, I can’t even describe how much I adore this book except to say that it is indescribable and incomparable in the best possible way!

The Internet Is a Playground By David Thorne

A word of advice – do not, I repeat, DO NOT read this book in public unless you’re comfortable being looked at like a fucking lunatic for laughing uncontrollably. I’ll keep it honest – that’s putting it lightly. In reality, I looked like a morbidly-obese seal clapping for fish while gasping for breath. Believe it or not, but I’ve looked sexier.

The first time I came across David Thorne was when my (occasionally smarter) brother sent me a link to a blog post entitled Missing Missy about a series of emails between Thorne and one of his co-workers regarding her missing cat. I shriek-laughed so hard and loud I caught the unwanted attention of literally everyone around me, and yes – it was just as awkward as you’d imagine.

This incredible book is basically a series of correspondence between Thorne and everyone from various co-workers, to his doctor to a blockbuster employee and pushing basic, everyday situations to the point of absolute hilarity and ridiculousness.

If you’re ever in need of a good, clench-your-legs-together-so-you-don’t-pee-your-pants kind of laugh then do yourself a solid and grab one of these books. You won’t regret it.

Happy reading, nerds!

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Coping mechanisms, Feel good feelings, Opinion, Soft news

Introducing Allie Brosh – My New Hero

Do you want to know what sucks? Having anxiety. Do you know what makes it a little easier to cope? Finding books that openly discusses the struggles that many of us work so hard to overcome. I don’t mean the overly-stocked shelves of self-help books that offer advice on breathing techniques or my personal favourite – believing your symptoms away and everything in between. I’m talking about books from amazing authors who talk about the little things and the funny moments that other books overlook that make up our anxiety-filled lives.

One of these books is Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh.

Allie Brosh 2
Go ahead and add this to your wishlist. You won’t regret it.

Brosh is an American author who began documenting her ups and downs in dealing with depression in her blog Hyperbole and a Half. Even if you’ve never heard of her or read her blog, there is a chance you’ve come across her work – or a plagiarised copy of it – out on the interwebs. You know the weird drawing of the girl in the pink dress and sharkfin-looking ponytail? That’s Allie Brosh! 

Allie Brosh Image
This is the original drawing. Art by Allie Brosh

Brosh is one of the few authors out right now who has the ability to articulate what those of us who suffer from mental illness go through and feel, which anyone who has anxiety or depression will tell you is a fucking nightmare. Even if you are one of the gifted who is able to express your feelings in words, you’re often told it’s just a mental thing (like, tell us something we don’t know, amiright?!) and that the sadness will go away if you will it away. I’ve heard that ridiculous statement more times than I care to remember and every time it happens, I sigh so long and loud it sounds like I’m deflating. So imagine my utter delight when I picked up Brosh’s book and found this spectacular response to the statement universally favoured by useless idiots:

“Trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn’t going to work.”

YAAAAAASSS QUEEN! Say it! That right there is the statement we all need to memorise and scream into the faces of smug people every time they open their mouths and one of those goddamn bumper sticker quotes flies out. Brosh’s book is filled with glorious nuggets of awesomeness like that one along with some artwork that I can only describe as awful and deceptively cute. To be fair, I feel like awful and cute sums up the entirety of Brosh’s work quite nicely.

Aside from the brilliant writing, what I love about Brosh’s work is the simplicity – not to say that it’s simpleminded. What I mean, is that Brosh doesn’t overcomplicate her stories. Sure there’s a bit of exaggeration, but it’s simply relatable, dark, honest and still funny. We’ve all heard the saying: “Death is easy. Comedy is hard,” and that is the damn truth, and for accomplishing something very few authors have been able to do, Allie Brosh deserves a medal and a very large victory cocktail.

 

 

Coping mechanisms, Feel good feelings, Opinion, Soft news

Have Yourself A Merry Literary Adventure

Easter has come and gone and has probably taken all of your healthy teeth with it, but those who suffer from anxiety will likely be left after the holiday with something far worse than a new set of cavities.

Many people assume that people with anxiety don’t enjoy family holidays; that’s not entirely true. While there are some who avoid family holidays like the plague there are tons of people who don’t have any form of mental illness who do this too. The difference is that those who suffer from anxiety don’t always have the tools necessary to enjoy being in what is often a high-stress environment. By the end of the holidays, they’re often so mentally exhausted from not breaking down that it triggers a breakdown. It’s like their mind is punishing them for being social.

If you’re a little uncomfortable relying on drugs to help you through these situations, a rather easy solution to staying somewhat sane is to read. This simple but brilliant exercise is called bibliotherapy.

Bibliotherapy
Lose yourself in a literary adventure

Cindy Johnson, a woman who suffers from clinical depression and a general anxiety disorder, stated that reading a good book is one of the few ways she knows will always help her calm down after a particularly stressful time. “Life is generally stressful for me and it only gets worse around the holidays, but being able to lose myself in a good story – even if it’s only for an hour – helps me get a grip on my anxiety. Some ‘me time’ with my books works wonders.”

According to Good Therapy, one of the reasons reading helps with anxiety is because it helps people understand the issues they are experiencing – this is not exclusive to bookworms. Reading a story where the protagonist overcomes impossible odds might give you the strength you need to carry on or at the very least will take your mind off of your own problems for a little while. Tracy Shawn from Psyche Central states that “the simple act of reading a novel, can give us a psychological shot of courage, encouraging personal growth while reducing anxiety.”

Personally, I have always turned to books for relief long before I knew what bibliotherapy was. All I knew was that I found tremendous comfort in losing myself in a good adventure with my literary friends when I needed an escape from the terrors of my own mind. Whether I was fighting Voldemort in Harry Potter or escaping the Red Queen’s axe in Wonderland, I knew that I could triumph in my fantasy world in ways that I couldn’t in my real life. Eventually, I would close the book, feel an overwhelming sense of calm and actually feel like I was able to breathe again; like I could function again.

Just a quick note – it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you’re reading something that is able to give you a break when your head is being a giant asshole and hopefully bring you a little bit of joy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grown man who loves Twilight or a young woman whose down with some seriously freaky erotica. You do you, Boo! Let’s keep it real, friends life can be less than awesome, so I say do whatever and read whatever is going to bring you the joy you deserve.

Let’s not forget that reading as a way to escape your problems is by no means an ideal or permanent solution, but as Voltaire once said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

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A little gift from me to you – one tiny book recommendation to get you going on your literary adventure!