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Never sleep during Welcome To Night Vale

 Tonight I learned it is unwise to fall asleep in the tub listening to Welcome to Night Vale because you will wake up to its narrator desperately whispering from under the desk about how studio management is in the room and it will scare the shit out of your sleep addled brain until you remember that this is a fictional town with a fictional radio station and a fictional radio personality. The tentacled studio management is not real and there is no need to panic and suck in bubbles up your nose…

I thought we were all just human….

Dear Men and Women of Whisper (and tumblr too for that matter),
This past week I discovered your lovely app, and have been on it for at least a few minutes a day since then. During that time I’ve read funny confessions, sad stories, seen people ask for and recieve support and kind words during times of trial, made a few tentative friendships, and dealt with more rampant sexism, bad behavior and cruelty than I have on any other site I’ve ever joined. On my third day using the app, I posted a whisper about wishing my boyfriend was still awake so we could chat. It was meant as a cute little quip about my missing him. It was taken as an invitation that I wanted to be harrassed for nudes, sent dick pics, called a whore, and be told that I was a cheating cunt who should suffocate herself with a pillow. The whisper literally read “My boyfriend is cute while he’s sleeping, but I wish he was awake because I already miss talking to him.” I have reread it a dozen times over and I see nothing in there that triggered this behavior in anyone, but somehow it did.
But I don’t hold it against Whisper, nor do I hold it against its users (even the assholes who treated me that way.) It is an anonymous site meant for anonymous confessions and secrets. Its going to be used by some for hookups I’m sure, others for devastating things they need to get out of their systems. I can understand and appreciate both uses for it, and take the good with the bad. Even if that means sometimes my experiences are less than pleasant and I need to block several people in half an hour.
However, I do have this to say in advice to my fellow whisper users…
Please try to remember that everyone using the site is another human being just like you. The girl posting about cutting over there? She isn’t a whiny bitch. She’s a teenaged girl suffering. While she’s a stranger to you, she could have a smile like your baby sister, or a big laugh like your best friend. She deserves support and help, not hate. The men and women who post about depression, are not simply lost little hotties waiting to be rescued. They are human beings wading through a sea of mental illness and struggling to survive. Many of them are your neighbors, your teachers, your friends…
If you wouldn’t treat someone like that in real life, why would you treat them that way online? Being connected through a computer screen does not lessen their humanity. It does not exempt you from being the people your parents raised you to be. On whisper, and every other place on the internet you go to, just try to remember that we are all human. Just like you.

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Do You Love Someone With Depression?

If you have a partner or are close to someone who struggles with depression, you may not always know how to show them you love them. One day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your friend or partner have shorter, less severe bouts of depression. Mental illness is as real as physical illness (it is physical actually, read more about that here) and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu.

Your relationship may seem one-sided during these times, but by helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.

1. Help them keep clutter at bay.

When a person begins spiraling into depression, they may feel like they are slowing down while the world around them speeds up. The mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, laundry may go undone as the depressed person begins to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and unable to keep up. By giving your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or using paper plates and keeping chaos in check in general, you’ll be giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm  environment. (I’m a fan of the minimalist movement because of this, you can read more about that here.)

2. Fix them a healthy meal.

Your partner may do one of two things when they are in a depressed state. They may eat very little, or they may overeat. In either case, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is just easier than fixing a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat will only degrade your partner’s health, causing them to go deeper into their depression. Help your loved one keep their body healthy, and their mind will follow. This is a great article that talks about the “Brain Diet” which can help the symptoms of depression, and this article talks about how our modern diet could contribute to the recent rise in depression. Here is a recipe for a trail mix that is quick to make and has mood-boosting properties.

3.Get them outside.

 The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here.  For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post as well as this.

4. Ask them to help you understand what they’re feeling.

If your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with, and may give insight into a plan of action for helping your partner. Also, feeling alone is common for a depressed person and anything that combats that feeling will help alleviate the severity and length of the depression.

5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.

Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.

6. Hug them.

Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of the giver and receiver. Depressed people often don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a lift.

7. Laugh with them.

Telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian will encourage your partner to laugh in spite of themselves. Laughing releases endorphins and studies show can actually counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.

8. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings.

Your partner may be feeling worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed. They may be afraid that they will end up alone because no one will put up with their episodes forever. Reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away because they have an illness.

9. Challenge their destructive thoughts.

A depressed person’s mind can be a never-ending loop of painful, destructive thoughts. “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m stupid”. Challenge these untruths with the truth. “You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”

10.Remind them why you love them.

Look at pictures of happy times you’ve had together. Tell them your favorite things about them. Reminisce about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened, and remind your partner that you love them and they will get through this.

(via The Darling Bakers)

More people need to know this.

This is so incredibly important. I’ve seen people with depression ostracized so many times, and I cannot stress how much it means to each and every person I’ve tried to reach out to after whatever “falling-outs” they’ve had due to depression. Remember to always be compassionate and kind to all friends like this, because you never know what they’re going through.
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