Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

I feel like I haven’t written a book review in a while so to start the year off on the right foot I’ll be reviewing Fiona Thomas’ book, Depression in a Digital Age.

This book has everything you need from Spice Girl references to Fiona’s rambling thoughts that help ground you and make you feel a little less alone.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

I really felt like I was taking a journey with Fiona while reading this. I felt sympathy for her when she went through her mental health breakdown and couldn’t work.

I myself have left countless jobs for mental health related reasons which has led me to a life of freelance work.

I completely emphasized with how she felt so overwhelmed with her workload and there’s a chapter in the book that really spoke to me.

Fiona talks about taking a break from work because it’s making her so stressed. However, she also stresses out when she takes a much needed break, worrying that people will miss her and need her.

I really resonated with this when I took a week’s holiday from freelance work to go to Morocco in November. Although I was so glad to get away I was worrying about money, about whether my clients had sent me thousands of emails, etc. Turns out when I got back and switched my work phone on, I had one email, and it was a promotional one. I felt a little disappointed no one had needed me and I’d wasted precious time on holiday worrying about my workload.

I think a good lesson to take away from Fiona’s book is that you can stress as much as you like but it won’t change the outcome or how quickly you can complete a task. Take a step back, breathe and relax. Everything will get done in the end.

Overall, Fiona’s book taught me it’s okay to let others help you. It’s okay to speak out about your mental health and not everyone wants the same thing.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

While some people are perfectly happy working 9-5 and getting home to get ready for the next day, not everyone feels the same. Sometimes our mental health stops us from doing the mundane tasks. Sometimes it prevents us from working on ourselves.

Not everyone’s journey is the same and that’s what I’ve learnt from Fiona. While our paths may be different, we share one thing in common. We just want to be happy. We want a life full of adventures. We don’t want to be bound by our mental illnesses. And that’s why Fiona’s story is so inspiring; she used her mental illness to help others.

In the book Fiona also talks about feeling like an imposter. That she isn’t qualified to do her job. The thing is, as a child I always thought I would grow up to feel so big and confident, like I could do anything. But I’m still little old anxious me. That won’t go away. We grow up to think adults have their shit together, when really we are all in the same boat, trying to paddle upstream to get to where we want to be.

Have you read Fiona’s book yet? She is currently writing another book all about being freelance which comes out later this year and I can’t wait to read it.

You can follow Fiona on her socials:

Instagram: @fionalikestoblog

Book: Depression in a Digital Age

Twitter: @fionalikes

What is SAD?

What is SAD?

Trigger warning. This post contains talk of suicide and depression.

SAD is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder. 29% of adults will experience SAD during the Winter months, especially when the clocks go back – 1 in 3 adults now experience and suffer from SAD.

Have you felt that your depression worsens in the colder months? Or that you have no energy whatsoever and no motivation to get up and do anything? This is how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. I asked my Twitter followers whether they experience Seasonal Affective Disorder and I was surprised at the amount of people who responded with yes or offered to collab on a blog post. Therefore I took them up on the offer and I asked them to write a short paragraph on what SAD means to them.

@chloemetzger at Chloemetzgear.com

 

@chloemetzger at Chloemetzgear.com (2)

 

Symptoms of SAD

Here are just some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Have you experienced any of these?

  • Low energy
  • Feeling depressed most of the day
  • Losing sleep
  • Feeling sluggish or irritated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Changes in appetite or weight

Do you have any symptoms that aren’t listed on here?

Did you know there is such a thing as Winter and Summer depression? There are different symptoms for each one. Such as Winter, you may experience oversleeping, weight gain, tiredness or appetite changes. Whereas in the Summer you may find yourself experiencing these symptoms: insomnia, loss of appetite, weight loss and anxiety.

Causes of SAD

If you have sudden onset SAD, you may wonder why this is. Sometimes to relieve anxiety, it can help to know what the cause is. SAD can be brought on from a range of things such as:

  • Your biological clock. Because of how dark it gets in the evenings in Winter, this can mess with your internal body clock, therefore making you have depressive thoughts/episodes.
  • Your serotonin levels. Serotonin is responsible for your feelings such as happiness. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in your serotonin levels which could trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. Melatonin plays a vital part in your sleep patterns and mood, therefore a change in season can make these levels unbalanced.

How to Beat SAD

If you experience SAD you won’t be looking forward to Winter. Which is why I have come up with a list of things to help you combat SAD and live your best life (as much as you can). Here are just some of the things you could do to relieve the stress of SAD:

  • As much as we all hate it –  exercise. I go swimming every week which helps release serotonin in the brain which essentially makes us happy. Even a walk in nature will do!
  • Wear warm clothes. It’s proven that being cold can make you feel more depressed, so wrap up warm, drink plenty of hot drinks and cosy up by the fire if you have one.
  • Eating healthy. As much as I love my chocolate it makes me feel depressed after I’ve eaten it. You don’t have to go around eating salads five days a week for lunch, but switch up your meals, do meal prep with your partner or friends and try something new.
  • It’s proven that having a light box or dawn simulator (can be bought on Amazon for under £30) can help improve your mood.
  • Take up a new hobby. It will help distract you from your SAD thoughts (get it? No okay) and help you concentrate.
  • Socializing is a great way of warding off SAD (all my fellow introverts out there, I feel you)
  • Join a support group, or any group for that matter!
  • Make sure to take your Vitamin D.
  • As hard as it is to sleep with SAD, going to bed and switching off your phone at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning will help your sleep schedule and make you feel less tired, which in turn will help your mood swings.

I hope this post has helped at least some of you! If you have SAD, what are some ways you combat it?

Sources:

https://getridofthings.com/get-rid-of-seasonal-affective-disorder/ 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

Book Review: What Nobody Knew

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} Hey book lovers! I was recently asked to review What Nobody Knew by Amelia Hendrey. It’s a book about her life growing up in an abusive environment around her dad and step mum. It’s a story of abuse, violence, coming to terms with life and how to get by on your own. I recommend not reading this if you will be triggered by the abuse and violence.

Trigger Warning

This review contains sensitive content such as abuse, violence, rape and suicide. Please stop reading at any point if you feel triggered by these events.

Review

I have wanted to read Amelia’s book, What Nobody Knew, for a while now so when she messaged me asking if I would like to review a copy, I jumped at the chance. I knew it would be a hard read, having gone through abuse myself, but it was even more graphic than I expected.

However, I think that it’s important that Amelia went into so much detail of the violence, as it will open up people’s eyes to what really happens behind closed doors. Amelia’s story is an important one and lays out what it’s like to have to keep quiet when you know you’ll get hurt if you tell anyone what is really going on.

Domestic abuse is still a taboo topic. I know that there are organisations out there spreading the message – I even worked for a domestic abuse charity and heard the awful things that people were going through. But we need more coverage out there. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and over 750,000 cases of child abuse are reported in the UK each year. We need books like Amelia’s to bring to light what happens behind closed doors.

As you can probably tell, I am very passionate about this subject, so receiving a copy of this book was really interesting to me. I’ve never read anything like it. The closest I’ve gotten to reading about abuse is in Jacqueline Wilson’s Lola Rose, which I adored.

Reading about how Amelia was abandoned by her mum as a child and brought up with an alcoholic, abusive father was scary. I can’t imagine how she must have felt. The book mentions suicide because sometimes that feels like the only way out of such a terrifying situation.

I remember reading it thinking, it can’t get worse than this, it just can’t. She described her dad beating her, punching her and throwing her down the stairs. I thought it would get better as she went to boarding school as they couldn’t hurt her anymore. But I was wrong. There are, of course, the holidays where you go back home. And that’s when it got worse. This part of the book goes into detail about rape and how Amelia had to go to court to take her father to prison. It’s such a devastating feeling knowing that rape happens, but when you’re reading about it and the repercussions that it has, it is truly heartbreaking and eye-opening.

This book is a must read and we need more books like this to help people speak up. You don’t have to go through it alone. Amelia thought she did. She had no one and then when she found people willing to help her, there was hope. It’s heartbreaking and tragic but there’s also a message of hope. Don’t give up the fight.

Until next time, love, Vee x

Living with Anxiety and Depression

I wrote a post quite a while ago about coping with anxiety but I would like to also share a post about what I’m currently going through and maybe, just maybe, someone else is going through the same situation and feelings and this can help you feel less alone.

I have a wonderful partner, a job that’s going to further my career and a supportive family. But all these things don’t stop the anxiety and depression that goes through me on a day to day basis. I don’t always experience it – but it can be a constant feeling throughout the day or a niggling feeling I can’t explain which only makes me MORE anxious.

Anxiety can occur in many different ways in lots of different situations. It could be anything from walking down the street to being in a busy shopping centre.

Going out of the house a few years ago was almost impossible until my partner encouraged me and soon I was visiting him in London and going out alone again. Since then I’m able to walk to work most days (some days I become anxious about walking in case I feel anxious – I know, anxious about being anxious) to work and I’m able to get a train and tube on my own to my partner’s house.

I still can’t set foot in a mall on my own and I become anxious about the smallest things such as calling someone, letting someone down or admitting how I feel.

Some days I struggle to get out of bed because I don’t want to face a stressful day at work or I don’t want to get up out of the safeness of my bed. Having anxiety and depression is like having two people yelling at each other. Anxious me: “Get out of bed! You can’t be late! You are going to feel ill. You’ll never feel better.” Depressive me: “I don’t want to get out of bed. It’s unsafe outside. No one cares anyway.”

The difference now is that I’m able to push myself further than I have before. I’ve just completed a journey through London I didn’t think I would ever be able to do and little accomplishments such as that mean a great deal to someone like me with anxiety.

My advice to you would be to celebrate these little things – in the end they will be the start of you taking big steps. Not every day will be easy, but it’s better to know there are other people going through the same thing as you.

At the moment I struggle to see when I will feel better, more confident in myself again. But it’s there, in the not too distant future. Whether it’s counselling that I need or just encouraging myself in general, I will get there and so will you. This journey may be hard but it’s not impossible. Lots of people think anxiety is something you can’t overcome, that it will be with you for the rest of your life. But that’s not true; we are able to overcome great obstacles in life, including anxiety.

Believing in yourself will be a great resource to you. I know this can be hard when you have anxiety coupled with depression, but I hope one day you see you will be happy, you will overcome these obstacles. And if you can’t see that yet, I can see it for you.

Book Review #2 All The Bright Places By Jennifer Niven

So, as some of you may know, I’m trying to post more book reviews on my blog! This month’s book review is based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

About

All the Bright Places is about a girl called Violet who learns to live from a boy called Finch who wants to die. Violet’s sister, Eleanor died in a car crash and Violet blames herself. Finch is a boy who is bullied at school and called a ‘freak’ and his parents don’t seem to care much about him. His dad ran off with another family and his mother is too busy and clueless to know what is going on.

Violet meets Finch on top of the school’s bell tower where they seem to both talk each other off the ledge. Soon enough, Finch is obsessed with wanting to be Violet’s friend and the two strike up a friendship when they are assigned a group project to wander Indiana before they graduate and go off to college.

Violet counts down the days until she leaves school but Finch teaches her that she doesn’t need to stop living just because Eleanor is gone; she has to learn to live with the pain and not let it consume her life.

Review

As much as I enjoyed this YA contemporary novel about two people I can relate to personalty wise, I have to say I felt as if Niven almost romanticized dying – I don’t believe this is her intention at all; after all, Niven lost someone she loved to suicide. But the book reminded me a lot of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and I can’t help but feel that some contemporary books for young adults romanticize anything they can with poetry and riddles.

If you don’t want to know how the book ends, I suggest you come back after you have read it!

Throughout Violet and Finch’s wanderings through Indiana, they leave things behind and go to insignificant, ‘lovely’ places that aren’t the usual tourist attractions. Finch befriends Violet on Facebook and they start using Virginia Woolf quotes throughout their messages. When Finch disappears, he leaves behind notes and clues for Violet; which reminds me of John Green’s Papertowns. These clues eventually lead Violet to realise that Finch has taken his own life.

Finch teaches Violet that things most people would find insignificant or ugly, are actually rather lovely and these make the best memories. Violet learns to let herself heal and eventually comes out of the dark she has been hiding in for so long. I just feel as if Violet will now go back the way she was when Eleanor died; after all, she has now lost two people who meant the world to her.

At Finch’s funeral, his family refuses to call his death a suicide because of the stigma and shame surrounded by the word. They let people believe it was a tragic accident instead of blaming themselves for not paying enough attention, not reading the signs. Which makes it even more unbelievable that Violet would not notice it; she was closer to him than anyone. It’s true that you can hide your depression from others, but I feel like with Finch’s character, someone should have noticed other than the counselor. However, I do understand where Finch is coming from when he doesn’t want to be labelled as Bipolar or anyone with a mental illness. But it is important to get help and recognize that you do have a mental illness. You don’t have to let a label control you; anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, any mental illness doesn’t define who you are.

As much as Niven has highlighted suicide and depression, I can’t help but feel that Violet would have seen the signs – after all, didn’t Niven portray Violet as someone with depression? This is also something that bothers me about the book: we don’t receive enough  insight into the characters, least of all, Violet.

In real life, someone with depression isn’t usually fascinated with suicide facts and quotes and memoirs. Somehow, I feel Niven has made Finch obsessed with dying and when he leaves Violet and his family behind without a word to them – just clues – I felt as if this was quite unrealistic. This topic is sensitive to me in more than a few ways and I feel as if Finch reminds me of someone I once knew. Maybe this is why I didn’t enjoy the book, maybe why I didn’t shed a tear, maybe why I didn’t feel that flippy feeling in my stomach every time I read a good book.

I understand there are probably hundreds of people who feel the same way as Finch and Violet, but I just felt the characters didn’t feel real and raw enough. They were written in first person but by the way they would talk, it sounded more like they were written by someone on the outside, in third person.

Suicide is a tricky subject to write about and I applaud Niven for writing from the heart. It takes a lot of courage but it is also what makes you a good writer.

                                                                                                 
I did like that the places Niven described in the book were real and lovely in their own, wonderfully weird way: I especially liked the roller coasters created by John Ivers, the Milltown Shoe Tree, the world’s Largest Ball of Paint, the Ultraviolet Apocalypse and the Taylor Prayer Chapel. These places may be insignificant tourist attractions but they are all beautiful and I’m glad Niven introduced me to these places.

I couldn’t find any good photos of the rest but if you Google them, they will come up! These two images were sourced from Google.

                                                                                                 
I’m going to rate this book as 2/5☆ since I feel uncomfortable with the subject and I’m not sure how I feel about the portrayal of characters. I do think that these books are extremely important, no matter how they are written! Just as long as the message gets across!

Let me know in the comments what you think of the book! Everyone has different opinions!

Don’ forget to follow my Bookstagram account on Instagram: @neurotic.writer.ramblings

If you feel depressed, suicidal or anxious, please talk to someone. It is so important! I’m going to put some suicide hotlines down below:

Samaritans UK and ROI: 116 123

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: 0300 111 5065

SupportLine: 01708 765200