Tag Archives: health

When depression meets love: a toxic cocktail

Nowadays, mental health is an issue which gets a lot of coverage. However you rarely hear about the people suffering with the sufferers. I was one of those people, for two years, and have finally decided to write about it. I met this girl at school, a couple years ago now – and honestly, I was hooked. We got friendly very quickly before the summer, but the contact dried up during, and I slowly forgot about her, till the start of September 2016. She got in contact again, and from then on we grew gradually closer, till one night, the 12th January 2017, when this wonderful, lovely, slightly odd girl finally told me. She was clinically depressed, and had been for three years, I should really leave her alone, she’d understand – but I loved this girl! So of course, I stayed.


The Beginning
The hardest thing in all of this was actually properly dealing with a clinically depressed person. Every day was a challenge with her, and most of the time I barely got a response from her that was longer than three words. The mood swings, the recklessness, and the non-existent will to live was extremely hard. It got worse when she would describe exactly the pit of blackness she was feeling. All the while I was dealing with this new information, I kept her secret, I felt it only fair when she trusted something so valuable to me – Which made dealing with everything even more difficult. We did have a simple coping mechanism though. Get drunk, and all the blackness went away, for a few hours. That was when we shared the most with each other, and grew closer. Some of the stuff she would say would shock me, but mostly make me sad beyond belief that however hard I tried, I couldn’t save her, all I could do was be there. So I was, even if I went mad in the process.


Hope
Summer 2017 was a time for hope. We were both moving on to new things, new lives. Away from the old, bad memories. To make some new ones. We spent a lot of time with each other toward the end of the summer, just having fun and dreaming for the future. We were both happy, she had something to focus on. Soon enough came our last time together before we both left, she for Frankfurt, me for Augsburg. That last night was a dream. We made promises to keep in contact, to always be there for one another. As I stood at her door, as she shut the door, I looked at the rising sun, and started to cry. Was this the beginning of the end?


Pain
At first, everything was good. She was truly happy in her new home, her techno parties, she had everything. I was happy she was happy. Then came the MDMA. I knew, as soon as she told me, that she wouldn’t be able to control herself taking it – euphoria for a depressive person is like a drug itself, right? Here, I could do nothing to stop her, and it seemed to be the end of us. But a few months later, after getting back speaking, I visited her in Frankfurt, and that day in itself felt too good to be true – sure was. As time went on, it seemed that all we had discussed in Frankfurt, all the things we wanted to change: there would be better communication, healthier ways to deal with her bad days, etc. seemed to have been forgotten. Then came another depressive phase, and by June 2018, everything crumbled.


Fin
She started taking Ecstasy excessively. I wanted her to get help – she wouldn’t. After a period of silence, I wanted to know what was going on, how she was, and I got told that she was ”happy” now and didn’t need me. That was how it ended. In September 2018. Now as I’m writing this, I’m slowly getting better, but the feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness still strike. The only unanswered question I have, is ”Why?”

Author: Conor Schiffer

Picture: Filz Özer

International Workaholics Day

It couldn’t fit any better, could it?  Exams are coming up, so most of us only seem to turn into real workaholics when studying towards the end of the term. How fitting, then, that today, on 5th July, we can all celebrate International Workaholics Day! Personally, I‘m not sure whether we should celebrate or commiserate…

Worka…what?!

A workaholic is a “person to whom work is extremely or excessively important, esp. one who voluntarily works very long hours; a person addicted to working” (OED).

It can also imply that someone really enjoys the work itself or that they simply feel obliged to do it. That’s quite something, don’t you think? Certainly, we all sometimes, somehow feel a certain ‘pressure’ when it comes to work. But a workaholic comes in early, stays in late and sacrifices health and their relationships with their loved ones. Not only once, but very often. I dare say – constantly. Relaxation simply isn’t part of their vocabulary, literally. This may work out for a certain time.

But let’s face it: a healthy work-life balance is vital!

Help! I know a workaholic!

While reading this, you might have a friend or relative in mind, or you might recognise your own workaholic behaviour… In that case, you’ve already made the first step towards a better work-life balance. Remember some of the following advice that may help to be a diligent, hard-working student who can combine work and time for revitalization

  • Give your body and mind enough time to relax. This sets free more energy than you might think at first glance.
  • Set yourself a certain time limit to finish your work effectively, instead of spending too much time working ineffectively.
  • Reward yourself by organising a meeting with a mate that always cheers you up.
  • In case you have got up the wrong side of the bed: stop working for a day. Don’t force it! Try to relax and start all over the next day.
  • Remind yourself of one very essential fact: nobody’s perfect! It’s human nature to set goals you can’t attain sometimes!

Remember, we get up and go to work every day to earn the money or to study for a job in the future in order to enjoy the rest of our lives. Why not start enjoying now? Being hard-working definitely earns respect, but you only live once, right?

Text & Picture: Maximiliane Hil

YES THEORY

Monday morning. 6:30 am. The alarm clock rings. You get up, make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee (because you can’t do anything before that caffeine kicks in), then read the paper, get yourself ready, go to work, come home, have some leftovers from the day before, watch your favorite TV show, check up on social media and go to sleep. Next day, it’s the same procedure. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Is this what your life might look like in five to ten years’ time? Or does it already look that way?

The great feeling of knowing what to expect

Routines. We love them. We humans are creatures of habit. Schedules, plans, simply knowing what to expect when we wake up in the morning – WE LOVE IT. And most of us seem to do really well with this kind of structure for their days, weeks or their lives.

Let’s take this scenario and alter it a bit

Monday morning. 6:30 am. The alarm clock rings. You get up, make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee. Then read the paper, get yourself ready, go to the airport, take the
first last-minute flight they offer you and spontaneously go on an adventure to the Bahamas.

YES THEORY

Sounds fun? Scary? Crazy?

We fear what we can’t predict. That’s why most of us so vigorously cling to our comfort zones. But you know what? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. This is the philosophy four Canadian guys in their mid-twenties live by. They seem to have found the key to living a good and happy life: seeking discomfort. Together they came up with the concept of ’Yes Theory’ in 2015.

Things have changed quiet a lot for these guys, who used to live a rather ordinary life. They decided to step out of their comfort zones whenever they can – causing them to have unbelievable experiences. They moved to LA, went skinny dipping with strangers, sneaked into a Hollywood premiere and hitchhiked to Mexico. And that’s only listing a few of their countless adventures. And their intentions pay off: they’re all living and enjoying life more consciously and transform their anxiety into happiness and excitement. Getting curious? Go check them out at ‘Yes Theory’ on YouTube or on their blog and follow their miraculous journey.

Saying ‘yes’

Are you living a calm life right there at this warm and cozy spot in the middle of your comfort zone? And most importantly: do you feel the need to change something about it? To feel more alive, maybe? Do you miss the feeling of your blood rushing through your veins? Yes? Well, then be inspired by the ‘Yes Theory’ and try to say yes more often (starting with that very first ‘yes’ you maybe just said).

‘What makes you uncomfortable? What are you gonna do about it?’  (quote by one of the members of ‘Yes Theory’)

So after reading this, do you want to change your life for the better? Well, you don’t have to hop on a plane to another continent right away. Let’s start with baby steps out of your comfort zone, but most importantly: start.

Go to the movie you want to see so badly – by yourself, because no one wants to join.

Go jump off that cliff that seems to be way too high for you.

Go ask that boy or girl you’ve had a crush on for so long for a date.

Do what the dark, mean anxiety in your head tells you not to.

Enjoy life more consciously.

Be crazy, loud and spontaneous.

Seek discomfort.

Be happy.

 

Text: Lena Zimmermann
Picture: Fabian Prinz

 

 

Push yourself …

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? Running! And it’s one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Then read on…

Laziness

One of the most interesting races of 2017 was the Berlin marathon. Motivation, strength of mind and exhaustion were only a few comments I picked up at the start line. Thousands of runners were trying to make it through the cold weather to the finish line.

Exhausted, with my feet burning, I got up from my couch after watching TV for 3 hours. I picked up popcorn from my sweater and switched off the documentary about the marathon on TV. I really needed to do something about my laziness.

Do your homework

Running a half marathon not only takes a lot of physical preparation but also mental endurance and if you’ve never taken on the challenge before, not knowing exactly what to expect can be rather depressing. The first weeks were sheer torment. I gasped for air after ten minutes of running and felt just awful. Overchallenged and glum, I was ready to give up. A few days later, while I was walking through my hometown, I found a note on the ground that read “Do your homework“. I guess a student had dropped it. That day, I literally found my motivation on the ground. I started to run almost every single day and the running improved incredibly fast. Even cold weather didn’t stop me. In some kind of way I got addicted to running, more than to watching TV. Who would have thought?

The grand finale

The final race day was incredibly nerve-wracking. I hadn’t slept a lot the night before and was up way too early. At the location, I picked up my race materials, including start number and t-shirt and went towards the start area. Lined up there, looking around at all these athletic, good-looking runners, I thought I would never be able to make it. I heard the gun and started to run. I can’t really say anything about the race itself because it felt like I was in my own world. People were supporting us, yelling and waving on the side of the road. The feeling was just amazing. The finish line came faster than I thought and it was okay. Actually, it was more than okay because I had sprinted the last two kilometers.

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The whys and wherefores

Answering the question of ”Why so much pain?”: it’s the feeling of running that sets our souls on fire. If we push on, running harder, further away from the world and the structures of our lives, we begin to feel connected to ourselves. We begin to get a tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. Besides the mental health issue, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a thoroughly trained, muscular body?!

Text & Picture: Linda Decker

The goblin in my head

goblinHave you ever noticed someone who moves abruptly, as if they couldn’t control their own body? I bet you have! But usually you’d either look away or you’d try to give the person a furtive look because you’re wondering what they’re doing. Well, I’m one of those people fidgeting around in public owing to a disease called Tourette’s syndrome. As most of you’d probably try to avoid interrogating me in order not to make me feel uncomfortable, I’m going to answer the Top 10 questions I’ve been asked because I want to give you an insight into my life with Tourette’s.

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1. What is Tourette’s?

This is, of course, one of the most frequent questions. Science defines Tourette’s syndrome as a neuro-psychological disease which appears in the form of so-called tics, which are involuntary, quick and suddenly occurring movements or sounds. Motor tics are usually way more frequent than vocal tics, but they can also happen in combination. In my opinion, this definition is very abstract, which is why I prefer to explain it differently. Children can understand the illness best with the image of a goblin playing tricks on my brain. However, my favorite explanation is the filter in my brain; our brain sends thousands of commands to the nerves every day. But not all of them are useful or necessary and the filter sorts these out. In my case, the filter leaks, so that my brain instructs me to laugh and at the same time I shake my head – quite confusing, right?

2. What kind of tics do you have?

All kinds! From shaking my head or rolling my eyes to clearing my throat or hiccupping or twisting my legs. Sometimes a certain tic doesn’t occur for a year and then – all of a sudden – it reappears, but even worse than before. Or it disappears forever. In principle, my tics always vary and from time to time I ask myself how my body is actually able to carry out such movements or sounds. And although it might look funny, my tics can be very painful; there was a time when I used to dislocate my thumb so I had to wear a splint for weeks.

3. When do your tics occur?

Whenever they want. Usually, they get worse when I feel stressed in a certain situation or place or when I’m surrounded by strangers. But very often they occur when I’m totally relaxed, as if my brain was getting rid of all the tension, and my tics unload. In periods like this, I need to do less in general because the tics occur in concentration, which completely exhausts me. The funny thing is that sometimes, I’m tic-free for several days and during the night, I’m totally calm as well. So, as you can see, Tourette’s has a mind of its own.

 4. Can’t you control your tics?

I’ve already partially answered this question. So, I can hold my tics back for a short time in order not to attract too much attention. The only problem is: whenever I suppress a tic, it’s really tiring, and comes back much worse. That’s why I usually let my tics come as they do because suppressing them has always had the opposite effect to what I wanted to achieve with it.

5. How does having a tic feel?

That’s hard to answer since I don’t know a constant state without Tourette’s. But you could probably compare it to the feeling before you hiccup, when the pressure slowly rises from the throat before it happens. And this light pressure persists the whole day. However, if small tics like rolling my eyes occur, I usually don’t even notice them anymore.

6. Why don’t you swear?

Yeah, Tourette’s is mostly associated with vocal tics, especially swearing. And in some rare moments, I think that it would be so great to hurl an insult at a grumpy waiter and to even have a ready-made excuse for it. But actually, only about 20 % of those affected suffer from this severe form of Tourette’s. And I’m very happy to be one of the other 80 % because so-called ‘coprolalia’ is emotionally trying and very restricting.

7. What do you think about Tourette’s jokes?

I have a sense of irony. So, if the jokes are funny, I can laugh at them. However, if the jokes are meant to hurt someone’s feelings, I confront the person, which usually helps!

 8. Are you disabled?

That’s quite a question! I think nobody wants to be asked whether they’re disabled. You can probably imagine how shocked I was when I heard this question for the first time. This was actually the moment I realised how conspicuous my tics really are. Of course, I tried to stay calm on the outside and keep my poker face. But on the inside, a part of me, the part that believed that I’m as normal as everybody else, just broke. Naturally, I tried to convince myself that these people simply don’t think about how their words can hurt people. But after this event, I cut myself off from the outside world for a while and it took me a long time to get over it.

9. Does Tourette’s syndrome restrict your daily life?

That’s always kind of a tricky question. As I’ve already said, my tics vary in their manner and frequency. Minor tics like rolling my eyes occasionally don’t have a big impact on my daily life. However, if I’m stressed or nervous, I also combine tics. I start rolling my eyes and at the same time I shake my head vigorously and hiccup. Sometimes, my motor tics are so frequent and heavy that I can’t drive since I can’t have a constant eye on the traffic. At such times, my mom or friends drive to minimize the risk for others. And there are some things I can’t enjoy like others do:  a rush of adrenaline or alcohol aren’t good for me and my tics get unbelievably strong because my brain is overtaxed with so many stimuli at the same time.

10. Can Tourette’s be cured?

Unfortunately not. I’ve been suffering from Tourette’s since the age of four and believe me, I’ve visited a lot of doctors in my life so far. Of course, there are medicines to suppress the tics, but they usually have a strong sedative effect as well. From time to time, scientists conduct surveys about new ways of healing, like a medicinal cannabis spray that helps sufferers to relax. However, all these drugs have very strong side effects so that I’ve never tried any. I think as long as I’m not suffering from one of the severe forms of Tourette’s, I’ll just try to get along and find other, more natural ways to relax.

These were my Top-10-questions about Tourette’s, answered by someone affected and not by scientists just giving theoretical explanations. I really hope that my article has uncovered the mystery of this disease so that the next time you see someone making weird movements or sounds, you won’t freeze in total shock or pure fascination but remain relaxed and open-minded. Because as you know now, people like me only have a goblin in their head fooling around.

Author: Theresa Hartl
Picture: Konstantin Hartl

Lifehacks for your sleep

It’s two a.m. and you’re tossing and turning in your bed. You have to get up at six to get to your 8:15 class on time (officially), which stresses you out, making it even more difficult to fall asleep. Your sweet old grandmother’s advice to drink warm milk with honey hasn’t worked. All you want is to not be tired in the morning for a change. Sound familiar? Now, ideally, you would examine your life and question every decision that has gotten you into this situation and improve all the areas that prevent you from sleeping. Exercise regularly. No Netflix binges. Stop eating unhealthy food. But what’s that you say? Ain’t nobody got time for that? You want a few tricks that will help you sleep well without actually sacrificing anything or significantly changing any aspect of your life? You’ve come to the right place.

1.5 is the magic number

This is by far the most important rule. 1.5 is the length of an average sleep cycle, so you should aim for the hours you sleep to be a multiple of 1.5 (3 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours and so on). Interrupting a sleep cycle is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your sleep. It will leave you tired, no matter how many hours you slept. This leads to some counter-intuitive truths sleeping 7 hours will leave you more tired than 6 hours, because 4 x 1,5 = 6. Get the idea?

Blue light is a no-go

Fair enough, you say, but you’re having trouble even falling asleep? It might be because you’re staring atpic a screen all day every day. That’s right, your mother had a point when she told you to put your phone away. But relax you don’t have to give up your Netflix binges and nightly meme-browsing on your phone. The culprit is the blue light emitting from your screen (wave-length between 400 to 495 nm). It inhibits the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you sleepy. But that can be improved pretty easily. You can filter out the blue light with the help of apps, such as f.lux for your computer or Twilight for your phone. (Warning: side effects include being asked from time to time why your screen is tinged orange-ish. Or so I’ve heard.)

Eat to sleep deep

Ok, you’ve followed all of the advice but you’re still not happy because you wake up in the middle of the night? Might be natural, in which case you should just accept it as part of your natural sleep pattern, or, what’s more likely, it might be because of your blood sugar dropping rapidly. To make sure that doesn’t happen:

DON’T: eat simple carbs in the evening, like white bread, white pasta, candy or literally anything that’s a carb and that’s white.

DO: eat complex carbs in the evening, like whole grains, beans or oatmeal. They take longer to break down and to absorb, so they will provide your body with slow and steady energy.

There you have it. If these tips don’t help you, you might want to look into slightly more extreme methods, like traveling to Tibet studying with Buddhist monks until you overcome your earthly desire for sleep or replacing all of your blood with coffee.

Author & Picture: Maria Diamantopoulou

You can’t weigh beauty

I always had the feeling that social media were dominated by young women with a skinny frame and flawless bodies, thus setting the standards for “beauty”. But when scrolling through Instagram lately, I see more and more photos of overweight women proudly showing their curves and flab. They smile into the camera without any shame. And also pictures, in which models reveal the magic of photoshop, flexing and perfect lighting, fill up social media. “Where do they get their confidence from?” I asked myself. Then my eye hit the…

…#bodypositivity

Body positivity is a movement used to show self-empowerment. It’s a way to liberate people from the social stigma of what a body should look like. It’s all wrapped up with the idea that even if your body doesn’t comply with what society deems to be beautiful, it isn’t necessarily something that needs to be fixed. Over the last few years, more and more people have become part of the movement. It promotes the idea that all bodies are beautiful, equal, deserves respect and that everyone should feel confident in their own body.

BodyPositivity

Reality

Unfortunately, not all bodies are treated in this way. Because of all the stigmas such as fat people being lazy, overweight people are hired and paid less on average. As a nation, we have to understand that not every body looks like perfectly-shaped fashion images. Not every woman is blessed with big breasts and no cellulitis. The social pressure to look the way society expects you to affects people of all sizes, but, in fact, many overweight people must deal with harmful comments on a daily basis.

Importance

Body positivity is often questioned by people who accuse the movement of simply glorifying obesity and sending people to an early grave. As a nation, we are overweight and this is a really huge issue. But making people feel miserable about themselves won’t work. And, fat shaming is extremely harmful and science has proven that it leads to weight gain. If you feel terrible every time you look in the mirror, you won’t be motivated to make a change. We need to accept our body before we can move in the right direction. For example, non-judgmental acceptance will allow people to make smart choices like adapting a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Shame on the other hand will just prevent them from fixing the problem and lead to irrational decisions such as crash diets. The sooner we accept the reality without adding extra negativity, the better we can deal with the situation.

Advice

For the people who have struggled with their figure for a long time, loving and accepting their body might seem like a Herculean task. One of the reasons is that our society and the media work against this acceptance by only showing flawless bodys, which isn’t an accurate representation of our society. And statements such as “real women have curves” and “strong is the new skinny”, only express how one body shape is superior to others. But by spreading the message that every body type is worthy of respect and by using models of all shaped and sizes, growing self-love would become easier. So, stop shaming others and show your body some love by accepting it with all its strengths and flaws!

Text & Pictures: Victoriy Fairley