Posts Tagged ‘self help’

Student Depression: Inspirational Films No Student Should Do Without

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Campus Clipper warningWarning: overly elaborate introduction ahead. If you so desire, simply scroll to the *** symbols to get to the  crux of the matter. I won’t be mad.

Sometimes we just want to be inspired. Sometimes we want a medium to cajole us into creativity. We want all that latent energy that was stored away, subconsciously accreting verve and passion, to burst forth into a flurry of productivity. We want our intense emotions to be put to use, instead of letting them dissipate into an easily alterable and forgettable memories.

Us depression fighters are like that: this need comes natural to those who experience the wide gamut of emotions. We needlessly overthink, overfeeel, overact, overreact, over-everything. There are moments where we wish we were as passive as cows, a peaceful and unassuming existence. And then there are moments where we are secretly content that we feel something, anything.

Okay, I know, this is getting so long-winded that I may be tying myself into a knot here. So to cut to the chase: we want a medium to help us comprehend our emotional energy, make it real, tangible, and present it in a agreeable and understable way, so as to help mold and hone this energy into something we can use for ourselves.

For the time-conscientious student, the answer is cinema.

Am I still tying knots? Here, then, I’ll just hand it to you: we want to watch movies that “get” us, that bring us out of misery (or at least help us comprehend it) and give us the drive to do the things we are actually excited to do.

Not to say I haven’t enjoyed drivel like Meet the Spartans. And I mean really enjoyed. Maybe more than I should have.

And, come on, that penguin…

But I’m not here today to talk about guilty pleasures, or mindless blockbusters, or schlock.

I’m here to present to you films that not only act as interpreters for strong sentiment, but also as guidance counselors and motivational coaches that direct you towards creative expression and give you enough creative drive to use those sentiments in a productive capacity.

*** So here it is, the list of inspirational films that no depressed student should do without.

An aside: these films are not so much comedies, or “feel-good” movies, or exactly “happy” in any immediate way. They’re not even traditionally deemed as inspirational, in the most basic sense. Their artistry, however, riles both heart and mind, and is a great catalyst for converting more emotionally volatile times into drive and creativity.

Fight Club

The Inspirational Message: Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to lose everything. It gives you a fresh perspective, renewed energy to seek greater heights, and provides you the necessary momentum to get you to your next peak.

Pulp Fiction

The Inspirational Message: Let’s reel back a bit to a more meta vantage. The script is unbelievable, the writing is at once gritty, organic and poetic and leaves you creatively pumped.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The Inspirational Message: Banksy does what he does out of love for the arts and the immense power they carry in their messages. His verve is infectious.




The Inspirational Message: Stalker manages to elicit a gamut of reactions from its viewers, from scared shitless to deeply introspective to confused to enthralled, and does it all without us ever seeing the danger directly. A powerful work of fiction.

Fellini 8 1/2

The Inspirational Message: Our obsessions can become our greatest muses and our most foul demons. Also, creativity is never a sole entity: it draws from out life experiences, good and bad. If you’re missing either of those, you’re only getting half your mind’s worth.


The Inspirational Message: Again, looking at this from the angle of the theatre seat. It’s fine to create something strange. Strange and different can work infinitely better than tried and true, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet is an excellent example.

“Love is in the details; God is in the details, the strange. Amelie is enamoured with the little thing. She is captivated by an author’s quotes, she makes two people come together, she finds love through the games she plays. She overcomes her solitude through small details and through them finds a connection with another person.” Quote by Elena Gladoun.

Children of Men

The Inspirational Message: When there is nothing left of a resource, whether it be oil or children or time, fear sets in and incites violence and hatred. Never dwell on loss, only on abundance.

Before Sunrise

The Inspirational Message: A single spontaneous decision can change your entire life.

“Within the chaos of spontaneity, life, negativity, love still exists in a imperfect form there is still a glue.”  Quote by Elena Gladoun.

Almost Famous

The Inspirational Message: Take initiative. You want to get your articles or short stories printed in big publications? Don’t have a network that can hustle you in? Create the opportunity of a lifetime by reaching out voluntarily, write the articles for free, get your name out and get noticed.

Wild Strawberries

The Inspirational Message: Someone you could never relate to can give you the clairvoyance to look at life in a completely different way.


Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Student Depression: Funny is the Best Medicine

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Ever had that fight with your significant other/parent/yourself (I don’t judge) and one of you said something unintentionally hilarious, and, despite your best efforts to scowl in anger, you couldn’t help but crack a smile?

The situation seemed so much less serious when you both lightened up, right? All you had to do was smile and something that could have lasted hours dissipated in minutes.

“They” say that laughter is the best medicine. Who are “they”? People who just don’t understand how bad you feel inside. If they’re happy all the time, how the hell would they know what it’s like to be angry, frustrated, depressed?

It’s the same situation with those people that tell you to take life less seriously; you just know that if they were in your shoes they’d feel your pain.

Well, they do know how it feels, and likely as much as you do, if not more. They’ve found that elusive balance, that secret to the right amount of sad and happy, and at the right intervals.

The only thing “they” have over you is a simple truth: sometimes, humor is the best medicine. Not necessarily the most logical (I’m looking at you, happy pills). But it’s up there.

"Can't resist... the cuteness"

The crux of the matter here is, the best way to tone down the macabre and channel your inner Macarena is to laugh. To actually perform the infamously over-exaggerated LMFAO. To become one with the ROFLCOPTER.

I know, sometimes this task is beyond challenging: it’s downright impossible, especially for those moments when you’re catatonic from despair. One mistake many of us depression fighters make from time to time is believing the idea that happiness means being ecstatic all the time. But just like in the atomic world, everything seeks a balance: positively charged protons need a similar number of negatively charged electrons to create a stable atom; certain atoms’ valence shells strive to abide by the octet rule, and that means gaining or losing (negatively charged) electrons. Basically, for stability, life needs both the pluses and the minuses.

Everyone needs those low points to get enough momentum for the high ones. But if all you get is a series of flaccid bumps, the ride becomes stale, sad, and in serious need of excitement. You need a funny injection.

That’s why, for those brief moments when you actually feel (sort of) good, the best possible thing you can do is capitalize. Bank on the moment. Profit. And for those bad moments? More on this in a bit.

How do we get that funny injected in a timely manner? We don’t have time for a two-hour comedy, we don’t have the patience for feel-good books or articles or tweets. So what’s left to do? Scour YouTube for cat videos? I’ve got a better idea.

In 2000, the Internet was introduced to Pandora Radio. Over the past 13 years, Pandora has acclimated to the needs of its 200 million users quite brilliantly. And it now has the ability to make us laugh.

Just like with your favorite musicians, you can create a Pandora station with your favorite comedians. While music can be a great escape, excellent comedy can bring you way down to serious reality while still seeing it from a hilarious angle, whether you’re listless in bed and are in dire need of a peak, or you’re experiencing that intermittent moment of elation and want to capitalize on it.

Talented comedians have the ability to teach us that even the lowest of lows are sources of humor.

So while you may wallow in bed, moaning with your bottle of gin for love long lost while your cats stare at you in what looks like apathetic curiosity, when you do recover, you’ll be able to view that gutter-licking crevice you momentarily fell into as part of a balanced emotional spectrum. You’ll also take subsequent episodes less seriously.

With all that said, let’s take talk shop. Which comedians? Why would you consider listening to them in the first place? You have questions, I have answers and funny pictures…

Louis C.K.: One of the best comedians alive for the very reason that he turns the most guttural points in life on their heads to create some of the most raw, genuine and human comedy around.

Jim Gaffigan: He ponders on the little things in our day-to-day lives that we don’t give a second thought to, like hot pockets and laziness, and creates lighthearted little diatribes that are spot-on.

Demetri Martin: Embodying the very idea of idiosyncrasy, Demetri uses hilarious puns and nerdy observations to bring to life even the most tepid subjects.

Dane Cook: Can be annoying. But in small doses can produce gol—eh, maybe silver. Or copper. But who else buys a cement truck just so they can put their friends in the empty mixer, and then throws jolly ranchers at them as they tumble around?

Mitch Hedberg: Do you like cheese? Because Mitch is all about shooting off those hit-or-miss one-liners and arbitrary observations, which more often than not convey sheer brilliance. Stand up was a labor of love for Mitch: he’d usually wear sunglasses, close his eyes and hide his face under his hair to help with stage fright.


Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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