A short rant about a paragraph about depression in a self help book

I’m a sucker for a self-help book.

I have a big stack of them at home and generally I find the messages really positive, if not exactly life-changing. I dip into them every so often as a reminder to do the basic stuff like think positive thoughts and let go of negative emotions. It’s a bit like having a session with a life coach, only cheaper. A lot of it is the same – love yourself, forgive others, embrace fear, books to make you happier – nothing revolutionary, but nothing controversial either.

That’s what I thought at least, until I got to a particular paragraph in my latest read, a Christmas present that I put on my Amazon wish list because I do quite want to be a badass and live an awesome life.

You are a badass

I was over half way through the book and I’d not come across anything I disagreed with, apart from the God references, but I just ignore those. I may not be a God fan but each to their own. There was one particular paragraph though that I couldn’t ignore.

It was a paragraph in a section about the stories we tell ourselves and how they hold us back. Some examples included seeing yourself as the sort of person who always fails at relationships, or who is bad with money. There aren’t really no decent men out there, but we kind of fool ourselves into believing it so we don’t have to blame ourselves when it goes wrong.

Sure, I get that.

But then…

‘We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way…’ says Jen Sincero. ‘If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.

‘Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you’re depressed. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, when you feel awful you don’t have to work hard or do the laundry or go to the gym. It feels very familiar and cosy and comfortable. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food. It allows you to not try too hard…’

Um, hello?!

Depression is not a spa Jen Sincero.

Depression is not something you look forward to as an excuse not to have to do your own washing. If only you could concentrate long enough to work, then perhaps you wouldn’t also have the crippling guilt and anxiety that grows and grows the further you get behind with things. Any research paper on depression will show you that.

Yes of course there is an element of personal responsibility around depression, and there are a lot of things that you can do to try to make yourself feel better, but it’s definitely not as simple as that. For example, whereas some people find that taking medication or undergoing therapy can make depression more manageable, others prefer to use natural products such as 8vape cartridges or other similar vaping products alongside alternative herbal remedies. Ultimately, deciding which route to take can be overwhelming.

As someone who has experienced depression, albeit in what I feel is a relatively mild form, (I cry a lot and feel terrified, but deep down I know it’s going to get better and that I’m a decent person), I can confirm that at no point does it feel ‘familiar and cosy and comfortable’.

Depression and anxiety are the most uncomfortable things I have ever experienced. You don’t feel right. Everything you thought you knew feels unfamiliar, pointless and flat. You can’t get physically or emotionally comfortable, no matter what you do. Depression is not some kind of favourite, comfy blanket that comes with the added benefit of free meals.

I’m wondering if the author would have dared to write a paragraph like this:

‘Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you have MS. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, you kind of like that sometimes you get to sit in a wheelchair and not have to bother to walk around. You’re in pain, but that gets you off the gym. Your vision is poor, but that means you can away with not reading or working hard. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food.’

No way.

No way would Jen Sincero have dared to say that about a physical health problem, and yet a mental health problem? Well that’s clearly just an excuse for laziness. Feeling depressed? Nah, that’s just attention seeking.


What is wrong with people?! She’s spent half a bloody book telling people to love themselves and then she casually swoops in with that. ‘Sure, you’re awesome, but cheer up yeah? Stop slobbing about.’

It made me so cross that I couldn’t read any more of the book, so it looks like I’m not going to be a badass after all. If being a badass means being ignorant and narrow minded though, I think I’d rather not anyway thanks.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable to be so annoyed by this?



  1. 17 January, 2017 / 11:30 am

    Yep. Mental health conditions are often ignored and poo-pooed. And it is just plain wrong.

  2. 17 January, 2017 / 11:55 am

    It’s so easy for people not to understand depression fully when they haven’t experienced it. I have never suffered from it, thankfully, but I have loved ones who do and I have learned it is no picnic for them. No one chooses to be depressed. The author is very naive.

  3. Paul
    17 January, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    Personally speaking I have experienced people like this quite a lot. The “Pull yourself together,” idiots who have not got a clue what they are talking about. I am surprised that her publishers let it through. I guess people with mental health issues can still be offended and no one give a damn. The best way self help book is called a diary. Write down your own personal thoughts and feelings and soon you will learn a lot about yourself, your ups and downs and the patterns that emerge. Putting money into the pockets of idiots like this will not help anyone except her.

  4. 17 January, 2017 / 12:34 pm

    Ooh, I’m raging and I’ve never even heard of Jen (In)Sincero and her book! If I could live my life without depression, or the threat of its return, I’d happily swap that for sitting around slobbing out. Stupid comment!

  5. Chris Norman
    17 January, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    You are absolutely justified in cutting loose at that point. She is putting across a completely callous, ignorant and stigmatic point of view.

  6. 17 January, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    I’m slightly less horrified at the author – perhaps they’re getting off on being too lazy to learn something – than I am at the editors and publishers that let this fly without any thought as to how this might affect someone with depression who could be reading this to bolster a recovery or treatment process. It’s so horrendously irresponsible.

  7. 17 January, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    Some people are confused by what ‘depression’ actually is, and the plethora of people claiming to know how to ‘fix it’ just adds to the confusion.
    I’d bet the author has never had cause to look too deeply in to what depression is and the ways it can devastate people, though you think they would if they’re mentioning it a book they are selling…
    Even among people who *want* to understand, want to be as useful as they can in the lives of people they know with depression, there are many conflicting views on the best way to do this.
    And this is because (of course) depression affects each person differently.
    So yeah, I’m surprised the author is that ignorant and unhelpful, but then again I’m not, if you see what i mean…

  8. Judith Allen
    17 January, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Think you can use tthat book for lighting fires. At least that would be useful. Grr.

  9. 17 January, 2017 / 9:54 pm

    What a vile thing for someone to write, and perhaps even worse is that someone agreed to publish this drivel (possibly in a bid to create a negative hype, after all hype is hype).

    I’d write a review online and link this post xx

  10. 17 January, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    You’re a badass for understanding why this is such a disgusting paragraph. You are a badass because you have empathy for others. You are a badass for saying ‘not today Jen Sincero’ and your a badass for always looking to improve yourself, learn about yourself and acknowledging the challenging times you’ve had. From reading that paragraph Jen Sincero doesn’t get to say who’s a badass because actually, badass in her eyes just sounds selfish, narrow minded and extreme lacking in empathy for her fellow (wo)man. Xx

  11. Danielle Spencer
    17 January, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    Disgusting! Unfortunately there are people out there that claim to be depressed for attention.
    BUT there are also lots of us that suffer daily, weekly and even longer periods of depression, depression is like a feeling like no other, it isn’t even always sadness, sometimes I am so numb. Getting up can be so exhausting, let along doing your washing or things that those that are no depressed can achieve with little effort. Depression is such a personal journey too, some people speak out and others suffer in silence, sometimes we do not know someone is depressed until it is too late – and no wonder with comments like these! Thanks for sharing, I know to avoid this book and author now.

  12. Fiona jk42
    17 January, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    you’re absolutely right to be annoyed. This whole attitude that people with depression must enjoy wallowing in self-pity is unfortunately all too common. Sad that this book is a best seller, as that means a large number of readers have been exposed to this misinformation.

  13. A S,Edinburgh
    17 January, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    That’s hilarious.

    “It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food.”

    Really? In my experience, having any health problems, physical or mental, beyond a brief cold, results in everyone but a tiny handful of people treating you like crap. I’m far from alone in that, too. If the author hasn’t had that experience I’d love to know what her secret is, because there are a lot of people out there who could really use it.

    No-one with so little idea of what the real world is like can be worth taking advice from. I’ll avoid this one.

  14. Angela Treadway
    18 January, 2017 / 12:18 am

    No your not being unreasonable at all. As someone who has experienced depression and still has an anxiety disorder. Depression is not something you woke up with one morning and said ‘hey i feel like feeling depressed today’ its not something you want to feel and its not something you can just ‘snap out of’ either. Its an illness just like any illness, just because people cant see it doesnt mean it doesnt exist and it can be just as interfering, frustrating and life shattering as a physical disorder. Thankyou for writing this article not enough is written about mental health and there needs to be.

  15. Angela Kelly
    18 January, 2017 / 8:29 am

    This is absolutely disgusting. What medical qualifications does this woman have that allow her to make this bloody ridiculous statement. I would never wish the awful hopelessness that comes with depression on anyone, but it would be great if the likes of this woman could experience the crippling symptoms for just a day. I can’t even articulate any more comments…I hope you leave a suitably arsey review on her Amazon page!

  16. Fiona Firth
    18 January, 2017 / 9:41 am

    My immediate reaction to this was oh god that’s what I’m doing? I’m even more horrible than I thought. Thankfully I’m in a realatively good place right now. I read your response and agree with you wholeheartedly. I’m glad I haven’t got the book! That sort of thing could do some real damage!

  17. 18 January, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    I suffer from depression but that last sentence has made me laugh ( whilst being angry ) – nobody pops in to check on me or brings me food!
    Maybe I need to seek some more of this attention that she mentions!

  18. Emma
    18 January, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    I’m really glad you have not had to suffer any long term depression (I mean that sincerely as well, I know how comments can be misunderstood).
    I do suffer and sometimes it’s much worse than others. While I 100% agree I don’t think the author would have written anything like that over a physical condition, I have to admit she has a point. You see when I have been at rock bottom with depression in the past I have questioned every single thing about myself and felt so disgusted with myself for being so selfish with my thoughts and actions, and I remember discussing this particular point with a counsellor.
    He said
    ‘Imagine your brain is like a filing cabinet and it has stored every reaction to any significant events in your life. So when you experience anything with a negative emotion and all the thoughts of fear, self doubt, and anxiety appear, your brain will go to the ‘default’ reaction. It will pull that ‘file’ out and explore everything in it, obsessing over every detail.’
    Now I can relate to this and I honestly believe the longer this is allowed to go on with no positive intervention, the more this becomes learned behaviour. You can develop a morbid sense of familiarity with the negativity and it can become ‘safe’.
    I would never generalise depression, (we are all on our own journeys) but I understand why the author wrote what she did.

  19. LD
    19 January, 2017 / 10:19 pm

    The woman is clearly an idiot (who has never experienced true depression). I am suffering from depression and anxiety and I would give anything to not to feel like a burden to my family, be able to function properly and to not feel like I am failing my children. Depression makes everything seem flat and pointless, it’s certainly not something that makes people feel comforted in any way!!! Should never have been published.

  20. 10 June, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    I’m glad you put the book down at this point! What an ignorant view of mental health problems and like you say, if you replace the word depression with any physical health problem and it sounds awful then you know it’s a bad point. Great post!

  21. Sarah
    27 June, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    I had the same experience! 140 pages in and boom- that part. What remarkable insensitivity and the same BS that is driving stigma. Tell your friends? Get attention? Are you kidding? It just illustrated for me that she hasn’t taken the time to really consider the lives and problems of other people deeply. I lost respect for her and I couldn’t continue reading. I don’t think you are overreacting at all.

  22. 3 July, 2017 / 8:38 am

    I don’t think you’re being unreasonable in the least to be upset by this. As someone who has the pleasure of living with Bipolar Disorder, I can assure you that I’m not attention seeking when I come down from a mania into a soul crushing depression where I can see no future, and only the shame of every negative thing I’ve ever done.

    No one does my laundry. It sits in dirty piles. No one brings me food. I don’t eat, or I steal a granola bar here and there. The only thing I have going for me in those times is my dog. She requires going outside and that requires me getting up. She demands it. There is no choice. I can assure you though, that is the only thing that wins.

  23. Alexa Radcliffe-Hart
    14 July, 2017 / 6:21 pm

    I have the book and it was given to me as part of a ‘buddy box’. I am certain that the organisation behind the buddy box would not have given that out in the box if they had known because one of the biggest areas of support is for those with depression and anxiety. I only got half way, and for whatever reason I have been passing it over for other books since then. Perhaps the bullshit senses were tingling and stopped me from reading further. Whatever it was, I am glad I didn’t read that. I am grateful for your well thought out response and to those above.
    I can see the point of view above from Emma too, and this may have been the author’s justification but it isn’t explained like that. Instead it makes being depressed sound like a choice. There are the choices you make about what to do about it like getting help (like reading self-care books!) But being affected with Depression is not something you choose to do to get attention or to be looked after. Most with depression aren’t lucky enough to have people who understand because of the stigma and myths around it, stigma that the paragraph only serves to make worse.

    • Jo Middleton
      15 July, 2017 / 10:58 am

      That’s what is really worrying – people reading this book are likely to already be feeling vulnerable. You’re reading it assuming this person is an ‘expert’, and that you should be listening to their advice, and then boom. What are you meant to think??

  24. S
    24 July, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    Jen Sincero says ‘when you’re depressed’ instead of when you are diagnosed with depression. Everyone feels depressed at some point… She just says to work on being optimistic to avoid being negative and sad.
    It is a way out of depression, right?
    And, about physical illnesses, she does talk about those in a way.. the idea is to quit the pity party and focus on doing something positive about the situation… think Terry Fox, all the laws created based on violent acts to keep the same from happening, Amber alert — why is it called Amber?, people who become lawyers and doctors to help family… movies that show this — extraordinary measures, conviction, lorenzo’ oil. Pointing this out in Jen Sincero’s book and complaining about is useless. She says keep going whatever the situation, get in the ring and show yourself because you are the one and only. Plus you are amazing however you are… the world needs you and you deserve all the world has to offer. Flaws are the best part of you because it is you… This book helped ease my sadness and helped bring sunshine and happiness to my life… just wanted to share my opinion. .. love your self… (she ends almost all chapters with that note)

    • Jan
      30 October, 2018 / 11:23 pm

      Something i hate personal is when people distinguish depression from a diagnosis with depression. Depression doesn’t wait for you to get a diagnosis and then pop up “hear i am!” Many people who suffer from depression will never see a psychiatrist, some will drop out of therapy, and some will never mention their feelings or lack thereof because of stigma. Doesn’t matter how they live, how many times they harm themselves, how many suicide attempts, their diet, or their work/school performance… so many cases are never diagnosed. Case in point, me. I suffered with depression throughout my entire childhood and adolescents, cut in elementary and middle school, weight dropped from poor eating habits, grades suffered heavily in high school from 10th grade on no matter how hard i tried (coming from someone who had the highest test scores literally of her class every time in everything, but i almost didn’t graduate), and i attempted suicide in junior year(there was no one to comfort me since everything was messed up at home, school and in my love life), it effects you in ways that don’t even make sense sometimes. Although everything was messed up in all areas of my life i know it had a lot to do with my brain cause for about a year i was having mood swings. I would be depressed like normal and then i would have week long bursts of extreme euphoric happiness and self belief WHILE STILL LIVING IN THE AND DUDU CIRCUMSTANCES. And guess who’s never seen a psych, guess who quit therapy cause they didn’t see a point, and the old lady therapist kept falling asleep….guess who’s never been diagnosed and honestly couldn’t stand to live with that label because it’s scary… Guess. And Jen’s bs about it being an excuse to chill. NO! You still have to do laundry at some point, and eat at some point, and go to school or work, and shower at some point. You don’t get to not do those things, they just get harder to do. I actually can’t imagine the number of people who don’t have money or insurance to pay for any sort of treatment or services in the first place. Which brings my next point. Thinking positive. Throughout high school i took advantage of the “happy” days and the days when the depression was only mild. I sat and wrote lists upon lists of things i was grateful for, i told myself it was only temporary, made vision boards. I continuously cut people out of my life who were toxic, and sought more positive environments. While I’m a firm believer in these methods because they work for me i am not naive or a liar… They help but they do NOT take away depression. I’m a healthy 18 year old today. I’ve never been better. But from time to time (luckily larger gaps of time) my depression returns for short periods in a mild form. I’ve been fighting depression my whole life and am aware that it could be there in the future too. I know this was really long but can we please all stop thinking
      DIAGNOSIS = DEPRESSION it doesn’t

  25. 22 August, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    You’re completely right. I will join you in your boycott of being a badass.

  26. 23 August, 2017 / 12:31 pm

    This makes me so angry! Do people not think if we could make ourselves do stuff to make us happy we would?? This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to talk about mental health, because of paragraphs like this!

  27. Lana
    9 January, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    I have the ‘You are a Badass’ daily calendar. The first paragraph is what is on today’s page (January 9). I had to read it four times to make sure I was understanding it the way it was intended. So I did an online search for ‘Badass perpetuating dopey story’ and found your blog. I’m so glad I did. And I agree with you 100%. It almost makes me want to just toss the entire calendar (as well as the book, which I haven’t read yet). Thank you.

    • Jo Middleton
      10 January, 2018 / 3:01 pm

      Haha! I love that you found me from that search :-) It’s such a weird bit of writing isn’t it?? It made me so cross!

  28. 31 December, 2019 / 7:39 pm

    Sorry I’m late to the party on this one but I just happened to come across this post and ignorance about depression is one of my bugbears.

    I don’t think the term ‘mental health’ helps. Depression can be seen on brain scans, mainly through changes to the thickness of the various cortexes. It’s a physical problem.

    The author of that self-help book displays an ignorance that merely helps perpetuate misunderstandings about depression. It’s extremely irresponsible.

    It’s like saying there’s no excuse for limping just because you’ve got a broken leg. Or that breaking your leg is merely an excuse to allow yourself to be lazy and sit down all day.

    It’s the way of things, though. Break any other part of your part of your body and you’ll generally get some understanding. Break your brain and you’re just considered weak and will hear plenty “cheer ups” and “pull yourself togethers”.

    I may buy that book just so I can set fire to it.

  29. Katie
    25 March, 2021 / 7:50 pm

    I literally just read that chapter and immediately got online to see if anyone else was also bothered by that. It sounds as if she’s never experienced depression. As someone who has, it made me very uncomfortable to read that.

  30. Mumthaz
    20 April, 2021 / 5:31 pm

    I totally agreee! I came here on the internet just after reading the paragraph

    • Jo Middleton
      7 May, 2021 / 3:16 pm

      Oh no way! Well I’m glad you discovered that you weren’t alone in your indignation!

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