Let’s Stop the Stigma.

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Throughout this blog we have discussed many different mental disorders that have bad reputations associated with them. The stigma those with mental illness are labeled with is one that judgmental, hurtful and ignorant. It is up to us, our generation, to stop this use of stigma when it comes to mental illness. We need to get out there and tell, no, shout out to the world that although people may suffer from mental illness, they are not freaks.

Mental illness does not make me less qualified to work, go to school, or even love. While I may have to face challenges in my life that others do not, does not mean that I am any less of a person. I am proud of where I have come in my life and I am more than happy to share my story with anyone who wants to hear it. The kind of world where everyone who suffers from mental health issues feel this way is the sort of world that I am aiming to create.

So let’s do it guys! Let’s spread the world on mental illness. Let’s educate those who do not understand and show them what results in negative stigma. There are so many different ways to get involved in the cause such as joining a community project on spreading the word or even starting one in your own community! We can make a difference in the world with the knowledge that we have on mental illness. I plan on making a difference in the world. I hope you all will join my cause and used what you have learned and your own stories to make a difference.

What are your thoughts on the stigma attached to mental illness? Has it ever affected you? Let us know!

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Self-Love

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There are many different variables that contribute to a person’s overall happiness. Happiness could have to do with how successful you see yourself as or where you are in your life and how far you have gotten. One thing that I learned about happiness from someone that I love very much is that the root of happiness comes from how much love you have for yourself. In the grand scheme of things you cannot expect anyone else to make you happy, that is up to you. You should not rely on things or other people to make you happy because that is a nice way to set yourself up for disaster. And at the same time yes it good to look out for others and to give and make others happy, but when something is at the cost of yourself, your morals, or your happiness, is it worth it?

Your number one priority in all circumstances should be yourself. Personally I have an issue with this at times and have a hard time making myself a priority when it comes down to getting things done. But in all situations, especially as a student suffering from mental illness, you must perform acts of self-love to get through the storm. Practicing showing yourself love and making yourself a priority will take recovery to a whole new level and even give you the drive you may need to push for recovery. Below I have a few ways of showing yourself love and making yourself a priority.

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Figure out what it is YOU need.

No more of these “what can I do to make them happy?” scenarios. You have needs that need to be met just as much as every other person and you should not rely on others to fulfill these needs. Figure out what it is that you need to move on and move on. May it be taking a break from everything, maybe a nice day of pampering, or even seeking professional help. Do some self-reflection and really look at yourself. Face the demons inside of you and figure out the next step.

Take days off.

This is something that I also have an issue with doing. The only way to be able to complete any responsibilities that you may have you must be mentally healthy. This will require rest and maybe even taking a break from the world. Take those days of for “me” time and make them a priority.

NO self-shaming.

You are beautiful inside and out- no matter what others are telling you. Do not let the media or family and friends tell you that you are not perfect and don’t let yourself do it either! Be confident in that beautiful body of yours and FLAUNT IT.

Forgive yourself.

The worst person in the world to disappoint is you. If you have inner demons that you are fighting and cannot forgive yourself for something you have done in your past, let it go. People will forgive you. Time will heal the wounds that you may have made. But there is no road to recovery if you cannot find it within to forgive yourself. It will all be okay in the end; if it’s not okay it’s not the end, right?

Do you have any tips on how to show self-love? Let’s hear them!

Fighting Stereotypes

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Throughout college you will meet so many different people with different attitudes and beliefs than your own. Embracing diversity is a key factor in college success and every student should be open and willing to learn more about other cultures, people and beliefs. The problem with today’s society is that it is highly driven by social stereotypes that don’t give a person the chance to let them true selves show because others are blinded by the stereotype you are labeled with. The stereotypes that come along with mental illness are harsh and hurtful; words such as freak, loser, crazy or weirdo. These stereotypes help enforce negative thoughts within ourselves and make our road to recovery even harder. The only way to stop the judgment is to take matters into your own hands! Leading the way our generation can stop the use of stereotypes on college campuses and here are some ideas on how to do it!

Accept others.

Just because someone is different than you does not mean that they should be treated differently! Treat everyone you meet the way that you would want to be treated. If you are accepting of everyone you come in contact with others will follow and soon your campus will not look like a bunch of strangers to you!

Stand up to bullying.

There is nothing that I hate more than bullying. If you see someone getting made fun of or picked on because they look different or fit the stereotype of someone that would be considered “weird” you say something. You stop that discussion right in its tracks you let that person know that you are offended by what they are doing and it should be stopped.

Get to know others.

Don’t make judgments of others before you get to know them. Try your best to keep all stereotypes out of your head when you meet others and get to know them for who they really are. You will be surprised the kind of relationships that you can make!

Spread the word.

Start the movement! Let others in on your secrets! Spread the word on the evils of stereotypes and urge everyone to do the same! All movements start small, it’s up to you to make it grow!

Using these tactics I know that you can make a difference on your campus community and on the world. If you have any other ideas on how to stop the use of stereotypes feel free to add to the conversation! Remember to dare to be different and have the courage to stick up for others!

Let’s Talk about Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder is a disorder with one of the most inaccurate perceptions by the general community.  Many people think that being bipolar means that a person is “moody.” I mean, you’re not wrong, but you are also not right. Bipolar disorder is a very debilitating disorder especially for those young adults trying to get through college.

Bipolar disorder has two different phases. These phases include manic episodes followed by a depressive episode. Now these episodes are not just quick little 20 minute episodes that are done and over with, they go over the course of a long period of time, even months. A manic episode is identified as a period of time where the person is in “fast forward” mode. A person in in a manic episode can look like someone who just drank 5 red bulls in a row, except they do not crash. They do not need sleep and are always on the move, and their minds are taken over by grandiose ideas of themselves and what they are capable of. I know, being manic does not sound half bad does it? But in the contrary a manic episode can drive a person insane. The following is a quote from David Lovelace, a writer about manic depression:

“Depression is a painfully slow, crashing death. Mania is the other extreme, a wild roller coaster run off its tracks, an eight ball of coke cut with speed. It’s fun and it’s frightening as hell”

The other side of bipolar disorder is the depressive episode, which is on the other side of the manic extreme. A depressive episode following a manic episode can be absolutely debilitating for the person struggling with this disorder. To go from this sort of high to this sort of extreme low is unhealthy and can lead to horrific results.  For a student dealing with these sort of emotional struggles plus the stress that comes along with college, college is not by any means easy for them. So the next time you think someone is “moody” and you want to call the bipolar I hope that you think again and realize what it really means to be bipolar. The video below is a great representation of bipolar disorder in young adults and is an amazing watch.

What did you think about this post? Do you know anyone who suffers from bipolar disorder? Do you have any stories to share? Comment below!

Combatting Social Phobia

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College is a time to come out of your shell and try the things that you have always wanted to try. For those with social anxiety this is much harder than it sounds. But just because you suffer from social phobia does not mean that you should have to sit in your room and let your life pass you by! College is one of the only times in your life that you will be surrounded by hundreds of different people who are around your age with similar interests. Don’t let the fear of rejection or the anxiety of college stunt you from reaching your full potential of life. Below I have a video that talks about some great ways to combat social anxiety and to help become integrated into your community.

As a person who is personally the very opposite of shy, I have a few tips of my own that I believe would be helpful for those trying to overcome their fears of social situations. These are my top 3 tips of staying calm and absolutely killing it in social situations.

Stay positive.

Nobody likes a Debby-downer! Stay positive in social situations and keep those negative thoughts out of your head! This may take some preparation before you leave your dorm. Pep-talk yourself every morning about how amazing and beautiful you are. If you can think highly of yourself everyone else will follow-suit and feel the positivity exuding from you!

Don’t overwhelm yourself. 

Take social situations a little at a time. Start with a lunch date with your roommate, then maybe go to a program on your floor, then maybe a club meeting. If you have anxiety over social situations going on starting off at a huge college party will destroy you for the rest of your college career. Take your time and get used to smaller social situations before you expose yourself to bigger ones.

Don’t do this by yourself.

There is nothing wrong with getting help. Surround yourself with people who love you and let them help you through this anxiety. Talking to a professional will also be more than helpful because they can give you the tools you need to discover the confidence within yourself to overcome your anxiety.

What do you think about this topic? What tips do you have for combatting social phobia? Comment below!

Social Phobia

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For a lot of us college is the time for us to break out of our shells and step out of our comfort zone! It’s the time to make new friends and participate in new activities. For a lot of us- this is not as easy as it sounds. For a good portion of college students meeting new people and being vulnerable to new experiences is one of the most horrifying things that could happen to someone. Social Phobia is when a person has a persistent fear of social situations and will avoid them at all cost. Social Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that affects a good chunk of the college population and is carried with these students from childhood.

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Social Phobia may not sound like that worrisome of a disorder in the grand scheme of things. Some people may hear of it and say to themselves “well these kids are just shy, they will get over it.” The issue is many students do not get over it and instead let their anxiety of social situations lead them into much darker situations. Social Phobia could lead a student into a depressive episode due to their lack of communication with others and overall loneliness. There are both physical and mental side effects that come with having social anxiety and feeling worthless is one of the main ones. Students who have extreme Social Phobia when it comes to presenting or speaking in front of others may even throw away their future by dropping out of school to avoid these situations. This is not a disorder to take lightly and awareness of it may be what a student needs to have the courage to take a leap of faith and put themselves out there. Make sure to smile at everyone you see and always treat others with love and respect. That little smile to someone in the hallway may turn someone’s day around and give them the boost they need to keep moving on.

Have you known anyone who has serious anxiety in social situations? What was your experience like with them?

Below I have a video that gets into social anxiety with a little more detail. Let me know what you think!

Suicide Prevention

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Depression can debilitate a student to the point of not wanting to live. Statistics show us that groups of people that are at the most risk for suicidal ideation are young adults under the age of 21. There are many different risk factors that put a person in a horrible light to fall victim to suicide. If you see friends, peer, loved one or even yourself under the influence of any of these factors seek help immediately.

  • Untreated Depression
  • Untreated Anxiety
  • Talk of hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Unwillingness to seek help
  • Alcohol/substance abuse
  • Access to lethal means

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Those who are seriously thinking about suicide may not out tell you about it. What they will do is joke around about suicide a lot. If someone is seriously contemplating suicide they will also start making a plan. If someone you know comes up to you to talk about suicide, ask about their plan. This will give you a good range of idea of how serious they are about what they are saying. While there are many different risk factors that could lead a person to suicide there are also a lot of warning signs. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Appearing sad all of the time
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Abusing drugs of alcohol
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Personality change
  • Making drastic physical changes (haircut, makeup, etc.)
  • Acting reckless
  • Performing poorly in school
  • Giving away personal items
  • Writing a will.

While some people may show warning signs there are others who may not show any at all. This is why spreading love is so important. You have no idea how the person next to you may be feeling and you have no idea how important a hug may be to a person. We must show love to everyone around us for the ones that do not receive it. If we could start there we may be able to start some change. If you believe that you or a friend is at serious risk of suicide the best thing to do is get help immediately. Push back; don’t let them push away from you. Tell a family member or bring them to a school counselor. If things are immediate tell your campus security and they will get the person the help they need.

If you are personally having problems of suicide ideation please, go get help. Tell anyone- be it a friend, roommate, resident assistant or even a professor. You are not being a problem and you do deserve life. More importantly you deserve to love life. This link will lead you to the suicide prevention lifeline if you need someone to tell and you have no one.

Do you know of any other warning signs of suicide that I missed? What do you think about this topic? Let me know what you think!

Below is a video of actual accounts of students who fell victim to suicide in college and about their families now.  Just another way to show love and support to those who need it.

Suicide in College.

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We joke about suicide a lot in our day to day lives. We joke a lot if we had a long week or a lot to do or something bad happens. We just want to “kill ourselves,” right? Some common phrases including “I just want to jump off a bridge” or “Shoot me now.” We are all guilty, college is stressful! Papers, deadlines, work, friends, LOVE! The thing is suicide is a real thing that happens on college campuses across the nation; the second leading cause of death in college students is suicide. The rate of suicide on campus is .5- 7.5 per 100,000 college students with about 1000 college students committing the act per year. While it may seem like something that is okay to joke about because we may not know anyone personally you has died from suicide, suicide is much more common than we think.

There are a lot of misconceptions that people believe when they hear about a suicide. People think that those who commit suicide are selfish or on drugs. They believe that they were weird anyways or just lose respect for the victim as a whole. Most people who turn to suicide are struggling with debilitating depression and needed much more help than they may have lead others to believe. Could you imagine ever feeling that low? Being in so much pain that the thought of another day alive is unbearable? Most of us do not understand what this feels like but there are so many out there who are more than familiar with this feeling.

As a teenager and a young adult I struggled with these feelings a little too often. My head would just not shut off no matter what I did and I could not shut off the negative thoughts infiltrating my brain. I would tell myself I was stupid, that I disappointed everyone around me, that I didn’t deserve to live. I was convinced that some of the things that I have done in my past made me a despicable person and that did not deserve any sort of love. I pushed everyone away from me and left myself to marinate in my pain. There were times that I was scared for my life because I knew that I could not control my thinking for much longer. I would go back and forth and back and forth with a knife, a bottle of Advil, even playing in traffic. This was when I knew that I needed to get help. Most stories do not end like this and it is too late to help. There are many warning signs that we can look for in our friends and loved ones and even in ourselves that will lead us to get help before it is too late. We will discuss these in detail in our next discussion.

Today, I have almost completely overcome my depression. If you are reading this blog and are disturbed by its content please know that I am okay and have gotten the help that I needed. I just wanted to share my own story for the sake of others who are not ready to share their story or get help.

If you feel comfortable I would love to hear other reader’s stories or experiences in the comments so please feel free to share! Spread the love.

Combatting Self Harm in College.

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While in college you are sure to come across someone, if not yourself, you is struggling with some sort of mental disorder and is in need of help. About 17% of college students try to put this in their own hands by inflicting injury on themselves instead of seeking help. As a friend watching someone destroy themselves can be one of the most painful experiences of your life. One of the biggest issues connected to self-harm is that those who self-harm do not want help and are very defensive about it. They feel it is what is keeping them going and as long as they can have their release they can get through these devastating feelings they are going through. So as a friend what can you do? You do not want to attack them and make them isolate themselves even more, so what is the best way to help them?

Tell someone.

If you know someone who is self-harming you need to do them a favor and get them help. They may hate you for it at the time but it is what is best for them. They do not realize how much better they will feel once they address this issue with someone and learn healthy ways to cope that do not involve hurting themselves. You can tell your Resident Director or Resident Assistant, a family member, security, or even your campus’s wellness center.

Be there for them.

People who self-harm like to isolate themselves and be alone. This way they can continue self-harming and no one will bother them. Be there for your friend and let them know every day that you love them and that are not alone. If you cannot physically be there with them check in periodically throughout the day to let them know you are thinking of them. People who self-harm do not want to hear a lecture on how what they are doing is hurting them and not good for them, so don’t lecture them. Just show your support and show your friendship and be there to listen when they are ready to talk and acknowledge their pain.

Be informed.

If you find out that you have a friend who is self-harming, try to understand where they are coming from. Understand what self-harm is and why they are doing it. People do not want to feel as if they are crazy because they self-harm so do not make it seem like it is a crazy thing. If you are informed you may also be able to help find them alternatives to self-harm or convince them to get help. If they feel as if they are being understood you may be able to have a significant breakthrough.

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As a former self-harmer, I understand how hard it is to stop this habit and to accept help from others, especially those who I feel do not understand. When my best friend found out he went to my house and told my mother and wouldn’t let me go back to college until I addressed the issue with my mother and a counselor. I can’t even begin to explain how upset I was with him for doing this, but today I can honestly say I do not know where I would be right now if it wasn’t for him forcing me to get help by telling someone. So if you yourself are a person who uses self-harm as a coping mechanism, what are some good ways to try to break this habit?

Go get help.  

While this is the piece of advice you most more than likely to ignore, it is the most important. Trust me, I know how it feels to be in the moment where your mind is blurred and there is only one thing that you can do. But if you can take just one minute to self-reflect and look at yourself, try to be strong enough to realize that you do need help. No one is going to judge you. There are people who love you and want what is best for you, tell them and let them help you.

Find alternatives and distractions.  

Surprisingly enough there are alternatives out there that can itch your self-harm scratch. Try squeezing onto an ice cube or putting ice on the back of your neck. Get some daily exercise and healthily push your limits (just not too much.) Find some music or a good friend to distract you in times of high anxiety. When you have that feeling in your stomach that you need to self-harm, get on the phone and call a loved one and talk through your feelings.

Keep your friends and family in mind.

You love your friends and family just as much as they love you and you don’t want them to be hurt just as much as they don’t want you to be hurt. Every time you cut yourself or burn yourself you are not just inflicting pain on yourself but on everyone that loves you. When I saw my mother cry when she saw what I was doing to myself was the first time I have ever seen my mother cry. This image resonated with me and whenever I felt the urge to cut I would remember my mother crying. While you should quit self-harming for yourself, remembering what it does to others can be the wake-up call you need to do some self-reflection.

What do you think about self-harm in college? Do you think there is a deeper cry for help from those who self harm? Is there something more that we should be doing?

Below is a video of story of a person who has overcome self-harm and how she did so. On a more serious note if you or anyone you know are need of someone to talk to or have thoughts of self-harm or suicide this link will lead you to the suicide prevention hotline where you can find someone to talk to and get help.