End The Stigma

End The Stigma

Mental health is real, no ifs, ands, or buts
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Picture this.

You’re on your way to class, blueberry smoothie in hand, when you pass by a girl on crutches. Poor girl, you think, I hope she gets better soon! Before class, you stop by the bathroom. You open the door to hear weak wimpers coming from the stall; it sounds like someone’s crying. Why wouldn’t someone hold back her tears until she get to her dorm? You do your thing and get out of the bathroom as quickly as possible, you totally don’t want to be the first face the crying girl sees when she exits the stall.

Crying girl emerges from her puddle of sadness with swollen eyebrows and pouty lips. She throws on her cardigan and a few bracelets. After a quick makeup touch-up, she acts like nothing happened.

She struggles with mental health.

She may be depressed, anxious, obsessive, delusional, or a combination of all of the above.

But nobody knows.

Mental health dilemmas aren’t as obvious as physical health ones. You won’t see that crying girl walking down the hall showing the signs of weakness, she tries to hide it. She is ashamed of it. She doesn’t want anyone to know.

You will see a girl on crutches as struggling. I mean, how couldn’t you? She is struggling to walk up the stairs and to tie her shoe, so you offer to help. She is grateful for your help and now you feel like a hero.

But why would you help a crying girl you don’t know? That’s weird, right?

That crying girl may be your study buddy or the one you always ask for a pencil from in class. She may be the captain of the soccer team or the star of the play, perhaps even the valedictorian of your class. She may wear the cutest clothes and have the most aesthetically pleasing Instagram. Her organization skills are like no other and she always is there for a friend. She is seemingly perfect, the over achiever of all that comes her way.

Just because she has a perfect life does not mean she isn’t struggling. Sometimes, she may even find it hard to get out of bed in the morning (a different kind of hard than the usual morning drag). But, why would you ever assume that? Look at her, she’s perfect.

To the ones who don’t understand, please use your gut intuition if you think something is off about anyone. Lend a hand and your extra granola bar to the girl crying in the bathroom, offer to grab dinner with your study buddy to just chat and get to know each other, treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

Let’s end the stigma around mental health. MENTAL HEALTH IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS PHYSICAL HEALTH. It’s not invisible. It’s not fake. She’s not dramatic.

She struggles, and that’s okay.

Cover Image Credit: Christian Newman

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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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My Eating Disorder Was A Secret, Even From Me

No one ever talks about it, and if they had my life might be different.

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I remember ninth grade health class very well, specifically one day in particular. The day we talked about eating disorders, I was ready to hear about anorexia and bulimia. I was not ready to walk out of that classroom with confirmation that I had an eating disorder, but that is exactly what I did that day.

After speaking on anorexia and bulimia, my teacher told us about Binge Eating Disorder.

My 14-year-old ears perked up. I had never heard of this disease, but I was immediately interested. I knew anorexia and bulimia well, they were the diseases that, at the time, I wish I had the determination to try, but I was too scared to hurt my body.

Binge Eating Disorder was new to me. My teacher described it as continuing to eat after you were full and eating for hours at a time. As the signs and symptoms continued to be read, I realized... that the last three years of my life had been plagued by binges. There was a lot I couldn't control in my life, but eating was one thing that I always had control over. It was the one thing that always brought me comfort.

Most binges would start after I came home from a hard day at school, or maybe after I got in a fight with a family member. Maybe I felt insecure about the growing number on the scale, but I ate.

It always started with half a bag of chips, then maybe a cookie or other sweet treat, and then I would finish with something else I could find in the pantry. My mother would come home and begin making dinner.

Ashamed, I would hide the food anywhere so my family could not tell I had been eating and then I would go eat dinner.

This was a common occurrence for me, but I had no idea that my habits were wrong or should point to an eating disorder. The only thing that I knew was wrong with me, was that I was gaining weight.

For the longest time, I thought an eating disorder was something that helped you lose weight unhealthily, not gain weight. It wasn't until I sat in a health class that I realized that there was anything wrong with me.

Education is so important in overcoming eating disorders. We are making such great strides about informing people about the dangers of eating disorders and positive body image.

It is so important that we start making Binge Eating Disorder a topic that is as known as anorexia and bulimia. No one ever discusses Binge Eating Disorder, not even the dangers of it, maybe if they had my life might have been different.

Maybe I would have found out about it earlier and could have gotten help before it got out of hand.

I wish I could say that I left that health class that day and never had a binge again. The truth is I binged several times after that, and still to this day I have an episode, although they are very rare.

It would be unrealistic to tell you that I overcame my eating disorder that day because it is a journey I am still completing. Every day presents a new challenge, and sometimes I fail, but I will succeed, and succeeding is worth a few failures.

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