Fresh Check Day: It's More Than Just Barn Babies And Free T-Shirts

Fresh Check Day: It's More Than Just Barn Babies And Free T-Shirts

"Checkin'-in with college students" - Learn about mental health and wellness through an amazing experience!
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Fresh Check Day is the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF). JPF is fully committed to preventing suicide, promoting mental health, creating a message of hope, encouraging help-seeking behavior and self-care. Their goal is to educate young adults about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and other mental health concerns; this message of hope is spread throughout college campuses.

I had the amazing opportunity of not only attending Fresh Check Day, but also participating in it here at Stonehill College. I'm part of Stonehill College's Psychology Society. Being a Psychology major, I was automatically drawn to this club, but I never knew it'd give me the incredible experience of running a table on Fresh Check Day.

Our table focused on the topic of "the elephant in the room," also known as what people don't usually like to share. We discussed how important it is to end the stigma that surrounds talking about "the elephant in the room," or your personal struggle with mental health. You're not alone and we want everyone to know this.

We did more than simply discuss this topic. We did an activity with paper elephants that allowed students to anonymously write their own "elephant in the room."

The workers of the table then proceeded to hang up all of the paper elephants around the booth, showing the different things that people wrote down. You could walk around the booth to see what others wrote and I bet you found a paper elephant that had the same thing written as yours. You don't have to go through anything by yourself.

#EndTheStigma

Our booth also had a positive uplifting vibe to it, thanks to our guest, Ellie the elephant! Ellie definitely gave students a sense of comfort while thinking of what to write.

Along with my experience of personally working a table and having the opportunity to send a message of hope to others while trying to end this stigma, Fresh Check Day is made up of so much more.

Other clubs around campus also participated by having their own tables which surrounded the quad. Each one consisted of their own message and activity. They varied from the dangers of alcohol to steps on how to conquer stress. Free coloring pages were given, diagrams, stress balls, information and much more! While enjoying a stress relieving day, you're also learning at the same time on how to help yourself and others.

What's more stress relieving than petting therapy dogs and cuddling with baby farm animals?

Other students who had the opportunity of working a table at Fresh Check Day only had positives to share as well:

"Everybody has an 'elephant in their room', or something they may go through that they may not feel comfortable discussing with others. But they should realize that they are never alone and that it's OK to talk." - Jessica Infiorati, Stonehill College 2019 (Psychology Society Publicity Coordinator)

"At Fresh Check Day this year, I worked the table for Health At The Hill. We had students write down one reason why they want to stay alive. I feel like it was such a good reminder of all the things we have to look forward to and all the things we have to be grateful for. Sometimes we get caught up in the business of life and stress can overwhelm us, but just taking five minutes to realize all we have that makes life so wonderful can go such a long way." - Alyssa Cristadoro, Stonehill College (Health At The Hill Secretary)

The students who worked the booths are not the only ones who received benefits and happiness from this event. Delighted and pleased comments were heard by everyone who attended:

"Admittedly, I only went to Fresh Check Day for a t-shirt, but I left with so much more. The entire event was extremely relaxing and completing the activities was extremely refreshing because it gave you the opportunity to overall spread happiness for yourself and others. It was a rewarding experience and I feel the event should happen more often on campus because of the benefits associated with it." - Matt Mullen, Stonehill College 2019

"Fresh Check Day is a wonderful opportunity for students to become comfortable with talking about mental health, which is super important on college campuses. The cute animals are just a plus!" - Heather Thibeau, Stonehill College 2019

The goals of Fresh Check Day aren't only said, but they're fully experienced when you attend. Some include:

- Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students

- Reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help

- Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern

- Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress

Only inspiring and encouraging words were said regarding Fresh Check Day and the true meaning behind it. It provided many students with information about resources, services, stress relief and so much more while having an unforgettable time!

Cover Image Credit: Self

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How My Diabetes Taught Me That Worry Is Pointless

My life is in the hands of the Creator.
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I am slowly running out of test strips.

Funny story about my prescription: It only ever refills once a month. So I'm attempting to make them stretch. Here's the problem with that one, though: I'm a paranoid diabetic.

My insulin dosage changed about a month ago. I was taking my long-lasting stuff right before I went to bed, so I was used to waking up in the middle of the night in the sixties or fifties. So, every time I woke up, I'd take my blood sugar, just to make sure. Since then, I've gone back to taking the long-lasting insulin in the morning, and my numbers have, overall, gotten better. I'm usually fairly solidly in the middle zone I need to be.

But I still check my blood sugar constantly.

See, the other day, I took a two-hour nap after one of my classes. I was at 204 when I went down (so not good, but also not really likely I'm going to slip low while I'm asleep). I woke up at 48. For those of you who aren't familiar with proper numbers for diabetes, that's really flipping low. In fact, I haven't been that low yet in the two years I've been diabetic.

Ever since I've been paranoid. I take my blood sugar every time I feel the slightest twinge of a weird feeling. It can be the exact opposite of what I remember being low feeling like. I'll still take it. While this isn't necessarily a bad idea, it's also kind of causing me to lose sleep at night and go through canisters of test strips at record speed when it's not necessary.

I felt like I was living on borrowed time.

After a few days of walking around feeling like maybe I wasn't supposed to wake up from that low and jumping at the slightest wind, convinced the nearest university vehicle was going to bowl me over in the next five seconds, I finally sat still and prayed.

God, I'm scared. I feel like I dodged a bullet. What if I wasn't supposed to dodge it? What am I supposed to do here?

And I felt this strange assurance: Rachel, I'm God. If you were meant to be home with me, you would be.

Some might call that threatening, but I call it relaxing. It means I can go day to day with the knowledge that the God of the universe holds my life in His hands, and as long as He still has something for me to accomplish on this earth, I'll be here. I can screw up daily, and He will still take me back and love me. He'll give me a second chance.

So, no, I haven't quite gotten to the point where I don't use my test strips generously. But I know there's a reason why I'm still here. And therefore, why should I worry? What should I fear?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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When I Look At My Life Now, I Forget I Used To Be Suicidal

I used to want to kill myself over what people said. Now I am much stronger.
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I was reading someone’s post celebrating how they haven’t self-harmed in years. I realized I haven’t self-harmed in years but I can’t remember the last time I celebrated it. It’s like I have almost completely forgotten that I used to be suicidal. I know it sounds awful, but I don’t know if I have blocked it out myself or if other people have done that for me.

Life used to be so hard and almost impossible. I remember crying myself to sleep every single night and wishing I was dead or that I was never born. I remember carving “worthless,” “crazy,” and “dramatic” into my legs because that was how everyone around me thought of me.

I remember being forced to go to therapy knowing what she was telling me would be pointless when my session was up and I had to go home. I remember trying to kill myself three times.

I still have scars, both visible and internal. I will never be able to love or trust anyone the way most people do. I will never be able to feel at home in my own house. I will never be able to get my childhood back. These open wounds will forever change my relationship with my family even if it’s just in my head.

But I don’t totally regret it. I reached the lowest point of my life as a child and now it can only get better. I am now so much stronger. I learned how to stand up for myself. I learned how to be who I am and not worry about what my family would think.

I was willing to kill myself over what people said to me and about me. I was trapped in my own body, in my own house, and in my own town and now I am free. I brush off what anyone thinks of me because it is my life, not theirs.

I left everything that was weighing me down and moved to a city where I didn't know anyone. This was everything I needed to forget that I was once suicidal. Now I am able to be myself and do what I love. I am surrounded by the greatest people who believe in me and push me to be a better version of my self every single day.

Life is so great and it seems like another person was suicidal, not me.

But it was me. I will have to work every day to overcome my depression and anxiety. But some days are better than others and so I am able to grow stronger and fight back harder.

Nothing that happens to me now could be as bad as what I faced growing up. So I laugh. I look my enemies in the face and laugh. Because they have no power.

National Suicide Prevention LifelineCall 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Akash Desai

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