Why I Made Friends With My Mental Illness

Why I Made Friends With My Mental Illness

Leave the mental illness stigma to everyone else but yourself.
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I have made too much room in my life for those who do not and cannot understand anxiety. I could not allow myself to be another one.

My anxiety has controlled my life more so in the past three years than ever before. I have avoided friendships and ruined relationships because of my anxiety. My anxiety has told me how much of a failure and burden I am to others. My anxiety has made me put my school before friends and family. My anxiety looks at road bumps as mountains and rain storms as tornadoes. I say “my anxiety,” because anyone with anxiety, depression, or any other form of mental illness knows it is not you. It is something you struggle with, but it is not you.

Like anyone with a mental illness, I hated it. I felt like it was ruining my life. I was not wanting to hang out with people and if I did, I chose the most toxic people. I became best friends with someone who used everything I told her against me and I fell in love with a guy who made sure to remind me how much he hates me and my anxiety. I let people tell me, “it is all in your head.” I defined myself by my anxiety and that was the worst thing I could have ever done to myself.

But I let the toxic people go, I looked at myself and said, “you have anxiety but you are not your anxiety.” And the best thing I did was make a friend instead of an enemy out of my anxious thoughts and anxious mind.

When you think of your mental illness you need to look at it like a child. Why is it so scared? Why does it tell you, you are a failure? Why does it keep you away from people? Why does it question everything you do? Why is it so hard for you to be normal? Why is it so hard for you to stop thinking? Why does it keep you up at night? Why does it make problems out of nothing? Why does it stop you from making friends? How could it be so troubling that it causes others problems? Why does it make everything so difficult for you?

Do not shame your body or your mind for responding to your environment in the best way that it can. Do not shame yourself for listening to all the mean things anyone has ever said to you. It only knows as much as you allow it and the more you feed it, the worse it can get. To be a friend, you cannot deprive your mental illness from all that it is scared of.

I had to stop depriving my anxiety of social gatherings, saying stupid or weird things, or asking “too many” questions. I had to let go of someone I loved because they told me I was “too much” and constantly made me hate myself. I had to stop being friends with people who did not get it or would not try. I had to stop going back to comfort because I did not want to be alone. I had to stop forcing people who could not love me to love me because I was scared of not being loved. I had to stop making myself uncomfortable to make everyone around me comfortable. I had to stop sheltering my anxiety from all that it fears. As much as it helps, it cannot grow.

I had to love myself. I had to look my anxiety in the face and tell it that it no longer has any reason to hide or run away. I had to separate myself from my anxiety, but I had to start treating it with the same love I wanted others to give to me. So when I am breaking down in the middle of the night out of fear and worry, I no longer beat myself up for it. It is fine, it is what I need in the moment. My anxiety is worried but I am not, and everything will be fine.

Cover Image Credit: David Cohen

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I'm A Millennial, But I'm Not Feelin' The Bern

I am not voting for Bernie Sanders. You shouldn't either.

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As a college student at a primarily liberal university, I am in the minority as a non-Bernie Sanders supporter. I don't oppose him in order to present myself as edgy or unconventional — and I'm sure as hell not a Donald Trump supporter — so please hear me out.

Sanders is a screaming example of a demagogue. In order to flourish into leadership, he is prepared to use the emotions and fears of the people. By aligning himself as synonymous with a chance at life-long security for the American people, I believe he will be letting down his supporters — as well as the rest of the country — if he does assume the title of commander in chief in early 2021. America deserves a leader that can accurately prioritize the issues within our country and can produce a platform for the American Dream to thrive on.

I am not the kind of student to fabricate empty claims though, so following is my reasoning for my lack of support for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Taxation, taxation, taxation

Sanders went through a large portion of his 2016 campaign without producing the numbers, nor the plans, he claimed to have compiled. When he finally did, my jaw dropped. And as I looked around, students and professionals alike were having a different reaction. "It takes money to make money," they told me.

Stop. Right. There.

America is over $20 trillion dollars in debt. Upon extensive research directly from Sanders' website (to prevent outside bias and propaganda), there is $9,028,250,000 worth of expenses being proposed just in his first five years — and that number doesn't even include the proposed increase in estate tax and payroll tax. This $9,028,250,000 isn't coming from just anywhere; it is coming directly from the taxpayers. Many supporters of the senator think the only people who will be influenced tax-wise will be the top one percent, but boy, do I have news for you. No matter what your income is, you will be affected.

Followed is the tax information compiled from Sanders' proposed policies, compiled by Vox. It shows that, based on your income, you will have at least an 8.8 percent increase, with those at the higher end of income expecting an increase of 33.8 percent. Let me tell you one thing — that is a lot of money. You're the one who earned it, yet you will not be the one deciding how it is spent. Sound "fair?" Not in my opinion.

Vox

Wait! We want more!

But don't worry, Sanders is here on behalf of the government to save you. Let's implement a minimum wage at starting at $15 an hour (even though the senator pays his interns a starting wage of $12 an hour) and ignore inflation — because if you've never opened an economics textbook, it doesn't affect you. First, there needs to be a clarification of who is affected by the minimum wage. According to Pew Research Center, only 4.3 percent of workers are currently being paid minimum wage. Fifty percent of those are under the age of 25, with a majority of those also being students. Minimum wage is intended for people with minimum skills, such as students in trade schools or universities or employees attempting to work their way up within a company. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage.

In addition, minimum wage should not be under federal jurisdiction to this extreme degree. Cities such as Washington, D.C., and Seattle have much higher minimum wages than the national minimum wage of $7.25, but that is not because they are harder workers. It is based on the price of living in those cities, which is much higher than in rural areas. The states can handle their minimum wage without mediation by the federal government because no one knows what is better for a state than the state itself.

Socialism is the answer, right?

This is a humongous concern to be had with millennials — we seem to have forgotten about the Red Scare. The Red Scare, for those of you who are not aware, happened in the early 1950s and was the fear of communism or radical leftism. Socialism is radical leftism. Now that that's out of the way, we can address another issue. Socialism does not work. Democratic socialism does not work. Yes, there are places that are fiercely different than the melting pot of the United States that have introduced socialism. They have government assistance programs in which they can receive free education and free healthcare, but they are not comparable to our diverse nation. The Denmark discussion is my favorite because the differences between our country and theirs are astounding.

First and foremost, we have more than 55 times as many citizens on a piece of land more than 200 times the size. If the problem was just based on size alone, there would be a possibility of success with the right means of control through technology. But a much more important issue is that Denmark has people who are very similar religiously (with over 80 percent of citizens being Lutheran), hence holding similar morals. It is simply not possible to promise "fairness" to Americans when, due to our distinctive differences in culture, there is a moral difference in what fair means. Beyond our model country of Denmark, socialism, as well as the more extreme of communism, have proved not to work. Just ask the citizens in places such as Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. They'll give you the lowdown — it doesn't work. And life for them sucks now.

Equality of effort vs. equality of outcome

My biggest concern with Sanders is the destruction of the entrepreneur spirit. When a government implements the idea of fairness as a right, people begin to forget about individualism. Individualism is what the American Dream is based on. People came to America to have a life better than what their home country could offer them. The United States provided the opportunity to throw away any biases that come with your country and start from the beginning. With hard work and time well spent, anyone can become and achieve anything they want to.

With the introduction of socialism, the American Dream begins to deteriorate, and soon thereafter is extinguished. People can come here, automatically get all of their needs for free, while the hardworking Americans who believe in the American Dream continue to pay for it. Reference Russia, for example: the state provides access to most educaiton, millions of Russians still live in poverty. It will continue to be the "we want more, more, more" philosophy — and there is not an end in sight.

The character of our nation was founded on capitalism

We are blessed to have a home that men, women, and children can come to and have the chance to succeed at the American Dream. With the implementation of democratic socialism, we are taking away that opportunity. People come to America in order to get away from the downfalls of their country. We want to grow our country to present more possibilities for all current and future citizens.

A vote for Bernie is a vote against the American Dream.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Know Your Rights But Know When They Cross The Line

"Chants and protests only go so far unless you have evidence to back up your words or else you're just putting up an empty fight."

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The first amendment states that you have the right to express freedom of speech, religion, of assembly, of the press and to petition. This is the amendment that essentially allows us to have an opinion and not be afraid to say it aloud without the consequences of government intervention. This is why we see both sides of the political spectrum marching for what they believe is right and chanting for changes they want to see happen in our country. But can a chant be taken too far, can a protest turn violent?

Of course, it can. We have seen peaceful protests turn violent, coming from both red and blue sides. We, as a nation, are not shocked when we see events like this happening on the news. But how about if it happened right in front of you? Would it make you feel a different way rather than feeling the secondhand effects from the television screen? What if someone at that rally was traumatized by someone's words or what if you knew someone who felt the negative reverberations due to someone's political agenda? I have seen it and I have felt it.

I believe there is a line and once it is crossed the debates turn into arguments which then turn into ignorance. You are no longer using your first amendment right if you choose to use it solely as an offense mechanism. Of course, everyone has the right to their own opinion and they are most certainly allowed to fight for what they think is right, but once you decided to not consider the other side's viewpoint; you're only fighting for yourself. And that is not progressive thinking.

Being progressive requires intersectional thinking. The tunnel vision of your own beliefs is dangerous and we need to learn how to widen that tunnel. For example, during the midterm elections, I noticed a lot of people joining in on the campaign discussion, which is amazing! I also wanted to take the time to listen to what people wanted for Arizona despite whether the "change" they were striving for was a Democratic or Republican one. The power of listening to both sides goes a long way. You never want to miss an opportunity to take into consideration someone else's experiences and why they believe what they believe. And while we should never be afraid to state our own opinions, we also should not shut out someone else's.

I know that politics can get messy sometimes and I know that you think your belief is the right one, trust me I have been there. But I think we all need to learn how to be more open-minded; whether you're a Conservative or a Liberal. Chants and protests only go so far unless you have evidence to back up your words or else you're just putting up an empty fight. The first amendment is a beautiful thing but should be used wisely and with as much grace as possible.

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