Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

All mental health warriors are heroes, and their battle should be recognized, not hidden away.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month… and I’m here to talk about heroes… and not the kind that wears capes.

Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about talking about the diseases that plague the minds of many (including yours truly.) Mental Health Awareness Month is not only about attempting to break the age-old stigma around mental health disorders and their effects on the survivors and their families. Mental Health Awareness Month is about saving lives. It’s about encouraging survivors and treating them like the real heroes that they are.

As someone with mental illness, I can personally relate to many of you who may be reading this article and being like “well I don’t feel like much of a hero.”

I don’t feel like a hero most days either… I’m like you, going through life sometimes still trying to find motivation to get out of bed. However, I want to tell you right now that if you live with ANY mental illness- depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or any other mental illness then you ARE a hero, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

You are a fighter, plain and simple. It’s unfair to act as though you are anything but that.

People who don’t have mental illness don’t understand how it feels to live inside our minds. They’ll never understand what it’s like to lay in bed until 2 pm (or later… yes, we’re all guilty) waiting for a real reason to get up in the morning. Without a reason, we struggle to even breathe, much less get up to wash our hair and brush our teeth, get dressed, eat, and more. So every day that you get up and do those things… one or all… YOU are a fighter, and YOU are a hero.

But you are not a loser or weak if you decide that “today is not your day.”

In the famous words of Abby Lee Miller from her short series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, if “today is not your day” then you are still a fighter; you are still strong, and you are still worthy of trying again tomorrow.

Mental illness isn’t one size fits all.

It’s also not the same every single day- if it was, then we’d have it all figured out by now. If you can’t make yourself get out of bed or eat that last bite of your sandwich, then that doesn’t make you a failure. That makes you human, and that’s okay because that’s what you are. I don’t expect you to be perfect, and neither should ANYONE else. So you do you today and everyday… no matter what “you” can do today, tomorrow, or any other day.

Mental illness is real, and I refuse to settle for it remains a stigma.

People who don’t battle mental illness will never understand what it’s like to live under the stigma that if you have a mental health condition that you are crazy. They will never know how crushing that can be to someone who already struggles with low self-esteem thanks to those killer voices in your head there to remind you that “you’re not worthy.” (Those are lies… you shouldn’t believe them EVER.)

So today, I stand up and say that I’m not okay being looked at as someone who’s crazy. I refuse to allow my mental illness to be something that holds me back, and I refuse to allow my illness to be swept under the rug because it’s something people are afraid to talk about.

Mental Health Awareness Month is what you make it, and I challenge you to make it about you because you deserve it.

When you have mental illness, it’s easy to let the world go by and hide behind the scenes. However; YOU are a person, and even if you don’t like being in the spotlight I challenge you to give yourself a break.

Splurge on yourself, take yourself out for ice cream, or go see that new movie that you’ve been dying to see. You deserve to be happy.

You deserve to live your life to the fullest, and during Mental Health Awareness Month, I dare you to be your best self; live your best life, and prove to others that you are not down because you have a mental illness, but instead, you are stronger, a fighter, and a WINNER.

Love yourself this month and every month; I challenge you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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7 Reasons Not To Be An Organ Donor

Actually, there aren't any.
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Absolutely none.

Recently, I became an organ donor, and I was shocked at how easy it was. All I had to do was make a check mark on a form at the DMV. The simplicity of a decision that could potentially save the life of another human being is outstanding. Do you want to know what shocked me even more, though? The deficiency of organ donors. According to Donate Life America, 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 30 percent have taken the steps to become one. I constantly see people sharing and praising stories of kids given a second chance at life due to organ donations.

If so many people share these articles and pride themselves on being empathetic and wanting to help others, why do we have such a shortage of organ donors?

Don't take my word for it, let's look at the stats.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human services, there are 121,347 people waiting for organs; 121,347 families that are counting the days. Standing by the phone in hopes of it ringing. Yet, in the past year, there were only 28,000 organ transplants and currently, there were only 15,000 new donors from the past.

If that's not enough to open up your eyes, just know that every 10 minutes, a name is added to that list. While an average of 79 people receive organ transplants a day, 22 people die waiting for an organ that never comes; 22 people don't get a second chance at life.

These statistics might only sound like a bunch of numbers I am spewing at you but let me put them into perspective. Every single one of those 22 people that die every day is a mom, a teacher, a doctor, a 3rd grader, a lover, a human. They are not just a number. Every single one of them has a family, has goals, has feelings and has lost a chance.

SEE ALSO: To The Organ Donor Who Will Save My Life

Why shouldn't you be an organ donor?

1. I want to have an open casket funeral, and I can't if organ donation mutilates my body.

Actually, organ donation doesn't impede you from having an open-casket funeral. Your organs/tissues are removed through a clean surgical procedure, and you are sewn back up. After your body is clothed for the ceremony, there are no signs of organ donation. Even if you decide to donate your bones, rods are inserted into their place.

2. If doctors know that I am an organ donor, they won't try to save my life as hard.

This is absolutely ridiculous. A doctor's top priority will always be the life of their patient. They will put in 110 percent their effort to keep you alive. The donor program isn't even notified until death is proven and declared.

3. Doctors might not be 100 percent sure that I am dead.

According to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education(CORE), brain death is pronounced when there is a lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain. It is "the medical, legal and moral determination of death." There is no recovery from this. It is not the same as a coma. Furthermore, organ donors are actually given more tests after death over a period of time to verify death than a normal person.

4. I'm too sick for organ donation. My organs wouldn't be useful.

Don't pre-disqualify yourself. Doctors have tests they run to make sure the organs they utilize are safe and healthy. While some of your organs might not meet these standards, others could.

5. My family would be charged with the costs of the organ transplant.

Your family would only have to pay for the medical costs associated with any procedure done before your death. Organ donation costs are fully covered.

6. Organ donation is against my religion.

Actually, according to CORE, all major religions view organ donation as a final act of love through sacrifice.

7. I don't want my organs going to somebody that destroyed their own.

While organ donations do help people suffering from addiction by letting them correct their mistakes, "less than 5 percent of people awaiting transplant have destroyed their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant (Center for Organ Recovery and Education)."

If all these reasons are still not enough to convince you to make this decision, know this:

By becoming an organ donor, you could save the life of not just one person but of 50. You could be the reason a father is able to dance with his daughter at her wedding. You could be the reason a 7-year-old girl is able to see the colors of a sprouting bundle of flowers on a fresh spring day.

You could be the reason a mom is writing out invitations for her son's eighth birthday party instead of making funeral arrangements. You could be the reason that newly married couple ends up sitting around a fire on Christmas morning with their six grandchildren.

You could be the reason love strengthens, new life is born, accomplishments are made and society improves. If anything, you could be the hope restored in the broken hearts and minds of the family and person receiving that organ. You could be that second chance, that silver lining, that miracle.

We glorify the idea of a miracle but here we have the opportunity to make them actually happen. All this can be done by you simply taking an hour of your time to visit this website and take the steps necessary to register as a donor. If you live in New York State, you can register online right now, right here.

Save a life.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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