4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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12 Interactions Servers HATE As Much As Being Asked If They're Single By Their Customers

Chances are, I'm not actually interested in anything you have to say. What would you like to drink?

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I've worked in a restaurant for about 4 years now, mostly during the summers, but occasionally I will go home on the weekends to pick up a few shifts or see the staff. Working in a restaurant has taught me that I love working with the public, but I also hate working with the public.

You learn patience and you learn to let things go because in the midst of having an 8 top, being double sat, arguing with the kitchen over grill chicken for a salad, and having a customer upset because you forgot to bring them their third side of ranch, something is bound to go wrong.

Chances are unless you've worked in a restaurant before, most of them won't make any sense to you, but here are a few things that servers hate when you ask or talk about and how we actually react versus what we wish we could say.

1. Which is colder? Bottle or draft?

Drunk Beer GIF by Bayerischer Rundfunk - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy

What I say: "They are actually in the same cooler, so our bottles and drafts are about the same temperature. It's really whichever you prefer."

What I want to say: "I hate when people like you ask this. Honestly, dude, it's hot outside and it's a pretty day and I want a cold beer just as bad as you do. I promise I'm going to bring you the coldest beer I can find. So, bottle or draft?"

2. I want the appetizer to come out before the meal.

Giphy

What I say: "Of course. I'll put it in before your order and do everything I can to get it out as soon as possible!"

What I want to say: "Don't we all, but considering you ordered you an appetizer and your meal at the same time and the kitchen is swamped, good luck with that. I'll be sure to bring you appetizer plates and napkins in a few minutes to make you think it will be out soon."

3. What's your favorite thing on the menu?

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What I say: "Oh grilled shrimp for sure and our mac and cheese is amazing, but our sandwiches are good as well! There's not really much you can go wrong with on our menu."

What I want to say: "Honestly, I eat this food all the time and I'm probably going to beg the kitchen to cook me anything that's NOT on this menu as soon as my tables leaves so I'm just going to recommend one of the most expensive items and probably eat chicken tenders when I get off because I have the taste buds on an 8 year old."

4. Can I get a cup of soup? Actually, make it a bowl! I'm really hungry!

Giphy

What I say: "Absolutely, our soup is homemade and it really good. You'll definitely be glad you got that bowl."

What I want to say: "Did you know that a cup and a bowl literally hold the same amount of soup but you're paying a dollar more? HAHAHAHA. More tip for me. Thank you, next."

5. Oh, we are going to need lots of ranch. We love ranch. Your ranch is the best. RANCH.

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What I say: "Oh, I'm the same way. I love our ranch and I'll be sure to bring a few out before your meal."

What I want to say: "Did you know our ranch is literally made in 5-gallon buckets and I have no problem being a sarcastic ass and sitting the entire bucket on your table if your talk about our ranch one more time. Or maybe I'll be really mean and accidentally 'forget' to bring you some."

6. I know the owners.  Are they here?

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What I say: "Oh yeah. They are good people! They aren't here right now but I saw them earlier, I'll be sure to mention that you asked about them!"

What I want to say: "Really? Me too. No, they aren't here because they don't really work here, they basically just make money off of people like you and me. Oh, and when I say they were here earlier, they were really just having a beer, not actually working."

7. Your eyelashes are so long! 

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Maybe this one is a little specific to me but I hear it way more than you would think.

What I say: "Awww, thank you so much" *batts eyes*

What I want to say: "Wow, I'm surprised you noticed through the sweat dripping off my brow. I feel forced to do my makeup for every shift because the tips are better when I look cute."

8. Oh honey, you are so pretty.  Do you have a boyfriend?

Giphy

What I say: Well thank you and no, I'm single. What can I start you guys with to drink?"

What I want to say: "Thanks a milly but I'm just trying to take your order so I can go stand in the walk-in because it's so hot and no, I do not want you to hook me up with your 30-year-old son who probably lives in your basement. What. Do. You. Want. To. Drink?"

9. What time do you get off?

Giphy

What I say: "We normally stop seating at 10 but the bars are open until 2 so I'll be here a little while."

What I want to say: "Are you asking because you want to wait until the last minute to order food or because you want to buy me a drink after because my answers are going to be very different depending but honestly I just want you to get up from my table."

10. Your accent! Where are you from?

Giphy

What I say: "I'm actually from here. I grew up about 30 minutes from here."

What I want to say: "I know I sound like a hick but I'm actually from here, you Yank. Maybe I can use my southern belle accent to charm you into leaving me a better tip."

11. You're really tall and you've got some nice legs.

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This one's also pretty specific to me.

What I say: "Haha, yeah", I say awkwardly as I squeeze out a smile.

What I want to say: "Thanks for commenting on my body. Yes, I played basketball. Yes, I lift weights. Yes, my thighs are thick, you should see how chaffed they are from running around this restaurant and waiting on pigs like you. Thank you for making this awkward."

12. Honey, can you wipe this table off for us?

Giphy

What I say: "Absolutely, give me just one second to drop this check off and I'll be back to wipe it down."

What I want to say: "Or better yet, you can just sit there in filth for a few minutes since you walked passed the 4 signs that say, "please wait to be seated" and the host herself to seat yourself and I'm not even your server. If you think that table is dirty, you should see the kitchen floor after a Saturday dinner shift. You can wait. And don't you dare ask me for menus and silver wear."

Honestly, servers are some of the sassiest people you will ever meet. They have to deal with rude customers and even worse, they have to deal with co-workers that have to deal with rude customers.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy being a server, it's probably my favorite job ever, but it can be quite the headache sometimes. Occasionally you will meet a customer that is genuinely interested in you but more than likely they are just wasting your time to try and make conversation in hopes to get on your good side or to try and get something for free.

I promise that I will do the very best I can to serve you and give you a pleasant dining experience. I will assure you that as long as you cooperate with me, I will cooperate with you.

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