To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you.

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"Talk."

I'll never forget the first word I heard from that first call I made to the National Suicide Hotline all those years ago.

"Talk," said Gary, the hotline operator that I ended up talking to for four hours straight in the middle of the night.

I opened my mouth, but choked back more tears as I struggled to find the words. I cried and I cried at the one word Gary the hotline operator said to me.

Talk. That's the one thing that I hadn't done up until that low point in my life.

Talking was such a foreign concept for me after my mother died from cancer. I was 14 years of age back then. I'm an adult now (if you can even classify 20 years of age as "adult" nowadays), but looking back, I wish I could've opened up more before I called that hotline. But… it was just so hard to.

After my mother died, I moved to a new town, new state, and new region of the country. I was the new kid in town, starting as a freshman in high school. As a quiet new kid with no friends, I was practically destined to be labeled as a loner in school. And honestly, I was.

I'd enviously look at the other tables in the cafeteria and library where kids my age would converse with one another, carefree about real problems in the world. How could I be brave and talk to them when I was a new kid? How could I talk and relate to them when I had witnessed my mom suffering from cancer just a few short months prior? How could I relate to anyone who hadn't had experienced the major life changes that I was experiencing at the time?

The truth of the matter is this: No one should have to suffer from the pain of loss. No one should especially have to suffer from the indescribable pain of witnessing the death of someone who they loved and lost.

But I did.

Which is why I felt that I had to keep quiet. Which is why I sat alone at the lunch room tables. Which is why I kept to myself for a full year and a half after my mother died.

That is, until I reached my breaking point.

I nearly almost ended my life when I was a sophomore in high school. I remember the exact date and roughly the same time too that I almost did it. Almost.

It took me a while to reach my breaking point. It was gradual, by no way immediate should I add. But I reached it. To this day, I still can't believe that I almost did. Again, almost.

If it wasn't for Gary, I would've died the night I called the hotline. If it wasn't for Amy, another hotline operator I talked to for hours and hours a few years after I talked to Gary, I would've died back then too. If it wasn't for that one person on that hotline who listened while I talked, there's no way I'd be writing this right now.

I've experienced life in ways that the high school freshman-and-sophomore me wouldn't have dreamed of since those fateful phone calls.

I graduated from high school, which is an achievement that nowadays may seem to be "expected", but for me it meant a lot because my mother didn't get the chance to walk at graduation since she had me when she was a teenager. I decided to go to community college right after high school and recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with an Associate of Arts. And two weeks before I walked the stage at my community college graduation, I found out that I got accepted to my dream college with a full tuition scholarship…

My point is this: There's no way in hell I would've been able to experience life like this without someone who listened.

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you. Thank you for doing what you do, thank you for putting in the time and giving people like me - someone who has experienced tremendous life changing episodes in life - a chance to talk.

It's not easy to talk, but you are the ones who listen. Thank you.

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If you or someone you know who is in need of someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Hotline via 1-800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/phone-call-telephone-handset-dial-3179343/

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34 Things I Should Have Brought To College At The Start Of Freshman Year, But Didn't

To the incoming freshman from the rising senior.
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Coming from a rising senior at the University of Dayton who has lived in an over-sized double dorm room, to a suite-style quad dorm room, to a house with virtually no storage space sharing an octagon-shaped single room (and single closet)... These are the random little things no one thinks to bring to college or put on these lists, but they will make your life on campus a million times better. I ended up buying these items long after I started college, and they were a big help. Don't make the same mistakes I did.

1. Shoe organizer

These are great for various items such as toiletries, snacks, and, of course, shoes.

2. Under-the-bed storage bins

During college, most of my storage has been under my bed, so this is a must.

3. Photos

To remember the happy times with your friends and family. Add to your collection over your college years.

4. String lights

Just to add a little something extra to your space. The dim light is totally relaxing.

5. Makeup wipes

For when you're too tired after going out to actually wash your face.

6. Extra sheets and towels

Trust me, you're not going to want to wash your sheets and towels right away so you can use them immediately. Bring back-ups.

7. Tide pods

These are awesome. Plus they smell heavenly.

8. Drunk dorm/microwaveable snacks

For when you come back after going out and the dining hall has already closed. Ordering Domino's or Jimmy John's night after night is NOT a cost-effective option.

9. Gatorade

For when you're too dead in the morning to walk down and get one from the dining hall.

10. Keurig and coffee

Just in case the dining hall runs out of coffee during finals week. Believe me, it can happen.

11. Chip clips

You will accumulate many of these from free vendors and events on campus, but somehow, they are no where to be found when you need one.

12. Paper towels / Clorox wipes

You can never have enough.

13. Rain boots

So you'll be able to make it to class on those rainy days without having to sit in soaking wet socks and shoes for 50 minutes (yikes). And you can jump in all the puddles you wish.

14. Alarm clock

If you're like me and could sleep the whole day if you didn't have an alarm, your phone alarm just doesn't cut it sometimes.

15. Back study pillow

Even if you don't think you will use it, you will end up wanting it.

16. Command strips

These are the only things that will stick to most dorm room walls.

17. Rug

Especially if your room has a cold tile floor instead of carpet.

18. Air mattress or sleeping bag

For your friends visiting you on campus, or if you ever go on a trip.

19. Disposable dishes

At least while you live in a dorm with a community sink.

20. Red solo cups

Because you don't want your morning-after milk or apple juice to taste like last night's $8 vodka.

21. Costumes/holiday wear

This is something I totally didn't even think about when I first came to school. Now I have an entire bin JUST for costumes and holiday decor.

22. Crazy daydrink clothes

If you have a few jerseys, you're set. If not, take a trip to the local goodwill with your squad and pick up a few things. The crazier, the better.

23. Towel wrap

If you're like me and just like to chill in your towel after you shower ( and a robe is too hot for you), these are a must. And they're super cute.

24. Wristlet/clutch/small purse

You won't want to lug around a large tote while you're out with friends or doing daily activities.

25. Comfortable heels

Don't let this be you!!!! I've been there, and nothing will ruin your night of dancing at the club like shoes that give you blisters and disable your walking by the end of the night.

26. Business casual and business professional clothes

And make sure you know the difference and when each is appropriate.

27. Water bottle

In college, your water bottle is your best friend. You never go anywhere without it, and it actually helps you to drink the amount of water you're supposed to drink each day (maybe).

28. Blender

If you're a fan of smoothies (or frozen margaritas) and want to make them at home for less.

29. Flashcards

Flashcards are a great way to study. If they're not for you, buy them anyway just in case you want to try them out. Or if anyone on your floor is desperate for them, they will be eternally grateful.

30. Mini fridge

When you're sharing a fridge with 3+ other people, things can get pretty tight. I recommend buying this with your roommates so you can share the extra space.

31. Calculator

Just in case you change your major and have to take math again (like me).

32. Thermometer

So you can know for sure whether or not you have a fever.

33. Drying rack

Because you're actually not supposed to put everything in the dryer, who knew?

34. Rubbing alcohol

Works wonders for getting those impossible Thursday night Xs off before your Friday 9 a.m.

These things have helped me make it through three years of college, especially freshman year. Hopefully, I have helped you prepare for your college years somehow. Good luck and have fun!!!

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Cover Image Credit: oregonstateuniversity / Flickr

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To The Furry Friends That Helped Me Cope, You'll Always Have A Special Place In My Heart

Where would we be without our precious fur babies?

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A big thank you goes to my two loves, Booboo and Peppa. Booboo is an adorable Chihuahua that acts nothing like one and Peppa is my beautiful white lemon drop Beagle pup. During my Sophomore year of high school, I was going through a really tough time with trying to cope with anxiety plus the intense curriculum that year entailed. There were many nights I sat in bed bawling, feeling stupid because I could not for the life of me understand chemistry. Booboo would always come and sit in my lap, and just look at me wagging his tail before he would try to cuddle me as best he could. He has licked away many tears, as has Peppa.

My family got Booboo in August of my senior year of high school. My mom rescued him from a patient's home who was about to take him to the pound. I was getting ready for summer band when my mom comes into my room holding Booboo. He had the sweetest face and gave lots of love right away. To this day, even though I have a pup of my own, I will still always consider him my baby. He helped me find myself and learn to love myself. He was there for all of my hard work and exhaustion in high school. When I go home to visit my parents, he knows it's my car and comes running to see me.

Peppa went through a tough break up with me and she sat there with a paw on me at all times, on standby to show me love. I was three hours away from home and three hours away from my best friend. It was from that moment on that I knew Peppa was always going to have a special place in my heart.

There are studies that prove that dogs help people with anxiety and depression cope, but I had the pleasure of experiencing it myself. So, here's a thank you to the furry friends who impacted my life for the better and always love me. Some days I don't love myself but when Peppa wakes me up with cuddles, I fall in love every time. When I come home each day, Peppa barks repeatedly and jumps on me because she's so excited that I'm home and its one of the best feelings in the world. And sometimes I can feel a panic attack coming on and I show many different signs, or usually none at all, but my girl can always sense them and she comes and sits up next to me or playfully bites my hand.

Without my pups, I wouldn't be who I am today. Heck, I might not even be here today. So hug your pup a little closer and show them extra love, for they love you more than probably anyone ever will.

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