Parkland Suicides Stress The Need To Check Up On Those Around You

Parkland Suicides Stress The Need To Check Up On Those Around You

People always say they care about others' mental wellbeing but don't actually do anything until a suicide happens. They don't demonstrate support or stability until their loved ones are good. That shouldn't be how it is. It can't be.

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

February 14, 2018, was a day I don't think any of us can forget. I can't even begin to describe to you the pain I felt for these kids. These kids I never knew. These kids were my age. These kids had their entire lives ahead of them.

Later that day after receiving news of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I sat in my bed and watched news coverage of the ongoing event. And I cried. I couldn't stop crying.

It was all too real. Too many shootings kept occurring. Too many shootings are STILL occurring. And way too many innocent lives are getting stripped away so abruptly.

Of course, these shootings bring gun regulation into a huge topic of discussion. But, in addition to that, there's another important consequence that plays a factor: mental health.

Within just the past month, there were two suicides that occurred over a year later most likely linked to the shooting. On March 17, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello took her own life. According to her mother, Sydney suffered from survivor's guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was life-long friends with Meadow Pollack, one of the victims that did not survive the massacre.

I recently viewed Sydney's Facebook. Her recent posts truly showed her happier moments where she memorialized her slain classmates, advocated for tighter gun laws, and even publicized teaching her first yoga class. On June 12, she shared a post that conveyed a message regarding the suicides of Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain. All were seemingly happy and beloved celebrities that no one expected to take their own lives. The post concluded with a final statement that read, "So, let me say this really loud so the people in the back of the room can hear me ... SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO CHECK ON THOSE WHO SEEM THE STRONGEST."

That couldn't be any more right. Didn't Sydney seem strong? At least, that's how we perceived her on social media. She seemed like a fighter. She WAS a fighter and was clearly trying her hardest to persevere through this trauma and stay strong.

Unfortunately, Syndey lost her battle. But she isn't the first that lost her life due to depleted mental health, and she certainly won't be the last if we don't start addressing these issues more seriously.

People always say they care about others' mental wellbeing but don't actually do anything until a suicide happens. They don't demonstrate support or stability until their loved ones are gone. That shouldn't be how it is. It can't be.

Parents, please check up on your children. Please take everything they say to you seriously. Make sure they understand there's a way to cope with the pain they're experiencing. Validate them. Know that they're not alone.

This applies to us all. Check up on your friends. Spread awareness. There's always a way to deal with the pain, trauma, and hardships you're enduring. Killing yourself will never be the answer. We have to ensure as individual communities and as individuals ourselves we have the proper resources to provide for people going through these difficult times.

My thoughts are with the victims of the Parkland massacre, the Parkland suicides, and anyone that has ever experienced suicidal thoughts or actions or lost a loved one because of suicide. You are beyond loved.

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Understanding What It's Like To Live With An Anxiety Disorder

Having no control over your own mind is scary.
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Anxiety disorders are no fun for anyone. Most people don't understand what it's like to be someone who suffers from one. They come without warning and without reason. As I am writing this, I am awake at an ungodly hour due to this stupid battle my mind is having with itself.

Let me help those of you who do not understand what this illness is like.

At random moments, I will get this building worry and fear that something isn't right. Everything could be just perfectly fine, but my mind will trick itself into believing that something is wrong.

It will convince itself that my life is falling apart. I will worry about one thing one minute and talk 90 to nothing then start to worry about another thing. My mind constantly switches back and forth and will convince itself that things are worse than what they really are.

All the while, I'm trying so hard to calm myself down... but it is impossible.

It will send me into a depression. A depression that causes me to hate myself for being so crazy and irrational at times. This depression is the worst part. It causes me to want to space myself from the world and everyone around me. It causes me to feel alone with my illness, and it will cause me to be too terrified to talk those that are closest to me about what it is that I need from them.

I feel needy, and I'm repulsed. But I can't help it.

The hardest thing is for me to find peace with myself during the depression stage. Most times, it switches back to worry and will keep me up all night. Staying up all night causes me to feel irritable the next day, which in turn causes those around me to steer clear. Which in turn causes me to go right back into depression and battle myself for being mentally ill.

You see, there's something those of you who don't suffer from anxiety need to understand: WE CAN'T CONTROL IT.

No, it doesn't make us crazy. We don't need you to tell us that we are acting crazy. We are already well aware of this and telling us that will only make our condition worse.

It will come at the most inconvenient times. When it happens, just please be patient and understanding with us. The attack will eventually pass, and when it does, we'll be back to normal. The worst thing you could do is bring up anything we were previously worried about.

Doing so will only trigger another attack. Understand that it's you and us vs. the illness. We hate it, you hate it, we're on the same team here. The best thing you can do during an attack is to just listen, and know that there are times we need you to hold us, and times we need you to leave us alone. Know that sometimes you'll be the trigger for the attack.

Don't take it personally. And please, for the sake of humanity, don't tell us that we're overreacting, that we need to calm down, or that worrying isn't going to make anything any better. If we could stop worrying, don't you think we would have already?

Dating someone with an anxiety disorder isn't easy, at all. It requires giving that person a lot of attention that you normally wouldn't have to do. That doesn't mean the sufferer constantly needs you to be stuck up his or her butt 24/7, but it does mean that when he or she is under attack you need to be there.

If someone you love is having an anxiety attack, ask them what they need. Most of the time they know what they need from you to help make it better, but they're too scared to tell you. Let them know that you genuinely want to help in any way that you can, and be okay with it if they tell you nothing and to just listen. Get to know their illness better.

Everyone's anxiety disorder is different.

Try to understand what it's like to have absolutely no control over your mind, and be there for that person. They need you most when they feel as though they have turned on themselves.


If you or someone you know is battling an anxiety disorder, seek help.

Cover Image Credit: ankor2 / Flickr

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8 Unconventional Ways To De-Stress We All Need

Moody isn't always the move.

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When the stress of finals hits a little too hard and Moody is no longer the move, I use these tricks as a way to stay positive and power through the semester!

1. Plan a Trip

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While it's not always financially feasible to travel all over the world, I've found that when I take 30-45 minutes to plan a 'bucket list' vacation, my stress levels almost always decrease. Granted, I'm a Type-A person so planning gives me extreme joy. I love to look up cheap flights on Google Flights for a date in the future and then plan a trip around it; I'll go onto TripAdvisor and find an ideal hotel, a list of things I want to do, and restaurants I want to eat at. Maybe the trip isn't happening YET, but who knows? At least you'll have it planned when you actually do get to visit that dream destination in the future!

2. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals

Every Pixels

Sometimes I need to feel like I'm being productive when I'm not actually being productive. A bit of an oxymoron, but nonetheless I love making both short term and long term to-do lists of sorts as a study break. This is super easy to do in those odd breaks in classes or even between studying for different classes! Just grab a piece of paper and write down what you want to get done for the rest of the day, week, year... The depth and extent of the list is truly up to you!

3. Online. Shopping.

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Online shopping is definitely a de-stress method for those that love fashion like me. So if you have to be dragged into the mall, this suggestion is probably not for you! I personally love visiting some of my favorite store websites (looking @ you Nordstrom) and looking at some of the new pieces and upcoming trends. Being able to be enveloped in something completely unrelated to what I'm studying for is much needed at times!

4. Go for a walk around campus/ town

Claire Nevill

Sometimes I start to go 'stir crazy' if I've been sitting inside for too long! I love putting in some earbuds and going for a walk around campus if it's a pretty day, just to get a break from staring at a computer. And, okay yes, I usually treat myself to a coffee while I'm out (CG is the move if you're at Baylor)!

5. Get some friends together and make a treat of some sort

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Sometimes at the end of a long study day, my friends and I just want to do something low-key and fun. A lot of times my friends and I will go to the store and get a couple of ingredients to make a dessert together. These do not have to be elaborate. Some of the things my friends and I have baked this year include a cookie log, peep s'mores, and pre-made cookies. We're not exactly honing in on our culinary/baking skills, but it's fun to spend time together and have a yummy end result!

6. Make some tea, diffuse some essential oil, and do a face mask

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I absolutely love doing a 'self-care' night every once in a while. When I have a test I, along with many others I'm sure, can get super stressed and anxious! One thing that really helps calm me down is putting on a face mask, making myself some tea, and diffusing some essential oils. I use this time to read my Bible, catch up on a TV show, or just listen to music. As important as it is to prepare well for the test/final, it helps me so much to schedule in some "relaxation" time as well!

7. Use a journal either to reflect on the day or sketch

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I'm going to preface this by saying, I am not artsy at all. However, sometimes getting out a journal and sketching/doodling is a great way to de-stress in the midst of studying! I also really enjoy using a journal to write reflections/prayers/ quotes I love as a way to break up the studying as well.

8. Make a presentation on something you're excited about

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This is for all you fellow type-A personality, planners like me! One of my favorite ways to relax and reward myself after studying is to make a presentation (google slide presentation to be exact) of some events/places/plans I'm excited for. I've made presentations detailing what my friends and I will do in the summer, travel plans, and a study-abroad information presentation for my parents, amongst other things.

Hopefully, these ideas will help get y'all through the stress of the final exams/tests/quizzes to come. Though unconventional, these are just some of the ways I remind myself that there is ultimately more to life than school and studying!

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