PCD: Post Camp Depression

PCD: Post Camp Depression

I swear it's an actual thing.
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That dreaded time of tears, lost sleep, and tender burnt skin. You wish you could bring back time, maybe not change things of the past but have the opportunity to simply relive it. Thus, your thoughts are concentrated on one thing. What is the diagnosis to these feelings of misery and pure boredom? You guessed it: Post camp depression.

Your friends and family don't understand why you're not ecstatic to not be surrounded by bugs 24/7, how you're taking air conditioning for granted, and how you wish you could taste that lovely, undercooked camp food one more time. Their biggest question is how you can miss people that you only see for a limited time each year. They have no understanding of your condition. That's what I'm here for. To help us get through this together. Here's how to deal with PCD.

You know that feeling when you're thrilled to tell everyone all of your hilarious camp stories but when you get back no one finds it as entertaining as you? When you barely can get through the whole story without crying so much from laughter, it's disappointing when you can't even get a chuckle from your friends and family. When this happens, try to remember that they "just had to be there" so they can't find your memories as sweet as you do. And that's okay. They mean more to you for a reason.

Thinking of your memories with your camp friends, friends that could never be replaced, you can't help to miss their constant energy. However, this symptom is easily fixed, medicated with FaceTimes, daily text messages, or even a road trip to visit.

But you don't just miss camp. You had a completely different lifestyle then and that is what you miss the most. Without your cell phone, you didn't have to worry about work or even social media. Not having your phone made falling asleep at night a whole lot easier. You miss your planned out schedule and you have no idea what to do with all this extra time. No matter how busy, tired, or stressed out you were, camp brought you peace of mind. At the end of the day, you were content with your hard work.

My best advice for you is to embrace all of those special moments you made at camp. Don't be afraid to cry flipping through camp pictures (I have way more than once). The one piece tan lines may fade, but the fond memories made at your favorite place on earth will always have a special place in your heart.

So how do you move on? All you have left to do is look forward to next year of course! Until then, it's perfectly acceptable to start brainstorming cabin ideas for next year, buy that costume that catches your eye, and start a countdown. I only have 347 days left.

Cover Image Credit: Thomas D Dittmer

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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 Happens on a juice cleanse

The feelings of fasting.

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If it wasn't for the fact that I get married in the next 11 days, I probably wouldn't have entertained trying a three-day juice cleanse. Alas, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I would consider not being able to fully zip my wedding dress as a Class A desperate time.

For some backstory, I have been engaged for a little over a year, and I purchased my dress sometime last year. When I did, it fit like a glove and it was made to be mine. I was so confident in the fit, I never even brought it back for alterations or a fitting. *Pro Tip # 1 - Do not to what I did, get your wedding dress altered accordingly.*

Not only did my dress fit beautifully, I was maintaining a fitness routine to support it. A minimum of five days a week I spent in the gym doing a mix of weight training, pilates, yoga and cardio. That is of course until I fractured my elbow by falling off a bicycle. *Pro Tip # 2 - Do not get cocky while riding a bicycle.*

After a month of body shaming, disappointment in myself, and a distract lifestyle change, I no longer knew how to support my body in the same way. It was a very fast, slippery slope down, or up, technically, if you're looking at the scale.

Slowly by surely, I regained strength in my arm and my elbow is starting to heal. I am still not completely fixed but well enough to start getting back into a routine that won't harm me from healing. After feeling big and bloated for so long, I was ready for a kick start to help me get back on track. What better way to do that than cleanse! Out with the old, in with the new you.

Monday morning began my motivation. I went to my local grocery store that has a juice bar inside (Shout out to Goji in EHT, NJ) and picked up their Signature Cleanse package for the day. This included several of my favorite juices and Kombucha! I thought to myself, how great I was going to feel after this one day.

Even though I bought the juice and had a plan in my mind, I wasn't as mentally prepared for this as I should have been, which is probably the reason I fell short my first day. Along with juicing all day long and taking my first class in over a month, (using very light weights), I snacked on foods that I shouldn't have.

Feeling defeated, I knew I had to try again. Tuesday morning, I went back to Goji and picked up their Pro Cleanse. I made a schedule and tracked all my water and juice intake. Even found a new obsession of mine for Chocolate, coffee cashew milk - It was better than Starbucks, and it wasn't cheating! This is something I like to call #winning.

By the time I went to sleep Tuesday, I felt great. I knew I was feeding my body the good it needed. I was ready to wake up Wednesday morning feeling lighter and ready for solid food. After a good nights rest, I got up and went to the scale, only to be disappointed again. I did everything right, I followed the instructions, how could there possibly not be even the slightest difference. *Pro Tip # 3 - Stop stepping on the scale, just stop, don't do it, it's a trap.*

So here I am writing this, 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning. So far today, I have started day three with, 20 oz of water, my first bottle of juice and I am about to have my second. I still feel great and I am not as hungry as I thought I would be. I am looking forward to slowly and carefully reintroducing food into my diet tomorrow, and I 100% know I will try juice cleansing again, or perhaps just actively add juice as a meal replacement into my life more often.

Either way, I am extremely proud of myself for sticking to this three day cleanse challenge! Thank you Goji Juice bar for making delicious, crisp, fresh juices and enabling me on this journey. I couldn't have done it without you!

To visit Goji's website and to learn more about their products and the cleanses I used, please click here!

Cover Image Credit:

Goji

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