Mental Health Reform Needs To Be Addressed All Of The Time

Mental Health Needs To Be A Priority Always, Not Just When Your Favorite Artist Or Celebrity Dies

A trendy hashtag memorializing celebrities is NOT the way we need to be addressing mental health.

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Over the weekend, Twitter and Instagram were flooded with posts dedicated to the late rapper, Mac Miller. #HappyBirthdayMacMiller started trending across many social media platforms on January 19th as fans and collogues memorialized what would have been the rappers 27th birthday. Miller passed away in September of 2018 of an accidental drug overdose.

Unfortunately, Mac Miller isn't the only public figure who we've lost due to substance abuse. Over the last few years, addiction has taken some of the most notable names in the entertainment industry.

Michael Jackson.

Tom Petty.

Lil Peep.

Prince.

Whitney Houston.

Corey Monteith.

Not only is substance abuse taking our idols and inspirations away, but suicide is too. In the last few years alone, we have seen many of our favorite Hollywood icons lose their battle with their inner demons.

Robin Williams.

Anthony Bourdain.

Avicii.

Chester Bennington.

Chris Cornell.

Kate Spade.

Millions of people live with mental illness and struggle with substance abuse daily. The stigma that surrounds mental health and substance abuse forces those who struggle with it to hide out of shame. 47,173 people commit suicide each year. 72,000 people overdose each year.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., 43.8 million people, are diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year. Nearly 1 in 5 youth are diagnosed with a severe mental illness at some point during their life. If we know that mental illness plagues the US, why aren't we doing more to create resources for those who need them most?

Why do we only talk about mental health reform when our Hollywood idols end their lives?

Why do we only acknowledge the tumultuous cycle of substance abuse after someone famous overdoses?

Hundreds of people are dying from these illnesses every day. The lack of resources for those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and struggle with substance abuse is not going to fix itself every time you take to Twitter with #RIPMacMiller. So many people involved in your life on a day-to-day basis are living with mental illness. Anxiety. Depression. Bipolar Disorder. OCD. PTSD.

The way that we need to approach mental illness and substance abuse in the United States must start with the acknowledgment of common stigmas that those diagnosed are afraid of being associated with.

These stigmas leave people feeling ashamed for something that is entirely out of their control as if they are personally to blame for not "trying" hard enough. This weight that often comes along with mental health stigmas is one of the primary reasons that people refuse to seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. We must do our part to debunk these common stigmas.

Instead of posting an Instagram photo captioned '#RIPChester', take to your social media platforms to inform your followers about the mental health issues that Chester Bennington referenced in some of his most famous songs. Instead of captioning a Facebook photo of your Kate Spade handbag collection '#RIPKateSpade', share with your friend's suicide prevention hotline numbers and substance abuse resources. Instead of watching Anthony Bourdain's', Parts Unknown, and tweeting '#RIPAnthonyBourdain' as a tribute to what an inspiration he was, take to Twitter to address the drug abuse and alcoholism that many public figures struggle with.

Check in on your friends. Talk publicly and openly about mental health. Educate yourself. Help educate others. Show compassion. Encourage and empower your friends who are struggling to seek help.

Trendy hashtags paying respects to your favorite actors, artists, singers, and designers are not the way we need to be addressing mental health. Join the fight in preventing the stigmatization of mental health and substance abuse by using social media to educate your friends and family about these issues.

It's okay not to be okay.

National Suicide Prevention/Substance Abuse Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

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


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I'm Working My Butt Off Here, But Kim K Doesn't Need Undergrad Before Law School

This has to be some kind of joke.

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I'm all for female empowerment and following your dreams. Going after your dreams and daydreaming is something that personally keeps me motivated. However, when I heard that Kim Kardashian is on a path to become a lawyer, my first thought was...are you kidding? This has to be some kind of joke. Why would she put herself through over seven years of college and a bar exam?

When I found out the loophole that she didn't have to go to undergrad but she had to be an apprentice for 18 hours a week for four years, I was upset. So many people fight to get into college and work their butts off in college just to be able to get into a good law school.

I applaud Kim for trying something new and if she actually takes this new path seriously, I truly think she will be an amazing lawyer and influence the justice system for the better, based on how she has influenced the fashion world. Also, getting 100% correct on exams is amazing. As a pre-nursing major, it is so hard to get an A on an exam, but her getting an A is great if it on her own merit.

Truthfully, I am jealous of how fast Kim got job offers when my cousins who are successful lawyers worked their butts off. The whole process wasn't easy for them in and of itself, and they certainly didn't have millions to spend on apprenticeships even though they got their degrees in New York. My cousin was lucky she got an internship with the U.S. government that was super competitive.

Law school is not easy or everyone would be a lawyer. Perhaps law comes naturally to Kim — after all, her father was a lawyer. One thing is for sure: if she isn't pulling a Lori Loughlin and is actually trying her hardest with her own efforts, then I support her. After all, women must support each other, and it isn't a bad thing that she is doing this. Perhaps this will inspire other girls to follow their dreams.

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