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

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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11 Lies Your Anxiety Tells You Daily, And How To Combat Them

"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

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"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

For those of those who suffer from anxiety disorders, thoughts are often the root of the problem. Whether it be reliving negative experiences or memories, the worst case scenario, or simply worrying about what other people think of you, these thoughts normally seem perfectly logical to you at the moment.

Even if you recognize they aren't, it can be hard to roll back those thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. This list contains common thoughts among anxiety suffers as well as my own thoughts and how I have learned to combat them.

I am not a professional. I am simply writing from my own experience with generalized anxiety disorder. I cannot speak to other disorders and am simply trying to share the ways that help me cope in the hopes they can help someone else.

1. "You're a bad person."

To combat this thought I actively try to do good things. I tell myself that I am certainly not as bad as [insert objectively bad person here]. I distract myself with media and games I like.

2. "Nobody likes you."

To combat this thought I start by telling myself it isn't true. I tell myself I like myself (this works wonders if it isn't true). I reach out to friends and talk to/ hang out with them as normal to concretely show myself this isn't true.

3. "You aren't as smart as everyone here."

To combat this thought I do one of two things (depending upon my mood and overall mental health at the time).

First, I pose a challenge to myself to become as smart as the other people in the room and actively listen and participate to do so.

Second, I go back through past accomplishments to prove that I am smart and just because I didn't get or understand something immediately doesn't mean I'm less smart than anyone else.

4. "I'm going crazy." 

This is a common thought of anxiety. To combat this one, I look up the symptoms of anxiety and screenshot it to prove to myself that it's just my anxiety and that I am in fact not going crazy.

5. "What if..."

"What if this headache is really a brain tumor?"

"What if I go to the doctor and they think I'm crazy/ faking it?"

"What if my friends are just pretending to like me?"

"What if I'm really just a fraud?"

Whoa, whoa, whoa — stop. As you can tell, this thought process can get out of control quickly. The best way I've found to combat this one is to turn the what-ifs into positives. "What if I get a promotion?" "What if I just have really awesome friends?"

I'm still extremely bad at this, so I typically just have to ride these thoughts out. I often talk to someone without anxiety to see if my thoughts seem logical to them. If they don't, normally it helps to differentiate my anxiety talking vs. my actual thoughts.

"They probably hate me." 

Whether your friend hasn't texted you back for hours or your recent Tinder match seems to be ghosting you, this is almost certainly not true. The best way to combat this is to realize that you are projecting your thoughts onto someone else and that you can't read that person's thoughts. You have no idea what they truly think, therefore, it could be the complete opposite.

While it isn't always comforting to "not know," in this instance, allowing yourself to recognize that your own thoughts are blurring onto your projection of someone else, it can help ease the worry a bit.

7. "Why can't I just calm down? What is wrong with me?" 

Ah, the old, having anxiety about your anxiety. These thoughts are in fact the reason you can't calm down. The best thing to do is to self-calm as much as possible. Take multiple deep breaths. Close your eyes and meditate for a few moments. Distract yourself, if the moment calls for it.

8. "What if I die?" 

This thought can come in many forms. "What if the plane crashes?" "What if I slip on icy roads?" It can also lead to worries about family (both for their safety and leaving them behind), etc. Honestly, I've noticed many things work for this one. If you're on a plane or something similar, statistics can help. Knowing that planes crash very rarely can help you understand that it's very unlikely.

Other things are to accept the prospect of death. This isn't nearly as dark as it sounds. Recognizing you have no control over when you die can help you calm yourself knowing you have no other control over the situation. If all else fails, rely on calming exercises and distraction.

9. "Are they upset with me?"

Again, projecting your worries onto another person can be a dangerous cycle. However, if all else fails, ask the person if they actually upset with you. If it is obvious that they are not upset with you based on other factors, try to tell yourself that you can't read minds and that you are simply projecting your worries about them becoming upset with you onto the person.

10. "I don't deserve to be here/ loved."

This one can usually be defeated with some logic. "I was invited here, I do deserve to be here." "Everyone deserves love, including me." "Lots of people love me and they aren't wrong to." However, this can be extremely hard to believe, but even if you don't believe the thoughts, if you keep telling them to yourself and actively work to believe them, you will.

11. "I'm going to get stuck here." 

Whether your phone is about to die at night in the city, you're in a rickety elevator, or the subway seems to be moving slower than normal, the best way to combat this is just to stay alert and take precautions to avoid the situation. (Turn your phone on low power or airplane mode, take deep breaths, and stay alert). Also, using calming techniques can help until the situation is over.

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Ariana Grande Is An Icon

Even if you aren't into her music, Ariana Grande seems to be on top of the world right now.

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Ariana Grande is in no way a newcomer to the music industry. She has been releasing music for years and has always been very successful. She toured with Justin Bieber, had a few popular songs and was even on a Nickelodeon show. It hasn't been until recently that, in my opinion, she has hit icon status.

We all remember the Manchester bombing at one of Ariana Grande's shows back in 2017. Her very public engagement failed and her long-term ex-boyfriend Mac Miller committed suicide at the end of 2018. Clearly, she has been through a lot. Naturally, all of these tragic events gained her a ton of publicity.

In August of 2018, she released her fourth studio album "Sweetener." It was wildly successful and on February 10th earned Grande her very first Grammy Award. Just five months after the release of "Sweetener," she dropped her fifth album titled "thank u, next." To me, this is the album that is officially putting her on top. Her first single from the album titled "thank u, next" became her very first number one song. The song became an anthem for our generation. Even if you don't particularly like the song, I can almost guarantee you have heard it at least once. After the release of the single and very notable music video, Grande decided to release a song titled "7 Rings." This playful track allows listeners to hear the diva side of Ariana Grande but in a good way. With no surprise, this became her second number one song.

Her world tour begins next month and I already have my tickets. It is interesting to see such a young artist in what seems to be the peak of her career. Ariana Grande has become a household name similar to Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. It seems as if the whole world is waiting to see what the pop star will do next!

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