P.S. I Love You Day: Bringing Togetherness Against Tragedy

P.S. I Love You Day: Bringing Togetherness Against Tragedy

Marist Sophomore, Brooke DiPalma, combats suicide and depression with her powerful organization
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Depression. A solitary illness that infiltrates without warning and tantalizes without mercy. It isolates its victims into an enclave of inferiority, coercing them to live in a distorted rock bottom. Depression doesn't show signs of physical manifestation, yet the pain travels through veins and crevices of the body. Depression makes itself right at home. It constructs an exterior facade, fooling everyone into perceiving that its victims are fine. It is sleepless nights and days spent wondering, what's the point? What's the point of lying wide awake smothered in blankets of despair at 3 a.m.? What's the point of going to work? Talking to friends and family? Being productive? Or simply being?

What's the point? More often than not, victims of depression simply do not know. Despite their SOS signals, calling for help to the outside from within, we've failed to find those answers to help.

For Marist College sophomore, Brooke DiPalma, depression affected the man she loved most: her father, Joseph DiPalma Jr. On April 23, 2010, a beautiful Friday morning, she saw her father one last time on her way to school. His last words to her were, "I love you," before he committed suicide.

He was a hero, an honorable member of the West Islip community, someone who laughed often and smiled proudly. He was a devoted family man and friend, always looking out for those dear to him. Soon after, she felt lost. She just began high school, and felt unsure of where to turn, what to do. Days once spent with creating special memories with her best friend, vanished without warning. She had to adjust to a new routine, a new way of life without her number one, go-to guy by her side.

And then, in the midst of it all, she remembered those last three words her father said to her, those three words that so often, people do not feel worthy of receiving: "I love you." From that moment on, she made it her mission to combat depression and suicide, and spread positivity, love, and tolerance. It is now her mission to create lightness and unity against darkness and tragedy.

Seven months later, Brooke used those three words, along with the stigma surrounding depression, to build P.S. I Love You Day. It aims to create kindness withstanding depression, and promote togetherness as a force ending tragedy. P.S. I Love You Day is held every second Friday of February and on this day, everyone wears purple to represent the fight against bullying, depression, and suicide. What began as a West Islip High School Class of 2014 event grew into an international movement, with help from her high school peers and her determination. From there, it began to spread into other schools as a club and a program run by student governments, and other clubs with similar missions.

In 2012, Brooke created a YouTube video that has inspired over 70,000 viewers. From there, she spread her message, idea, and vision at leadership conferences, and continued to bridge communities together. Now, P.S. I Love You Day is a non-profit organization, and her passion continues to grow each day.

This year, P.S. I Love You Day falls on Feb. 12. She hopes that 60,000 people across the globe will wear and create a sea of purple, to show that no one is truly ever alone. On Feb. 12, P.S. I Love You Day will continue to bridge communities together, and inspire the masses to be kind.

To help her reach this goal, it starts with us. We have the opportunity to ignite positivity, come together as one, and set a nationwide precedent. On Feb. 12, wear and bleed purple, and show your support.

Depression may be a powerful villain, but its more powerful enemy is love. With one day, we can create an inspiring message lasting a lifetime. We can bring light into the darkness.

Make sure to check out: https://psiloveyouday.wordpress.com/the-story/ and follow: https://twitter.com/psiloveyouday.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/139724036127382/photos/a.139724499460669.21489.139724036127382/139724502794002/?type=3&theater

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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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12 Lessons Being The 'Sick Kid' Has Taught Me

It can be pretty awful at times, but the life lessons you learn are invaluable.

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Every school has that one person who looks completely fine, but suddenly misses 3 weeks in the middle of the semester because they've come down with some weird illness. Or maybe they were suddenly diagnosed with a new autoimmune disorder... Every. Single. Semester. Then they suddenly come back, maybe looking a little worse for wear, pushing through finals week only to spend the summer getting better.

It's definitely an interesting process for the people around them, but it's miserable for the person going through it. Your social life comes crashing down, some days you're in just too much pain to move, and yet you're expected to move through all of it so that you look "normal" to everyone around you. One or two of these episodes or illnesses may not be too bad, but once you've hit five or more, it goes from "wow this sucks" to "why does my body hate me so much? I've done absolutely nothing to cause this."

That being said, I wouldn't change my experiences with my health for the world. Sure, at least two of my health conditions could kill me if I wasn't careful and a third one causes absolutely horrific pain every now and again, but the lessons I've learned by being the"sick kid" have made me a better person.

1. No matter what a person looks like, they may be struggling—and being there to support them is vital

An Invisible disability can be anything from a food allergy to cancer, but as a general rule you would never be able to tell that they had health issues by just looking at them. Offering your support to those around you, even your acquaintances, can make a world of difference.

2. Pain is not a laughing matter

For the average person, pain fades quickly and doesn't occur too regularly; this means that when your friend is complaining about something like an upset stomach or a headache, you just tell them to take some ibuprofen and move on with your day. I was the exact same way until I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a rare nerve disorder where the pain exceeds childbirth according to the McGill University Pain Scale. Acknowledging that pain is real and important, regardless of its severity, is incredibly important to anyone hurting.

3. The smartest kid in the room may still need help with their academics

I've always excelled in school, so you would never guess that my grades tend to slip whenever I'm stressed, sick, or in pain. When a friendly acquaintance who sat in front of me in ethics took notes for me a week that I was sick, it truly helped more than anyone could have imagined. Even if someone doesn't look like they need it, offering them more resources will never hurt.

4. Fear isn't always rational, and that's okay

I've used needles for for my medical care. I have blood work every three months, poke myself with a big needle every seven days, and poke myself with a pretty small one every three. Thing is, after 18 years, I still almost pass out every time I see a needle coming my direction. So your fear of cats may be completely irrational, but so is my fear of needles—and that is completely fine.

5. Don't ever compare your struggles

I've been told more than once that I have too many diagnoses for someone who's only 21. I've been told by doctors that I've been dealt a bad hand, by nurses that they didn't usually see a medical list as long as mine at my age, by medical assistants that my medication list is complex... but I don't have cancer, right? I can still walk, too, so I shouldn't be complaining. Thing is, two problems can exist at once. My friend's sadness over her botched haircut is as equally valid as me crying over a new diagnosis. And that's okay.

6. What's easy for me may be hard for someone else

I can walk most of the times. I can hear very clearly. Unfortunately, I cannot regulate my body temperature very well. That's easy for most people, but I need to take extra precautions in certain weather conditions because of this. Just like I have problems with something that people tend to consider simple, other people may struggle with reading, gardening, or playing certain video games. Rather than getting frustrated, it's better to offer them help and understand that it may take them a little longer.

7. Just listening can go a long way

Let's be honest here: unless you've lived through it, you'll never understand it. This goes for anything. Rather than talking about you're grandmother's second-cousin's uncle's step-son who herded cattle and went through something vaguely similar, just letting the person know you're there can work wonders. If you feel as if the problem is too much for you an your friend to tackle alone, suggesting classroom accommodations, mental health specialists, nonprofit support groups, or even Facebook groups can help show that you're listening and invested in their well being.

8. Ask before touching

Physical touch can be very painful for me some days. As much as I would love to hug you and congratulate you on your promotion, I need to watch out for my health and safety. I don't know what someone's been through, if they may have any medical implants that hurt when I press on them, or if they may have allodynia; even if I've been friends with them for years, asking if I can touch them is a way to avoid hurting both them and our friendship.

9. The smallest actions make the biggest impacts

When I'm stuck in bed, at another specialist's office, or waiting to hear back about imaging, getting a silly little GIF or a phone call from a friend makes all the difference in the world. It can make me smile while crying, get me engaged when I'm otherwise horribly upset, and remind me that someone's thinking about me when I feel otherwise alone. By taking 30 seconds out of my day to touch in with those I care about, I can help them feel loved as well.

10. Not everyone is going to be understanding or helpful—but I should always be

Ever since middle school, I've personally faced incidences where doctors, teachers, and peers have shrugged off my health concerns. Even when I had a doctor's note stating that I needed to be on bed rest for several weeks after surgery, many of the people around me were unwilling to acknowledge that I needed help or even that the bed rest was necessary. Even if I don't necessarily understand the circumstances, offering a helping hand is the right thing to do in any circumstance.

11. The "real world" WILL help you

In high school, my teachers would always say that the "real world" wouldn't help you if you couldn't keep up. Well, surprise, it did. The real world is more strict with deadlines, but there are also more people willing to offer you their support if you're looking in the right spots. When people have a shared goal, they won't let you fall behind.

12. You can never hold me (or anyone else) back just because I'm "disabled"

I will succeed in life, no matter what. It may take a little bit more time and energy to get things done, but I can make it through as long as I keep moving.

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