Standing Up To POTS At Wittenberg

Standing Up To POTS At Wittenberg

Wittenberg University has made an effort to raise awareness about this disease around campus.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one of a group of disorders that have orthostatic intolerance (OI) as their primary symptoms. It’s when an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying-down position. Some symptoms of POTS include fainting, migraines, and lightheadedness. These symptoms can be relieved by laying down again. Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals who are affected (between 75 and 80 percent) are women between the 15 to 50 years of age.

Wittenberg University has made an effort to raise awareness about this disease around campus through the “Standing Up To POTS 5K.” The Pre-Health Professionals Club is teaming up with Dr. Pederson to bring the event to Wittenberg this year. Dr. Pederson’s daughter has POTS, which makes this disease hit even closer to home here at Wittenberg. The 5K seeks to raise $10,000 for Dr. Pederson’s nonprofit of the same name. The 5K is on April 9th and it starts at the Student Center.

This nonprofit provides a wealth of information about POTS and the people who it affects. It explains the tell-tale signs of POTS such as the symptoms explained above. Additionally, it provides information about treating these symptoms through the best medicines, advice about dieting, taking actions to avoid fainting and lightheadedness, responsibly exercising, and where to find counseling for the emotional struggles that this disease can cause. It also catalogs published research about POTS, which allows those who don’t know much about the disease to learn important facts about it.

Cover Image Credit: standinguptoPOTS.org

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The Blue Whale Challenge Is Deadlier Than You Think

Meet the game that encourages children to commit suicide.

In the age of social media, it isn't uncommon to come across trends like the "Ice Bucket Challenge" or the "Mannequin Challenge." We often dismiss these as a fad, sometimes even partaking in the fun.

One challenge, however, managed to stay under the radar-- it's only evidence from first hand experience and personal stories from friends and family. The Blue Whale Challenge is a social media "game" that encourages children and teens to take their own lives.

The challenge (named for blue whales' tendency to beach themselves to die) first emerged in Russia in 2016. Philipp Budeikin, 21, claimed to have invented the game in 2013 in order to "cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value." He selected people he believed were weak and easy to manipulate. Budeikin had been expelled from his university beforehand, and said he invented the game for fun. In May 2016, he pled guilty to leading 17 teenage girls to take their lives.

How then, does the game work?

Game administrators -- or "curators" -- would reach out to potential participants of the deadly game through Instagram. First, they would ask their target if they wished to play a game. They would then explain the rules, threatening to find, injure and kill the target's family if they didn't follow directions.

Their targets would often be as young as eleven years old, an age group still struggling to figure out their own identity. This group of children were typically already suffering from depression or anxiety; they felt alone and misunderstood in the world. These curators offered a connection in their world.

The "game" consists of 50 challenges over the course of 50 games. They range from using a razor to carve "F57," waking up at 4:20a.m. to watch movies the curators send participants, to ultimately committing suicide. Each challenge requires photographic proof to the game administrator.

The problem with this game is the lack of evidence. Melissa Patton, mother to a 12-year-old girl who was drawn into the game, stumbled across pictures of the challenges in her "deleted" album during a phone search. She couldn't believe her daughter was playing such a deadly game. The only evidence police and parents have of this dangerous trend are the first-hand accounts of survivors and the photo evidence in their phones.

There is no evidence of conversations with these curators due to the conversations being deleted. The only real way to see what a curator says and exactly how the game is structured is to either a) be a part of the game or b) look on the dark web, neither of which is advisable.

Hashtags such as "#F57", "#bluewhalechallenge", "#i_am_whale", and "#curatorfindme" reveal those begging to play the game, hoping to catch the eye of a curator.

These disturbing messages are only the beginning of this tragic game. Pictures show people posting evidence of them fulfilling the challenges, begging for entry into the game.


Fortunately, social media platform Instagram has stepped up, offering support for its users experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. The following message popped up after I searched "#bluewhalechallenge".


It's important for everyone, not just parents, to look out for trends like these. Starting a conversation with your child is the first step, but as Melissa Patton's story proved, regularly checking in on your child's phone and social media presence could save their life. Suffice to say this is worth whatever anger your child may direct at you. It is not an intrusion to make sure your child is mentally healthy.

If you are feeling depressed or full of anxiety, please know you aren't alone in the world. You are worthy, your life is important and you were put on this earth for a reason. Maybe you haven't discovered that reason yet, but that's part of the adventure of life!

Talk to someone; you can reach out to me if you want an ear. Just remember there are people in the world who do and will want to know you. This moment marks the rest of your life -- and it should be full!

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or chat with them online if you feel more comfortable writing.

Choose to live, if not for yourself, then for someone else until you can live for yourself.

You are worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Stefano Pasqualin

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Poetry On Odyssey: What Is A Poem?

I never know what to write when I feel depressed.

I never know what to write when I feel depressed. Should I write in rhymes just so I can express... myself? Or can I just write a paragraph, no stanzas at all, and call it a work of art? I don't know. What is a poem? Is it an answer to a question? Is it following a question with a question? I guess that begs the question of what is the question and the question to the question. My question questions the questions and the questions that follow the question. Does a poem need to make sense? What if the point is to not make sense? What is the point of writing? Is it to make ourselves feel good? Because I still feel shitty afterwards. Is it to make others feel good? Because why the fuck do I care?

I never know what to write when I feel depressed

Because I feel the heaviness of my chest

The kind that makes me drag my fucking legs

That has me squeezing the fucking temples of my head

Where I'm lying for hours on end on my fucking bed

Jesus I wish I was fucking dead

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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