You Don't Need To Be 'Mentally Ill' To Go To Counseling Or Therapy

You Don't Need To Be 'Mentally Ill' To Go To Counseling Or Therapy

Honestly, everyone should seek support for their mental health at some point in their lives.

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We never talk about mental health enough. In part, this does have to do with the stigma surrounding mental illness. Some people think that mental illness isn't real. Some people think that people with mental illnesses are crazy. Obviously, it's hard to talk about something so personal when you're afraid of being judged and looked at differently.

As you probably already know, counseling and therapy can be utilized to help people with mental health concerns. (To avoid saying "counseling and/or therapy" 100 times, I'll just refer to mental health support here on out as therapy.) But you may not know that therapy isn't just for people with anxiety, depression, etc. And it's not just for people who have recently experienced tragedy, either.

I recently went back to therapy to learn better coping mechanisms for emotional distress. I was tired of feeling emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed every time something went wrong. I wanted to change my life for the better. I felt like my behavior not only affected me, but also the people that I loved. I had to take responsibility for that. And it wasn't something that I could fix on my own. Love yourself enough to do what's right for you.

If you're really stressed about all of your school work, go to therapy. If you just got into a new relationship and you're experiencing a lot of new insecurities and fears, go to therapy. If you want to sort your family problems, go to therapy. If you have unresolved, repressed thoughts that you want to address, go to therapy. And if you know someone who is struggling with something, recommend that they go to therapy.

Honestly, everyone should seek support for their mental health at some point in their lives. If you're a college student with mental health resources on campus, please make use of them, especially if the services are free or low-cost. After you graduate, you may not have access to the same facilities. Or, if you do, you're going to have to pay a lot of money to seek help. Addressing concerns now is the smartest option. If you're a Rutgers University student, you can find aid from Counseling, Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services (CAPS).

We all need someone to talk to about our problems. Yes, having friends and family is definitely beneficial. A good rant can help you blow off some steam. But keep in mind that these people are not licensed therapists. They can only offer you advice, not authentic step-by-step treatment.

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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The Permanence Of Recovery

Trying to explain what it's like when my brain is louder than my stomach.

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I never had an eating disorder.

I say it like that because I didn't. I was never diagnosed with anorexia, or bulimia, or binge eating disorder, or anything else that constitutes a medical resentment to consumption.

A diagnosis would give the issue a name, it would give it a face, which would make it that much more real.

My relationship with food and exercise--and with my body in general--has always been a very complicated thing. I never had an eating disorder, but I never knew how to eat a normal amount and not feel a sense of lingering guilt.

But most days eating always felt like a tug-of-war. I knew that I needed to eat, you know, to survive. The voice in the back of my head eventually became the voice at center-stage of my head. It added up every calorie I took, subtracted every sit-up, embellished my failure when I slipped up. I could never satisfy this voice.

There was always more water to drink, more distance to run, more meals to be stared at and then pushed aside. Sometimes the tug-of-war was just flat out war.

Growing up as a teenage girl in North America, over-exercising and never eating enough is just a part of life. Looking in the mirror and not seeing the human embodiment of an issue of Vogue was grounds for self-hatred. So I recorded everything I ate, tracked every step I took and grew progressively more proud of myself for looking at a glamour magazine.

But humans are not meant to fit in the shiny pages of lifestyle media. I am still trying to learn that. I am learning what it means to not imagine every calorie sticking to my body as if I were made of honey. I know now that it is not normal to make my nutrient intake at the end of each day add up to zero. I am still learning what balance looks like.

The permanence of recovering from living in a state of deprivation is hardly recovery at all. It is work. It is realizing sickness looks different on every body type. It is pushing away the first wave of shame when anything sweet or carb-heavy makes it past your lips. And the second wave. It is living in a world that told you a substantial body is hardly worthy of tolerance, let alone love.

There are little victories. There is a brunch with family or friends. Being so caught up in conversation and the morning's first cup of coffee, with a little extra sweetener, that eating is a breeze. There is fast food after concerts or a night out. So hungry in the middle of the night that you don't even think about reaching for a second taco from the consistently mediocre Taco Bell.

But there are holidays, and birthday cake, another glass of sweet tea, please. Sometimes it's hard not to return to old habits and fall back into the familiar cycle of restriction and denial.

This year and beyond I vow to seek balance. I vow to treat my body with kindness. I want to eat in a way that promotes healthiness, not sickliness, on either side of the scale. I am exhausted. I am tired of the dining hall being the battleground and I'm the one holding the weapon. I am tired of destruction and resentment. This year, I am embracing every curve, every soft whisper, every sigh of relief that I am composed of.

While I am not where I want to be, I am miles from where I started. And that is something to celebrate.

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