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Mental Health

  • Articles, Dating, Mental Health, Relationships, Sexual Health, Tough Questions

    Nightmares for Memories

    CONTENT WARNING: This article contains information about sexual assault, which may be triggering. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

    Nightmares for Memories

    An Ugly Truth

    Some things are just engraved in your mind. No matter how hard you try to forget, you never will. Everyone has memories they can’t diminish. These memories feel more like nightmares. For some, the word “rape” and “sexual assault” are just sad things that happen if you’re not careful. They know it happens but don’t pay much attention to it – it’s one of those things you think will never happen to you.

    Hopefully, it won’t, but if it does, it will change your perspective on everything. At that moment it was like I had lost all control of my limbs, my entire body completely shut down. I went from saying stop and yelling no at the top of my lungs to just staring dead off into space. You can’t do anything, you just are helpless to the situation.

    After, you see everything in a different light.

    You question everything you did – from what you said, to what you were wearing. You feel as if it was your fault. It is not. But for me, the worst part was the way I felt after. I felt used and powerless. You jump anytime someone touches you and cry if someone hugs you. You can’t breathe when you hear their name and have a panic attack if you’re in the same room as them. To put it bluntly, it sucks.

    Although it was one of the worst experiences of my life, it taught me a lot of things.

    One, it is not okay for me to let people take advantage of me. Not all guys have good intentions, do not choose to see only good in people and be blind to the bad. Take both into account when choosing who you let into your life.

    Two, pick and choose your “friends” wisely. I was sexually assaulted by one of the people closest to me.

    Three, know how to say stop. Don’t let people overpower you just because you don’t want to be rude. If you’re uncomfortable with someone hugging you – tell them. Because a hug can quickly turn into something worse.

    Four, don’t be afraid to talk about it, it helps. They won’t think you are overreacting. In fact, they’ll most likely tell you the opposite. They’ll help.

    Five, it gets easier, time helps. In the end, you’ll be a stronger person than you were before. Like the song says “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    If you feel you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, please visit one of the following organizations for help. 

    Visit online.rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7 or call 1-800-656-HOPE

    National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673

    Crisis Center Birmingham, Alabama, https://crisiscenterbham.org/sexual-assault-services/sexual-assault-services.htm

    24-HOUR HOTLINE: 205-323-7273

  • Bullying, Home Life, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Stress

    Broken Glass: Short Story

    Jenna Prez raced home from school blood dripping down her face as the bruise on her forehead pulsates. She didn’t take much time throwing her bookbag down and running off to the bathroom the check the damage. She stares in the mirror not cleaning herself up but letting the blood drip from her mouth, and tears from her eyes. Why can’t the leave us alone, she thinks, can’t they mind their own business. Jenna goes to an all girl catholic high school where she met her first girlfriend, Regina Price. She had always known she was not attracted to boys, but until Regina, she wasn’t sure she was attracted to anyone. They had kept their relationship ‘on the down low’ for the past three months enjoying the secrecy of their teenage love. They would go on secret dates and hold hands pretending only to be best friends. There secret was well hidden until today when another girl, Janet Kinkle, saw Jenna kiss Regina on the cheek under the bleachers during gym. Jenna and Regina were unaware of Janet’s presence until they got back to the locker room where six of Janet’s friends were waiting on them. As soon as Jenna and Regina walked through the door, the other girls pummeled them to the floor scratch and punching them while yelling derogatory terms for lesbians. The coach, eventually, heard the commotion and broke up what was going to seem like a fight and not a clear attack on two innocent girls. Jenna and Regina were sent to the office for their misbehavior and were sentenced to three days of suspension while also having a call to home for what they had been hiding. The principal didn’t punish the other girls because she understood why they were enraged by this ‘immoral’ behavior. Jenna hears a loud knocking on the bathroom door, and she checks the time on her apple watch. Her mother was home from work. She builds up the courage she can and opens the door, and as soon as she meets her mother’s eyes, she is slammed into the door by her mother’s hand. Her mother slapped her across the face with tears in her eyes stating Jenna would never see Regina again, and she is disgusting. Her mother walks away, and Jenna shuts the door once again staring at herself in the mirror- not crying or speaking-only staring. She had no one in her life who fully accepted her but Regina, and now Regina was gone. Jenna was completely alone. Her breathing becomes heavy, and she slams her fist into the mirror breaking her reflection.

  • College, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Mental Health, Puberty, School, Stress, Tips, Tough Questions

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    By Maggie Thompson

     

    Being uncertain is a feeling with which we are all familiar.

    A looming pressure to know exactly what we want in life is placed on us as early as middle school – if not before. This question of what we want our lives to be is actually ridiculous. How could one possibly know what they truly want if they have yet to decide what they do not?

    Uncertainty is how we learn.

    When we acknowledge our uncertainty, we open the door for more opportunities. This is because knowledge is not obtained without first admitting its absence.

    Experiences shape our beliefs – on everything.

    Hesitating to wear a certain color, deciding to study before a test, and avoiding certain types of people are all decisions made due to past experience. We believe the color yellow is not flattering for our skin tone because we read it in a magazine, we study before a test to avoid a failing grade, and we choose not to befriend dishonest people so that we don’t get hurt. Regardless of how big or small the belief – it is formed by past experience. However, some of these beliefs will alter as we learn and grow. This is a good thing. Being open to new challenges provides a chance for a new perspective.

    As a result, being uncertain is the best way to unlock change and growth.

    Do not be afraid to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, for this is how truth is uncovered – through exploration. So when you are feeling down about not knowing exactly which direction to go, accept that some of the steps you have taken thus far have been incorrect. Although this feeling is initially terrifying, it begins to dissolve as soon as you take the first step into the unknown. Because before you know it, you will find yourself happier and more engaged with life.

  • Artwork, Mental Health

    Tranquil Cat Nap

    I have always greatly appreciated the easy-going and leisurely nature of cats. In this painting, I used acrylics to depict my cat. My cat is a great comfort in my life. I decided to make him pink to symbolize his playful and carefree personality. He is displayed in a relaxed state. This represents how important it is to one’s mental health to take the time to lay back and relax. The healing power of a cat’s purring inspired me to swirl acrylics diluted with water. I used of various colors to illustrate how smoothly a cat’s purrs can cover everything around it until all is calm. The yellow represents positivity, the blue tranquility and trust, and the green peace, balance, and health. All of the things the colors represent are gifts my cat has given me unconditionally which have improved my mental health and my life.

  • Mental Health

    Grieving During the Holidays

    Grieving During the Holidays

    I have so much to be thankful for this year, that the past two years seem almost like a fleeting nightmare. Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. The food, the family, the festivities. It was all an endless possibility for joy. I find myself missing the way I felt back then, but I understand that what I have gone through brings me here today.

     

    Grab a comfortable seat, a blanket, and possibly some tissues, because this ride is going to ring you for all you have. Or at least, it did for me.

     

    It all started with my first retail job. I gave up my right to have Thanksgiving with my family so that I could cater to the afternoon shopping rush. I only did it for money. I needed to pay for school at the time.

     

    A couple of years of missed Thanksgivings started to weigh heavily on my relationship with my non-immediate family. This was the only time of year, aside from one day at Christmas time, that I got to see any of them.

     

    Flash forward to 2016. My sister is going to have a baby! She flaunts her bump everywhere she goes, and I’m buying little pink and purple things everywhere I go. Forgive me for loving those colors. Baby Squid would have worn them regardless of being a girl. Oh, yeah, she got her nickname because her ultrasound looked like an adorable baby squid.

     

    Over the Summer my grandmother gets sick. She already had cancer, but it got much worse. By the end of July she was saying her last goodbyes with an occasional word to her future great-grandchild. She passed away quickly.

     

    I quit my job, stopped going to class, and felt like life was fleeting. We had always been so close. It felt like a limb had been removed from my body.

     

    After seeking some help, I turned to the positive things in life. My sister was five months pregnant by the end of August. She would be the first grandchild and niece to a family of five children.

     

    As the months went on, my sister got sick. She battled viscous pancreatitis, causing her to be hospitalized for the remainder of the pregnancy. I stopped going to class again so that I could stay at the hospital with her. The whole family took turns.

     

    The doctors kept feeding us good news about the baby, saying she was healthy and the only one to worry about was Jamie, my sister.

     

    Come November, I wondered how Thanksgiving would feel. My grandmother was gone, and Baby Squid was becoming a high risk pregnancy.

     

    Two days before the holiday, Jamie was released. We planned a large feast with our immediate family and her husband’s. That night, she got sick again.

    We rushed her back to the emergency room and waited for several hours to hear anything back from the doctors. Finally, we were told that she would need to stay at the hospital until the baby was born. Three more weeks of hospital time. I was so selfish. I had finals the next week.

     

    One week later, as I was submitting my final assignment for a creative writing class I was in, I got a horrifying phone call. This is where you’ll need those tissues. I’m certainly desperate for some right now.

     

    My sister was dying and so was her baby. Her heartrate had dropped drastically, and Squid’s was nowhere to be found. They rushed her into an emergency c-section without knowing if it would kill them both.

     

    I just wanted a nice Thanksgiving. A nice Christmas. To get finals week over. Yet there I was, sitting in a hospital waiting room, watching my brother-in-law’s parents crying and hugging their son. He kept mumbling something about losing his wife and first child on the same night.

     

    My mom came out from behind a large metal door with red eyes and shaking her head. My niece didn’t make it.

     

    Jamie was still battling the blood loss somewhere in that godforsaken hospital. Would we lose her, too?

     

    Half an hour later a nurse came out to let us know that Jamie was doing fine, but in reality she would be broken for the rest of her life. We walked into her hospital room to see her holding my stillborn niece and babbling incoherently. She was on drugs and could barely comprehend what had happened.

     

    The doctors said it was a freak accident and that nothing could have prevented it. But it still feels like something could have been done.

     

    I am not sharing this story to make you feel sorry for me or for my family. I just want you to know that things can get better. Having grief, especially during the holidays, can be hard. It requires the help of all your loved ones and sometimes professional council.

     

    My sister got pregnant again the next year. With a baby boy. We called him T-rex, because his ultrasound kind of looked like one. I still miss Squid and my grandmother, but it is okay for me to be happy again. And it’s okay to still be sad sometimes.

     

    I have had time to heal. I am back in school full-time. I work retail again, with Thanksgiving off. And I have a beautiful nephew that I love so much.

     

    Try to remember the good things in your life as this holiday of “thanks” nears. I am thankful that my sister is alive. I am thankful for my nephew. I am thankful for all my family. I am thankful for my college education. I am thankful for this in internship so that I can share stories like this one with young girls who may experience similar grief.

     

    Here are some links to grief webpages if things get a little too tough:

    https://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/how-to-help-a-grieving-teen/

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/bereaved-family-friends/coping-grief-teenager/teen-grief-books

    https://www.verywellhealth.com/working-through-grief-10-helpful-tips-1132522

  • Articles, Mental Health

    Mental Health Apps

    Mental Health Apps

    At the peak of the digital age, our phones have become our best friends.

    Applications can serve multiple functions such as scheduling our days, tracking our periods/ moods, shopping, etc. There are also a few unique apps to help us keep up with our mental health. Mental health is as important as physical health and wellness.

    My aunt always told me never to give our sicknesses power over us. She advised me to give it a name to help me understand it. According to www.medicalnewstoday.com, “Approximately 48.3 million adults in the United States [face] a mental health condition each year, and 9.8 million of those are serious conditions that limit the activities of everyday life.” The article cites that, “Among U.S. adults aged 18-44, mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder are now the third most common reason for hospitalization.” Those numbers are serious, and something that we cannot ignore. Below are a few apps that help cognitive behaviors and monitor mental health.

    Calm

    Calm is available on both the Android and the iPhone. It was created to reduce anxiety one may feel throughout the day, helps improve sleep patterns, and help one to feel happier. It was voted as Apple’s “App of the Year,” a year ago. Within the app, there are breathing meditations and different types of music that help you to relax and ground yourself.

    Moodnotes

    Next is Moodnotes. This app is sold on the iPhone for $3.99 and is a digital journal and mood diary. The app helps to track your feelings and helps improve how you think, or view, life. It is similar to writing in your notes app. Both practices help you learn what triggers your sadness, or other emotions. As stated on the Medical News Today website, “Moodnotes will provide suggestions and useful perspectives to reduce stress and enhance well being. Progress is viewable in the helpful insights dashboard.”

    Moodpath

    Lastly, Moodpath, is another free app. The app asks you daily questions to gauge the state of your well being. It attempts to analyze if you are susceptible to forms of depression. The screening process takes into account your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Once you have reached two weeks, it creates a digital document. Bring the app up in your counseling session or to a healthcare professional. Medical News Today says it is substantial and beneficial. There are “150 videos and psychological exercises are available to help you understand your mood and strengthen your mental health.”

    These apps are useful. Incorporate them into your daily routine if in-person resources are not accessible. Be well!