Tag Archives: mental health

Graduation is Terrifying

As of today, Sunday, the 10th of March, there are 48 days until commencement on April 27th. I have a counter going down on my phone. (Why commencement isn’t after the official end of the semester, I have no idea. Someone please let me know the logic behind this.)

It’s exciting, knowing that I’m almost done with this four-year journey. I feel smarter, more mature. I feel qualified for things, which is great.

But I’m also terrified.

After I graduated high school, back in 2012, my world slowly imploded. I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college, or what I wanted to do for a living. I didn’t have a very good grasp of what the world was really like. I was a kid.

So I followed my crush to his college, a very teenage girl thing to do. It was expensive. It was lonely. It was cold. For the first time, I faced the very real possibility that I might be a failure. I was embarrassed. I was depressed. My parents finally convinced me to come home after that first semester. I’m not sure why they let me go in the first place. I was a kid.

It went downhill from there. I had been told from a young age how independent I was. How I was so talented, and would surely be going places. I don’t know what I was thinking. As soon as I got a full-time job, I moved out of my parents’ house. They would have let me stay, but I felt that I shouldn’t.

Life with roommates was tough. I lived mostly with strangers, and boyfriends who broke up with me before our leases ended. Sharing a bed for months with someone you thought was going to love you is hard. Doing it more than once is heartbreaking.

Our apartments were cramped, split three or four ways so we could reasonably afford the rent and utilities. I was the kid in our first apartment, too scared to take initiative or touch anything that wasn’t explicitly mine. To compensate for the lack of control, I became the mom of my second apartment. I managed the money, drove the college kid to school and her friend’s house when she couldn’t take the bus. I dealt with dirty dishes, and took out the trash, and sorted the recycling. Sometimes I cooked, but often I didn’t have the energy to do more than scramble an egg or pour a bowl of cereal for dinner.

A rash started developing on my neck and wrists. My feet hurt. I was constantly tired. I lost 30 pounds and thought because my body seemed different, I must have gained weight, and started eating even less. I wore larger clothes without noticing how baggy they must have been. I didn’t have much money at the end of the month to put into savings. I was stuck.

Was this going to be my life forever?

I hit the last straw, finally, one day, and decided to go back to school. Community college, close to my parents’ house. As long as I was pursuing a degree, I could live with them, without having to pay rent, or buy groceries. The ultimate form of stability: food and shelter. A clearly paved path forward.

Stress had destroyed my health. As soon as I moved back home and settled in, became a person again, and not a mechanism going through the motions, it was like a dam broke inside my body. It stopped trying to hold itself together. The rash that had been threatening my skin in small patches exploded across my entire body–literally, the whole thing. Showers were painful. Clothes were painful. I itched constantly. It was exhausting. I often woke up in the middle of the night with panic attacks: hands shaking, and a feeling in my chest like the balloon of the world was poised on the sharp end of a tiny pin. I started sleeping with the lights on; it sort of helped.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. I could be here for days, trying to describe the few short years that managed to demolish me from the inside out, and the long and infuriating road to recovery. I might look like an ordinary person now, but that’s thanks to years of allergy immunotherapy, a relatively new bi-weekly immunosuppressant injection that keeps my skin from flaring up, hyperthyroid medication, anti-depressants,  and therapy.

So, after all of that, the idea that I’m about to be done with school again, that I have to try any of that life again is absolutely mortifying. I can’t think straight. My brain is trying to come up with hundreds of ideas at once to keep me safe and on my feet and doing something worthwhile, if plan X, Y, and Z don’t happen to work out. There are so many contingency plans trying to build off of one another that I haven’t been able to pick any one of them to start off with. Focusing is difficult. Writing a coherent paper or blog post has become difficult–which, when you’re a writing major, with a typically very natural affinity for writing, only snowballs the issue.

I don’t want to be stuck working for someone else, especially a large corporation with headquarters far removed from its people. I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to start my own businesses and do my own freelance work–and I know I have the skills to do it now–but the uncertainty is crippling. The idea of being stuck somewhere I won’t have control over my life and my mental health is mortifying. The idea that my plans will tank, or won’t take off in the first place, is frightening. The fight or flight response is getting worse by the day.

I’m nearly 25, but I’m just a kid. A kid with invisible illnesses, and only so many spoons. Worlds and worlds of good ideas, but only so much time.

And I am scared.

How to stay happy on social media

My audience is the MDST 485 class and the goal of this blog is to inform my fellow classmates how to use social media in a way that won’t negatively impact their well-being.

Social media is considered a fun way to stay in touch with your friends and family, but it can also cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Keep your mental health in check and consider these ways to make social media a happier place.

1. Keep your phone out of your bedroom.

Use an alarm clock instead of depending on your phone’s alarm to wake you up in the morning. Having your phone on the nightstand is a distraction, and only brings unnecessary technology and the drama that comes with it into your bedroom. Keep your bedroom phone-free so that you can get a good night’s sleep!

2. Adjust what you can see on your feed.

Facebook has options to limit posts from certain friends, or to remove certain content altogether. Utilize this tool to make your feed more enjoyable. Whatever that means for you, do it!

3. Set aside daily periods of non-screen time.

We’ve all experienced that awkward 10 minute break where every single person in the room stares at their phone, sitting in silence and ignoring the people around them. Stop doing that! Make a conscious effort to do something other than check your phone during these breaks and especially first thing when you wake up in the morning. Make an effort!

4. Tell people you’re detoxing.

Your friends will continue to bug you and be personally offended if you don’t reply to all the funny memes they’ve sent you. Make sure to let people know you’re taking a break from social media so that they understand why your online presence is suddenly dark.

5. Fill the void.

If you use that void of free time with nothing better to do as an excuse to check your phone, do something else! Try striking up a conversation with the person next to you instead. And if you really struggle with endlessly scrolling through social media at the end of the day, try doing something else during that time to fill your media hunger. Watch a movie, call your mom, leave your house, whatever! There are lots of entertainment options that are more fulfilling than staring at your phone.

There you have it! Simple ways to keep you happy while still keeping up with the online world. Social media is a great tool for communication, as long as we’re in control of our communication methods and how they make us feel.

Hidden messages in social media?

My audience is the MDST 485 class and the goal of this blog is to inform my fellow classmates about how our modern use of social media can have a negative impact on our lives and our well-being.

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You can see it in your Facebook timeline or Instagram gallery – a digital footprint of your mental health.

It’s not always hidden in the obvious hashtags or inspirational quotes, but rather interpreted through the subtle use of words that might be hinting … you’re feeling kind of blue.

And, literally, your photo feed will focus on the cool blues and grey tones in your pictures when you’re feeling blue. Your words reflect your negative energy, and your pictures will look as blue as your words sound. Along with your lessened posting comes the lessening of likes. Nobody will want to “like” your blue enhanced rainy day picture with sad song lyrics.

That’s exactly the problem. When we take to social media to express our emotions and show the rest of the world a little bit of our “real” life, nobody wants to see the real. We’re expected to show the highlights, the happy things that will make other people happy, too. Even when we are posting seemingly happy pictures, there are hidden clues that prove we aren’t as happy as is posted.

The words we use are more telling about our mental health than we realize. This tool analyzes text and examines the words we’re using in order to tell us more about our emotional state.

Analyze your own Tweets using this free tool at http://analyzewords.com/

The Castells reading talked about how we can change the behaviors of others through the use of social marketing. Even if this type of direct marketing isn’t 100% effective, it’s still a positive way to connect with an audience and spread a message. Sharing positive messages, whether that be for the sake of advertising or through our own personal updates, is infectious to the attitudes of others. Once we address our own behaviors and make positive changes, we can influence others positively through social media.

Social Media, You’re Stressing Me Out

My audience is the MDST 485 class and the goal of this blog is to inform my fellow classmates about how our modern use of social media can have a negative impact on our lives and our well-being.

Three billion people are using social media – and we’re spending an average of 2 hours every day browsing among social platforms. With so much time being spent emotionally buried by the online world, how is this affecting our personal lives? Our well-being?

It seems as though when the day is over and our work is complete, there’s still something to stress about. We nervously post a picture on Facebook hoping that it gets enough “likes” to make us feel good, but at what cost? The virtual world of Facebook likes will follow us throughout the day and night, haunting both our dreams and our daydreams. The problem with social media is that it never ends. It almost feels like it’s impossible to turn it off. While scrolling through our feeds looking at cute puppies and cookie recipes, we’re also reading the negativity posted by others who are looking to vent. Even if we don’t comment or get involved with that negativity, it affects our mindset and adds more stress to our thoughts. Venting online can feel good for a brief amount of time. But social media is turning into a trap for all our emotions. And those emotions follow us around wherever we go, creating unnecessary stress in our lives.

The reading by Castells discussed how the Internet absorbs information and retains that information for a long time. When that information all over our Facebook feed is emotional and personally related to us, it can get hard to digest over time. BBC is exploring how social media affects our well-being in their series #LikeMinded, and they hope to provide solutions that could help us all live a happier, healthier digital life.

http://www.bbc.com/future/columns/likeminded

 

Your Mental Health, You Should Care

Being a college student is stressful in itself due to deadlines, major projects, and weekly assignments. Many students work a full time job while juggling multiple courses and some students have families too that they need to take care of. Personally, I have had a terrible past year for my mental health due to a stressful job and major life events but I have recently been working on bettering my mental health by leaving that stressful job and starting a new one that is a lot less stressful with a lot of fulfillment throughout my day.

When trying to understand how to improve my mental health, I stumbled upon a study from the University of Michigan (www.uhs.umich.edu) that provides 10 ways to better your mental health and they include sub points as well. Such as, take care of your body by drinking more water, get enough sleep, or eat nutritious meals. There are so many important aspects to improving your mental health and even the littlest of steps can make a huge difference.

As a college student, I often stay up late working on homework or writing papers and then I work early in the morning so my sleep schedule gets ruined during each semester. Sleep is a very important factor in maintaining a adequate mental health routine. There are a lot of other factors associated with not getting enough sleep which are laid out in www.livingly.com

I wish you all the best of luck with improving your mental health because there is always room for improvement especially during the semester. I wish you all the best of luck and hopefully these links come in handy.