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Uniqueness or Assimilation

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by Jon Finkel

Jon Finkel of Colgate University

Jon Finkel of Colgate University

I am my own greatest critic. Imagine if, in your mind, you spend most of your waking moments reciting and preparing for every conversation with friends, family members, and acquaintances before those dialogues actually occur. You consistently judge each word that leaves your lips. In addition, you feel as though every social interaction you have seems mechanized, simulated, and tenuous. These are alls some of the characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), an underdiagnosed mental illness affecting a widely estimated 1.6% – 5.9% of the U.S. adult population (according to NAMI). For me, this disorder is reflective of an unfortunate interpersonal saga that has rewritten itself time and time again, leaving behind an increasingly damaged self-confidence and a paranoia unleashed. I have seen unsteady friendships built on idealization and devaluation crumble through my fingertips. In other words, I put many individuals up on a pedestal one day and the next, they fall victim to my slightest criticisms. I have been unable to develop profound relationships due to my fears that these interactions would ultimately lead to abandonment and loneliness; instead, I have created a loose federation of acquaintances.

I never had an easy time answering the question “Who am I?” because I couldn’t consistently, confidently and independently come up with an answer on my own. I felt like a social chameleon, a real-life version of the Woody Allen film Zelig.I feel miserable when I find myself alone, with my thoughts, and with myself. There is not a single person I hated and do still hate more than myself.

I find that in order to love others, you must first love yourself. I often advertised myself to mental health professionals as a misanthrope – I despised other people. But I realize now that I only hated other people because I detested myself the most. I often tell myself “I embarrass myself by living” fearful of how others perceive and judge me, arguing that this is a social world and we must be well liked by others in order to survive. My greatest dilemma each day in the morning was always “Do I want to be unique today or do I want to fit in?” This unintended inability to nail down any passion or identity can also be described as a hallmark of BPD. Nothing was natural to me; I felt like a subservient robot, trained to follow orders and codes from others in my milieu.

As far back as I can remember, I have never felt grounded in any activity, place, or most importantly, with any person. Loneliness has become my greatest constant. Seldom do I feel at ease, even if that is how I seem. When I am with other people, I yearn to be alone, but when I am by myself, I desire the company of others.

Throughout my semester of studying abroad in Denmark during the fall of 2014, I wanted to get back to Colgate University. When I arrived back at Colgate in the spring, I wanted to go home to New Jersey. When I got home to New Jersey for vacation, I wanted to go back to Denmark. This truly vicious cycle of feeling out-of-place no matter where I am is exhausting. Most people have their ‘happy place.’ I don’t. It can, in large part, be attributed to this mental illness of BPD, one in which I struggle to find a vital and stable self-identity and comfortable environment.

It is now several months after graduation and I see myself fighting with the thoughts in my mind on a constant basis just as I have for my entire life. My many different negative thoughts coalesce into a major belief that I am nobody and that I lack an identity or a true passion. I live in absolutely constant fear of abandonment and judgment from my peers. I dwell in persistent paranoia of what others think of me. I often feel lonely, even if surrounded by people who I consider my friends. The problem is that I can never become engrossed in the now. I’m always thinking of other places, other moments in time, and other people.

Today, I have found that therapy and medication help to mitigate the symptoms of BPD. The most effective pieces of treatment for me, however, have been to remain open with how I have been feeling and also, to place myself in social situations time and time again to improve my interpersonal relationships. I have been a staunch believer that the longer one keeps pain and anger inside, the more difficult it becomes to combat the destructive thoughts. It is always beneficial, in my opinion, to be transparent about your damaging thoughts rather than to hold them in, lest you do something you will regret later on. I am grateful to have family members and some friends I can speak with; everyone does not have that luxury. It is important to note that transparency is a coping mechanism I have relied on and might not apply to everyone else who has these thoughts. I still often struggle with emotional regulation, but I have developed increasing clarity as to how I can ease the strain of my negative thoughts. That being said, what is therapeutic for one person is not necessarily helpful for someone else. A lot of therapy is about trial and error and finding out what combination is right for a specific person.

I remember back in the 6th grade, in lieu of weekend homework assignments, my science teacher instructed the class to “Follow your bliss.” It is a simple message, but a tough one for me to attain. Happiness is my goal and I intend on reaching it.

It’s Not JUST a Panic Attack

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by Kianna Papele

Kianna Papele of Seton Hall UniversityI thought I was dying. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was racing uncontrollably, my body wouldn’t stop shaking and my hands and feet were numb. With a towel wrapped around my wet body, I curled up against the wall of the pool deck wondering why nobody had called an ambulance yet. Everyone else saw what I couldn’t; I wasn’t dying; I was having a panic attack.
“If I’m only having a panic attack, why can’t I walk?” I wondered. Here I was, experiencing this awful thing, with my thoughts influenced by societal stigmas. While some people have one panic attack, and go on to never experience one again, I was not so lucky. After deciding that it was time to seek some professional help, I was diagnosed not only with a panic disorder, but anxiety and depression as well. Throw in the fact that some would even classify this as PTSD from a health scare I had a few months earlier, and I was the perfect mental illness storm.
I very quickly realized that these things aren’t only in your head. You don’t make these things up; they can’t be controlled just by thinking happy thoughts. These are real diseases, caused by real chemical imbalances. Just because there aren’t medical tests for them, doesn’t make it any less real. And there are real, physical side effects to them. Ask anyone who’s experienced it; intense headaches, changes in appetite, weight loss/gain, extreme mood swings, sleep problems, gastrointestinal issues; the list goes on and on. People use their symptoms to explain their mental illness because society understands that better.
The most surprising thing that I learned going through this, is how little society talks about mental health. Although there has been a huge surge in awareness recently, as a society we are still nowhere near where we need to be. Why can’t we talk about mental health the same way we talk about the flu? Many of my close friends reached out to me after they found out I was struggling and expressed that they’ve experienced similar things. People who I had known for years and had kept their issues so well hidden from the outside world. I’m so glad they were able to confide in me, but it also is upsetting that we feel the need to hide it. There should be open conversation about these things, so people don’t have to feel ashamed to admit that they are ill.
If you have a friend or family member who you know or think is struggling with mental illness, reach out and let them know you are available for them. The biggest and greatest thing you can do for them is listen and be there. Ask them what they need from you. They may not know right away, but they will figure it out. Respect their wishes and also know that sometimes tough love is the best love. They will get through this, but they need you.
If you are struggling with mental illness, know that there is ALWAYS a light at the end of every tunnel, and the sun rises again each morning. Reach out to a therapist or doctor and if you aren’t comfortable with that, confide in a friend, a parent, someone you trust. People are there to help you recover. Those who love you, always will.  We don’t always realize that. You don’t have to hide what is happening. I went from crying each day claiming I wouldn’t be able to make it to the next, to now being an upbeat college student who is comfortable enough with what I went through to share it and hopefully help others.  Smile and tell yourself that tomorrow will be better because, eventually, it will be.

How Much Is Awareness Needed?

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Stefanie Kaufman of Brown University

Stefanie Kaufman of Brown University

As a freshman in high school, I was part of a community grieving the loss of a fellow student and friend, Brittany Marie Petrocca. In terms of giving students space to heal properly and process what had happened, the conversations were shut down, and students who spoke up were essentially silenced. There was an overwhelming feeling that any mention of what had happened was glamorizing suicide, and if we spoke about it, we would encourage more students to take their lives as well. It felt like the argument used to curb education against contraceptives and alcohol, etc.; and I was frustrated by our incredibly basic overview in our health classes in high school.
Furthermore, I had ben living with a fairly severe case of OCD since about the age of 12, and I would soon reach a personal breaking point in high school following a sexual assault my senior year of high school. I was also engaging in self-destructive behaviors, while I watched individuals in my social circle mock those actions as attention-seeking, or silly. But as I silently lived with my deteriorating mental health, I was able to perform to a standard that was deemed socially acceptable, and continue to perform academically well — two factors that assure one is not mentally ill. Thus, I felt an urgency and need to use my abilities to advocate for a better system.
At first, our mission was fairly simplistic — focusing on just erasing the stigma (hence, the name!). But as I’ve grown, our mission has grown as well. Though we’d like to imagine a world without stigma, it is still very real for individuals. We can tell people all we’d like to seek help, but what does that do to address the traumas individuals may face once they do seek that help? What if we encourage someone to come out as mentally ill, and they lose their job? What if we tell students to just ask for that accommodation, and then it is denied? I truly starting viewing this issue as much more complex and dynamic, with many factors impacting mental health/illness besides access to care.
At Brown, I’ve worked with a number of students (including myself) who have felt discriminated against, unsupported, or disregarded by the system. In my perspective, it is not enough to shuffle students to these resources. We must also hold these systems of care and support accountable. Personally, our main solution is through peer-led interventions of support, and we’ve seen really remarkable changes through our Peer Mental Health Advocate (PMHA) program at Brown University, a full-functioning peer counseling and advocacy service free for all students. Students are matched one-on-one with a trained PMHA who has lived experience with a mental illness. Students may choose a PMHA that has a similar race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, or area of experience with mental illness. We work to build comprehensive safety plans and coping skills with our students, and help connect them to whichever services they are able to/would like to work with. We work to advocate for our students, and help sending e-mails, making phone calls, and holding resources accountable. Most importantly, we provide ongoing support, and follow our students through their use with these services so they do to fall through the cracks.
At the end of the day, we know what it takes to help a student with mental illness stay in college. Because we share lived experience, we have a unique ability to help our fellow students achieve an increased quality of life/maintain recovery/engage in harm reduction, and explain clinical and medial terms in a way that the average person can understand. Our PMHAs also offer emotional support during crises and otherwise, and we connect to larger systems of wraparound care, such as 24/7 Crisis Lines.
In terms of whether or not the negative stigma associated with mental health/illness is heightened in a collegiate atmosphere, I definitely think that is subjective and dependent on what type of environment you are used to. Some students will come from a fairly conservative place, or perhaps come from a cultural or religious background that doesn’t talk about mental illness in the same type of open way that colleges are now attempting to. By and large, many colleges are engaging in awareness campaigns or making mental health more of a priority, but on an individual social scale, it can all depend on your network of friends, and how knowledgable they are in terms of perpetuating stigma and appropriate ways to support people living with mental illness. In addition, as I stated above, many students are coming forward and citing specific instances of discrimination and stigma stemming from university administrators, so we also need to practice what we preach.
I have definitely witnessed a connotation of mental illness with weakness, and have met individuals who believe that students are just making excuses, faking it, or aren’t trying hard enough when it comes to mental illness. If a student asks for a Dean’s note before an exam, they just must not feel prepared, and are finding a way out of it. We can see this attitude reflected in the current debates regarding trigger warnings, which to me, is a hidden debate of who deserves to feel comfortable while receiving an education.
It is important to remember that these institutions were treated for white, heterosexual, cis, men. When a system was not designed for you, even with accommodations, privilege is still ingrained in the structure itself. Project LETS also exists as a chapter on campus, and we have seen that uniting as a group allows individuals with mental illness to affect structural change — making others aware of systemic oppression and erasure of our narratives, and to enact solutions to these institutional injustices. Through this, we take ample time to support ourselves as well, and work to educate our fellow students; always through the perspective of those with lived experience.

What Depression Actually Feels Like

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By Alexa Code

Alexa Code of Wesleyan University

Alexa Code of Wesleyan University

You can come to school. Everyone is sad.

Your red lips, cracked from the wind hitting your face, exposing your drops of cold air.

But all I could ever see was the gray of your face, like an old china doll, with slightly different shades as you moved outwards from your nose.

Your lips were nothing but a straight line.

I plead to be smiling, genuinely, but when people tell me a joke no expression can deteriorate the straight line.  When people ask me if I am okay, my eyes find power and my mouth finds attraction up above, but I know I am not.

I know people care, but my brain can’t wrap itself around the concept comfortably.  It spits it out and I can’t understand why other people can care for me, even though I know I care for others.  I don’t know if I see other people as human, merely companions whom I can communicate with.

I promise I try to understand everything, but gibberish seems to enter my mind when I hear your English words, and nothing can be understood.

Everyone says they understand, there’s that word again, understand.  But our DNA is different, my memory is different.  Their 5 year old self was in bed sleeping while mine was crying. You can’t say you understand when understanding for yourself and for others is different.  I don’t understand your happiness but I know you are happy.

This was last year.

My want to recover was so strong but felt impossible.  I kept trying to explain to people why I couldn’t believe them instead of trying to actually believe them.

I knew them, their words were genuine, their gestures were sincere.

I have learned to smile genuinely.  

I have learned to believe their actions.

I have learned to live, and live happily, full of love and support and desire.

I am not ashamed of my thoughts, I am not ashamed of my illness, and you shouldn’t be either.

Bringing in other people, exposing them to everything I have thought lifted a weight off my shoulders.  

I learned to trust people, and honestly found the most genuine and amazing friends.  They knew I couldn’t overcome this alone and they forced me to see that too and pretty soon I was figuring out how to live, successfully, happily even though the stigma is that I shouldn’t.  

If you leave with anything I want it to be this: the stigma around depression or any mental illness isn’t what you should listen to because it doesn’t explain anything accurately.  Listen to your own body, if you’re struggling alone, find help.  There are people who want to help you, you don’t need to go on alone.

The Mental Health Advice I Wish I Knew Before College…

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By Rachel Silton

Rachel Silton of Brandeis University

Rachel Silton of Brandeis University

Going into my senior year of college is a surreal experience. I feel like I biked up to the top of a steep, rocky mountain and am almost at the point where I can coast down the other side, feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. However, getting to the top hasn’t certainly been easy, and I had to take many rest breaks along the way. Now that I can see the beginning of my journey in a different way than before, I want to provide some advice that I wish I had been given at the bottom of the mountain.

Remember where you started

Whether you drove to college or took a plane, you came from somewhere. There, there are still people that love you and will always be there for you. They only want you to succeed and be happy, and they are more than willing to listen to you and encourage you whenever you are having trouble. Getting homesick is part of the protocol, and that can easily escalate into something more serious if you don’t have a solid support system that you can rely on.

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene

I know you’re thinking, “well obviously I know how to take care of myself, I am not a kid anymore”. For me, when I start to get depressed or anxious, I just kind of forget to shower/wash my hair. And then when I feel gross emotionally and then physically, it just reinforces my depression or anxiety. It is so crucial to remember to take care of yourself physically because it really has an effect on your mood and mental health. I know it seems like a silly thing to remember, but it helps tremendously.

Prioritize your happiness

There are so many pre-conceived notions of college and how you will go out every day of the weekend, and sometimes that’s true! However, that doesn’t mean you have to go out 3 nights in a row if you don’t want to. Always choose the option that’s going to make YOU happy, and no one else. When you’re happy, you’re able to be the best version of yourself, and that’s the most important thing.

Use your voice

It may be easier to stay quiet because you don’t know anyone and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. But if there is something bothering you with a roommate, classmate, or even a professor, there will be someone that wants to listen to what you have to say. Even if you just have a question, your RAs and people higher up value your opinion and your well-being.

Don’t forget to breathe

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In the first month or two of college, there is so much going on and you will want to experience all of it. Because of this, it is vital that you are able to periodically take a “breather.” Watch an episode of your favorite show, take a nap, or explore your college town. Checking in with yourself and slowing down is an important part of staying well-balanced. You don’t have to do all the clubs and take all the classes all at once. Don’t worry, you have 4 wonderful, tumultuous years ahead of you and you will have every experience you could have ever asked for out of college.

Enjoy the ride!

My Life as a WEBeMED Summer Intern

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by Alexa Hirschberg

Alexa Hirschberg of Emory University

Alexa Hirschberg of Emory University

My experience as a WEBeMED intern exposed me to a variety of innovative concepts, interpersonal dynamics and problem-solving tactics. The WEBeMED team made a conscious effort to get me acclimated as quickly as possible so that I could dive into the company and bring my own ideas and opinions to the table. Throughout the summer, I primarily focused on three projects: expansion, marketing and development.

I calculated effective expansion locations for providers, students and universities with an expansion-scoring model. Each of the WEBeMED summer interns was assigned different states to manage under this project. In this, I analyzed statewide telemedicine and telepsychology laws for New York and Georgia; I assessed which universities have students with the greatest demand for our services as well as measured the quantity and quality of mental health resources in universities’ surrounding areas. This project enabled WEBeMED to allocate specific regions and universities that will benefit most from our services, providing the company with a starting point as to where to begin successful expansion.

I also developed a marketing plan, which was exciting in that my proposition was actualized. I curated a program called “Student Stories”, which I designed to incorporate mental health stories into campus life. My proposal included an outline of what means I would use to make this outlet popular, what guidelines I would put in place to ensure that it is both meaningful and beneficial as well as how often the publication would run. Within days of sending this document to my boss, my proposal had been passed along to the entire company. Over next few weeks we had multiple conferences and meetings to discuss the marketing plan and eventually, my proposal was turned into a reality. I thought that this exercise was meant to spark ideas and that it would not be taken as a serious proposition, however I was very wrong. Every individual working at WEBeMED, no matter their title, shows me respect and values my ideas – they want to learn from me as much as I want to learn from them. I find that this aspect of WEBeMED is extremely unique.

Working remotely was a learning experience in itself; developing an understanding of the importance of consistent communication among co-workers was essential to my success at WEBeMED. Weekly meetings held on Google Hangouts, and through the WEBeMED platform allowed for me to feel as though I was working right next to my co-interns and bosses despite distance.

The support of the WEBeMED staff is consistent and genuine: my bosses held conferences to discuss resume building, developing professional networks and future opportunities. By working with WEBeMED, I had access to mentors who have experience in the field of public health. Our communication was so fluid that I plan to continue this experience through the next semester as I head off to study abroad in London. My summer internship not only provided me with mentorship and invaluable lessons, but also inspired me to continue to build my future around mental health.

One Year Later

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By Nicholas Green

Nicholas Green of Tulane University

Nicholas Green of Tulane University

A year ago today, I tried to kill myself. I sat in my dorm room alone at 2 a.m. acknowledging that this would be the last time I would be alive. There were three notes in my desk drawer waiting for my mother, father and brother. I was empty and numb, wanting all of the pain I had gone through for a whole year to end. I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to be free. Free of breaking down in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Free of smiling in front of my friends and family, knowing that I was simply moving muscles in my face and not feeling a thing. Free of eating my favorite food, hearing my favorite joke, listening to my favorite song and watching everything that once gave me so much happiness bring nothing but apathy.
What kept me alive wasn’t a will to live or a desire to fight, but the fact that I had forgotten to write several notes: one for my roommate and best friend who would be the unfortunate one to find me, a note to my friends who had given me so much love at Tulane, and a note to my best friend from home who I had slowly distanced myself from so he wouldn’t have to worry about me.
I had to tell them I was sorry for whatever pain I might cause them. I had to tell them how much I loved them and cared about them. I decided to live for one more day, write down the last words I would ever say and finally leave a place that brought me so much pain. When I woke up the next morning, however, I finally felt something I hadn’t felt over an entire year: a desire to live. I knew it wouldn’t last, and immediately texted my friend before the feeling disappeared to let her know I attempted suicide.
After she contacted student services and I met with a counselor, a weight that pushed down on me day after day was lifted. I finally took my first breath of freedom that I hadn’t known for so long. I could finally truly laugh again, truly enjoy the things I once loved again and truly feel alive again. I knew how much of an uphill battle I had ahead of me in taking on my depression, but that brief moment of life as I had once known it has pushed me everyday to get to where I am now. I no longer wake up and feel as if I am tied down to my bed, unable to go to class, be with my friends or even eat. I feel alive.
For those who don’t understand what severe depression is like, and I was once one of those, picture everything that you enjoy. Now think of the emotion you feel when you see a rock and imagine what it would be like to look at that rock and see how plain, boring and uninspiring it is. It’s like knowing that it once made you feel so happy, excited and full of life. Everything that drove you to study, to try to make a difference in the world, to discover your future, to find a new lover becomes nothing more than bland indifference. The only thing you start to feel is the pain of knowing that anything that could make you feel happy and connected to this world can’t. Numbness and pain become the only two emotions you know.
For those who struggle with depression, there is only one piece of advice I have. You cannot do it alone. You may think you can handle it, or that you don’t want to burden your friends or family with what you are going through, but it is a disease. If you learned you had an illness, you wouldn’t wait it out. You would go to a doctor and receive treatment. The same is with depression.
If it’s not taken care of, it will consume you. You have to push yourself to talk to someone who can help you. You have to push yourself to talk to your friends and family. Remind yourself that they love you and want to be there for you. There is an end to the emptiness you feel. With your friends, family and whomever else you reach out to, you can fight back to the thing that is causing so much pain. It will be one hell of a fight, but it’s a fight that is worth fighting.

 
Originally Posted By: The Hullabaloo

How Can We Feel Safe?

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By Kathryn DeWitt

Kathryne DeWitt from University of Pennsylvania

Kathryn DeWitt of University of Pennsylvania

How can we be sure you’ll be safe?

I remember the first time that someone asked me that question. I had been doing my class readings at a table in the dorm when my residential advisor asked me to talk with the house dean. We had walked down the stairs to the dean’s apartment in the dorm, where I was now on the phone while the dean talked in hushed tones with the RA.

A snowstorm raged outside in the Philadelphia streets, shutting down the university.  The urgent voice on the other side wasn’t worried about frostbite or violence.  No, he was worried about suicide. The psychiatrist on the phone line suggest that I go into the emergency room.

Fast forward a year, after a hospitalization, treatment, and internship at Active Minds, I’m in my freshmen dorm, sitting across from another student. Instead of hearing the words, I am saying them:

Are you safe, right now?  

On the Sunday of the massacre in Orlando, I had planned to go to my home church, the church I grew up. The pit of my stomach was churning with dread, but maybe I wanted to go back to the bliss of helping with Sunday school, singing the songs that even today comfort me, and seeing the families who had walked with my family and for the entire 20 years of my life. Maybe I wanted to please my parents, who have grown so much in the past years, by going just one time this summer. It’s not that I have pushed off religion, rather it is worry that someone will say something…again.

Our community is small. In the time that I have been in college, they started sitting in a circle instead of lining up rows because they weren’t filling the rows. I take a seat in the back of the circle after the obligatory hellos and hugs. My pastor, who my parents have had conversations with after I came out, started the morning announcements with the news of America’s largest mass shooting and a moment of silence. After praying for the families and victims, he turned to the youth of our small community challenged us to lead the service next Sunday. He turned to us, the people who had grown up in this community, who had seen our parents cobble together this space, who made up the majority of the service that day. He asked us:

I want to hear your thoughts on the word “Safety”…

This past Sunday, it felt like the perceived, though false, notion of safety, of progress for the LGBT community fell away.  One year after marriage equality, during Pride month, just when the fight for equitable access to restrooms was gaining ground.  Especially for the Latino community, who was disproportionately affected by the shooting since it was Latin night on Sunday, a safe space was destroyed, stolen. Queer people are asking each other:

Are we safe?

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, created the hierarchy of needs to express that the different needs build on each other to form a person. In his pyramid, safety comes after the physiological needs. And after safety comes love and belonging.  I cannot help but remember the psychological torture I put myself through as I questioned my sexuality in the context of my religion. I saw my queerness as jeopardizing any love and belonging that had come from my church community that meant so much to me.

I couldn’t be… I dared not speak the words as a freshman in college, on the other side of the country. I was having enough difficulty as it was with friendships, feelings of inadequacy, smarter peers and curves, and this strange phenomena called snow, I couldn’t add another issue on top of all this. Not when I was away from home for the first time, not when freshmen year is supposed to be the best year of your life, not when I wanted to prove that everything was great because I was at an ivy league school. All these thoughts collided and coalesced into increasing anxiety and increasing depression that rendered me suicidal and unsafe.

Queer youth are at higher risk for suicide and substance abuse than their straight cis peers. As we reflect on the lives of the victims of Orlando and begin to hear the stories of the survivors, I hope that we also keep in mind that safety is not just physical but can also be psychological and emotional. After achieving the need for physical safety, we need love and belonging.  For those of us in the LGBT community with mental health disorders, this can pose a formidable challenge. Through treatment and time for growth, I found my own safety once again in learning to love others and belong to many communities (the LGBT community, mental health advocates, and so many others). As I reconcile the fear that has been struck into my heart by Orlando that I am unsafe, I counter this by knowing that there is support for me, love for me, belonging for me. And those feelings are things that no one can take away.

Tonight, I as I fall asleep in my childhood room, surrounded by a family that loves me, I know I am safe in the ways that I can control. I am fortunate to have this support while being out but not everyone is out or has a supportive family. If you are struggling after the Orlando massacre, there are resources out there that are spaces where you are loved, supported and safe. The Trevor Project offers a suicide prevention line specifically for queer youth at 866-488-7386. Additionally, the Trans Lifeline, staffed by trans people for trans people, is available at (877) 565-8860. The Crisis Text Line is also available at 741-741.

 

(Photo from New York Times, 2016)