Mental Health

Despite my diagnosis… Today I am Happy

Raven Resch

Contributor 

Despite my diagnosis, today I am happy, but I couldn’t always say that. I’ve had days of darkness where my own mind was destroying me from the inside out. 

I had learned that there was no place more frightening than the places my own mind can take me. I felt hopeless and helpless; there was a monster inside of me, torturing me. I felt guilt and shame. How could someone with a 2-year-old son and a rather normal life feel this way? But my life was not always normal, I ran from my past, but it finally caught up to me. 

You can’t run from undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, depression and OCD. You can’t run, it will always catch up with you. I could no longer run from the thoughts that were destroying me, my mind was so loud that even my own screams couldn’t block out the noise. I wanted nothing more than to die, but I know personally how suicide can affect a family. My only way of giving up, was giving in. 

I took myself to the emergency room and gave into whatever they wanted me to do. At this point I did not want recovery for me, I still wanted to die, but for my family I knew I had to do something. I was transported to the psychiatric hospital and from there to an acute partial hospitalization program, and it was there in that program where I got my life back. 

I was no longer just living, I felt like I was actually alive, a feeling I hadn’t felt for years. At the exact point where I felt I was giving up on life, I was actually accepting recovery. 

Today, because I accepted help I can say that I am happy. There is no doubt that some days are still hard but there are no days that are not worth all the lessons I am learning. I am turning my days of torture into days of success. I finally know what I want in life and that is to help people who are feeling exactly the way I felt. To let them know that there is hope even when you can’t see it, to speak out against the mental health stigma, and to end the silence that is slowing killing us inside. 

If you are struggling, please know there is help. Some resources you can utilize are the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255, the Crisis Text Line if you text HOME to 741741, and the Counseling Center in the Student Community Center, Room 118. 

Editor’s Note: If you are in the process of recovery we encourage you to join the members of Active Minds, Writers Club and the Youngtown Edition to become more than your diagnosis and to share your story, contact youngtownedition@gmail.com to find out how. 

Originally Published in the 2-13-2019 issue of the Youngtown Edition

Despite my Diagnosis… Hold on, pain ends.

By Rachel Eckert

Contributor

 

Hope.
Hold on, pain ends.
I hear this phrase over and over again. Whether it be by professionals or friends, everybody tells me that. I knew it was true. In theory, anyway. But I always had such a hard time seeing that and understanding that. I didn’t understand how the anguish I had felt for so many years could ever end. Even if I only temporarily felt better, it was better than where I was. I never expected to magically get better. Because that isn’t how it happens. You don’t wake up one day and tell yourself “I’m not depressed anymore” and go on your merry way. I know, however, that is how some people think. It doesn’t go away overnight, that sadness deep in your belly.
I knew that much, but never thought about what came next. In the past few months, I have learned that when you are so sad and hurt all of the time, a slight improvement feels miles better than where you came from. Unfortunately, that slight improvement also feels like you crawled a mile to get there.
I was at rock bottom. No, I was lower than rock bottom. I was in rock bottoms basement. It’s a place I never realized existed until my rock bottom somehow turned even lower. The depression and anxiety were getting the best of me. I felt awful all of the time. But I am not asking for your pity. That’s not where I am anymore. When you’re in rock bottoms basement, you can’t get any lower. And for that I was thankful.
One morning, I decided to take recovery head on. I had plenty of setbacks and I didn’t feel better immediately. In fact, I almost felt worse because of the fact that I didn’t feel better. It took me months to get where I am now. To some, where I am is still so low. But for me, this is the best I have ever felt.
Hold on, pain ends. Maybe not right now. Maybe not in three months. The way you feel won’t be the same. I am still depressed and I am anxious, but it does not pain me to be alive. It does not pain me to get out of bed every morning. You may never feel 100%, but the way you feel now cannot stay this way forever. So when you are sad and want to give up, have hope. Hold on, pain ends.
If you are struggling, please know there is help. Some resources you can utilize are the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255, the Crisis Text Line if you text HOME to 741741, and the Counseling Center in the Student Community Center, Room 118. 

Editor’s Note: If you are in the process of recovery we encourage you to join the members of Active Minds, Writers Club and the Youngtown Edition to become more than your diagnosis and to share your story, contact youngtownedition@gmail.com to find out how. 

Active Minds destigmatizes mental health issues

BY TYLER BARTH
Contributor

Boxes filled with postcards populate the Student Community Center and the Cohen Cafe at County College of Morris as Active Minds spreads mental health awareness through their Post Secret event.

Both students and faculty have been asked by the club to fill these cards out with a secret that they have never shared with anyone outside of the family and anonymously post them on a display in the SCC. According to humanities and social science major and Active Minds co-president Jennie Abat, the event was held for the first time at CCM in 2016, and was a success, receiving over 100 entries.

Frank Warren started the Post Secret program several years ago on postsecret.com, and has published at least three books, explained Abat. The idea has spread to many colleges and universities across the country. According to a Freakonomics blog hosted by the New York Times, Warren started the program in 2005 and, after two years, was seeing three million unique visitors to his site each month. He even launched an app in September of 2011, but it was shut down three months later due to malicious posts.

“These secrets don’t all have to be tragic and, you know, extremely personal in that manner,” said Shelsey Vazquez, a humanities and social science major and the co-president of Active Minds. “They can also be funny, we welcome that, too.”

The pair have asked students to, if possible, decorate the card as well. Abat said she would discourage offensive statements.

“It’s surprising how you think like, ‘Oh, I’m probably the only one going through this,’ and then you read someone else’s story and you’re like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not alone. Someone actually has gone through this before,’” Abat said. Abat said some of the secrets written on the cards in 2016 were varied and insightful, including two transgender individuals who had not ‘come out’ to anyone, several cases of abuse, and one student who was haunted by the fact that they had been forced to kill someone while serving overseas.

Additionally, the college will take a look at the cards that are submitted and see if there are any trending problems.

Abat and Vazquez said they would like to ultimately turn the secrets into a book, if possible.

The cards will be available for at least one week, and the display for them will be up until further notice.

Crisis centers provide voice in the dark

BY AMANDA ALLER
Managing Editor

A confluence of despair, desperation and sadness can be enough to drive anyone to a dangerous mental state and here at The County College of Morris and beyond there are services being offered around the clock for those who are in crisis.

Mental health continues to be a pressing issue for young and old people alike and at CCM the Counseling Services Office, located in Room 118 of the Student Community Center, provides support for students year round.

“In the event that a student is in crisis on campus… one of us would be the one to address that crisis,” said John Urgola, a counselor at the Counseling Services Office. “The objective is not to treat someone for a long period of time. If someone needs additional long-term care we have a lot of community resources available for them.”

The office can refer students to therapists for additional help outside of CCM, since the counseling available here is meant to be short term.

“Everything is confidential,” Urgola said. “We are bound by the ethics of our profession and the law to maintain confidentiality with the exception of a few rare instances. Primarily, those instances are if that person presents a risk to others or themselves.”

But for the times when the campus services are unavailable there are a slew of local and non-local numbers that offer assistance 24 hours a day across all seven days a week.

St. Clare’s Hospital in Dover has a Psychiatric Emergency Service

Assessment, crisis intervention, and referrals for people in crisis, available 24 hours a day at (973) 625-0280. Morristown Memorial Hospital offers Psychiatric Emergency Services at (973) 540-0100 as does Newton Medical Center at (973) 383-0100.

Nationally, for those who are at their breaking point there is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800) 273-8255. While many of these support lines offer gateways to further help, all provide an ear to those who need it most.  

CCM graduate Laura Jacobson volunteered at a suicide prevention lifeline, giving her insight and advice in helping people who are struggling with mental illness.

“I think knowing that you helped somebody through some kind of crisis or even knowing that you’re the one person that they can talk to,” Jacobson said. “They don’t have family or friends, so they just need somebody to talk to when it comes to everyday things and it feels really good knowing that you’re just, there.”

According to Jacobsen, there was also frustration at not being able to help more.

“Knowing that you can’t truly help [is the worst part],”Jacobsen said. “You’re not allowed to give advice and we have to remain neutral because we’re a listening hotline and we’re not therapists. We don’t know if they’re telling the truth so we don’t want to give them advice without really knowing what’s going on. But we can be there to help them figure it out.”

Jacobson works in a call center at an undisclosed location, which usually has two people volunteering at a time to speak with callers.

The range of callers is vast, Jacobson said and she has fielded calls from people as young as 11 and as old a 70.  She’s talked to veterans and people with significant hearing loss.

“Typically for veterans we refer them to a separate hotline specifically for them where the listeners usually are veterans so they’re better suited for the callers needs.” Jacobson said. “We also have a texting hotline so I think people who are having hearing problems or are just shy usually do that.”

But adapting to the variety in patrons as well as handling the delicate situations takes tact and training. In order to become qualified to volunteer for the lifeline, there’s an initial application that needs to be sent in following extensive training that’s 50-70 hours a week and involves learning about different kinds of mental disorders, the effects that drugs have on the brain, and how to talk to someone who’s on drugs.

“And that’s not even getting to the suicide part yet.” Jacobson said. “Then we go through a weekend which is 16 hours, 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock on Saturday and Sunday. That involves learning how to talk somebody out of committing suicide and you get a license at the end.”

After all of that work, the payoff is sometimes dampened by the disrespect of a vocal minority.

“We get a lot of prank phone calls and that really upsets me because these are people who don’t get paid to do what they do and I think to take advantage of a really good thing like that is really messed up,” Jacobson said. “That’s taking time away from people who really need it.”

Ultimately, Jacobsen said the reward is worth it.

“It’s really nice to go home at the end of the day and feel like you saved someone’s life or you made someone smile, who desperately needed that. I had someone say to me ‘I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t picked up the phone.’” Jacobson said. “There’s no better cure for sadness or feeling like you’re unworthy than that. It’s an incredible feeling.”

The misconception about her work, Jacobson said, is people’s belief that to help someone who is suffering, you need to understand exactly how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. “We all understand what it’s like to feel lonely, to feel like nobody cares. We all understand what it’s like to feel like we don’t have any worth. We all understand what those feelings are like and that’s what we need to relate to. If you can understand how that felt to you, you can understand what that person is feeling.” Jacobson said. “Just convey to them that you get it.”

Through her time working for the suicide prevention hotline, Jacobson said she learned some solid advice when it comes to mental health.

“There’s always someone out there that cares. I care. Everybody that works there cares,” Jacobsen said. “There’s always help out there and people volunteering at the lifeline aren’t going to judge you for feeling a certain way.”