Let’s Talk About Suicide

At the end of the day, we need to all stand together to help prevent suicide.

September is Suicide Awareness month. It’s time we speak up.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 12, 2016.

Sometimes, it seems easier to avoid talking about scary subjects. It seems harmless to ignore the tragedies that happen in the world and this country every second, every minute, day, week, month and year. Most people shade their eyes, cover their ears and pretend they live in a perfect world. Among other things, this is unhealthy and delusional. It’s time to talk about those scary subjects. It’s time to inform our children of what is out there. It’s time to open our hearts to those asking so desperately for help. It’s time to stand up and speak out. Let’s talk about an S-word. Suicide. This year, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Suicide. Even just sounding it out can sound threatening. Those seven letters are laced with so many negative ideas and feelings. Many people don’t even utilize this word in their vocabulary. It’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist; that it doesn’t plague our country, nonetheless the world. Stop taking the easy way out.

Suicide can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, sexuality, or background. For the sake of conciseness, I’m only going to highlight the troubles we face in America regarding suicide. I am not disregarding any other countries or downplaying how serious the suicide epidemic can be. I simply want to adjust the focal point so that my audience will realize the harsh circumstances surrounding them daily.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. In 2014, youth aged 15 to 24 had the third highest suicide rate of 11.6, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or AFSP. People ages 45 to 64 had a rate of 19.2, the second highest and ages 85 and up have a rate of 19.3, the highest rate of suicide in America. Each year, 45,773 people die of suicide in America and for every successful suicide, there are 25 attempts. There are 117 suicides per day. Females are more likely to attempt three times more, and three times more often, but males are four times more likely to die by suicide.

So why does it happen? Why do so many people die from such a preventable premise? Why are so many people, so many communities, and so many worlds completely shook up, damaged and changed by this horrific tragedy? An easy answer will tell us that it’s our fault or society’s fault. We don’t talk about it enough, we stigmatize it too much, or we don’t take action enough. While I could pull up statistics about each of those ideas and tell you that some reign true, it’s not our fault. At the end of the day, we can’t save everyone. Even in a perfect world where we educate people about the dangers of suicide, it would still exist. Depression still exists. Mental Illness would still exist. Death would still exist.

In an attempt to answer the question in one way, I’ve researched some reasons why people want to kill themselves. In a study completed by Psychology Today, a site that opens with the search bar ‘Find a Therapist’, and seeks to help the mentally ill by informing them of news and connecting them to the help they require, researchers studied several suicide notes and tried to deduct the reasoning behind each of them. Half of the notes they studied were authored by people who attempted, while the other half were successful completions. They found that each note seemed to be based on one of five ideas: senses of burden, emotional pain, escaping negativity, a change in the social world and hopelessness.

In the end, they found that the majority of the notes composed by people who succeeded, were based not on pain, but the sense of burden. Let’s think about that. The majority of people in this study, who succeeded at committing suicide, decided to take their own lives because they truly believed that they were worthless, no one would miss them and their existence was nothing but a burden to others. If that doesn’t scare the shit out of you, I don’t know what will. There are people that work with us, that go to school with us, that walk beside us on the street, who honestly believe their existence is meaningless. If you think this idea is barbaric and absolutely impossible, you’ve been living with your eyes closed.

Millions of people, suicidal or not, either feel this way or have felt this way in the past ten years. That’s terrifying. How do you convince someone that their existence isn’t meaningless? They’ve already convinced themselves that there is no way out except suicide. How do you fix this? How do you fix them? How do you prevent such a terrible thing from happening?

This is why we need to discuss suicide. Many people don’t know the answers to these questions. I know that I’m not quite sure either. I know that attempting to fix the problem listed above can be exhausting because it’s like talking to a wall. Once someone is in that state of mind, that state of worthlessness, they are almost impossible to reconcile. So how does this end? Is suicide an endless cycle we will never escape?

Listen to me very carefully. The key to stopping the cycle, is literally, to start spreading awareness. That sounds kind of crazy right, especially since I said earlier that spreading awareness isn’t going to save everyone, right? If you look at a problem, any problem that you have in this life, and think “Hm. I could take a measure or two or help some part of the problem. Or I could just do nothing instead because we’re never going to fix everything,” you are already a part of the problem. If everyone thought this way, we would have no advancements in modern medicine, especially concerning cancer. Think about that. If you can fix even just one aspect of a certain problem, and save some lives in the meantime, wouldn’t you want to take that chance?

First things first, let’s talk about why you don’t want to talk about suicide. It’s not just because you think it would be easier not to. It’s not just because of fear. Another S-word we should mention here is stigma. There is a huge stigma with suicide, depression and mental illness in general. People refuse to talk about these things because it’s unheard of. It’s wrong. It’s a secret. It’s embarrassing. No matter what reason it is, that makes you cower when suicide is mentioned, you need to find a way to kill it with fire.

It’s okay to be afraid of something. It’s okay to be afraid of suicide and mental illness. What’s not okay, is not talking about it or speaking up about your fears because you don’t want to be judged, or you don’t want people to see you discussing such a thing. Suicide happens every 40 seconds. It’s real. It’s more real than it’s ever been. Suicide is treated like a disease, and while it is an epidemic, you won’t catch it by speaking about it. Yet people hide behind the stigma because they’re afraid of what may happen after discussing suicide. Sure, it’s hard to talk about, but it’s necessary. More necessary than it’s ever been.

As Marisa Lancione of The Mighty reports, “There’s no easy way of talking about suicide because it’s hard to explain why someone would think killing themselves is a viable solution to their problems. As someone who has seriously thought about numerous ways to die, suicide is still hard to articulate. It’s a complex and confusing issue because it goes against one of our most basic instincts: self-preservation.” She mentions that even though this fear can easily cloud your judgment, it shouldn’t be something that stops you from opening your mouth.

What about your fear of being judged? Suicide and mental illness are discussed with a load of ignorance most of the time. People talk about which ways they would want to go out if the need should ever arise. They say people commit suicide for attention. They judge people for attempting and not succeeding and then turn around and judge the same people who succeeded. You can’t win.

Mental illness is an illness, just like cancer, just like dementia, just like any other illness you’d be treated for in a conventional hospital. It should be treated as a regular illness. Just like those people who did not cause their own cancer, mentally ill people did not create their illness. This is where the stigma should slip away. Once you realize that mentally ill people are just as sick and stuck in their sickness as someone with a rare disease is, you’ll realize that they shouldn’t be treated any differently. Would you tell a cancer patient that their disease is a misconception they made up in their mind? Would you tell a person with Alzheimer’s that they are just asking for attention and pretending to feel this way? No, you wouldn’t. So you shouldn’t say that to mentally ill people either.

What’s next? Speaking up. Marisa from The Mighty talks about how to approach speaking about suicide. She says, “So it’s not that we shouldn’t talk about suicide because we’re afraid it’ll be contagious, but we need to know how to talk about it. We need to be sensitive to our audience. We need to be considerate of other people’s experiences. We need to be kind and understanding.” Talking about suicide won’t increase suicide. It won’t make you suicidal. It won’t make your children suicidal. Making adjustments to how we approach suicide and stigma relating to stigma, can only help the problem.

Every time I mention suicide or something related to it, I become very emotional. For those of you who read my articles regarding Emotional Triggers and Trigger Warnings, you know why I feel so deeply attached to this subject. I know it’s scary to speak up about your personal experiences, but I also know that if I don’t speak up, my trigger won’t be doing anything but hurting me, when it could be put forth to help spread awareness. So here goes nothing.

I, like many other people in this world, have been personally affected by suicide. I have been there, where I felt there was no way to escape my pain and suffering except to end it all. Though I reached out to someone before actually acting on my feelings, I know that some aren’t half as lucky, to realize the fault in their feelings like so. Growing up, I was that friend that people always went to when they felt hopeless, and like there was nothing left for them in this world. It was emotionally and physically exhausting to have to be at everyone’s beck and call, just to make sure that they wouldn’t kill themselves overnight because then I would be to blame. Most of my friendships regarding this type of relationship became toxic for me and ultimately ended up contributing to my triggers, which now mostly focus around the idea of suicide.

Looking back, there was never a time in which I did not have a friend who had either attempted or thought about attempting suicide. Out of all the people I have ever known, almost all of them have been plagued with these thoughts and ideas. It wasn’t shocking to me in that moment because I thought that it was just the times. I thought, well, in these days, people are suicidal and depressed and that’s life. Now that I’m in college, I only surround myself with positive people, so that I am not sucked into the black hole that suicide becomes for anyone and everyone who becomes involved with it. No matter how much distance I put between myself and it, suicide still affects me. It still plagues me, taking the form of a debilitating trigger.

I have lost people. I fear I may lose more. Even those I did not personally know still shake me up inside because I’ve been there. I’ve seen suicide at all the angles it can possibly manifest. It terrifies me. I do not think there will ever come a day when it does not terrify me. That will not stop me from talking about it. My fear will not stop me from spreading awareness and it certainly won’t stop me from speaking up about it.

I, personally, fight for gun control often. Though I am tired of seeing the deaths at the hands of other people holding firearms, I am mostly fighting for gun control reform because of suicide. Firearms account for 50% of all suicides. I truly believe that gun control reform will help to decrease that statistic. Will it save everyone? No. Even if it just saves one life, I think that would be a success.

Suicide is a tough subject. Like I’ve mentioned, it can be hard to approach, and hard to help. Prevention is possible. If we all work together, and realize that this is a disease much like many others, it will be a step in the right direction.

If you know someone who is dealing with some struggles of suicide, whether it be them personally, or them dealing with the loss of a friend, the best thing you can do, at first, is be there for them. There are not many ways you can fix this problem. As Marisa Lancione states in her article from earlier, “Other than being there for them, listening to them and giving them a hug if they want it, there’s no real way to console a friend or family member who is dealing with this type of loss.”

If the problem exceeds your expertise, encourage the person to call a helpline to talk. These helplines will be located at the bottom of this article. If you are the person dealing with these issues, there are helplines and online chats filled with people willing to listen and help you with your feelings. You can survive this.

In general and in lower circuits, you can help to prevent suicide by creating safe spaces. In high school, a friend of mine and I created a Facebook group where people could vent about their problems and seek help and advice from others in the school with zero judgment. If you’re going to create this type of group, make sure to fill it with positive people, and if a problem persists, like a person being rude or uncalled for, you must delete them and block them from the group. I’ve seen several other schools do this and have the group run as an efficient safe space for teens to voice their struggles.

In higher circuits, you can donate your time and money to organizations such as The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance of Mental Illness, Yellow Ribbon, or several other organizations listed here and here.

At the end of the day, we need to all stand together to help prevent suicide. It’s time to speak up, reach out, and stand tall. Tell people your story. Talk to your children. Talk to your friends and family. We can take steps forward, together. You are never alone.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Text the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741

Receive online help instantly via Live Chat

Also, head here for a list of Crisis Centers around the world.

13 Signs You Definitely Belong In The English Major Or Minor

If your significant other or best friend uses the incorrect form of a word, they better expect all hell to break loose.

Let’s eat Grandpa. Let’s eat, Grandpa. Punctuation saves lives.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 5, 2016.

No matter if you’re already an English major, or are thinking about declaring, this article is for you. Are you super creative? Do you enjoy writing and reading? How about making up your own words? If you said yes to any of these questions, you’re destined to be a member of the English department. The major isn’t just talking about your favorite books, but also includes writing several page papers while downing several cups of coffee in a six to eight hour period, releasing steam by writing creatively or honestly in a journal, getting excited about your favorite well-written pieces of media and correcting people’s grammar. If you’re not an English major and are thinking about joining the major, you’ll definitely want to join our elite group after reading this article.

1. When people ask you if you can write their papers for them, you’re like:

PLAGIARISM IS A REAL OFFENSE PEOPLE. Do you want to get us both kicked out of college? Also it’s gen-ed English, I think you can afford to read this Ibsen play and write a two page essay.

2. You get a little too hype about writing workshops and visiting authors.

Being given the opportunity to work with an actual published author is such a riveting experience! How many times will you get this chance again? Who cares which movie will be playing in the quad tonight? I have to prepare my poetry for the visiting author workshop in three months.

3. When people complain about gen-ed English classes, you think that you’d like to see them survive Advanced Literary Theory.

Oh no, you have to write a paragraph summarizing the twelve pages you read last night? You also have to write a four page maximum paper about ‘The Great Gatsby’? Boo hoo. Let me know how you feel after you’ve achieved the mirror stage and also realized the gender is performative.

4. Writing papers is a natural habit for you.

Oh, this paper is only 5 pages? I was prepared to write 10!

5. You go through several packs of highlighters each year…from underlining books and articles.

I have to highlight quotes, buzzwords, vocab, themes and you know what? I should underline the copyright information just in case I need it later.

6. You buy your books because you know you’ll mark them up.

I’m sure the bookstore didn’t appreciate my underlining of ‘American Pastoral’…but here we are. You live and you learn.

7. You plan/outline your papers weeks in advance.

You probably change this outline two to three times during that time too. Alternatively, if you don’t plan and outline, you probably write your paper all in one shot. Spending eight to ten hours on a paper is common for you.

8. You are the most organized disorganized person ever.

You have every single assignment in a folder with a page protector but you may or may not have misplaced several pencils, assignments and your laptop charger. Oops! I found them in my copy of ‘Jane Eyre’!

9. You do not hesitate to check Purdue Owl if you’re confused about literary rules.

Between citing quotes, oxford commas and how to write your paper depending on the style, the owl is probably a bookmark on your browser.

10. You’ll send your rough draft to just about anyone.

In a group email to your professors, your peers, your tutors and your mom, you’ll ask for honest advice and constructive criticism. Here’s hoping they have different opinions. Sometimes you need to triple check that grammar.

11. Whether you are an education major or in the writing concentration, you know most, if not all, of the people in the English Department because of how often you see them around campus.

Between clubs, classes, in passing and study sessions, you’re buds with people in the major. You probably walk around campus and are constantly waving to them.

12. Spelling and grammar are really important to you.

If your significant other or best friend uses the incorrect form of a word, they better expect all hell to break loose. Grammar is seriously important for all aspects of life. I just don’t respect you as much as I could if you do not know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.

13. All-nighters are both your best friend and worst enemy. At first you’re like…

…and then you’re like:

One day you’ll learn time management. Today is not that day.

12 Ways To Have The Ultimate “Me-Day”

Eat that pint of ice cream. Buy something for yourself. Watch vines all day. Laugh so hard you cry. You deserve nothing but the best on your Me-Day!

In the words of Donna Meagle, “Treat Yo’self.”

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 22, 2016.

As summer winds down, many of us are beginning to feel the pressure of everything. With school starting, college students returning and vibes of relaxation and beach days disappearing, people are starting to feel a little down. If you feel any of these emotions, or perhaps are feeling down in reasons unrelated to these, I have a solution for you! Take a day off, or take half a day off and treat yourself. It’s time to start giving yourself the love and attention you deserve. It’s time to take care of your wants and needs for a little bit. Follow these steps to plan and then execute the perfect Me-Day.

1. Get a good night of sleep the night before.

Your rest is so important. If you’re truly planning to go all out, you need your beauty sleep! Also, waking up after a good night of sleep can increase tranquility.

2. Dress for yourself.

If you want to get dressed up and look fancy, go for it. If you want to chill in sweatpants and a hoodie, do it! This day is all about you! Dress to impress yourself!

3. Two words: Bubble bath.

Light a candle, put on some smooth jams and relax like you’ve never relaxed before. If you don’t have a bathtub, don’t fret! Take a long, hot shower. Play the same jams, wash your face and totally chill.

4. Pamper yourself.

If you can afford it, go out and get a massage, a new hairdo at the salon, or have your nails done. If that’s not an option, there’s plenty of at-home alternatives. Wash your face, moisturize, paint your nails yourself and do some muscle relaxation exercises.

5. Spend time on hobbies.

If you wanna catch up on that Netflix show, do it. If you haven’t had a chance to finish knitting that scarf, get those needles out. Do something that makes you happy.

6. Detox from social media.

Unless you’re documenting your Me-Day on Instagram or taking photos for a post later, try to detach yourself from social media. One post can break your focus and serenity. Avoid stress at all costs.

7. Eat an extravagant meal.

Whether you go all out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, make sure to eat all your favorite foods without feeling guilty! You deserve this!

8. Get outside.

Even if you just sit on a patio or dip your feet in a pool, soak in the sunshine. If it’s raining, take a walk with an umbrella. Appreciate your surroundings.

9. Make plans to do something fun with friends.

Even though today is about you, social contact is good for maintaining your happy levels. Go dancing or have a friends-only night. Play board games if you want!

10. Listen to your favorite music.

Don’t be afraid to belt out those lyrics and shake that booty! Have fun! Let loose!

11. Change your sheets or tidy up.

New sheets can change the game. Cleaning up or freshening up your house could help yourself to feel more at home.

12. Treat yo’self.

Eat that pint of ice cream. Buy something for yourself. Watch vines all day. Laugh so hard you cry. You deserve nothing but the best on your Me-Day!

 

How The Final Five Are Taking Strides

So they’re honoring their coach and they’re making history as the last team of five, what else are these girls doing to make waves at the 2016 Olympics?

An update on the American Women’s Gymnastics team and how they’re changing the game.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 16, 2016.

Last Tuesday, the United States Women’s Gymnastics team wowed the crowds once again. After conquering the all-around competition, the team announced their new signature, “The Final Five.” Made up of two 2012 Olympians and three newcomers, the team definitely did not hesitate to tumble the fastest, fly the highest or land the most elegantly, winning gold for the second consecutive time and third time altogether. Though this is a huge achievement and they should be commended for it, it is not the only ripple this year’s team has created.

The team is made up of Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and the highly commended Simone Biles. Though they are teammates, the girls have made it quite clear that they have formed more of a family, making the team name all the more sentimental. The moniker was coined in honor of their coach, Martha Karolyi, who has coached teams for a total of eleven Olympics and will retire this year at 73. According to team captain, Aly Raisman, the team name is a tribute to Martha, because “without her none of this would have been possible.” As the girls huddled together to cheer their name debut on the count of three, Karolyi was seen in the crowd weeping with pride.

Not only is the intimidating title for the team a kiss blown to Martha, but it’s also a statement. Aly Raisman, a winner from the 2012 Olympics, mentions that the girls enter every competition with their heads held high because they’re aiming to be the best team in the world. In an interview with NBC, she also mentioned that their mind-blowing confidence has its perks. She explained, “You know, you walk in like you’re number one and I think that’s intimidating to everyone else.” She’s not wrong either, if fear isn’t instilled in the mind of their opponents yet, it will be soon.

As the team continues to blow away the audience and their adversaries, they have made it clear that they are not stopping anytime soon. After their two-hour show on Tuesday, the team completed the night with a score of 184.897, a total of eight points higher than their predecessor Russia. Last Thursday, Biles and Raisman shined bright during their floor routines, with Biles coming out with gold and Raisman scoring silver. The beam was also kind to both girls, who scored over fourteen points each. After three rotations on Thursday, Biles finished first with a score of 46.265 and Aly Raisman finished third with 44.665.The Final Five have now won more than five competitions and four all-around titles.

If opponents don’t fear all of the Final Five, they should worry about one particular fifth. As of Aug. 11, Simone Biles has been named The World’s Best Gymnast. Though she was considered of the highest rank before competing in the Olympics, thanks to her 12 winning titles since 2013, her four consecutive all-around titles from United States’ Championships and her accomplishment as being the first woman to be the all-around world champion, now three years in a row. Now standing straight at just four feet and nine inches, Simone Biles is dominating all four realms of women’s gymnastics at the 2016 Olympics and loving every single moment of it. Her big smiles and ever-reigning confidence have fans loving every single step she takes. In present day, Simone Biles has made history, at just 19 years old, she has taken her place next to the famous and historical role-models Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas. Together, these powerful women are the American All-Around Winners.

Though these girls are giving it their all and winning accolades left and right, this year isn’t just about titles and medals. This year’s women’s gymnastics team will be the last team to have five girls on it. Next year, there will only be four, marking this year’s team as the true final five. 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez comments that her teammates are “…like my older sisters. It’s kind of like I won a gold medal with my family.” Well good news, this family is going to continue their reign. After completely destroying more than twelve routines, each girl attained greatness in their own area of expertise. On Tuesday alone, Madison Kocian and second-time-Olympian Gabby Douglas nailed the uneven bars, scoring two of the highest scores that day. Hernandez and Biles dazzled everyone with their original and precise floor routines and finally, Raisman scored near perfect with her stuck-landing on the vault. Both days, all the girls totally crushed their events and went out with a bang.

NBC and several other stations, journalists and even Olympic-Gold-Medalist Dominique Dawes, has remarked on how carefree these girls seem when they are out there on the floor. Maybe when we are watching the Olympics, we’re simply watching these girls have the time of their lives, because they’re making their dreams come true. CBS news commented and said that the Olympics are a place to “let loose” and have fun for these girls; they face way harsher competitions at the camps Karolyi runs to harness these high-flying skills.

So they’re honoring their coach and they’re making history as the last team of five, what else are these girls doing to make waves at the 2016 Olympics? The Undefeated, a platform primarily utilized to report on sports, has pointed out perhaps the most important thing about the 2016 women’s gymnastics team: their diversity. They comment, “Against a political backdrop of white angst, xenophobia and naked racism, the Final Five are a melting pot.” With two African American women, one Latina girl and two white women, this team is serving as a social wake-up call to bring attention to America’s diverse potential and talent, which some audiences prefer to be ignorant toward. The athletic platform also calls the five girls “head-turners,” reflecting on the fact that these girls are not making a political statement on purpose, but instead, genuinely enjoy one another and the life-changing events they’ve experienced together in the past few months. Though this team does not have to formally make a statement, they are a true portrait of diverse expertise in present-day America.

Together, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, Gabby Douglas and Laurie Hernandez are changing the game. Ranging from ages 16 to 22, these girls are more than just winners in the Olympic games, they are heroes. In the face of adversity, perseverance and intimidation, these girls are shining just as bright as their mentors did before, most notably in The Fierce Five and the Magnificent Seven. Learn it, memorize it and remember the name because The Final Five will go down in history this Olympic season.

36 Questions To Ask Your New College Roommate(s)

A terrific balance between the fun-types of questions and the most essential getting-to-know-you questions.

A terrific balance between the fun-types of questions and the most essential getting-to-know-you questions.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 8, 2016.

It’s that time of year again! Whether you’re a returning student, or heading in for your freshman year, you’re sure to be feeling a little antsy! College can be a little scary, especially if you have to live with at least one other person in a dorm or suite. You may know this person really well, or you may not know them at all. I’ve personally been granted the opportunity to be given a random roommate twice now, so I can definitely relate to those new-roommate-jitters! No matter if you’re sharing a room with just one another person, or a suite or apartment with a few others, you have to remember to ask them these questions!

1. The Basics

What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your major and the like. It’s important to get this question out of the way early. So if you have a platform to connect to your roommate(s) before move-in day, make sure that you get this one out of the way.

2. Have you ever lived with anyone before?

Even if they’ve only shared a room with a sibling, that counts as sharing a room with someone. It’s important to ask this so that you are aware of the circumstances that may lie ahead. If your future roomie(s) haven’t ever had to share anything before, they may not be used to the fact and some banter could arise. This way, you can be on your guard if sharing is something they’ll have to adjust to.

3. What’s your schedule like?

Knowing your mates’ schedules is important because you’ll both be super busy, no doubt, with the school year and knowing when they’re going to be studying in the room, or napping is important so that you won’t disturb them on purpose. Establishing time windows for these activities is a good idea so that you’re not getting on one another’s nerves. Obviously it doesn’t have to be so organized that you’re timing your nap to fit in with their studying time, but make sure to discuss this one.

4. How do you feel about guests?

Will they be having friends over a lot, or will you? Do either of you have a significant other that will sleep over every weekend? How will they tell you if they have someone over? Do they have to clear it with you before having guests over? All of these are valid questions and while many know about the sock on the door, my freshman roommate sure didn’t and thought I was totally making it up. Definitely cross this off your mental question list, it’s pretty important to be in agreement on this.

5. Are you planning to go home a lot?

My freshman year roommate went home every weekend and also hated naps. Due to the fact that she went home every weekend, I allowed myself to sleep in and nap as much as possible, so that I could get it out of my system for the week. Knowing when they’re going home is also good so that you don’t wake up questioning where they are or where they went.

6. Are you planning to or are you already involved with clubs/sports on campus?

This is a huge one. If you or your roommate are going to be in and out of the room frequently, leaving early, or returning late, it’s important to know just how busy you both are going to be. I found myself extremely involved with theater my first year of college, so I often came in late and my roommate was long asleep. Knowing that was asleep allowed me to prepare to tiptoe around the room and make sure I didn’t wake her. Knowing each other’s schedules can only help.

7. Do you have a job?

Knowing if they are going to be in and out of the room at random times is important, in case you are randomly locked out of your room and can’t find a resident assistant or something like that. This is also important so you can both establish times for quiet hours/lights out, in case the other person may have to be up early the next morning.

8. Are you a morning or night person?

Maybe you like staying up late and sleeping in and maybe your roommate likes waking up at the crack of dawn to blast their music. This is something you have to establish right away, to make sure that you’ll be able to compromise, if need be. If you find that you and your future roommate(s) are the opposite, know that there are so many resources on campus that you can utilize to study besides you room. Also know that you’ll have to confront your roommate if they wake you up.

9. Where do you fall on the neatness spectrum?

Some people don’t like being asked if they are clean or messy, because messy sounds a lot like dirty. I’m not dirty, but I have been known to let things pile up and clutter my side of the room. It’s better to ask where they land on the scale or spectrum so you don’t offend them and so you’re able to get a good idea of what to expect.

10. What are you bringing that you’re willing to share?

Now that you’ve got all the personal questions out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Will they be bringing a printer that they wouldn’t mind you using? Or will you have to fight to use the microwave? This question can be a little awkward at first, but is essential if you’re going to be living with someone and will break the ice for similar questions to this.

11. Are you willing to pitch in to buy _____?

Maybe you’re going to buy a printer after you move in, or perhaps you want to split the cost of a microfridge. Asking if they’re willing the share the cost of these things will give you good insight on how considerate they’ll be with sharing too.

12. Do you have any allergies?

Besides the obvious snack foods, such as peanut butter, there may be some other allergies at play here. Maybe you really like berry scented air fresheners but your roommate is allergic to berries. In order to avoid issues with scents and smells, this question is pretty important. You can also ask if there’s any scents or smells that they totally despise. That way you’re not spraying the heck out of your vanilla perfume if vanilla nauseates them.

13. Do you have a car?

If you’re a freshman, this may or may not be applicable, depending on who is allowed to have a car on your campus. If you’re older, or allowed to have one, this could be helpful to both of you. If you ever needed to go pick something up from the store, or from another place in town, or even if you find yourself stranded somewhere, knowing that your roommate has a car will probably be a blessing.

14. How do you study?

Some people need complete silence to focus. Some people like music. Some people like to verbally read their notes to retain the information. I try not to study in my room too much because I think it’s too easy to get distracted, but not everyone feels this way. Getting to know one another’s study habits will help both of you succeed in your academics.

15. Do you like the room hot or cold?

If applicable, this is an important one. I am definitely a cold person and luckily my roommate last year was too. Fighting over the thermostat can not only cause some super annoying fights, but can also break the thermostat. Let’s try and cut down on the maintenance requests this year, shall we?

16. What are your pet peeves?

Another great question so that you’re not stepping on each other’s toes. You never know what could annoy someone. My previous roommate sometimes got annoyed that I didn’t do laundry more often, something that virtually did not affect her at all. The way to an efficient living situation is communication. This way, both of you know to avoid those pet peeves.

17. Do you drink?

This one and the next questions are completely essential, whether you do or don’t. If you have a problem with them drinking, speak up right away so they know not to do it in your presence.

18. Do you smoke?

Again, you have to ask this. I believe vaping counts. If you have a problem with them smoking or vaping, speak up right away so they know not to do it in your presence.

19. How do you feel about parties?

If perhaps you’re the type of roommate who likes to throw parties, this could be pretty important. If however, you’re looking for a party buddy or expect to be coming in late a whole lot, well, definitely let your roommate know and vice versa.

20. What chores do you not mind doing?

As much as I hate to admit it, cleaning is so important. Even if one of you is dusting and the other is wiping down counters, make sure to establish some sort of cleaning routine. If you’ve got plants, water them. If you have dishes, clean them. I’m not saying every roommate has to have a chore chart or wheel, but make sure to vacuum, dust, wipe down and sanitize at least once a month.

21. What kind of music do you like?

This could be fun, or for testing purposes. If either of you enjoy playing music aloud, this is to be asked only so you can be considerate of their tastes.

22. What are your favorite foods?

Getting to know your roommate(s) doesn’t have to be super strict and awkward! Don’t be afraid to get casual with it! Don’t be afraid to ask the silly questions.

23. How do you spend your free time?

Maybe you could spend some free time together, depending on their tastes. Bonding experiences are fun experiences!

24. What was your high school experience like?

Heading back to your roots to talk about nostalgia and history can either be really fun or really terrible. Some people didn’t have a great high school experience. Be wary of that.

25. What are your future goals?

Asking what they want to do after graduation with their degree can spark a whole new conversation. Dig in!

26. Do you have any pets?

Another fun, happy-go-lucky conversation starter.

27. Tell me about your family?

People love to talk about their families. Prepare to spend at least an hour on this question.

28. Why did you choose this school?

Even if you’re a returning student, this could still be applicable.

29. Questions about their side of the room.

Ask them about that friend in that picture, or about the stuffed giraffe on their bed. Ask them about their favorite movies and if they brought any. Ask about the origami shark on their desk. Notice the little things.

30. What’s your take on privacy in the room?

If you don’t have the room to yourself, it can be easy to forget what is and isn’t acceptable. Is it cool to be in the room while they are face-timing or skyping someone? Do they want to be in the room while you do it? What about phone calls? Who should leave? All of these questions relate back to privacy in the room. You or your roommate may be very open and totally fine with the other listening in. Alternatively, maybe someone isn’t too fond of you listening to their face-time session. Remember to ask so you can narrow this down.

31. Are any of your friends going to school here?

Knowing that they have friends or will have friends hanging around a lot is a good sign. It means they’re amiable. Hopefully the friends aren’t crashing on your floor every night though.

32. When are you moving in and what time?

Just so that you can schedule your moving time around theirs if needed. If either of you is already moved in, this is also helpful because you have the option to either help the other roommate move in, or make sure you’re nowhere to be found.

33. If something goes wrong, how will you communicate with me?

Some people are extremely passive aggressive. Some people will leave you angry notes. I personally prefer to confront someone and get everything out in the open, so that we can all be honest with one another, but I know that not everyone has this philosophy. Communicating about communication is going to be crucial if this roommate-ship is ever going to work out.

34. Is there anything you want to know about me?

Leave the floor open for questions. Even if it just sparks random conversations, it’ll be good to talk.

35. Is there anything else I should know?

Maybe they have something else to mention that doesn’t necessarily fit into the questions asked before. Give them a chance to voice this.

36. Are you excited for move-in day?

Keep counting down the days! You’ll be in school before you know it!

Trigger Warnings: Appropriate Protection Or Millennial Bubble Wrap?

Trig·ger warn·ing (n): a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content).

Trigger warnings, what they are and how they’re affecting us.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 2, 2016.

These days it seems like everyone has something going on, whether it’s a slight case of butterflies before giving a speech, social anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses that affect our day to day lives. Anyone who utilizes social media and is affected by a mental ailment of some sort has seen the phrase, “Trigger Warning.” It’s time to get down to business about these warnings; what they are, how they work and if they’re sheltering people too much.

Trig·ger warn·ing (n): a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content). Basically, trigger warnings are messages warning readers to take caution, because topics in the following piece may contain sensitive content. They are most often placed at the beginning or near the beginning of a piece to ensure the reader, if they are triggered by sensitive content, has the opportunity to avoid that content, and of course, their trigger.

Trigger, or emotional triggers, are responses to people, places, events and content that will provoke an extreme emotional reaction. A trigger could be caused by many things, including but limited to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), stress, a traumatic event, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. When an individual is exposed to something that triggers them, they are transported back to a memory of a time when either something traumatic affected them, or they were a part of something that was very emotional. For instance, fireworks could trigger a war veteran because the loud noises in the distance remind him/her of gunshots, and all the violence they experienced while serving their country. Or, alternatively, if a sexual abuse victim hears students at his/her school making rape jokes, they may become upset after remembering the abuse they suffered, thus making anything involving sexual abuse, a trigger for them.

So now that we’re all aware of what triggers and trigger warnings are, let’s get down to debating a hot topic in today’s news: Are trigger warnings over-coddling millennial minds?

Before I start on the statistics and ideas I’m about to present to you, the reader, I’d like to make something very clear. There is a huge difference between being triggered by something, and not wanting to experience content because it’s not your preference to engage in such material. I don’t like mushrooms or Woody Allen, but I’m not triggered by those atrocities. Being triggered by something, means that it causes an individual to have an extreme emotional reaction, often including a mental breakdown, depending on the severity of the trigger and what memory it links back to.

That being said, let’s begin. Trigger warnings are most primarily utilized on the Internet. They are often included in news articles, Facebook posts, blog posts, and of course, all over Twitter and other social media platforms. Personally, I’ve seen all trigger warnings on Tumblr, a free-form blogging site. Recently, however, professors and college students have discussed including them in post-secondary curriculum.

Just a few years ago, University of California Santa Barbara’s Student Senate passed a rule that calls for mandatory trigger warnings to be included in professors’ syllabi and coursework in general. The resolution was passed in order to ensure that the university’s students would be informed of the aforementioned so that they could avoid and or prepare themselves for the emotional or physical distress that often follow sensitive content. Mostly, these trigger warnings were to be labeled on topics such as rape, sexual assault, suicide, graphic violence, and pornography, according to the LA Times.

Similarly, Oberlin College in Ohio considered mandatory trigger warning guidelines as well, basing their warnings on anything that “might cause trauma.” These warnings were supposed to be placed on coursework that mention sexism, racism, ableism and the like. Unfortunately, their faculty heavily opposed this idea and the university backed down. This opposition is being shared by not only other faculties at other universities but also several writers and journalists across the Internet.

According to The Atlantic, providing trigger warnings is providing a sense of vindictive protectiveness, or creating a culture where everyone has to walk on eggshells while speaking, out of fear of offending or upsetting someone. They believe that this culture is hurting students’ futures, as the entire idea of trigger warnings serves only to allow students to become ill-prepared for their future work environments.

A psychologist, Sarah Roff worries, “One of my biggest concerns about trigger warnings is that they will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history.” So obviously everyone is a little worried about the future of our youth.

So why are trigger warnings all of a sudden relevant? The Atlantic believes that it is simply a shift in generations. In the 1960s, parents were more than comfortable with allowing their children to walk and ride their bikes out alone with little to no supervision. As time went on, abductions increased, and baby boomers’ parents became more protective than usual. This pattern has been repeating itself, due to the increased amount of violence the past few years, which is causing parents to over-protect their children, and in fact, spoiling their children with this type of protection.

The important thing to note here, though, is that you can’t protect your children forever. You cannot save them from everything, and shelter them from the entire universe. Can you try? Absolutely. Should you try? Absolutely not. A huge part of growing up and making sure that your child won’t be swaddled while heading into the real world is allowing them to experience the world independently. Allowing your child to make mistakes, fail, form their own judgment opinions is a pretty nifty way to make sure they won’t leave the house in a thick coat of bubble wrap prepared by their over-protective parent.

Still, even with the protected youth and the free youth, mental illness is on the rise. Let’s look at some statistics. In 2013, the American College Counseling Association found that the number of students with “severe psychological problems” increased in their schools. In a study completed by the American College Health Association in 2014, 54 percent of college students who were surveyed said that they experienced extreme anxiety in the past year; a five percent increase since the same survey was conducted five years prior.

College campuses definitely aren’t lacking mental health, so why are they lacking trigger warnings, something that could help decrease that anxiety and promote better care of mental health? Probably because faculty members are not too excited about having to put some extra work in. According to a study completed by The National Coalition Against Censorship in 2015, fewer than one percent of anonymous professors reported that their university even had a policy on trigger warnings. However, in the same study, almost eight percent of those institutions’ students reported having attempted to persuade their universities to adopt such policies and this number is twice as many that reported having requested trigger warnings personally from their professors. Only twelve percent of students reportedly complained about the lack of trigger warnings.

In a report done by The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, it was reported that 63 percent of students were in favor of making trigger warnings mandatory in their coursework. The same survey found that students in different parts of the country think that there should be some restrictions on freedom of speech. Twenty-six percent of students said free speech is “somewhat important,” while seventy percent opposed, saying that free speech is very important. Many of the twenty-six percent said that they believed restrictions should be placed on speech if the speech would be considered “hateful or otherwise unpalatable.”

Most notably, however, it was reported that a whopping 58 percent of professors said that they often provided “voluntary warnings about course content.” Meaning that they were already providing a type of trigger warning before all this discussion sparked. That’s good! More than good, that’s awesome. I’m not so sure why other professors claim that doing the same thing would work to swaddle a generation, when Jesse Singal, who writes for New York Mag, mentions that before all this “trigger warning” talk, asking your professor for a heads up about graphic or sensitive curriculum was a normal occurrence. He writes that before this controversy, asking a professor for a trigger-warning was more of a “common courtesy.”

Fortunately enough, there are some professors who consider it more than a common courtesy and are in favor of trigger warnings and all that they set out to offer. Kate Manne of the New York Times wrote an article about why she chooses to utilize trigger warnings in her syllabi, and her response is nowhere near, ‘because I wanted to coddle the millennials.’ Kate says that she includes trigger warnings not to encourage students to skip their required reading, but to “allow those who are sensitive to these subjects to prepare themselves for reading about them, and better manage their reactions.” She mentions that not all triggers are predictable and obviously teachers aren’t supposed to tag everything that could possibly trigger someone, but a warning could help their students in allowing them this head start.

One of her biggest critics claims that students should be given their triggers in the same way that patients are given exposure therapy, by exposing them to a little bit at a time to gradually have them accept the problem. Kate, however, argues that treating triggers as though they can be cured by exposure therapy is like “throwing a spider at an arachnophobe.” Though Kate doesn’t think that these warnings should be mandatory, she is still fighting on the side to assist students who may need that leg up when studying material that may trigger them.

Several other professors and other types of university faculty have agreed with Kate in a “letter to the editor” style article on the New York Times website. One professor, Alice Rutowski, mentions that she utilizes trigger warnings in common-sense ways and only twice has ever encountered students who asked for alternative assignments because of a certain trigger. Joseph Burke, a dean of students at Cornell University also argues that Kate is correct on the “distinction between something that is ‘merely offensive’ and that which causes ‘panic attacks’.”

This has become one of the biggest arguments regarding the entire trigger warning debate. As I mentioned before, there is a huge line between a trigger and something that you would not like to read about. The Atlantic provides that it doesn’t matter where the line falls between them, because any time that speech can be seen as a form of violence, that vindictive protectiveness appears to justify a violent response.

Jesse Singal’s response to this argument can almost directly relate back to my own. On the topic of racism being a trigger, he says, “The idea that students who have ‘experienced racism’ — that is, just about all students of color — could be ‘triggered’ just by reading about it is a severe misunderstanding of the nature of trauma, and it’s also insulting to the small subset of students whose mental-health conditions really do cause them to relive traumas as a result of triggers, a group which includes some veterans and survivors of domestic or sexual assault.” The line between what is considered a trigger and what is just not preferred, is, in fact, pretty important.

One counterargument down, one to go.

In an article that refers to people who prefer “trigger warnings” as an alternative to the “managing of unpleasant speech” as “The Swaddled-Generation”, writer Kathleen Parker talks of how colleges and students who ask for trigger warnings are simply silencing ideas and speech. Ultimately, Kathleen writes about how over-coddling this generation is worthless because people who prefer trigger warnings will have to face their triggers eventually.

While that may be true, wouldn’t you rather save someone from relapsing into their trigger and mental breakdown if they don’t absolutely have to face it? Many have referred to college and university as a safe space for millennials, a place that will shelter them until they are graduated and released into the real world. If universities are a safe place, and if college is already swaddling us, why not take all the blankets we can get?

I don’t understand why a rape victim and survivor asking their professors and classmates to include trigger warnings so that the victim does not to have to relive or remember the disgusting and vile crime they were an innocent victim of is a sign of being ‘swaddled’.

Another counterargument would spark and a critic would reply and say that the victim should face the facts and face the truth. I’ve got news for you though, pal, that victim knows what happened to them. They have faced the facts and the truth, more than once already. Is it too much to ask for a simple warning so that they don’t have to relive it over and over again? Where is the logic in condemning someone to a lifetime of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) all because you could not ‘afford’ to lend them some human decency in respecting their right to a trigger warning?

The problem with these counterarguments is that these authors are taking the idea of trigger warnings too far. We are not asking to step outside of our houses and only see rainbows and clouds. We are not asking for everything to be censored. We are not asking for a boatload of commitment here, just a warning, literally any type of warning that may help us in preparing ourselves to deal with our trigger. At the very least, we are asking that people keep an open mind, that people do not denounce trigger warnings as a way to ‘silence speech’ or ‘deny the first amendment.’ If you are my professor and I approach you with a request for a trigger warning, I am asking that you consider my trauma and what I’ve been through before you reply that you ‘teach young adults, not children’ or that you are not my parent.

If you weren’t able to tell already, I feel very attached to this argument and very passionate about it. It affects me. I suffer from several triggers. They can be absolutely debilitating when I have to face them firsthand. It is demoralizing and often I struggle with depression and anxiety from the anxiety sparked by my trigger because I am self-conscious about it. I am not alone. There are millions of people in the world who face the same triggers, different triggers, and different responses evoked from triggers. Mental illness is an epidemic that infects many, and we will not be pushed aside. At the end of the day, we have to fight for ourselves and for each other. We have to speak up about these trigger warnings and why they’re important to our well-being and mental health. If you don’t speak up, no one can help you.

So where do we go from here? I’ve mentioned several times in this article that you can never hope to please everyone. You also can’t censor everything. I think it’s very important that everyone learns exactly what a trigger is, exactly what a trigger warning is and then we can look at ways to move forward. The next most important thing to understand is, of course, that line between offensive and traumatic. From there, individuals can decide what they want to put warnings on.

I’m not asking professors and teachers to change their curriculum. There is sensitive content in every piece of material we read in our lives. Should we embrace that sensitive and possibly derogatory content? Maybe not. Should we still learn about it? Yes. The confederate flag can be a trigger for some because they feel attacked or targeted, but we must learn about it and where it came from, so we do not repeat history. Is the Holocaust a traumatic event? Absolutely, but if we do not learn about it in school, how can we be sure that such a thing won’t happen again?

In a world where we label everything from organic foods to sexuality, one more label cannot hurt us. Trigger warnings, or just plain old warnings if the ‘trigger’ is something you’re not comfortable using because of the debate, can only help, not hinder. Also, I’m not saying that the professors, the authors, the teachers and anyone else who would have to label triggers are the only responsible party here. Obviously, both the triggered and the other party must play their part. Like I said, if you don’t speak up, and you don’t reach out, no one can help you. Be aware of your triggers, try to avoid any and all triggers if possible and communicate as much as possible.

So what, if trigger warnings are ‘millennial bubble wrap’? If the older generations dealt with the same mental illnesses and anxieties we face daily, they’d have the same issues, the same wants and the same needs. These illnesses haven’t just ‘popped up’ out of nowhere, and we definitely haven’t brought them on ourselves. We’re just more aware of all the possibilities out there now. Is implementing trigger warnings going to be a little more work? Yeah, probably. The key to making this work is going to be communication and accommodation. In the end, isn’t it worth it to reach your hand out to a fellow human being who is struggling, and save them and several others some heartache?

Surviving Your Emotional Trigger

A trigger or an emotional trigger is a response to music, television, film, current events, or just regular sounds or speech that elicits a strong emotional reaction,

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Wendy Mass

This article was originally posted for The Odyssey on August 1, 2016.

In today’s world, anxiety and depression are fairly common amongst young people, teens, adults and even the elderly. Given all the violence and tragedy that has struck our planet in the past five years, this kind of traumatic effect seems to be expected. Despite there being disgusting acts of violence and swarms of death, people also have to deal with everyday issues, such as social anxiety, depression and the struggles of living with those disorders and mental illnesses. They have worries of their own; they worry about their family, friends and themselves, nonetheless the safety of strangers across the globe. In times like these, it is important to be aware of all the possible triggers that exist and how we should go about managing and inevitably surviving our triggers and emotions.

A trigger or an emotional trigger is a response to music, television, film, current events, or just regular sounds or speech that elicits a strong emotional reaction, or flashback to a painful memory. For example, a veteran of war and a victim of PTSD may regard fireworks as a trigger because they are reminded of the gunshots and violence they witnessed firsthand. Mostly triggers are linked to sometimes traumatic events that had a strong effect on someone which will forever tie them to that event. When a trigger strikes, our body is not aware that something has changed and the trigger often blinds the body’s instinct to assess the reaction evoked.

When someone is affected by a trigger, they can do anything from shaking to shutting down and in some cases, depending on the severity, someone could pass out or faint. One simple word or sound can be absolutely ground-shaking to someone who has a trigger and can destabilize or paralyze them emotionally, almost immediately.

According to MindBodyGreen, a lifestyle blog, triggers exist because when we were children or at some point in our lives, we were faced with pain, trauma, or suffering that we were not prepared to handle or deal with at that time. Thus, we become “triggered by experiences that are reminiscent of these old painful feelings.

One of my biggest triggers is suicide. Any mention of the topic in current events or even specifics that hit closer to home and I am suddenly caught in panic attack after panic attack, unable to cease sobbing. We don’t have to be watching a memorial or tragedy on television; I can be affected by any mention of it, whether it be on the radio, in a movie, or in person. After riding out the attack and the terrible emotions that sparked from the trigger, I feel defeated, helpless and sometimes even pathetic. It can be demoralizing to be destroyed by something so little, so quickly, so randomly. I know that I am not alone in facing this problem and that there are thousands, if not millions, of other individuals who face the same meltdowns, the same panic attacks and the same debilitating weakness that resorts from such triggers.

Not sure if you have any triggers? Triggers can either be very easy to identify, or very difficult. They can be easy to spot if you find yourself all of a sudden acting very upset when something is said to you. For instance, if when you are rejected or if something doesn’t go your way, you find yourself getting so angry that you punch things. Perhaps being rejected is a trigger for you. Triggers can also be more specific. Sometimes names or specific words, such as ‘suicide’, can trigger a more complex response, such as shaking uncontrollably, or crying uncontrollably. The key is to watch your body and catch these emotions before they evolve into something terrible, if possible.

Controlling your triggered response is the most difficult part. If you or anyone you know has a trigger or triggers that you know of, you should know how to treat that person. Reassure yourself or your friend that their reaction to their trigger is justifiable, even if you’re not entirely sure. Telling someone that they are overreacting when they are triggered is only going to set them off more. Next, make sure to comfort the person being triggered, by holding their hand, hugging them or simply just listening to them. If you are being triggered, try changing your environment, going for a walk, or even reaching out for help. Everyone is different but if you truly know the person, you should know how to comfort them or, in some cases, yourself. Listening and patience are perhaps the most important part of the trigger process because forcing someone to talk is only going to make them sink deeper into their emotions and themselves, farther away from reality.

Some outbursts and triggers cannot be controlled. I truly believe that I have to ride out my trigger’s attack until I can grasp onto something real. There are many coping methods for people who are triggered and many who deal with anxiety will see similar exercises. These tips and tricks can be applied to both the comforter and the person who is experiencing the aftermath of being triggered.

The first tip is a little obvious but breathe. It is essential that both the comforter and the triggered, even if they are the same person, breathe. Next, the triggered person needs to detach themselves from the trigger so that they can grasp something more tangible. A friend of mine told me to look around the room and take inventory of everything that I see, to remind myself that I am living in the present, to remind myself of reality. Finally, the triggered person needs to focus on something and center themselves, in order to return to reality and retreat away from the panic surrounding the trigger. This can be obtained through muscle relaxation or some type of meditation.

If you are alone in your time of stress, follow these same tips, but do not be afraid to reach out to someone if you feel that you either want or need to. Being alone and in such a panic can be terrifying and it is nice to have someone there, if possible. If not, no worries! You can do this. Just keep centering yourself and focusing.

The emotional response surrounding a trigger is not always escapable. The pain of the memories that flood into your entire being after experiencing a trigger is unreal. If you’ve never been triggered by anything, count your lucky stars. Feeling like I’m not in control because of the emotions that overtake me in these times is extremely terrible. I cannot even think of more adjectives to describe it because it can be so painful to have to shut down like that. I experienced my trigger when I was in high school and was simply not mentally prepared or equipped to handle the trauma and stress that resulted from the entire situation surrounding it. Now due to that shock at such an impressionable age, I am plagued with my trigger at home, at school, in the grocery store and just about anywhere else it decides it is welcome to make an appearance.

It is important to realize at the end of the day, no matter how many triggers you have, that you are not alone in facing these issues and meltdowns. If you are hanging out with a friend who suddenly becomes triggered, remember to breathe and comfort them as much as possible, but most of all, remember to listen. Absolutely do not denounce their insecurities and reactions and do not belittle them or manipulate them. Remind them that they can survive their emotional triggers, just like you can, just like I can. You will survive it, just like you did the last one, just like you will the next one. We can do this and even if we need a little help, we will survive this.