Do you remember how as a little kid you had this belief that if you couldn’t see someone they couldn’t see you? We generally believe we grow out of it. In a sense we do. But really we don’t.
I can’t even count the number of times I have pretended to be busy or avoided eye contact walking down the street or through the mall, afraid that someone will talk to me. This may be considered different, in a sense it’s more of a “don’t bug me” shield, but at the same time, I act like I’m not looking at them, so they’re not there and if they are there, they don’t see me.
Arriving at university, profs see the stress, they see signs of anxiety and depression and they ignore it. Yes, the university has trained them to recognize the signs of stress, depression, and anxiety, and they’ve been given nice little pamphlets detailing what to do if they suspect a student may comment suicide or is in serious distress (pst – it says give them another pamphlet directing them to someone else). But at the end of the day, in such high stress environments, pretty much every student is stressed, especially at this time of year. Can you really blame a prof for not being able to discriminate between haven’t-slept-in-three-days stressed and oh-my-God-so-much-to-do stressed from I-can’t-do-it stressed?
It was refreshing Friday to hear my Child and Adolescent Psychopathology prof say “I know a lot of you are probably struggling, this time of year is tough. Don’t struggle alone, get help, if you don’t know where to turn, email me or the TA and we’ll get you in touch with someone.”
I’m not saying that she has helped so much and should be nominated for all sorts of awards, especially since really she wasn’t doing anything beyond human kindness, but this was the first time in my university career I had a professor acknowledge that many students were probably at their limits and push them to get help.
Yes, I’ve had professors acknowledge in a lazy way that they recognize students are at the point in the semester where they’re tired, but this was the first time I have had a professor, very seriously acknowledge students’ pain and passionately urge them to get help.
The timing of Dr Roger’s comment was almost too perfect, as by the time she said this, I was stressed to the max. Looking around the room, I could tell I was not the only one who hadn’t slept more than 6 hours a night in the last week. I’m okay though, I know how to be ok, I trust that it will all work out in the end. I hold on to the fact that in less than a month I can breathe again.
I think a lot of people have a mentality that if they talk about suicide it will put ideas in people’s heads. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I think a lot of people also fall prey to two issues:
- They shouldn’t be stressed – ____ is nothing.
- I shouldn’t coddle them – they need to learn to deal with things.
The problem with these is:
- Stress is subjective. Stress in the mechanical sense is a strain, stress in the people sense is feeling overwhelmed – it’s not the strain, it’s the perception of the strain.
- Telling someone to learn to deal isn’t giving them what they need.
I’m not saying that you should always let people wallow in self-pity, and I’m not saying you have to react to a nuclear melt down over spilled milk. But has someone saying “You’re over-reacting” or “You just need to deal with things better ” ever made you feel better?
Certainly never made me feel better.
Sometimes, people just need you to listen and say, “That sucks, want a hug?” And sometimes they need a reminder that it will be over soon, that soon life will be easier and someone cares.
Me, I complain sometimes, it often seems that I want someone to fix things, or that I am totally overwhelmed. Really I just need to say it aloud, I know I can do it – I comfort myself that I have survived thus far, so I should be good to keep going.
I thought a lot about this, it played on my mind all weekend, how to convey Dr Roger’s message and mine, without sounding cheesy or preachy, or repeating all the stuff I said in my last post about suicide. And I realized, I had nothing to say, I had things to share.
See when I have a bad day, I text someone, and this happens:
But I also have this wonderful set of bookmarks in my internet browser, and a folder on my laptop full of little things that will make me smile. Sites like UpWorthy always have some cool stuff to make you smile, but in case you are in desperate need of a laugh, or just a reminder that hey, life ain’t over yet, I present to you in no particular order, the top 10 things that made me laugh this week*
- #Roofbreakup I feel bad, love just died, but it is so damn funny. If you haven’t been on the internet lately – basically, this comedian is hanging out on his roof, couple comes up to have a couple fight and he live tweets their break up.
- 31 gifs that will make you laugh (the K-Mart “giffing out” commercials on the other hand are just weird)
- The perfect tell off – Why assuming makes an ass out of you and me. On an interesting side note, driving home from Run Club Sunday I was on a high, started dancing in my car, I glanced over, this 8 year old with an iPhone (don’t even ask me why an 8 year old needs an iPhone) is filming me, when she saw I saw her she gets this “Oh shit” look, and ducks. I shrugged and kept right on dancing. At least someone got a laugh?
- Kira is more dangerous to my health than I was previously aware of, here is why.
- If your friends were cats versus dogs. Actually all their stuff is pretty funny. Yeah, I know, I’m sort of a crazy cat lady.
- Puppies. That is all. (Check out your school’s website, uOttawa actually has pet therapy, apparently it is becoming more common.)
- Kittens being scared by iguanas. And making friends with a hedgehog. Expect the unexpected anyone?
- Christmas commercials. Some of them are a little bizarre, but commercials like the K-Mart “Show Your Joe” are just too funny not to laugh.
- This guy just makes me smile. “Skinny is just skinny, that’s all it is…All these things skinny promises are a lie.”
- I’m not happy about winter coming, gone are the days when I took joy in “the pretty snow” particularly after Sunday’s run in -24C on slippery sidewalks. I need a white Christmas, but after that I’m good with spring. This makes me smile though.
So I joked a lot, I laughed a lot, really I just want to say – If you’re struggling, I promise you someone loves you. You’re reading this post, so I love you. There is a little at the end of the tunnel. Just stick it out, but don’t stick it out alone. Call someone. Pet a cat. Drink a hot chocolate.
*Effects may have been exaggerated by my excessive sleep deprivation. No seriously, psychologists knew it would never pass ethics to test sleep deprivation in human subjects, so they created universities, where they would have an endless supply of sleep deprived participants.