You’re Not Alone. Three simple, yet inspiring words that sometimes we all need to hear at one point or another. Whether you seem to have it all together or if you appear as if you are bursting at the seams, there is someone out there that is having the exact same horrible, exciting, scary, happy, anxiety inducing, thrilling, overwhelming, joyful, or inescapable season in their life.
Coming into college, I was the average high school overachiever—very involved on campus, three sport athlete and All American, mission trip goer, habitat for humanity builder and the list goes on. When I came to the University of Georgia, it became unclear to me what my “thing” would be. At my high school, there were 400 kids total, so it was easy to be involved in everything. When I suddenly found myself surrounded by over 700 student organizations ranging from Student Government to UGA Miracle, I couldn’t pinpoint the one specific thing that I wanted to get out of my college experience. So, naturally, I booked myself full, Monday I would attend a sorority chapter and then attend a Student Government meeting. Tuesday, I would attend my Junior Panhellenic meeting. Wednesday, I would attend a UGA Miracle committee meeting. Thursday was a social event put on by the sorority and then Friday was a time to either make friends, do work or God forbid I want to sleep. At this point I was also taking 15 hours, half of which were 8 am classes and pursuing a pre-med track. To say that I felt alone, lost and overwhelmed was an understatement.
It was not until my spring semester that I was confronted with a wakeup call from back home. I was walking out of yet another meeting when three simple words appeared on my phone… “Parker killed himself.” My stomach dropped. Parker? Parker was a stud athlete, an active member in my high school community and well-liked by all. Parker seemed to be the whole package and yet felt so alone that he took his own life. As I stood stunned in the parking lot of Bolton, I said to myself, “If someone like Parker could take his own life when surrounded by life teammates, what does that same kid look like at a school like UGA where, even when surrounded by 35,000, can feel like the loneliest place on earth and can be the easiest place to slip through the cracks.”
The next week I filed to begin my own student organization, You’re Not Alone. The mission of the organization is twofold: 1. To educate on the topic of mental illness and to debunk the stigma surrounding the topic and 2. To create a safe and inclusive place on campus so that no one has to ever feel as if they are alone in anything that they are going through.
My personal mission with this blog is to highlight important social platforms that provide others with a voice and the inspiration to get through whatever season they are amongst. I believe in doing things for a greater purpose and that is to provide anyone reading this with the sense that they are not alone.
Today I want to touch on a few apps that have shown to be helpful for many individuals struggling with mental illness. The three that I would like to introduce today are 7Cups, Breath2Relax and Headspace. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Breath2Relax is “a simple, intuitive, and attractive mobile app designed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology to teach breathing techniques to manage stress. The skills taught may be applied to those with anxiety disorders, stress, and PTSD.” Another app called Headspace was also reviewed by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and described it as being “targeted to anyone who wants to learn meditation to reduce anxiety and stress and improve their attention and awareness; good for a beginner to establish a regular meditative routine. The skills taught include mindfulness and cognitive diffusion, breathing exercises, meditation practice, tips for increased relaxation, concentration; may be applied to anxiety and depressive disorders, PTSD, and OCD, especially in conjunction with a health provider.” The third application is 7Cups which is a handheld therapist. With this app, you are able to live chat with individuals who have been trained on various topics from depression to anxiety and a lot in between. It can be hard to schedule a therapy appointment for many different reasons, however, with this app, you don’t have to get off your couch to seek some sort of help.
These are just a few out of the thousands of apps out there that have been known to help individuals struggling with mental illness. The strategy put forth by these applications are to get individuals hooked into their strategies—whether it is that you incorporate their meditation techniques into your daily schedule and become dependent on its features or if it is that you appreciate the organization behind the app so much that you donate to the parent company. In the end, the ultimate goal of the companies putting forth the application is to gain additional funding for mental health research and ultimately, help alleviate all users of their symptoms. I strongly encourage anyone struggling with mental illness to try out one of these applications to discover their benefits, however, therapy and ultimately seeking professional help is the best solution. Godspeed and always remember, You Are Not Alone!