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    Noah
    Noah @nsdf60
    contributor

    Studying Philosophy to Help Mental Health With Schizoaffective Disorder

    In 2015, I received a scholarship to play football in college. I was majoring in kinesiology with a dream of becoming an exercise physiologist. For my first few weeks, I was doing really well in my classes — and even better on the football field. Things were going great! Until they weren’t. I remember sitting at the table during lunch break, when I heard a group of students joking and laughing. No biggie, right? Well, to me, it was. I was sure they were laughing at me. I had no reason to believe this, but I was sure of it regardless. I returned my tray to the cafeteria bar and left to head to my dorm. I had some more classes that day and then football practice. Everywhere I went, I had this unshakable feeling of being watched. By the end of the day, it was unbearable. I was laying in my bed, feeling exhausted, and trying to sleep when I heard a deep, booming laugh. I sat up in bed and looked around. No one was there. This happened a few times before I called my mom in distress. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but apparently it was “delusional” and made no sense. She came and picked me up the next day. I dropped my classes and withdrew from the school. Shortly after, I got a job — which I was only able to hold for a short time. Things quickly began to spiral out of control. I turned to drugs and alcohol in the hope that it would make me feel better. This only compounded the problem — to the point that I was ready to die. I knew I had to do something. I called my psychiatrist — who decided to put me in an intensive outpatient program. It was during this time that I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Over the next few years, I tried to work several jobs — none of which worked out. I began to lose my sense of self-worth. I again turned to alcohol, and I drank heavily every day for a year. On May 13, 2020, though, I took my last drink. I began taking all of my medications as directed and going to therapy too. It was during this time that I became acquainted with the study of philosophy. I began to immerse myself in the philosophies of Siddhartha Gautama, Aristotle, Epicurus, and even Albert Camus. It became quickly apparent to me that I had been measuring my self-worth all wrong. My value is not in my ability to work but is instead intrinsic — at least according to some. I began to ask questions. “What is a good life?” “What makes life worth living?” “What creates and sustains true happiness?” While there are no cut-and-dry answers to these questions, I believe the search for those answers is inherently valuable. For instance, for me, a “good life” involves having money, a nice house, and a good job. Enter the philosophies of Siddhartha Gautama and Epicurus. They both assert that the separation from unnecessary desires is paramount in living a good life and that contentment is the key to attaining and maintaining true happiness. Wise words indeed — but much easier said than done. However, if we can work towards contentment with our situation, rather than struggling incessantly to obtain things that frankly don’t matter, we just may find ourselves in a lighter state of mind. That isn’t to say that we will no longer find ourselves in the vice grips of depression from time to time. If it were that simple, some of us may not need therapy or antidepressants. All I’m saying is that working towards contentment can be a worthwhile endeavor. For some people, this might be keeping a gratitude journal because it can help you appreciate the small things even on bad days. Let me ask another question — what really matters? This is a general question, I know, but bear with me. Let’s say, hypothetically, that nothing matters and that searching for meaning in a meaningless universe is futile. You might find this situation depressing, but if you dig deeper, you might find it liberating in a sense. If everything society deems important, like money, status, and popularity is in fact meaningless, then we may have no obligation to adhere to such standards. We can create our own meaning. Now, when I ask myself what really matters, my answer is relationships, self-love, self-care, treating everyone with dignity, and helping where I can. That is why I wrote this article — to share ideas that I hope will help someone. I don’t claim to be a brilliant philosopher, and I’m sure there are some logical flaws in this writing. After all, I am still a student of philosophy — and I always will be. My hope is that if you feel like philosophy could help you, you may take the plunge yourself. When you read philosophy, it is important to keep in mind that these writers are only people, and their philosophies are not law. You may agree or disagree or even form your own opinions on their thoughts. If you find a certain area of philosophy triggering, please stop studying. After all, some concepts and topics can be pretty uncomfortable. I have benefited greatly from studying philosophy, and if you want to read philosophy, I hope it helps you too.

    Community Voices

    Instead of having life be a constant competition against each other we should...

    Focus on helping lift each other up as well as ourselves. #MentalHealth #College #Life #Anxiety #Depression

    3 people are talking about this
    Kaden M (he/they)

    How I'm Getting Through My Writer's Residency With Disabilities

    I struggle with focus and restlessness, often internally and sometimes externally, hyperactive. To be frequently bombarded with intrusive thoughts, whether they are the irrational kind intrinsic to my OCD, or the very real kind associated with my C-PTSD… intrusive thoughts and memories make focusing a nearly impossible task. Throw ADHD and challenges with auditory processing disorder into the mix, and voila, focus is out the window. I am currently at a residency for my Master of Fine Art in Creative Writing. I am inspired here by so many beautiful voices and words. By literature. By the people. By nature. By the lectures. Unfortunately, with beauty, there is sometimes pain, as this is the way of life. I find myself really struggling with complex PTSD and my ADHD as I sit through long lectures and engage with emotional topics. I find myself experiencing the sensory overload of autism and the intrusive thoughts and anxiety of OCD. I am grateful that my bipolar disorder is in check. How am I getting through? I will share the following ways I am not only surviving but hopefully thriving as I pursue becoming a better writer. 1. I reach out to my therapist… often. I am lucky that my therapist allows this. 2. I use my fidget toys during lectures to combat hyperactivity and sensory seeking. 3. I told the director of my program that I am dealing with PTSD and requested an accommodation to get up during lectures and presentations as needed. I am fortunate that she has been very understanding. 4. I take movement breaks in between writing and lectures! 5. I journal my distressing thoughts. 6. Most of all, I try to give myself grace. This is the hardest part, showing both my adult self and my younger self compassion and care. I am sure I am not the only one at this residency with these struggles. Far from. And yet, I can often feel alone in my debilitation. I often feel I am not writing enough. Working hard enough. Too hyperactive. Too spacey. Too anxious. Too sensitive. Too troubled by the past and trauma. But these things aren’t true. I am perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else. I am neurodivergent and disabled. I have a beautiful mind, even if it is dark at times.

    Community Voices

    Starting college with POTS

    I started college ! It's been really stressful but today I figured everything out access-wise. Someone decided it was a good idea to put all the accessible bathrooms on the boys floors 🙄 and I ended up in the only rez hall without AC 🤦luckily I talked to access services and they had my back ☺️ #PosturalOrthostaticTachycardiaSyndrome #Dysautonomia #College

    Community Voices

    Starting back at university on Monday

    <p>Starting back at university on Monday</p>
    5 people are talking about this
    Community Voices
    Kenzie Carlson

    6 Things to Know When Bringing Your Service Dog to College

    In May of 2021, I received my service dog Atlas from a local program and in August 2021, I began my senior year of college with him by my side. Do you or someone you love have a service dog they will be bringing to their college or university this fall? Here are a few things I learned this school year that could benefit other service dog teams. 1. It Is a Big Commitment Having a service dog in general is a big commitment. You have to keep up with their training and oftentimes put their needs before your own. In a college environment, it is even more of a commitment because dorms and apartments aren’t set up like a house. Depending on your conditions, tasks that take less time at your house might take a little longer at your apartment or dorm if you don’t have direct access to the things your dog needs such as grass to potty in. In my case, I was able to put in a request for a housing accommodation and was placed in a first-floor apartment with easy access to a large grassy area for my service dog to play and do his business. 2. Communicate With Professors It is incredibly important to both your success and your service dog’s success that you communicate openly with your professors throughout your college experience with your service dog. Let them know if you need a certain seat in the classroom to accommodate your service dog and the things you and your dog need from the professor to have a successful semester in their class. I’m generally a very open person, so most people in my classes knew why I had him and my professors and fellow students were great about him. Being open and honest about your needs as a team can help you have a great semester and maybe even inspire professors to help advocate for you in classroom situations that come up. 3. Set Yourself and Your Dog Up for Success Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that although my service dog is incredibly well-trained, he may make the occasional mistake. As his handler, it is my job to set him up for success. On the first day of classes during the fall semester, I vividly remember walking into my communications research class without getting my dog in the mindset of working. As a result, he made a mistake and barked a few times at people coming in the door for class. I of course was mortified by this, but quickly remembered that in order to set him up for success, I needed to take a few minutes to go through some basic commands before class so he realized it was time to work. From that day forward, he never made as much as a peep in class. 4. Having a Service Dog in Student Housing Similar to advocating for you and your service dog with your professors, it’s equally as important to advocate for yourself in terms of your student housing options. Be sure that you know which housing options offer what you and your dog need to be successful when working, but also during downtime. I was lucky enough to get an apartment on the first floor with easy access to grass and very close to the shuttle stop for my complex, which was exactly what I needed. My dog needed somewhere to play off-duty and I needed first-floor access as well as to not have to hike across the complex to take the shuttle to class. 5. Bringing Your Dog to Class Bringing your service dog to class can be tricky depending on the class layout. For example, in fall 2021, I took a class with a laboratory portion to it. Luckily, it was a small class and did not require my service dog to wear anything special to protect himself. All of my other classes were in regular classrooms or computer labs, which made it easy for Atlas to lay under my desk or beside it to stay out of the way. My biggest advice when bringing your service dog to your college classes would be to try and scope out the classroom before the semester starts so that you can get a feel for it and get an idea of where you and your service dog can sit. 6. Dealing With Criticism Dealing with criticism is something that as a service dog handler, I’m still learning to do. In college, I was definitely not expecting the amount of criticism I would receive from students about my service dog when they didn’t even know my dog. But at the end of the day, that’s just it: they don’t know my dog. They don’t know that we do dedicated training sessions at least once a day to work on obedience and tasks to make sure he is up to par. They don’t know that he spent the first year and a half of his life preparing to help me by learning over 20 commands and tasks. At the end of the day, you as the handler know your dog best and that is what you should cling to when bringing your service dog to college with you for the first time.

    Community Voices

    Relatable songs

    I found a song called "This is a Song not a Suicide Letter" by Rory and I can't stop listening to it. Not because I've actually done/gone through what the song talks about but because I so easily could. It talks about a girl who OD's but doesn't die and it's a message to her younger self that "this is not the end" and things do get better. I want to believe that.

    I'm not actively suicidal, but man being not alive sounds so appealing right now.

    The other day my therapist gently called me out on how I use sarcasm to not lie, but also not actually admit that I'm not okay. Like if I sarcastically say "I'm great" then of course my therapist knows I'm not, but I haven't actually said "I'm struggling." And I've just been thinking about that a lot and I sent her an email where I was actually honest without sarcasm and I told her I know I'm not okay, that I am really struggling no matter how much I want to pretend I'm not.

    But like the weight of admitting that feels like it's going to crush me. I want to DO something about it, not just sit with it. Even though sitting with it is probably what I need to do at the moment. But it's so hard. I'm so tired of how hard life is.

    #Suicide #Therapy #CheckInWithMe #SuicidalIdeation #beingreal #struggling #College #studentmentalhealth #MentalHealth #ihopethingsdogetbetter #Music #Emotionalsupport

    1 person is talking about this
    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    Chronic pain college essentials

    I’m going to college soon, what are some things if you’ve gone that you would absolutely recommend for pain relief/management? #ChronicPain #College #Spoonie

    7 people are talking about this