Emma George

@emma-george-4 | contributor
I have a pair of socks from both my time spent in a convent training to be a nun and my stay in a psychiatric hospital so that's kinda fun. I'm a 22 year old college student who loves being outdoors and is trying to be a teacher.
Emma George

Why We Need to Stop Being Afraid of Talking About Suicide

Suicide . The word scared the heck out of you, didn’t it? I’m sure my grandmas both cringed. Sorry, grandmas. I couldn’t say the word two months ago . It terrified me. Now, it’s a part of my daily vocabulary — something that will come up when my girlfriends call to talk before bed. “I am suicidal” is something that takes the same amount of effort as saying I have a cold. I don’t want to discredit the word. It’s a serious topic and something so many need to seek help for. But, if we are so scared of the word, how are able to do anything about it? If parents and friends shut down when someone reaches out, that person is more likely to keep going about their business of being sick. If there’s anything I would like to tell someone suffering out there who comes across my words, it’s that you are sick. I don’t mean this as something negative. I just want to remind you it’s not your fault. It’s an illness. Let me tell you again — this is not your fault. Now here’s my message to parents, friends and kittens of those going through this: Just be there. I have the most incredible support system and that’s all they do — be there. I truly credit these people with saving my life. This doesn’t mean it didn’t take extreme courage to dial the phone initially. If you are the one to answer the phone or hold them through the night, this is all they need to be told: They are safe. You are there. This will pass. Keep breathing. It’s pretty simple, really. I am begging those who need help: reach out. I am begging those who get reached out to: stay calm. This is a beautiful, sick life at stake. This isn’t an illness to fear; it’s just an illness to fight. I have dangled my foot over the edge too many times. Some nights, driving isn’t safe. There have been summer nights when summer camp hasn’t been safe. Just keep the person safe. The thing is, I know I’m not alone, which is the truly terrifying thing about the word. Neither are you. I know you don’t want to die, but rather you just don’t see any other option for escaping. I really do know. I’m not 100 percent cured and this is something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. The message I’m trying to send to the world is this: Get. Help. This is an illness that takes too many lives. Thank you to those who have saved me. I will never be able to say that enough. If this isn’t something you struggle with — thank God — then be the person someone else can thank someday. You can do this, and frankly, you don’t have any other choice.

Emma George

5 Things That Got Harder When I Was Diagnosed With a Mental Illness

The onset of serious life-bothering mental illness didn’t come for me until I was 21 years old and found myself admitting myself into a psychiatric hospital. I had lived with a mild form of depression since kindergarten, but I didn’t know a different life, so the amount if affected my daily life was little. It wasn’t until the months of trying to rebuild a life for myself after being diagnosed with bipolar II that I realized the simple things were no longer so simple. 1. Breathing. I’m constantly yawning, and have sudden deep breaths. I simply don’t get enough air. That leaves me suddenly forgetting to breathe and making a scene trying to inhale. 2. Getting scars. Do I have those scars that come along with the stereotype of mental illness that I’m not proud of? Yup. Do I have scares from cat scratches that I often find others taking notice of because they know my illness? Also yup. 3. Calling my mom. Seriously I’m fine. I just wanted to call. Please stop worrying. 4. Sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Also known as the college student’s “diet.” For me and my bottles of daily medication, it’s a nightmare that sends my symptoms into something much worse, has me shaking, and takes away the effect of the much needed medication. 5. Sleep. Am I sleeping away depression or am I just a girl who had a long week and wants a nap? Every morning I sleep in or every evening I spend lounging in bed worries someone. I’m sure the list can go on and I’m sure readers can add their own, but at least those who can nod their head and agree with me never have to go without a dull moment. Mental illness likes to keep it fresh and interesting. I never thought such basic things like those listed above could become such of a big deal, but at this point might as well roll with it. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Natasha-R-Graham

Emma George

The 'Hangover' You Experience the Morning After a Panic Attack

The next morning… I don’t mean one of those where you wake up wondering why your pants are hanging from the middle of the zipline. This morning still comes with a hangover. Can I coin a term here? I’m going to call it an “attack-over” (brainstorming still in progress) — the morning after a panic attack. Lets chat here. Once again, I want to state that the goal of writing (besides being incredibly therapeutic for me) is education and support. This isn’t to scare or worry anyone. So, you wake up having slept like a rock. Once you finally gain slow enough breaths and the shakes settle, your body crashes into the sleep it so badly needs. It’s an odd sensation, I think, to be so exhausted and stationary, too heavy to move, yet you can’t sleep. Go run up a hill at noon in the middle of a Nebraska July and tell me how you feel. Exhausted? You betcha. Thinking about sleep once you reach the top? Not exactly. It’s a different kind of tired. I knew it was coming, which is often even more terrifying than the “I’m going to die here” ideation. Increased sleeping, decreased appetite — I know the symptoms like I know the 4-H pledge. The next morning always feels like a hangover — mortified of what you did and said, no idea where your clothes are, damp sheets from the sweat, desperately in search of a glass of water and your myriad of pills. You also know that the state of last night is going to linger to the next few days, wanting to creep up the next night. I am in complete debt of those who pull me through time and time again. You know how “pathetic” you sounded and it’s a double edged sword if you reached out. If you didn’t, then who knows the outcome. But you did, which means someone witnessed you in the most vulnerable state. First of all, good work. Second — and this is me coming to terms with myself — those who love you enough to watch you shake aren’t going anywhere. I’ve lost friends over this illness. It’s straight up annoying for me to deal with the wearied cycle that is  mental illness  and certainly seems even more so for those being dragged along. At this point, I’m certain some just aren’t going anywhere. This is my soap box for reaching out. If you know what I’m talking about: I’m so sorry, dear. If not: oh man, am I jealous. I know you’re exhausted and there are dirty Kleenexes on the floor and you wish you could stay in bed for the next week being allowed to grieve, but the damn little bugger called life is going on, and you’ve got work. There’s also a strange smell coming from you. Go take a stinkin’ shower. Here’s what I’m going to tell myself and you: please just keep breathing on. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter.” — My favorite flag raising thought of the day. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via fizkes

'I Don't Look Depressed': What Depression Feels Like for Me

“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling  —  that really hollowed out feeling. That’s what dementors are.” — J.K Rowling. If you’ve read “Harry Potter,” you’ll understand Rowling’s reference. If not, let me describe a dementor. They are faceless, black-cloaked things that feed off happiness and suck the good out of people, leaving nothing more than a lifeless, cold shell. Those who suffer depression may understand the feeling Rowling describes in her novels. Those who don’t may shrug off the reference. For someone who doesn’t suffer from the terrible illness, depression is hard to describe. This difficulty has led to a social stigma of depressed people, subjecting the sufferers to embarrassment, fear and even more loneliness than they already feel. The stigma further extends to talking about any type of mental health issue. People have this fixed idea of what mentally ill people should be like. They think mentally ill people are ones who have suffered great loss, or had a hard upbringing, or did something to bring it on themselves. Many believe there needs to be some kind of specific, heart-wrenching trigger. For some people with depression, this couldn’t be anymore wrong. I have depression. But I don’t fit the stereotype of a depressed person. I didn’t have a rough upbringing. I was a happy child. I always had food in my stomach, clothes on my back and I was surrounded by love. I had good friends. I am intelligent, I got good grades all through school. The only negative thing about my school reports was my constant chatter and socializing during class, which is hardly a warning sign for depression. I get along with my brothers. My parents love me. There is no violence at home. I am doing well at university. I have loving friends and an amazing boyfriend who supports and loves me unconditionally. And I still suffer a depressive anxiety disorder. For someone who has never experienced a mental illness, it’s difficult to describe. For me it is the days I cannot physically get out of bed. It is the days where staring at the roof is easier than dealing with happy, “normal” people. It is not having enough strength to cry, let alone strip myself of the clothes I’d been wearing for the last week and shower. For me it is the days where I cannot eat, or I overeat to try and make myself feel better. For me it is the days where my mood swings are so violent I’m scared my boyfriend is going to leave because there is no way he was prepared to deal with this. For me it is the panic attacks in the middle of the night and the middle of the day that come from nowhere. For me it is the inability to concentrate on school work or on my job. It is the sickening feeling of letting people down every time you unsuccessfully try to complete something else. For me it was cleaning up blood and sobbing on the shower floor then trying hard to hide the scars so no one thought I was “crazy. “ For me it is the days where I feel nothing at all. I feel hollow, alone, empty. For me it is the years I struggled with the secret because I was too scared and embarrassed to get help. Even with the help of a psychologist and medication I still feel unstable most of the time. I do not have 100 percent good days, but does anyone? I find some comfort in knowing the number of good days outweighs the bad. The reason I am writing this is not for the attention. I don’t want the sympathy. What I want is to give some kind of insight in a hope that people will begin to understand and continue to work towards breaking the stigma. I want people to understand that the most beneficial thing you can do to help a mentally ill person is just to be there and not judge them for what they are going through. Let them talk if they need to talk. Let them cry on you. Let them get angry, but make an effort to calm them down. Never tell them it’s just a faze or that their just sad. Depression is not sadness. Depression is the numb feeling that can develop from being sad. It is a thing someone lives with daily — a thing they are trying to battle on their own. Do not make it harder; try your hardest to make things easier. If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.