Highs and Lows: My journey with self-doubt, anxiety, and assault

Happiness.

What does it mean to you? Is it a specific feeling? A destination? A goal? We all strive for this abstract concept of “being happy.” But what does it even mean?

To me, happiness is about learning to float with the ebb and flow of life’s tides. It is not about the absence of negative experiences or feelings, but rather the acceptance that good does not exist without bad and that every part of our lives is part of the grander scheme of who we are and where we fit into this universe.

Don’t get me wrong: I know as well as the next person that this is much easier said than done, and I struggle every single day in adopting this mindset and lifestyle, but this is the story of why I continue to believe that everything happens for a reason.

I went into my freshman year of college feeling invincible, like I could conquer the world. I was excited for the next four years and to see what magical experiences awaited. I had this idea that college was going to be the best years of my life.

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Dee in Rye, NH

Although I have experienced my fair share of magic, I was completely unaware of the ways in which these next few years were going to tear me down. As I was putting up pictures and decorations to make my dorm room a new place to call home, I was unaware of the depths that life was about to drag me to.

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Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope

Forgotten Soldiers: Memorial Day, Veterans, & Mental Health

When we think of Memorial Day, many of us think about a three-day weekend filled with family barbecues, drinking beer, red, white, and blue decorations, and an excuse for department stores to hold huge sales. But there is so much more to this holiday. Memorial Day is a day completely set aside to honor the brave souls who have lost their lives protecting our country.

As we know, there is a heavy and negative stigma attached to mental health, resulting in negative beliefs, self-stigma, lack of motivation to seek help and in self-esteem, and can eventually lead to destructive behavior. What many people don’t know is that these barriers to mental health care are even more prominent in the military, which has led to catastrophically high levels of suicide and mental health cases in veterans and military personnel currently active in the military.

Article dear hope

How I Learned Not to Romanticize Mental Illness

Let me set the scene: approximately one in the morning, awake typing at the computer, eyes sliding shut, surrounded by anime posters and photos of my friends taped to the wall, trapped in forums and social media sites. At fifteen, I was your average blunt-bangs-wearing, journal-writing, hanging-out-in-a-graveyard teenage queer girl stereotype.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I romanticized mental illness and mental health issues. I longed for an emotionally tortured soul who might be able to accompany me into the late hours of the night, kept awake by insomnia, angry at the world for its discrimination. I ached for someone who I could save – or the other way around – from the trials and traumas that life hands us. With low self-esteem and a deep sense of loss after my mother’s death, I was a mess of Post-Traumatic Martyr Syndrome (that’s not real – it’s my name for how survivors of loss feel the constant need to sacrifice themselves for ‘the greater good’ because they lived and the other person did not) and striped arm warmers courtesy of the mid-2000s.

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