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I’m worried about myself

 

I’m having thoughts of suicide;

For immediate help:

If you are thinking about harming yourself, please get help now:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Text “START” to 741-741 or Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to your local health care provider or campus counseling service (during business hours) or campus security

If you are having thoughts of self-harm, know that you don’t have to deal with your difficult thoughts and feelings alone. There are resources out there to help you – if you feel like the people you know can’t handle your problems or if you feel like you are beyond being helped or you don’t want to tell your problems to people you know, there are many other ways to get help, support and guidance from people who are available to you 24/7. Counselors at hotlines, crisis centers, or emergency rooms are able to assist you during your worst hours – they will not judge you or force you to do something that will make things worse.  They are there to listen, support, understand and help.

If you are having thoughts about suicide, it probably means that your pain is unbearable and that you feel like the only way to solve your problems is to harm yourself. It is likely that you feel hopeless, alone and beyond help. At this very low point in your life, it is really important to know that it all can get better and the pain can ease if you get help. If you are able to give yourself a chance, and give it time, you can get to a better place in your life and you will be able to figure out ways to cope with your problems.

If you’re feeling suicidal and are not sure if you can stay safe, please call 911 or a hotline, call campus police/security, or go to the emergency department at the nearest hospital. There are many ways to get help right away.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, but you aren’t immediately thinking of hurting yourself and don’t have a plan, consider doing the following:

  • Reach out to someone you feel you can trust (a friend or family member)
    • It might help you feel less alone and overwhelmed if you talk about your feelings. Remember, now is not the time to worry about hurting their feelings – if it seems like a good friend or family member doesn’t “get it,” move on to someone else who can listen in a way that helps you and give you support in a way that is useful.
  • Make an appointment at the campus counseling center or with a health care provider
    • Ask to be seen as soon as possible even if you feel your situation is not an emergency. If they question your request for an urgent appointment, tell them you are having thoughts of harming yourself. When you have thoughts of suicide, it is best not to put off talking about your struggles – this is a very vulnerable time for you and the sooner you find support and guidance, the better.
  • Connect to an academic advisor or a religious/faith counselor
    • Most faith and academic professionals have access to resources to get you help.
  • Call a crisis hotline to talk with someone who has experience with these issues and can offer you support and connect you to resources
    • Text “START” to 741-741 or call (800) 273-TALK (8255)

Remember: With time and support, it can get better; remember that even if suicidal thoughts and impulses come and go (or even go away), they signal a serious problem and getting help is the best way to get better and heal.

I’ve lost someone to suicide;

Introduction: Losing someone to suicide is a tremendously painful and complicated experience. There is no set path or timeline for grieving, and each person processes their loss at their own pace and in their own way. There are no simple answers; however, there are many resources to support people who experience this type of loss.

If you are in the immediate aftermath of suicide loss, please see: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s I’ve Lost Someone resource for practical information about what you might expect to experience during this painful time. The site also has a good list of resources and advice on caring for yourself.

We are providing the information in the following cards as an additional resource to support you as you strive to cope with and understand your loss.

Grappling with “Why?”: It is common following a suicide to try to understand why it happened. It is natural and normal to want and search for answers. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to truly get full resolution to this question given the complexity of the factors that underlie suicide. Often, family members of someone who has died by suicide want to learn as much as possible about the mental state of their loved one and what led them to the act, as well as when, where and how their loved one died. Even once someone has cobbled together key facts, they still may not feel they can answer the question, “Why.” Finding answers, and/or accepting the inconclusiveness of those answers, is a commonly difficult but necessary part of the journey for many who are bereaved.

Understanding your feelings: Try to be patient with yourself as you grieve, and know that feeling flat, angry, confused, abandoned, guilty, alone, ashamed or even relieved are common after a suicide loss. You might experience some or all of these feelings at one time or in waves. Anger might be particularly hard to experience or express, as it can feel “wrong” to be angry toward a person who was apparently in extreme pain. Honoring your emotions without judging them can help you to process painful feelings and come to terms with your loss.

Talking to others and staying connected:

Immediately following a suicide, people often struggle with how to talk about their loss and the circumstances around the death. While many people find that it is best to acknowledge that their loved one died by suicide, we encourage you to decide what feels right for you.

When you are ready, it is very important to get support from the people in your life. It is ok if you want to be alone at times, but try not to shut others out. Try to reach out and be open to the people who reach out to you. In addition to friends and family, your religious or spiritual community might also be a source of support and comfort.

Over time, you may find that talking to people close to you about how you feel eases some of your suffering. It is especially valuable to connect with someone who is a particularly good listener and share with them. Maintaining connections can help you in the healing process.

Getting back to routine: When you’re ready, start re-engaging with your typical tasks, hobbies and social life. While it may feel impossible to go back to your usual routine after losing a loved one to suicide, getting back to some semblance of predictable daily life can be important for your own mental health and healing. Remember that enjoying your life is not a betrayal of your loved one.

Developing new routines: After losing someone to suicide, consider finding a new and active strategy for managing your grief and coping with your loss. You might participate in events that bring survivors of suicide loss together, volunteer within the survivor community, and/or express yourself artistically (e.g., through painting, drawing, writing or photography).

Taking care of yourself: It is very important to continue to meet your emotional and physical needs — grieving is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are able to attend to your health and well-being by continuing to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep, you will be better able to process your difficult feelings over time.

Seeking professional help:

Talking to a professional after losing someone to suicide may help you process and manage feelings of depression, isolation, confusion and anger. It may also help you feel supported without being concerned that you are burdening the people in your daily life.

The amount of time that someone spends in therapy to work through loss will vary from person to person – there is no set path or timeline for grieving. You may feel most comfortable meeting with a therapist one-on-one, or you may find it useful to speak with others who have experienced a similar loss in a support group or in group therapy.

Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of courage and strength. It is especially important to seek out professional support if you experience one or more of the following:

  • Prolonged grief and sadness
  • Intense emotions that do not decrease over time
  • Symptoms of severe distress, reaching the point where important functions are impacted (e.g., work or child care)
  • Unhealthy methods of coping (e.g., using alcohol and other drugs to numb feelings about what has happened)
  • Thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide

Things to keep in mind:

  • It is ok to cry by yourself and with others.
  • You can still say the person’s name out loud and have them be a part of your life. Incorporating rituals or other ways of memorializing the person you lost can help.
  • Take care of your physical health: exercise, eat well, and get sufficient sleep.
  • Anniversaries, holidays and birthdays can be particularly difficult after losing someone to suicide, and you may need to accommodate for these events as they come up. Perhaps plan in advance to spend the day with family or friends.

I’m feeling down;

Introduction: Feeling down, or “blue” or “bummed” is a common experience that inevitably accompanies living a full life. Usually, a person feels down about something specific – a disappointment, a misunderstanding, a failed attempt at something, at things just not going right, or in response to something sad or troubling around them. For most people, a down-in-the-dumps mood lasts briefly and then resolves as the cause or situation rights itself. Occasionally, a down mood can result from other emotions such as loneliness, feeling ill, or feeling stressed – this is also part of daily living. And lastly, a down mood can come from normal physical processes such as menstruation in girls and women and from illness, or lack of sleep. It is good to recognize that feeling down for a short period of time, especially when you know why you are feeling that way, is normal and that it is good to allow yourself to feel it and acknowledge it.

How is feeling down different from depression?

  • It doesn’t last as long; it is brief; you can “shake it off.”
  • It usually doesn’t significantly interrupt activities of daily living like taking care of yourself, going to work or school
  • It usually doesn’t cause significant physical symptoms that last for days. (You might not feel like eating a meal, but your appetite returns quickly; you have difficulty sleeping one night, but are able to sleep the next, etc.)
  • It usually does not impact relationships in a lasting way
  • It usually doesn’t impact your feelings or attitude about life in general
  • Changes in energy and concentration, if any, are brief
  • It usually doesn’t have an enduring impact on your feelings of self-worth

Try to identify what is making you feel down and, if possible, address it:

  • If it is a situation that can’t be changed, like getting a disappointing grade on an exam or a disappointing review from your boss, spend your energy thinking about new ways to reach your goals
  • If a person has caused you to feel down, either talk to them about your feelings, or give yourself space for a while.
  • If a medical issue is causing you to feel blue, try to eat well, get enough sleep and see a medical doctor if appropriate.
  • Try to figure out if other feelings are making you feel down and try to address them – if you are lonely, find a friend to be with, if you’ve had a bad day at work or school, figure out ways to avoid the same stressful problems tomorrow.

Try to figure out different ways to react to your situation:

  • If you didn’t do well on a test, give yourself a pep talk to try to do better; beating yourself up about it will keep you feeling down.
  • If someone you care about disappoints or hurts you, try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t mean to hurt you.
  • Try to take “glass half empty” thinking and turn it around to “glass half full.”

Reach out to your friends, family or loved ones:

  • Though it is common to want to isolate yourself when you feel down, companionship and positive interactions go a long way toward alleviating a down mood.
  • Take the opportunity to talk about your troubles and get things “off your chest.”

Try to stay active and keep your regular commitments:

  • Exercise is a powerful, effective way to lift your mood
  • Sticking to a routine helps you focus your energy on positive actions and shifts a “down” frame of mind
  • Go to classes even if you don’t feel like it – falling behind in your school work will make things worse.

Take care of yourself:

  • Keep a healthy diet; avoid alcohol or substance use
  • Get out and take a walk, go to the gym
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep
  • Take extra time to pamper yourself
  • Play your favorite music (avoid the sad songs) or do one of your favorite activities
  • See a medical doctor if you are feeling ill – there may be a medical cause for your low mood

I’m having trouble sleeping;

Introduction: Let’s face it, young people do not get enough sleep! However, it’s important to keep in mind that when sleep is disrupted by your schedule, by stress in your life, by worries, or for reasons that are not obvious, it can have a negative impact on your mood, energy level and ability to get through your day at school or work. It becomes a vicious cycle – not enough sleep causes problems and problems bring sleepless nights.

There are many ways to improve your sleep and break the vicious cycle – these interventions are called “sleep hygiene”.

Think about it: Try to figure out if there is a clear reason why you are not sleeping and try to address the underlying cause while you work on other strategies to improve your sleep. Problems in school, at home, with friends, in a relationship, or stressors in life can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep.

Make your room a place that promotes a good night’s rest:

  • Use your bed for sleep – try to avoid watching TV, doing your homework, or hanging out with friends on your bed
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet – if you are in a dorm or have a roommate, try using a white noise machine, small fan or relaxation app to block out startling or irritating noises
  • Make your bed every day – it can give you a feeling of order and routine

Lifestyle changes can improve your sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, pot and nicotine before bedtime – these substances stimulate your brain/body and impair sleep
  • Avoid social media or working on a computer just before bedtime – they can be physically and emotionally stimulating or upsetting
  • Avoid daytime naps – as much as possible, get up around the same time every day even if you do not have morning classes or work.
  • Exercise regularly (but not right before bedtime) – good physical health promotes good sleep
  • Try to use free time during the day for studying and night time for sleep
  • Eat healthy foods and avoid eating large meals just before bedtime
  • Develop a bed-time routine that signals preparation for sleep – read a book for pleasure, take a bath, listen to soothing music, try to wind down

I’d like some tips to manage stress and worries;

Introduction: It is not uncommon to have stressful periods when it can feel like our worries are interfering with daily life. Whether we are dealing with an external stressor (like starting college or adjusting to a new job), ongoing stress (like finances or family issues), or just feel like stress is getting the best of us – there are some lifestyle choices that can help minimize worries and promote overall well-being. A key to feeling better is to use wellness strategies aimed at helping you cope with the stressors in your life.

Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques (including meditation, yoga, breathing exercises) can help reduce tension and stress and increase feelings of well-being. It is important to be aware that some people find relaxation techniques difficult and they can even cause frustration and increased anxiety for some people. Do what works for you.

Reduce alcohol intake: Some people believe that having a drink helps them cope with stress when they are feeling distressed. Actually, alcohol can increase your anxiety and negatively distort your outlook on your worries, making things worse, not better.

Exercise regularly: Exercise is a natural stress reliever – even moderate exercise can have a positive effect on mood. A short walk for 15 or 20 minutes every day can make a difference. Physical wellness and mental health tend to go hand in hand.

Get enough sleep: Poor sleep can intensify stress and make it more difficult to cope with stressors. There are a number of strategies that can help you develop healthy sleep habits and address insomnia.

Develop healthy eating habits: What and when we eat can have a significant impact on how we feel. Taking the time to make healthy, nutritious food can help with anxiety and mood.

Engage in pleasurable activities: Take some time to do things you enjoy. This can help improve your mood and outlook and help you better manage the stress you are facing.

Consider professional help: If you’ve tried these suggestions for a while and are still feeling stressed or overwhelmed you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder or depression. It may be time to consider seeing a professional who might be able to help you feel better.

I’m struggling with eating;

Introduction: If you are constantly struggling with how you feel about your body, how much time you spend thinking about food or body image issues and you are developing unhealthy behavior patterns related to your eating, you may be concerned that you have an eating disorder. It is important to know that help and treatment for these problems is available. Since disordered eating can escalate into a full-blown eating disorder that requires medical attention, it is very important to seek help as soon as you are able.

Here are some things you may be experiencing that are signs of an eating problem.

Signs of “over-control” relating to food:

Many people with disordered eating find themselves preoccupied with thoughts of food and they can become very restrictive in what they eat.

Some signs that you are struggling with “over-control” relating to food include:

  • Limiting food intake (only having a small salad at lunch)
  • Constant worry about counting calories, avoiding fats and avoiding foods with calories
  • Rigid rules about which foods are “allowed”
  • Pushing “normal” food portions around on your plate and eating only a small amount of what is served

Signs of binging and purging behaviors:

Some people with disordered eating develop binging and purging behaviors. If you are developing these patterns, there is cause for concern:

  • Eating very large quantities of food (binging)
  • Purging – inducing vomiting or using diuretics or laxatives to “compensate” for eating “too much.” You want to go to the bathroom after every meal.

Signs of distorted body image issues:

Most people with eating disordered have a distorted body image:

  • Feeling bad or preoccupied about how you feel you look
  • Frequent negative comments about your body
  • Constantly referring to yourself as overweight or fat even though you are very thin
  • Constantly checking your weight and setting unrealistic goals for the “perfect weight.”

More signs of change in mood and behavior:

People who are struggling with an abnormal relationship with food often want to be left alone and usually feel secretive about their behavior.

  • You usually want to avoid group meals, eating at the table with your family or social events that involve food.
  • You don’t want people to notice how little (or how much) you are eating, you don’t want them to know how much and how often you exercise and you make up excuses why you have to run to the bathroom after meals.

It is common to feel a change in your mood when you have an eating disorder

  • You can feel depressed or down
  • You find that you are irritable and edgy more often
  • You feel defensive when people talk to you about their concerns or try to interfere with your food choices
  • You can feel anxious and stressed

Recognize the problem so you can get help:

It is important to be able to recognize and be willing to get help for an unhealthy relationship with food as soon as possible.

  • Eating disorders are associated with serious and sometimes, life threatening medical issues. It is important to get help before medical issues occur.
  • If you experience light-headedness, fainting episodes, heart palpitations, loss of your period or worrisome changes in your body, see a medical doctor as soon as possible.
  • There are medical and mental health treatments for eating disorders – there is help, hope and support for your struggles with food.

I’m worried my alcohol/substance use may be problematic;

Introduction: Many, but not all, teens and young adults drink alcohol and use substances as part of their social life. However, some people drink or use substances excessively – either they use substances or drink excessive amounts of alcohol in a very short period of time (parties, pledging activities, weekends), or they drink or use substances frequently throughout the week. Excessive drinking and substance use usually interferes with school or work performance, disrupts personal relationships and has a negative impact on a person’s health. If you are worried about your own use of alcohol or substances, there are some ways to tell if you should seek help for your concerns.

Many parts of your life seem to be “falling apart”

  • Your school work is suffering – grades are dropping, class attendance is slipping, teachers notice you aren’t doing as well as you used to
  • Your friendships are not as solid and close as they used to be
  • You have trouble keeping commitments, making it to appointments on time
  • You have less interest in taking care of yourself or taking care of your things
  • You feel physically awful – You can’t sleep or are sleeping too much; can’t eat or are eating too much; have headaches, stomach problems, etc.

You’re more moody or feel you’ve changed:

  • Excessive substance/alcohol use can cause you to feel down, irritable, “hyper,” “jumpy,” or flat (“blah”) more often than you used to feel
  • You get defensive or annoyed when people express concern about your substance use
  • You don’t enjoy activities that used to give you pleasure; you feel like you have to push yourself to do things that used to be easy to do
  • You feel like you want to be alone more often, and your old friendships might be more tense or distant

You usually turn to substance use or drinking alcohol to “solve problems”

  • You want a drink, a joint, etc., before facing social situations that make you uneasy or anxious
  • You drink or use substances to escape a problem or difficulty in your life
  • You drink or use substances when you feel ill after a night of too much partying or binge drinking
  • You frequently use substances inappropriately to help you sleep (smoke pot to chill out) or to concentrate on school work (stimulants), or perform better under stress

It’s important to seek help when: You might already have “warning signs” of a more serious problem; it is important to seek help and support immediately when you notice the following:

  • You can’t stop using substances or drinking excessively or can’t stop using substances every day even though you want to
  • More often than not, once you start partying, you can’t stop
  • You have had blackouts – complete loss of memory while drunk or stoned
  • You have had frequent injuries (for example, bumps and bruises from falls) directly caused by excessive substance use
  • You have done risky or irresponsible things that you wouldn’t do if you weren’t using substances; you put yourself or others in harm’s way
  • Your mood is so low, you’ve thought about dying or suicide

It can be hard to acknowledge that you have a problem and difficult to know how to get help or even be sure you are ready to change. The good news is there are a lot of resources for individuals who may be struggling with drinking and other substance.