Posts Tagged 'mental health'

So long Marquette

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It is so hard to believe that I am writing my last blog to all of you right now. I remember writing my first blog almost two years ago when I started at Marquette as a transfer student. And now, it’s already all coming to an end. It is time for me to graduate!

Looking back over the time I have spent blogging for MU Employee Wellness, I realize how much I have grown myself. I knew right from the start that being well is more of a journey than anything else. It is not something you can just do overnight, but it is something we all have to work at. And although that can be hard sometimes, it is absolutely, 100% worth it. Being well means everything from physical, emotional, mental, social, intellectual, occupational, financial, spiritual, and more. Basically, wellness is anything that you want it to be. To me, wellness is anything that gives you life, not just simply surviving. My wellness is eating healthy, exercising regularly, creating a balance in life, making time for friends and family, spending time with animals, making art, enjoying the outdoors, and yes, relaxing too. Sometimes my relaxation includes binge watching Netflix, don’t tell anyone. But the point is, wellness is not quite what it first seems to be. It is not just about eating healthy and exercising, wellness is anything that makes you a better you.

My wellness journey has been anything but smooth, but I always manage to somehow motivate myself to get back on track. Wellness has played such an important role in my life, especially when trying to deal with health issues. And I am so thankful for everything in life that lead me towards always trying to better myself and to be well. I am especially thankful for having had the experience of sharing my journey and everything I have learned along the way with all of you. I am looking forward to continuing my wellness journey after I leave Marquette.

It is so bittersweet to be leaving campus and this blog, but I am beyond excited at the opportunity to grow myself and my wellness even further. I will be staying in Milwaukee (at least for a little while yet), so I hope to see you all out being well and enjoying Milwaukee’s summer.

I am off to accomplish some great things in life, I leave you all in the very capable hands of Diana. So long Marquette, it has been a great, although very short, two years with you.

Alicia Diedrich

Lifestyle is everything

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Welcome back from Thanksgiving break, Marquette! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, a relaxing, rejuvenating break, and some much needed family time. My short break was all of those things and more, just not long enough. But that brings me to my next thought though, there’s only a few weeks left of the semester. Less than two weeks of classes, and then we are into finals week. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by, and I am sure you are thinking the same thing. And with that thought, comes some impending anxiety about the last push. In my case, all of the projects and presentations, all of the papers, and all of the exams. Maybe for you, all of the grading, or all of the other deadlines approaching.

I know I have said it before, but it is more important now than ever: step back and destress. Now crunch times can be stressful for anyone, but having anxiety can make deadlines and pressure all that more stressful. We are lucky to have some wonderful campus resources for dealing with anxiety, and other mental health struggles. Now, I completely understand that even thinking about talking to someone about anxiety would just give you even more anxiety, but I assure you, it shouldn’t. There are a lot of misconceptions about anxiety (or any mental health concern in general) that give it a stigma, making it seem like a bad thing, like struggling with mental health makes you weak. But these misconceptions are just that, they are wrong, and it is worth talking about. And, according to David Spiegel, Stanford University’s associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, “avoidance is not a good strategy.” Even I could have told you that, but when it comes from an expert on the subject, it reassures the idea even further. I have spent a lot of time running from my anxiety, but when I recognized and acknowledged it, I was then able to also recognize and acknowledge some great ways to help live my everyday life more fully and freely.

I am a big advocate for making lifestyle changes in order to deal with health related issues. This includes my struggle with an autoimmune disease, depression, and anxiety. And a lot has changed since I wrote that first blog over a year ago. I have come to terms with what I can do for myself through my lifestyle. There are more connections between lifestyle and health and wellness than people realize. When your body is given the proper care it needs and deserves, it is amazing what it will return to you. Eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of your spiritual and emotional wellness won’t solve everything, it isn’t a miracle cure. It seems as though many people expect it to be, and that makes it difficult to follow through on a lifestyle change. It can be disheartening to start eating healthy or to begin a new exercise routine and to not see results right away. It can take a while, but I assure you it is worth it. You may not see immediate changes in your health or how your body feels. In fact, you may even feel worse for a while, maybe you will be tired and groggy, or you will get headaches since your body is used to a lot of sugar, and other harmful ingredients. So, in spirit of what I assured at the beginning of the semester, let’s do this together and make this our best year yet with a lifestyle change.

You don’t have to do anything crazy or drastic if you don’t want to. Start off small to make it easy. Make a small change: eat more fruits and vegetables, cut your daily bowl of ice cream to once a week, get up in the morning and go for a walk or do some yoga, and don’t be afraid to get help from others, because we are not on this earth alone and we do care. Have a productive, but stress-free week, and I will talk to you next Tuesday.

Alicia Diedrich

What’s the stigma?

Happy Mental Health Awareness week, Marquette community! This is week is a great time to come together and realize how mental health issues could affect us all. Whether it influences the lives of loved ones or yourself, being aware that those with mental health issues are not much different than ourselves can help end the stigma.

But wait, what’s the stigma? By definition, it is a mark of disgrace associated with a person or their circumstances. Stigma is tied to mental illnesses because in the past, it was not understood that most mental illnesses are biological or chemical issues within the body. A mental illness was viewed as a weakness or loss of oneself.

Now, though, science has proven otherwise, and so have people with mental health issues. Since mental illnesses are mostly related to chemical balances in the brain, mental illnesses are now being treated as diseases, not as untouchable, helpless causes.

Many people who have a mental illness are not weak at all. This week you can catch a number of different events being put on by Marquette that can help us all better understand mental health and those suffering from mental illnesses.

Through education and support, we will be able to tie positive stories to mental illnesses, and end the stigma. Find out more about this week’s events on Marquette’s website.

Monday: A ribbon tree outside the library that will be up all week for students to put a ribbon in memory of someone who has a mental illness.
Tuesday: Veronika Scott will speak at 7 p.m. in the Lunda Room.
Wednesday: Active Minds and MUSG will host a dialogue dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in AMU Monaghan Ballrooms.
Thursday: Campus Ministry will hold a prayer service for people with mental health issues or those who know others with mental health issues at 12:30 p.m. in AMU 227. Sigma Pi Epsilon will also host a fundraiser comedy show for the week in the Annex Courts at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 and proceeds will raise money for the cause.
Friday: MUSG presents Forrest Gump in the Varsity Theatre at 8 p.m.
Saturday: Stomp Out Stigma 5K run/walk; opening remarks begin at 9:30 a.m. and the 5k begins at 10 a.m. Registration is available online. MUSG will present Forrest Gump in the Varsity Theatre at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Everybody knows someone – how awareness can save lives


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Hey everyone, happy last week of February. Hopefully this means that warmer weather is on its way, but either way, our chance for spring-break-escape will be upon us soon! As the need to fulfill the beach-bod stereotype closes in on us, this last week of February is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

Let me hit you with some facts. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA):

– In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically
significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

– Nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

– Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment.

– In 2011, research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual, $81 for Schizophrenia, $44 for Autism. For eating disorders, the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was $0.93.

– Medical dangers surrounding eating disorders include kidney failure, heart failure, osteoporosis, muscle loss and weakness, tooth decay, peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read these, I wasn’t all that shocked. In fact, I was more concerned about this information not coming as a surprise to me than I was about the content of the information itself. Clearly, eating disorders are no small deal. They affect millions of people across the country and have lasting impacts that can be seen years later. Here is the thing, though, prevention is simple – its education.

The goal of this week of eating disorder awareness is to help anyone displaying signs of early eating disorders get help so that full-on disorders don’t engulf his or her life. By getting counseling help, years of struggle and even lives can be saved. NEDA has many free resources on its website that can help individuals determine if seeking help is needed.

As for you and me, there are a few things that we can do in order to quit feeding into the destructive environment that pushes eating disorders to evolve.

Support. Doesn’t matter if you know that someone is struggling with an eating disorder or not, through supporting the loved ones in your life to look after themselves, value their body and strive to live healthy lifestyles, you are already making a huge impact. Being there for kids, friends or anyone, for the matter, and encouraging them to seek help if needed or open up about their lives keeps the conversation about body image, body shaming and eating disorders relevant.

Speak up. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “see something, say something” idea. Same thing here, except I want this to be a suggestion of positivity. No need to pass on the body-shaming magazine covers or laugh at a “fat” joke. Instead, spread compliments directed toward wonderful personality traits. Share images of strong, confident celebrities, not focused on how they look in a bathing suit or them scarfing down a hamburger. Say kind things to those around you. Body-negative media surrounds our daily lives and its up to us to counter it with positivity, love and awareness.

Smile. And quit body shaming yourself! When you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, smile and recognize that you are fearfully and wonderfully made just how you are. Walking around on a day-to-day basis confidently will allow you to serve as a positive role model. There are few things more powerful then self-love. By loving yourself, your example could influence someone else to reach out for help and strive to love him or herself, too.

As members of the Marquette community, we have also been blessed with plenty of resources to help us out in the case that you or a loved one is facing an eating disorder. Checking out Marquette’s on-campus counseling center can serve as a good resource, as well as counseling through the university’s Employee Assistance Programs. Student-run Project HEAL, another on campus organization, aims to bring awareness and raise money for those in need of treatment but are unable to afford it. Project HEAL is involved with an on-campus speaker this week, Tuesday night at 7 in the AMU Ballroom C, there will be a registered dietician speaking about the myth of the Freshman 15 and how it can cause harmful thoughts and behaviors in college students. This information will be insightful to all audience members as it helps raise awareness .

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