Photo by: Datta Prakash
Lately my articles have been light hearted and promoting, everything from organizations to wonderful people in our community. Today is going to be a bit different. The topic is a tough one. But it’s important…especially when life moves as fast as it does. The subject is depression and emotional instability. I had a chance to sit down with Erica Wade, LCPC Staff Counselor/Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling & Consultation Services in the Campus Life building, room 200. I thought it would be great to share what I learned from Erica. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and even sharing it. Life is hectic and who knows, by sharing this, it might reach someone who needs a little help to turn their life around. As always feel free to reach out to me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH. I would be more than happy to talk with you anytime, anyplace. Thanks everyone, please enjoy.
This article will cover the following topics:
- NIU Career Counseling: what it does and the services they provide
- Self-awareness: what to watch out for in yourself, and your own emotions
- Awareness of Others: what to watch out for in a friend and their emotions
- Coping Strategies: how to cope and and deal with issues you discover
- Ways to Help: what to do if you feel your friend is affected
- Campus Resources: resources NIU provides
- Upcoming Events: what is “How the Health are you, NIU?” & Chai Chat
- Immediate Actions: things you can do right now to become mentally healthier
Before you start reading I want to make it clear that this article was meant to almost be a PDF that you would save and print out to reference whenever you needed. A good amount of research and interviewing went into this, so it is lengthy. That being said, if you do not have time right now to read this PLEASE TAKE AWAY THIS:
Go to, “How the Health are you, NIU”
- This will be in the Holmes Student Center on Thursday October 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm.
And/Or attend Chai Chat
- In the Campus Life Building in room 100 on Wednesday October 7th from 4:30 – 6:00pm
Both of these are a great way to relax and make new friends while also receiving help from professionals who know exactly what you or someone you know could be going through. Again, I appreciate the time you’re taking to read about this pressing subject.
What does NIU’s counseling center do for students?
The university counseling center has a wide range of things to provide for the students of NIU. The services are broken down into sub-groups of Advocacy and Consultation. Both are staffed by fully trained APA accredited and multi-disciplinary/psychologically licensed psychologists, counselors and social workers:
Advocacy Services- Provides services for individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The service is provided to help students feel safe and offer support. Students will also be given the opportunity to work with another office outside of the counseling center to address concerns from a legal standpoint.
Consultation Services- This service is provided for students and/or Faculty to assist someone who may need counseling services. This service is available to everyone on campus and also includes same-day walk-ins. Walk-in participants fill out simple paper work and then sit down with a staff member. Once you’re done meeting with a counselor, you can join a women’s group, men’s group, a transpire group (for people who identify as transgender), and even a general process group (for anyone).
There is also a relaxation/meditation group that meets every Monday at noon. With this group, people can come in and do some relaxation strategies: like working on your breathing, imagery meditation, and lessons on slowing down and relaxing.
The second Monday of each month also brings therapy dogs into Stevenson from 6-7:15pm, can you think of a better way to spend your Monday night?!
Additionally, this service provides 24/7 over the phone crisis support, which means services are available in a crisis situation. A student would need to call the NIU’s non emergency number (815) 753-1212) and then ask to be directed to a counselor. From there, an on-call licensed counselor will talk with you for as little or as much as you need in order to feel comfortable and safe.
What are some signs to look for in yourself or in a friend?
The points I am about to list are something that can be for you or for a friend. Being aware of how you’re feeling is important, but it also is important to question how your friends and family are acting, because these could be clues that those people are reaching out to you for help. The more aware you are, the better off everyone, including yourself, is. Remember, college is about transition and self-exploration. It is okay to feel like you’re not fitting with a specific group, but just know your exploration is normal. You can never explore too much to find out who you are. Things to look out for in your everyday routine are as follows.
- Look at sleep patterns, are you sleeping enough? Maybe you need to try to go to bed earlier so you can be fully rested. Also, are you not sleeping because there is a problem? Or are you just very busy.
- If you start to not sleep as much but then wake up and have little to no interest in anything that you should be doing, you may want to talk that out with someone.
- You sense yourself/friend beginning to isolate from others. Are you especially isolating yourself from close friends and family?
- You start to see shifts in your mood
- Your academic performance is suffering, and you never want to go to class anymore
- Having thoughts of just ending it all, and having ideas of “what if I just did __” and that blank resulted in harm to others or yourself.
- You’re more irritable, and your irritability lasts much longer than normal
- You find yourself filling a missing piece in your psyche with substances. You feel the need to fill the “hole in your heart” with substances that only worsen the damage.
If any of these become an issue you may want to follow up with that person, or yourself, and seek someone to talk with about your thoughts, you’re never ever alone in this world and no matter how isolated you feel, someone is always willing to help you. That said, you can definitely help out others if you sense someone having issues.
How to cope when you have issues or you see someone with issues:
- Always encourage seeking professional support. These people are professionals for a reason, they are willing to work around your schedule and will help you out immensely in full disclosure.
- Reach out to your family and friends. Sometimes it’s the people who know you the best who can help you the best.
- Exercise! By exercising you release chemicals into your system that will make you feel invigorated and happy!
- Being connected and constantly moving with groups and activities around campus. When you are part of something that is bigger than yourself, you get the feeling of accomplishment and can use that busy time to forget about what’s bothering you, sometimes that’s all you need to get over that psychological hurdle.
Sometimes when something is hitting you close to home, you feel the need to act and help out. We all have been in this situation and it is not fun, but we all should be prepared to act when we sense someone close to us feeling extremely down.
How should you behave when you sense someone is in danger?
- It’s always an uncomfortable situation, but you need to know that it is possible that you are the only escape your friend/family member has. If you’re strong, they will in turn be strong in the long run.
- You can say something along the lines of:
- “I’ve noticed you’re not happy/ have been disconnected lately.”
- “Maybe you and I should go for a walk.” From there the situation will be much more friendly for talking. Take a walk past the Campus Life Building and encourage a stop into NIU Counseling together.
- Encouraging to go together makes the experience much less stressful. You can also say that you’re going for yourself too, as a way to not isolate your friend.
- The Counseling Center has a lot of leverage on your side, you can almost use these tools as a way to get people happily in the door:
- Massage Chair
- Therapy dogs
- Talk sessions
Now that you have experienced a little about how to go about a situation and what to look out for, it is also important to know all of the resources available to you as a student.
What resources are available on campus?
There are three other counseling centers, these are through the academic programs in:
- Community Counseling Training Center– Counselors of Education in Graham Hall (master and doctoral students)
- Psychological Service Center – Department of Psychology in the Psychology Building (master level and doctoral students)
- Couple Family Therapy Clinic – Marriage and Family Therapy Program (in Wirtz Hall) (master level students)
All the counseling centers outside of the center in the Campus Life Building will see everyone, including people in the community, just in case you want to refer a friend or family member who is not a current NIU student. The other centers that I listed above will also do evening hours as well. All of these are free except for the Family Clinic. The center in the Campus Life Building is for NIU students only.
What events are coming up to help students?
- Thursday Oct. 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm in the Holmes Student Center:
How the Health are you, NIU? This is fun and active way to come and have a relaxed time and receive help if you believe that is what will make you feel as best as you can. This is change from the names of the previous “depression screenings” as a name change does not have that stigma that the word “depression” carries.
People think that just because they feel depressed that there is something wrong with them. The truth is, nothing’s wrong with you, you may just simply need someone to talk to as the stresses of the world can become too much for everyone. It’s always okay to talk about how your feel, and it is also always okay to feel the way you feel.
- Other centers on campus also agree with the cause and are collaborating to put on this event.
- Campus Rec
- Health Services
- Wellness Promotion
- Living Right
- There will also be depression screening available for everyone, along with a workshop filled with student activities like:
Extras to release negative energy:
- A coloring area to express your emotions on paper
- Board games and icebreakers
- Wheel to ask questions and win some prizes
- Posters about expressing your positivity
- Power points with inspirational and positive messages to warm your heart
Prizes to win!
- Poetic Asylum, to express your feelings in the art of poetry. Relate with others using your emotions in “the spoken word.” (Personal storytelling, and wordplay).
- Dances from: Nimbus, Zumba dance classes
- Therapy Dogs, because who doesn’t love dogs?! (Besides some cat lovers of course).
- NIU SnapChat photo frames
- Chipotle, Buy One Get One Free, coupons
- Northern Rehab gift cards
- Pita Pete’s gift cards
- Huddle gift cards
What can you do right now without going public?
So, what can you do right now, before you go to someone and open up information that you maybe don’t want to disclose? That’s understandable, and also why self-rehab may be the key first step to take. The list that follows contains examples of what you can do:
1. Write and draw your mind
- Express what you’re thinking and get things on paper
- Just simply find time to pause and write down everything, mind dump on the paper to realize what you have actually been thinking
- Sometimes you don’t even realize what exactly is bothering you, until you get it onto paper. It’s a healthy way to tell your story to yourself for reflection
2. Make sure you get out and get some sun
- Going for a walk and exposing yourself to the sun is great for your mind and spirit
3. Find a hobby and dive into it
- When you devote yourself to a hobby you become focused in that and relax yourself from what could be bothering you
- Cooking is something that you can do everyday and serves as a double purpose in becoming healthier as well!
4. Simple call to a friend or family member
5. Pay attention to everything that you’re putting into your system
- Look as what is around your house, and remove any negative imagery, books, anything that can put a negative aura in your line of sight
- Media and food and fast paced actions through your day really put negative stressors on your body, and reflect how you’re feeling
6. Comedy and laughter are some of the best things for you
- It warms your up, and shifts your muscles around in your mouth and face to stretch out your whole body
- Find a comedian you like TODAY and start watching bits. Some clean and funny comedians are:
- Jim Gaffigan
- John Mullaney
- Demetri Martin
- Brian Regan
- Russell Peters
- Kathy Griffin
7. Yoga is a very good way to relax your body and mind
8. Creative therapeutics
- Office that provides people the opportunity to do yoga and physical therapy
- In DeKalb on Hillcrest
I really tried to make this article as informational as possible, between research and interviews I hope that some of this knowledge related to someone. If any of this even helped one person, the article did its job. Remember again, everyone on this earth is beautiful, inside and out, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Someone who criticises you is only doing that to cover up something they have been hiding from the world. Not to mention that since we all are human beings, none of us is perfect, we all have been through tough times we never thought we would get out of. But here we are, enjoying life and being the beautiful people we were meant to be. That also brings me to my last point, we all have a story to tell, and memories to share. That said, we all have had the tough times too, so if you’re feeling down, speak up, because I promise you someone will be willing to listen.
Thank you all for your time, and as always, don’t forget to be awesome.