Pennsive

Welcome to Pennsive!
This blog is a safe space for Penn students to better understand and openly discuss issues regarding mental health. We aim to promote emotional support in the community and hope this initiates genuine conversation and sharing.

Warning: Some of the posts may include material that some find triggers negative thoughts and emotions. If you find yourself feeling upset, please, reach out to a resource that feels comfortable for you.

Disclaimer: Although this is a helpful resource for encouragement, this is not a substitute for seeking professional help. This is a student-managed site. See resources below.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in these posts are those of the authors themselves. They are not a reflection on Pennsive, Active Minds or CAPSAB.

Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Pls help! Advice appreciated, stressed out kiddo here

Hi! Just a quick question - are there any resources a person who isn’t suicidal can reach out to? For instance, I’m highly stressed right now and incredibly frustrated by the apathy of professors at Penn and could really use someone to help me just move forward, make a plan for my day and stick to it when I’m too paralyzed by stress to do so all by myself… but I’m not suicidal or thinking about self-harm. So CAPS’ emergency line seems a stretch to call and appointments take too long to wait for.
Are there any other more casual sources of support? I just feel a little like I’m struggling on my own and not doing a great job with it. Please help, soon! :(

Fat fat fat

The only thing I hear in my head all day long.

I battle a pretty bad eating disorder that nobody knows about. The mental weight of this eating disorder and attending this school is becoming way too much to handle. My grades are slipping. Class is dreadful. Have I thought about suicide? Yes. Have I thought about running away? Taking a gap year? Giving up on everything? Yes yes and yes. 

The never ending awful cycle of restricting. starving. binging. purging. It never ends and I just keep gaining more and more weight that I officially have no self esteem left. It’s never been this bad before and I just want to know I’m not alone. 

Penn Anxiety Management Workshops

Because there’s no shame in needing something like this from time to time.

——

Details for the Anxiety Management Workshop: The workshop will be four, one hour and fifteen minute sessions. There will be a combination of psycho-education, skill building, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, as well as other techniques that will be used throughout the series. The sessions will be for held on Wednesday afternoons at 4pm 5:15 pm, located at CAPS, on the Mezzanine level in the large group room. The goal(s) of participating in the workshop may be different for each student though it is our hope that participants will experience a reduction in overall frequency, intensity, and duration of anxiety so that overall functioning is maximized. Students who have previously participated have typically described the experience as valuable and effective in increasing anxiety management skills and improving wellbeing. We hope people will learn useful skills that can be incorporated in one’s daily life as opposed to only when in crisis which we know typically is ineffective.

Details for the Mindfulness Workshop: Enhance your academic effectiveness by improving your ability to focus! Mindfulness Mondays is a four-session workshop that meets on 4 consecutive Monday’s and at times Wednesday’s. Learn specific mindfulness practices that can help improve your academic success by improving concentration and attention. Because regular attendance and practice is important to successfully using these techniques, you are asked to commit to attending all four meetings and to practice.

The dates & times are as follows:
Mindfulness Workshop:
Session #1: Monday, September 15th, 4pm – 5:15 pm
Session #2: Monday, September 22nd, 4pm – 5:15pm 
Session #3: Monday, September 29th, 4pm - 5:15 pm
Session #4: Monday, October 6th, 4pm - 5:15 pm

Anxiety Management Workshop:
Session #1: September 17th, Wednesday, 4pm-5:15pm
Session #2: September 24th, Wednesday, 4pm-5:15 pm
Session #3: October 1st, Wednesday, 4pm-5:15 pm
Session #4: October 8th, Wednesday, 4pm-5:15pm

Mindfulness Workshop:
Session #1: October 22nd, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15pm
Session #2: October 29th, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15 pm
Session #3: November 5th, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15 pm
Session #4: November 12th, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15 pm

Anxiety Management Workshop: (Please note this workshop series is three sessions instead of four due to the holiday schedule)
Session #1: December 3rd, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15pm
Session #2: December 10th, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15 pm
Session #3: December 17th, Wednesday, 4pm – 5:15pm

I am so tired.

I’ve done therapy, I’ve done every antidepressant ever invented, nothing worked, I am tired of being tired. 

I hate myself for gaining the weight back and not having the strength to take it all off again. I hate myself for wanting to die but not having the courage to commit suicide. I hate that I can’t even try now, because then I’d lose the one job giving my life meaning.

I am so tired, nothing is working, nothing will work, and nothing can be done. And that’s one of the worst feelings in the world. 

"Better" Is Relative

It was less than a year ago when I started reading about these people. These wonderful, beautiful, inspiring people, all with their own stories to tell. I’ve read every post on this website at least once, some multiple times. I hope none of you ever feel like no one is reading – or listening – because someone always is, though they may not tell you in so many words.

I started reading this site before I became a part of Penn. I started reading this site out of hope – hope that I would get in to Penn and become something great. Hope that I could forget about my crippling fear; hope that I would learn from these people and next time someone asked, not answer with a simple “oh, I’m okay,” when I yet again didn’t mean it. Hope that I would receive my letter and, even before I got here, be so happy that I would forget about all those stupid thoughts that took over my mind day and night and every minute in between, and I wouldn’t need any help at all.

It didn’t quite happen that way, of course. I did eventually tell someone in my own stupid unspoken way, and the thoughts still didn’t just magically disappear. I didn’t even tell my family; I was careless and waited apprehensively for them to find out, because I still wasn’t brave enough to do it by myself. I had to go through fights and silences and periods where I just couldn’t breathe anymore as I felt suffocated with the knowledge that it wasn’t just my secret anymore and I had to face everything I didn’t want to.

I still don’t want to. There was the longest period where I didn’t know if I would be able to come here at all. I don’t like to admit it, but I was angry and scared. Angry that I had worked so hard, and I wouldn’t even make it to the school I had dreamed of and (other people would say) earned. I’ve made many promises I haven’t kept yet, and I’m glad. If I didn’t get here, I told myself, there was no reason to live. And at another particularly low point in my life, that I would be soon to follow after a severely loved member of my family, who is now gone. I have many, many secrets that I don’t tell, even to my counselor and my closest friends.

I’ve gotten better. I won’t deny that. I am here, after all. I am better. But being here is a far cry from both the simple, carefree life and the drowning world I imagined. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what I want. I don’t even know what the point of this post is.

All I’m saying is, I’m here, and no matter what I struggle with, I don’t want to give that up. I’ve been lucky enough to, thankfully, make closer friends because of my experiences, not in spite of them. I hope to find that here as well, though I still have to get over my fear in order to do so.

I felt like an imposter when I first started reading because I wasn’t in yet. I felt like an imposter when I kept reading because I wasn’t here yet. What’s my excuse now? I am here, finally a proud Penn student, class of 2018.

I am better, but better is relative, and I haven’t worked through my issues. I cannot hope to be wonderful, beautiful, or inspiring with these far-from-eloquent words, but I hope to be able to tell you that if you struggle with something, anything, here at Penn or anywhere else, you’re not alone, and I never want you to find any shame in it.

Since there have been so many great pieces posted on the blog, I thought I should pass along this link from Active Minds national.

"We are seeking blog contributors for Suicide Prevention Month this September, and we want to hear from you! Are you a survivor of a loved one’s suicide? An attempt survivor? An advocate with a message of hope for others?Send us your story»

Women raped at Nashville mental hospital - silenced

Please tell everyone you know about this story. Mental hospital patients were raped. Thanks. Here is the link to the tumble article-http://scrapuru.tumblr.com/post/86707922361/women-raped-in-nashville-hospital-covered-up

The Lonely Introvert

tw: suicide, self-harm, depression, anger, loneliness.

Let’s get something straight - introverts are NOT antisocial. We’re just not. At least not all of us. I LOVE hanging out with people, I love talking to people, and I need a certain amount of one-on-one time with people I like, or small groups. No, I don’t like parties. Too many people, dude. Look at it this way: do you hate Oreos? No, of course you don’t. Would you eat EIGHT HUNDRED ALL AT ONCE??? This is how I view socialization. Moving on…

So when you’re like me people tend to leave you well enough alone. That’s fine because for me it’s better than people swarming around me (I would get overwhelmed and die) but this year it was a little different because I was starting at Penn. New place, gotta jump right in and make friends, right? Hmmm, okay, NSO, how’s everyone making friends? Oh, they’re going to…

Parties. Well, shit.

So I ended up not having a lot of friends in the first semester. I’m sort of a kickstart-outgoing person, so I find it really easy to have conversations with new people but really difficult to walk up and say hello. Basically, I didn’t meet many people. And actually, I quickly figured out that that wasn’t going to work out too well.

I thought a lot of the first semester was pretty easy (classes) but some parts were pretty hard. Like, sometimes your roommate snores, or you get sick, or both, and a few weeks go by that you barely remember because you haven’t been sleeping. Ah, no worries, I’ll just rant to…

Oh, right. Fuck.

My best friend’s at another college this year. Well, and next year, and the one after that. I guess I’ve got some friends here but I don’t feel like the guy I talk to sometimes when we meet up with our other “friends” to watch Legend of Korra really wants to hear the tribulations of me, the freshman who… can’t sleep as much as he wants? Sorry I write in a non-linear, jumpy, jumbled fashion. Blame my brain - it’s TERRIBLE at writing essays about this stuff.

It used to be pretty bad inside my head. I guess I liked being there all my life except for about 6 months when I was in tenth grade and all my friends went POOF ‘cause I asked out the wrong girl… or something stupid; and my best friend’s dad died. I don’t remember all the causes but what happened was all the fish swam under the dock and I was just standing there in all this water and I really FUCKING HATED EVERYONE. Including myself. So I started taking it out on my wrists first and then other people and then it all just made me madder so I tried to kill myself. But the internet lies about lethal dosages (thank goodness that Wikipedia is open to editing by anyone) and, me being logical like I am, only took juuuust enough pills to do the trick without going overboard. (Dying is one thing - throwing up is QUITE another, was apparently my logic here.)

I learned some shit the next day. When everything looked bright and sunny, when I looked around and pretended I wasn’t there and then recognized that I WAS there and that, well, there was fuckin’ WORK to be done!

I help people now. It’s what I do. I have this time that I might not have had if things hadn’t gone the way they did and it doesn’t belong to just me because the universe and God played a role in saving my life. I crack a loooot of jokes - I try to make people laugh - but I also try to be there for them when they need someone to talk to. And I am there for myself too, because I know I need to love myself just as much as everyone else.

Anyway, this was like three years ago, old news, ancient history to me who’s just kinda accepted that I’ve got this whole moral code thing by now, and then I find myself in this situation, where I’m not sleeping, and I’m really stressed, and every once in awhile I lose a few minutes when my head goes red and I just start to get SO ANGRY… or upset… or something…

Need to find some friends, y’know?

And I got really lucky, because I did. I found a CREW. I ACTUALLY love these guys! Like, they are my family, like, they’re all invited over permanently. I didn’t think I would find any other people who wanted to stay up late in a little chill group and watch movies but I did because these people do that with me. And I didn’t expect to be frying so much bacon with them, or going out for burrito runs with them, or any of that. And I really thought I’d be spending my birthday alone - or on a Skype call with my girlfriend from home - but definitely not at a surprise party.

I do not know how I found these guys. It was sorta by accident. I got really, really, incredibly lucky because I don’t know what might have happened if I hadn’t? And I tell them they’re the best all the time but they don’t even know why…

I guess my point is that… you can go through these really tough times, build up who you are, build your personal defenses against the world. You feel like you’re safe, and to some degree you are. You might be okay. But life has a lot of shit to throw at you. Sometimes, even if you are an introvert, you need some people because there’s a lot of shit going on and you’re lonely. And that’s okay. You’re not weak for needing support. We’re not supposed to be these completely independent superhumans that don’t need or want anyone else in their life. That ain’t really the way to do life. You need a tiny little spiderweb, maybe, or a big one - depending on who you are - with all your spider friends, woven together to build something stronger.

If you want someone in your life, if you want someone to talk to for a few minutes, if you have anything you want to get off your chest… feel free to hit me up. You can find me on Facebook or my contact info is below. Nothing’s too unimportant. People’s lives don’t bore me. I promise I have time for you… whoever you are, I want to hear what you have to say. Hell, I just made you sit through THIS whole rambling tirade.

(And, in case you’re a kickstart-outgoing: Hello! Now I’ve started the conversation and you don’t have to be shy.)

Email: pmoon@sas.upenn.eduText: 860-480-8558

With Love,
Peter

Two days ago I turned 22. I spent my birthday sitting in my closet with the lights off and blinds drawn, writing suicide notes to my family and friends. I feel socially obligated to smile and tell everyone that I had a great birthday, but I’m submitting this here because what I really want to do is scream and cry.  

I struggle with depression; I’ve had thoughts about suicide nearly every day that I’ve been at Penn. I was going to make this an anonymous post, then I realized that nearly everything on this blog is anonymous. FUCK IT. I’m sick of feeling ashamed about my thoughts. 

I’m sick of people tip-toeing around me, afraid to set me off. Do you really think I’ll feel better if you loudly whisper “DUDE. Don’t mention the s-word..” because you think that I’ll want to kill myself if I even hear the word “suicide”? I’m sick of meeting with professors, administrators, psychologists, and social workers. Why do you expect me to be comfortable talking about my problems to complete strangers when I don’t feel comfortable opening up to my friends and family? I’m sick of people telling me to “cheer up” and “stop wallowing in sadness/self-pity”. I’m willing to bet that my depression bothers me a lot more than it bothers you. I’m sick of people telling me to “find God” or “pick up a hobby”. I hate any “God” who chooses to give me such hardship; I can’t find the energy or motivation to pick up a hobby when the window next to my bed looks more tempting than the floor. I’m sick of being depressed. I’m sick of wanting to kill myself. I’m sick of feeling like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to live like a “normal” person does. I’m sick of being angry at myself for being depressed and dragging down those around me. I’m sick of being told that there’s something with me. I’m sick of being told to “wait because one days things will get better”. I’ve waited for years - days spent in bed struggling to find a reason to get up, hours wasted staring out a window and wondering how likely I would be to die if I jumped. 

Honestly, I don’t even know what the point of this post is. It started off as an anonymous cry for help and then turned into this. All I want is to define my depression instead of letting it define me. 

Relevance at Penn? —Eating disorders and self-identity

Dear Penn, 

I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time, but putting words to it is scary. It makes it too real. I’m a senior right now, and from the outside you would never know something is wrong. (A typical Penn story, right?) I’m posting this now because, although I’m graduating, I hope my story lets someone out there know he or she is not alone.

My grades are pretty good, I’m active on Facebook, I’m in clubs, I do research, volunteer, I’m on my way to medical school, the list goes on. What you don’t know is half the time I can barely think with the fog of starvation clouding my brain. If I’m not hungry, I’m so deep in self-hatred I can barely leave my room.

There is nothing new about my story. I was slightly overweight; I dieted. And dieted and dieted. One week’s calorie deficit stretched into a year’s. I thrilled in my own self-control. I wrinkled my nose at the sandwich smells from Mark’s Cafe, and watched my clothes sag around my body. The compliments grew, and the heat setting on my thermostat inched towards the 90’s. I was cold, my nails were crumbling, I slept for 3 hours per night, and I couldn’t have a piece of bread without “making up” for it for the next two days. 

But the most frightening part? That, as soon as I began to gain weight (my first attempt at recovery), the compliments stopped. I was okay with that, but the next stage was even worse. The respect I commanded by virtue of my presence vanished. I could say the exact same thing in the same company, but nobody paid attention. My words were unheeded. I smiled, socialized, forced myself to meet as many people as I could…but into the background I went, blended, forgotten. 

I know exactly what I have to do to recover, but I want to stay RELEVANT at Penn. But how can one stay relevant in a culture that rewards starvation? Every day I thank my lucky stars that I am graduating. I met so many wonderful people here, and discovered true friends, true learning, the true limits I could push myself to. But the consequences on my health have been profound. CAPS is a wonderful resource to those of you who remain, facing the same struggles. It’s helped me build my self-identity, and work through the darkest times of my undergraduate career. But the root of the problem is something CAPS might not be able to fix. 

Dear Penn, I just want you to know: stay strong. You are worthy independent of your academic success. You are worthy independent of your looks, the amount of clubs you join, the friends you have and the ones you don’t. You are worthy because you ARE. Because you keep going even when all odds are against you. If you matter to even one person—even if that person is yourself!—you are relevant. We all have a story to live, and life is the discovery of that story.

Peace out, Penn.