“Despite My Diagnosis…” Stigma Story by CCM Student Rachel Eckert

The Youngtown Edition (the school newspaper of the County College of Morris) is working with two other CCM clubs this semester, Active Minds and Writers Club, on a series about students in the process of recovery. This series is called “Despite My Diagnosis.” Read one of these stories, by Rachel Eckert:

Hope.

Hold on, pain ends.

Rachel Eckert holding a dry erase board saying 'Hold on, pain ends.'
Rachel Eckert

I hear this phrase over and over again. Whether it be by professionals or friends, everybody tells me that. I knew it was true. In theory, anyway. But I always had such a hard time seeing that and understanding that. I didn’t understand how the anguish I had felt for so many years could ever end. Even if I only temporarily felt better, it was better than where I was. I never expected to magically get better. Because that isn’t how it happens. You don’t wake up one day and tell yourself “I’m not depressed anymore” and go on your merry way. I know, however, that is how some people think. It doesn’t go away overnight, that sadness deep in your belly. I knew that much, but never thought about what came next. In the past few months, I have learned that when you are so sad and hurt all of the time, a slight improvement feels miles better than where you came from. Unfortunately, that slight improvement also feels like you crawled a mile to get there.

I was at rock bottom. No, I was lower than rock bottom. I was in rock bottoms basement. It’s a place I never realized existed until my rock bottom somehow turned even lower. The depression and anxiety were getting the best of me. I felt awful all of the time. But I am not asking for your pity. That’s not where I am anymore. When you’re in rock bottoms basement, you can’t get any lower. And for that I was thankful.

One morning, I decided to take recovery head on. I had plenty of setbacks and I didn’t feel better immediately. In fact, I almost felt worse because of the fact that I didn’t feel better. It took me months to get where I am now. To some, where I am is still so low. But for me, this is the best I have ever felt.

Hold on, pain ends. Maybe not right now. Maybe not in three months. The way you feel won’t be the same. I am still depressed and I am anxious, but it does not pain me to be alive. It does not pain me to get out of bed every morning. You may never feel 100%, but the way you feel now cannot stay this way forever. So when you are sad and want to give up, have hope. Hold on, pain ends.

If you are struggling, please know there is help. Some resources you can utilize are the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255, the Crisis Text Line if you text HOME to 741741, and the Counseling Center in the Student Community Center, Room 118.

Editor’s Note: If you are in the process of recovery we encourage you to join the members of Active Minds, Writers Club and the Youngtown Edition to become more than your diagnosis and to share your story, contact youngtownedition@gmail.com to find out how.

CCM: Exhibition Recognizes National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Honors the Life of the Late CCM Student Marisa Rincón

In conjunction with the Counseling and Student Success department at County College of Morris, the college’s Art and Design Gallery will host an exhibition to recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September.

photo of Marisa Rincon

Marisa Rincon

The exhibition, titled “Marisa Rincón: An Impression of Life,” will feature the artwork of Marisa Rincón, a 2007 CCM Fine Arts graduate, who died by suicide in February.

The exhibit consists of more than 20 works by Rincón. Also featured in the show are painted portraits of Rincón created by prominent New Jersey artists Tim Maher, John B. Wolff and Lorraine deSmet. The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, runs Aug. 21 to Oct. 13, in Gallery B, which is the outer portion of the gallery.

A Statement By Dee Rincón, Marisa’s Mother, September 2017

Often, people remarked about Marisa’s beautiful face and hair. “Oh, those green eyes and smile would melt anyone’s heart!” However, Marisa preferred being recognized for her intelligence and artistic talent. Few people knew that she was well read and an articulate writer.

photo of "Green Eyes'' by Marisa Rincon

“Green Eyes” by Marisa Rincon

She chose a liberal path. She believed in equality for women’s rights both personally and professionally. Marisa was a feminine, soft-spoken, kind and gentle soul who touched the hearts of many. Although private and reserved, people enjoyed her sense of humor. Marisa liked to read in solitude and play her ukulele. Pop Rock music, her pet hamster and cat, and nature brought her joy.

Marisa Victoria Rincón struggled with anxiety and depression. On February 21,2017, died by suicide in Randolph, NJ. Marisa’s life was as rich and colorful as her accomplished artwork. She was passionate about the art world and its creativity.
Marisa’s legacy: “We are born with innate talents, and those gifts MUST be expressed and shared in order to be happy.”

photo of "Untitled, or is this Truth,'' by Marisa Rincon

“Untitled, or is this Truth,” by Marisa Rincon

It is the hope of the Rincón family that this art exhibit helps those struggling with mental health to seek help from your physician, the County College of Morris, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We believe that is Marisa’s voice, too.

To read more about Marisa Rincón, written by her mother and family, go to www.ccm.edu/pdf/Marisa-Write-up-art-bio-2017.pdf.

A second art exhibit featuring the work of CCM professors from the Photography Program, titled “Photography Program Faculty Exhibition,” will be held in Gallery A, from Aug. 29 to Oct. 13.CCM logo

There will be two receptions for the exhibits:
The first reception, cosponsored by the Art and Design and Counseling and Student Success departments, will be held 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, September 12.
The second reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 14.

The CCM Art and Design Gallery is located in the Sherman H. Masten Learning Resource Center on CCM’s Randolph campus, 214 Center Grove Road. For gallery hours, visit http://www.ccm.edu/academics/divdep/department-of-art-and-design/art-and-design-gallery/.

To learn more about the Art and Design programs at CCM, go to www.ccm.edu/academics/divdep/liberalarts/artdesign/.

Surviving Mental Illness

This is a guest post by Valerie Fox of Morristown.

It has been years since my diagnosis of schizophrenia. At the time I was 21 years old.  Today I am considered old – not middle-aged but old.

Looking back over the years, mental illness in the beginning had played havoc with my life. In the middle of my mental illness journey, schizophrenia was again responsible for destroying the life I had built after the diagnosis. Eventually I healed, but I had deep scars, the signature of schizophrenia.

After healing yet again, I tried to go on with my “new” life. There were times it was very challenging, other times very lonely, but for want of any other way out, I fought schizophrenia. The harder I did not let it rule me, the better I started feeling. Stigma of course was rampant, but it didn’t matter because I had found my calling. While scarred, I did carve a good spot for myself in life.

Today it is approximately 55 years since the onset of schizophrenia in my life. It still occasionally challenges me, but I have learned and learned well it is definitely better to adhere to my treatment than to get caught up in the web of thinking I seem so well, therefore I am well. I have learned the hard way through homelessness that thoughts like that are very dangerous for me to entertain at all so I don’t.

So today after many, many years of living with this illness, I can comfortably say I have survived schizophrenia. I don’t know other persons’ journeys, whether they have been easier than mine or harder, but I hope they too are in a comfortable place in their lives.

Valerie Fox
(a person in recovery) 

Michael Phelps Says Asking for Help Saved Him From His Depression

Asking for help can be difficult, but life-saving. In this article, Michael Phelps talks about the importance of asking for help in fighting depression:

For the longest time, I was really good at compartmentalizing things and just pushing them deeper and deeper so I never had to deal with them. That brought me to a point in my life where I found myself at an all-time low. It was then that I finally decided that I needed help and that I could not do this alone.

Read the full article.

Why write about caregiving?

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward book coverAuthor Mark Lukach describes why he writes about caregiving and mental health:

But there is one feeling that’s unnecessary: the loneliness, and in my time supporting my wife, I’ve never felt more lonely. In times of crisis we tend to wall ourselves away from each other because we’re too afraid to talk about what we’re experiencing. In all of my internet searching, it felt like I was the first husband who had to take his wife to the psych ward, because no one out there was talking or writing about it.

Read Author Mark Lukach on Why He Writes About Caregiving.

13 Reasons Why or Why Not?

The new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, has given the mental health community a lot to think about. Mental Health Advocate Wendy Sefcik’s blog post dives in:

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on a book by Jay Asher. As a mom who lost her 16-year-old son T.J. to suicide I find myself reading and watching everything I can about suicide in the hopes of learning something new that I can pass on to help raise awareness and prevent others from dying by their own hand.

Emotions are running high concerning this series as people on one side condemn it while others advocate it should be required viewing. As with most issues I believe the reality lies somewhere in between. First and foremost, the series is out and kids are watching it, so what should you know about it?

Read the rest of 13 Reasons Why or Why Not.