The Case For Emotional Support Animals
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The Case For Emotional Support Animals

Helping college kids succeed.

There has been a change in the world of animals used for medical reasons. Traditionally, one has service animals, which are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit an individual with a disability. There are also animals that are referred to as support animals or emotional support animals. Instead, support animals provide therapeutic benefits to their owner through affection and companionship. A support animal will often be a cat, which may seem strange to some considering that many cats are not social animals. I know a girl with an emotional support chinchilla.

Support animals are becoming more common throughout the United States. So much so that support animals are protected under certain laws, such as the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Authority (FHA). Even though support animals are not as protected as service animals, more and more colleges across the country are allowing students to have support animals in their dorms.

To many, emotional support animals seem like a joke. They do not perform tasks. They do not alert others of a medical emergency with their owner. They do not have to go through any training. However, they can make the difference between life and death.

I don't want to sound like a person that doesn't appreciate what they have, because I do. However, I also recognize the daily struggles that millennials are facing. Through personal conversations, I have learned that more of my classmates are paying their own ways through college than I ever expected. I am thankful that I get some help from my parents, but that is not the case for everyone.

As a millennial, my entire high school career was full of teachers telling me that I had two options if I wanted to make it in the real world: college or military. That choice alone can be stressful. To people paying their own way through college, which will likely leave a student in thousands of dollars of debt, getting an education is extremely stressful. My college also requires everyone to do an internship in order to graduate. Internships normally take up the same amount of time as at least a part-time job. That adds more stress onto a student. College isn't just about the grades anymore; it's extremely competitive, which causes everyone's stress levels to rise.

This is where colleges acknowledging the benefits of emotional support animals is extremely important. Support animals can save lives. My cat has prevented me from even acknowledging suicidal thoughts for over two years now because I am the only person responsible for taking care of her. She is my responsibility, so I have to stay alive so that she can have a good home.

That might seem ridiculous to many people, but this is what support animals do every day. There are times where I can't put gas in my car because I have to buy my cat food. That said, I would never give her up to save 20 to 30 bucks a month. My cat saved me.

There are other animals saving other people by just existing in their homes. College kids may be broke, but we need all the support that we can get. A personal friend of mine, Kayla, also has an emotional support animal. Her animal is also a cat, but where mine helps with my depression, her cat helps with her anxiety. Kayla said that her cat seems to know when she gets shaky, and although her cat doesn't stop the anxiety attack, "she makes it easier". Kayla recently graduated and lives alone. Her cat helps her stay in a more positive mood by making Kayla feel worthwhile by having something that relies on her.

Self-worth is extremely important for everyone, but even more so for recent college-graduates of a major that does not have many job openings for people with less than five years of experience. Kayla's cat is a prime example of what emotional support animals can provide. More and more college graduates it seems are facing financial struggles due to a lack of jobs in their career fields. A retail job just doesn't cut it when it comes to paying back loans.

Some people get emotional support from friends. Some people get support from family. Some people find self-worth in getting good grades. Some people find a way to keep fighting just to prove someone wrong. However, these things don't cut it for everyone.

If support, self-worth and a desire to keep living come in the shape of an animal, colleges need to recognize that. Kayla and I are extremely lucky that our college cared so much about our mental health and accepted emotional support animals as an integral part of students taking care of themselves.

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Real Talk |  Source: Boris79

When You Don't Have an Umbrella

What it's like to have anxiety and depression.

I've spent my entire life trying to put what it's like to suffer from anxiety and depression into words. I've always felt it, but I could never quite describe it.

As I child I wasn't eloquent enough to describe the unsettled feeling that constantly seemed to haunt me. As I grew to be a tween, I understood more about what I was feeling, but lacked the confidence verbalize it. I was embarrassed.

Now, as a college student who has begun to take a major interest in writing, one of the most freeing feelings in the world is figuring out how to describe not just the thoughts that go through an anxious person's head, but that seemingly indescribable feeling of fear or sadness that we get in our gut.

It's a feeling that shakes me to the core. But there's an overwhelming sense of calmness and solidarity that comes with describing it in an accurate way, and as a result, having others understand exactly how you feel.

The best way I've ever seen anxiety and depression described was on a doodle going around Facebook. It says that walking around with anxiety or depression feels like walking around in the rain without an umbrella. Everybody else has an umbrella, but no matter how hard you try you can't seem to figure out where they all got their umbrellas.

You search and search for an umbrella, and as you do it just begins to rain harder and harder. As you're frantically searching for an umbrella those with umbrellas begin asking you why you don't have an umbrella and how you could possibly let yourself get poured on.

As the over-thinker that I am, I thought more about the illustration. Would this analogy work to examine how others treat people with anxiety or depression?

First, there are always the people who do nothing at all to help the situation. They keep their umbrella to themselves and feel no sympathy for the fact that you don't have one. They might even give you a hard time about it.

Then, there are the people that share their umbrella with you, but only so that others can see them sharing their umbrella with someone who doesn't have one.

There are those that share their umbrella with you but constantly bring up the fact that they're sharing, making you feel guilty about it.

There are enablers, who have the best intentions, but are so generous about sharing their umbrella that when the time comes for you to walk through a little bit of rain to pick up an umbrella of your own, they say "you don't want to have to walk through rain" and keep you under theirs. They are kind and loving, but it's only a matter of time before the two of you will want to go separate directions, which is impossible when you've become dependent on them and their umbrella.

Finally, if you're lucky, you'll come across the perfect friend. They'll find you in the pouring rain and take you under their umbrella without making you feel guilty about it and with no intention of making sure others see them doing it. They'll allow you to stay under their umbrella until you dry off. Then, one day when you're under their umbrella the two of you will see an extra umbrella lying on the ground. It could be all yours, but to get to it you'll have to walk through a little bit of rain. You'll get a little wet, but then you'll have the luxury of your very own umbrella from that point forward.

It's scary though. What if you leave this safe umbrella to get your own but something happens? What if that umbrella is broken or you can't get to it? It's risky to go into the rain to get it. That's where your friend comes along. You leave their umbrella to get your own and every time that you look back your friend is standing their watching, making sure that you get to your own umbrella safely. And you do. And it works. And you're dry all on your own. And it's the proudest of yourself that you've ever been.

To those friends, thank you. Thank you for sharing your umbrellas, but most importantly, thank you for making sure that one day I was able to safely get my own.

If you need help finding your own umbrella, there are resources that can help.

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Having Anxiety in College

You aren't, and never will be alone.

When you think of someone with anxiety, what do think of? Someone clutching their chest, not being able to catch their breath, freaking out over something or someone that they can't explain and you don't understand why it's such a big deal? Yeah, me too.

I was one of the people who put anxiety in it's tidy corner with the rest of the stereotypical mental illnesses and left it there. That is, until I got to college and realized I had it too, only it was much different.

I didn't realize I suffered from anxiety until one night I was scrolling through tumblr and came across a post describing social anxiety. Here's the exact post:

I read it a few times, trying to wrap my head around the fact that this wasn't normal. Sure, I had done this multiple times in high school, but now at college where there were more people to watch me, judge me, laugh at me... I had become even more self-aware and apparently anxious than when I was younger.

I started going through the list in my head; being afraid to make doctor's appointments, or drive somewhere alone I wasn't familiar with, handing in my test first, but then waiting a few seconds after someone else to make it look like I wasn't waiting for them to do that exact thing.

My high school was relatively small, especially compared to college, and while I had done some of these things when I was younger, they were much more evident now. I took the rest of the night to research different types of anxiety - did you know there was more than one?

In fact, there are six: generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety attacks (panic disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm sure you've heard of most of these, but did you know they were categorized under anxiety? I sure didn't.

After my research, I found I suffered from social anxiety disorder. Every once in awhile, I suffered from anxiety panic disorder as well, but it was during certain stressful times this affected me. College made me realize there are so many people you are going to meet and who are going to judge you, whether you want them to or not. It scared the shit out of me, increasing my anxiety.

Four years later, and I still suffer on a day-to-day basis with this, but it gets better. You learn how to deal with certain things that scare you. It doesn't help knowing much of what happens to you or how people perceive you is out of your control, but reminding myself that I can control how I react does help.

College opened my eyes to a whole new side of me I didn't know existed. While it was hard dealing with the stress of not only work and school, but whatever caused my anxiety, also.

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Real Talk |  Source: mbocast

Where's the Fire?

Why can't we enjoy the stage of life we're in?

"Just one more semester. Just one more semester," I'd mutter under my breath as I would frantically search for a parking space at my junior college.

"I miss my car, I miss my job, and I miss my girlfriend," I'd think to myself as I took the bus alone from downtown, which was my new weekend ritual upon entering college life in the big city.

"I wish I was back in LA, or traveling abroad. Anywhere but here," I'd pout out loud as I'd wander around the dead streets of my hometown alone on a post grad Friday night.

In each case I mentioned above, the underlying theme of it all was that I just wanted to get the hell out of my current situation. I always wanted to be somewhere else and doing something else. Unfortunately, I don't think this theme is uncommon among college students.

I know a handful of guys and gals where their sole priority of getting into college was to get into a good grad school program with the end result being a decent paying salary. A few years in and they are stuck in a career they tolerate for two weekend nights of binge drinking.

A large portion of parents, teachers, and administrators pressure us to get out of school in four years and be done with it. But we lose so much with this external and internal pressure.

Forget about the stigma that comes along with being a super senior, or taking a third year to transfer to that desired four-year university of your choice. If that double major you want to take requires that you stay an extra semester, and you can afford it, who has the authority to tell you otherwise?

Most of us grew up in a bubble, and college is the first time we are exposed to students who come from entirely different backgrounds. But it is still not the real world that is debt, rent, and handling insurance - the markers of truly living on your own. If anything, it is is the last lap around the lake before we fully immerse ourselves into the ocean that is known as the real world. It's not a race, and feel free to go at your own speed.

Admittedly, I pressured myself to get out of college, and I sold myself short. I was never present. I never took the time to take a breath and appreciate where I was in life. At the time, I was not grateful for the countless resources and opportunities I had at my junior college, never took advantage of the art and culture in Los Angeles, and didn't take a second to thank my friends and family for their support back home. But hindsight is always 20/20. Now, I am grateful for all of those experiences. I can't go back and relive undergrad, but I can choose to be live in the moment and relish over the insane probability of being alive.

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Real Talk |  Source: canathy

Interviewing When Your Anxiety Level is 10/10

Deep breaths.

Interviewing when your anxiety levels are 10/10 is a struggle. Normal things like making eye-contact, forming coherent sentences, and even just remembering your name and professional background become suddenly stressful, and my first few interviews were a mess because of this. On the bright side, it can definitely get better. Here's how I improved my interviews from train-wrecks to confident meetings:

Practice makes perfect.
Your college career center more than likely offers practice interviews, and taking advantage of them is smart. They're a great way to test drive your interview skills before the real thing.

Check Glassdoor.
You can prepare by finding sample interview questions and learning about the company culture.

Plan your outfit ahead of time.
Choose something that works for a casual or formal interview if you don't know what to wear, and better yet, wear layers you can adjust to fit in. Go for a polished, professional adult look.

Know how to get there and get there early.
If you need to scope out the location ahead of time so you know how to get there, do it. The less you have to worry about, the less stress you'll have right before your interview.

Get a number.
Mix-ups happen all the time - like the time my interviewer didn't show up because his phone didn't remind him about it. He thought it was funny, but I was stressed when I was waiting for 30 minutes. Having a number to contact can do a lot to ease your stress when something goes wrong.

Eat, sleep, hydrate.
Take care of yourself so you can feel confident and ready.

Go do yoga, or color, or eat some comfort food, or watch your favorite (low-intensity) TV show before your interview.

Bring a one-page resume.
You want to leave the interviewer with something to remember you by, even if you've already submitted your resume.

Turn your cell phone off.
It's super awkward if your cell phone rings, so don't risk it.

Introduce yourself calmly.
Rehearse your introduction and greeting ahead of time so you can get a good start.

Maintain good posture.
If you look confident, you'll come off as calm and collected.

Ask questions.
The best questions are ones that you can't google. Example: What's a typical day like in this position?

Follow Up.
Maybe this won't help with day-of interview stress, but it'll help you get the position, and that means fewer interviews you have to deal with. Send an email thanking your interviewer for their time and reiterating why you believe you're a good fit for the position.

You can do everything right and still feel stressed out, so the most important thing to remember is that it gets easier the more you do it. Eventually, you get the hang of talking about yourself eloquently and confidently, and that's key.

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4-year-olds Order an R-rated Movie from Comcast

Magic Mike, a film for the whole family to enjoy?

If you search Google images for Comcast, you'll find swastikas sprinkled in - that's how universally hated they are. South Park even had an episode where they parodied the cable giant, among other huge conglomerates like Time Warner and Verizon. We all know the story: they force you into terrible contracts and make it a nightmare to cancel your subscription.

We originally set out to have Fiona and Willa, two four-year-old twins, call technical support, but seeing how Comcast makes it impossible to talk to a human, we decided to try and order a movie. It went better than expected.