Destigmatize mental health issues

Mental health is one of my favorite issues to write about and to discuss. I believe everyone should be educated in mental health, and should understand that people who suffer from issues such as depression, anxiety and drug addiction, don’t do so willingly. Mental health has a large stigma attached to it, and to the people that suffer. I hope that through continuously writing about mental health, I can help people understand and reduce the stigma that surrounds it.

Throughout my years writing for Pipe Dream, I chose to focus on mental health related issues as often as possible. In one of those articles, I wrote about my own struggles with anxiety.

After weeks of concerned comments from both my teachers and friends, I saw a neurologist. 

There was absolutely nothing physically wrong with me. No tumors or blood clots. What I had was tics, a less serious form of Tourette’s Syndrome (TS).

TS is, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “a neurologic illness that begins in childhood or adolescence. The essential feature of TS is tics — multiple movements or vocalizations that are sudden, rapid and purposeless.”

I am certain that when most people hear the word “Tourette’s,” they think of someone uncontrollably shouting out profanity in a large auditorium.

Sadly, some severe cases of Tourette’s do manifest themselves in that way, but more than 60 percent do not.

I am also certain that most of us have either made fun of, or have been around someone who has made fun of, a person with Tourette’s.

It’s understandable; the noises and actions can catch people off-guard, and sometimes you just have to laugh.

But that is where the stigma that surrounds the illness comes from and why it is so taboo.”


Read the full article here 

Redefine success and live a happier life

In one of my favorite pieces published in Pipe Dream, I wrote about the difficulty in balancing success with happiness, and what success means for the individual.

But why does everything we do have to be for the sake of getting a job? Can we not learn for the pure love of learning anymore? Have we become so blindsided by corporate America that studying the works of Shakespeare, Hemingway and Twain are no longer important? And have we become so caught up in the need for wealth and empowerment that those who have a passion for history should change their area of study because that track will not land them a job behind a large desk in a private office overlooking Manhattan?

Today, success is consistently defined by money, power and where we stand in the socioeconomic hierarchy that charts America.

But what if we defined success by our happiness? What if instead of basing our human contribution to this world on the number of zeros on our paycheck, we made sure we felt happy, fulfilled and proud at the end of each and every workday?”

Read the entire piece here 

Gun violence demands legislation

On September 16 2013, a shooting took place at the Washington Navy Yard, and just three days later, another shooting took place on a basketball court in Chicago, leaving a three-year-old boy in critical condition. Admittedly, I only learned about these shootings a few days after they took place. My article following these shootings sought to discuss and question Americans’ reactions.

I am ashamed that I only learned about the Chicago shooting an entire day after it had happened, and I am worried that our nation does not appear to be as alarmed or distraught by the violence.

Have Americans become so accustomed to mass shootings in our country that they are just considered routine? Does the fact that an innocent 3-year-old was severely injured from gun violence not seem as disheartening as it did nine months ago? And as Cenk Uygur, a Turkish-American political commentator, tweeted, “One day someone’s going to shoot 12 people & people aren’t even going to notice because it’s so common. Is today that day?”

I hope not. And the majority of the American people hope not as well.

It is clear that something needs to change and that stricter gun control is the change we need so that that day never comes.”

Read more from the original article here

Despite bombing, resist stereotyping

After Boston and every other U.S. city was shook by the bombings that took place during the Boston Marathon in April 2013, a newfound hatred toward Muslims was ignited. In my column in Pipe Dream a few weeks after the bombings, I wrote about the unwarranted prejudice for a group of people that stems from events like these.

Our enemies are not one group of people who practice one religion from one country; our enemies are the individuals that choose to hurt us.

In the wake of the Boston bombings, immigration reform has been under much scrutiny. Supporters of the Gang of Eight’s plan, which is the proposed bill to strictly reform immigration as well as identify the 11 million foreigners living in the U.S., were even more adamant on securing our nation’s borders.

But unfortunately, no one piece of legislation is going to stop the violence, because there is not just one identifiable enemy.

As much of a tragedy as it is that three lives were lost and more than 250 were injured from the Boston bombings, it is also a tragedy that we Americans are still so closed-minded in the face of adversity.”

Read more from the original article here 

Gen Y needs a wake up call

After hurricane Sandy in October 2012, I began to take note of my own hastiness and impatience- two qualities that are unwarranted and unnecessary. About two weeks after Sandy, I wrote an article about how these qualities only hurt us, and how as a generation that is moving faster than ever, we need to learn to slow down.

“About two weeks ago I stole a cup of coffee. I was in line at the Starbucks in the Old University Union waiting to pay before my class began at 11:40. When my watch struck 11:35, I left. My class was in the Old Union and I was next in line. I certainly would have made it, but I was impatient and the line was dawdling. I threw a dollar down on the counter and left, thinking that was sufficient.

Days later, the depravity of my action resonated with me. It wasn’t the actual taking of the coffee without paying that got to me, but the fact that I had such a difficult time waiting.”

Read more from the original article here

We’re more than our frats

In the fall of 2012, Binghamton University was publicly criticized for its hazing issues among fraternities on and off campus. New York Time’s writer, Peter Applebome, wrote an article heavily condemning Binghamton. As a proud Binghamton student and an opinion columnist for Pipe Dream, I had to write something to contradict his negative words toward Binghamton.

About a week ago, Binghamton University made the front page of The New York Times. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for commendation. Heading New York’s most-read newspaper, Binghamton was condemned. Apparently, among everything going on in the world, our Greek Life issues were deemed some of the most important…”

“…Greek Life is a great campus contribution, but its members only make up about 10 percent of our student body. Why has The New York Times published only negative articles about Binghamton? And why have so many of our accomplishments gone unrecognized? In Sept. 2011, Harpur’s Ferry was awarded the Collegiate EMS Organization of the Year. Harpur’s Ferry also won this award back in 2005, making Binghamton the first organization to win it twice. Where’s Applebome’s article on that?”

Read more from the original article here 

Mr. Applebome and I actually had a little back and forth on Twitter after my article was published. It was very exciting.

The simple life, summer camp moments

As both a camper and camp counselor for many years, I made some observations and parallels between the life of a counselor and that of a camper. My thoughts are in one of my first published opinion pieces for Pipe Dream’s summer issue of 2011.

Now, as a counselor of said young girls, my own celebrations during past handstand competitions seem silly. The numbers one through 10, numbers that meant so much to me at the time, were given for what I thought was how pointed my toes were or how long I held my breath under a sea of chlorine, when in reality, they were always just numbers.”

Read more from this column here.