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In my nineteen years being passed around and examined on this planet, I’ve picked up a few things about ignorant human interaction. Without trying to sound vain, probably even more than the average millennial. It tends to naturally happen when you’re the perfect mixture of queer, disabled, sensitive, and essentially just a woman.

Microaggression is one of those topics that’s extremely important to some people, but irrelevant to others. The latter have probably never experienced it, and therefore don’t realize it’s importance. I’ve never been thrown down a staircase or slammed into a locker, or anything else you’d pick out of a early 2000s coming-of-age film. Just because I’ve never been physically assaulted in school doesn’t mean I don’t notice when a class full of people is uncomfortable with my presence. Which, in turn, can make me extremely uncomfortable.

You could argue that microaggression isn’t even a plausible theory. And to an extent, it’s a difficult point to prove, because there really isn’t any physical evidence to prove it. The point of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what you are trying to convey to me with your body language. The point is that I have no control over how I react to your cues, and I may very well take them offensively.

Our upbringing and early family dynamics have a clear impact on how we respond to criticism around us. The girl who grows up in a loving household of constant emotional support and socialization is probably going to have an easier time making friends and handling criticism than the girl who was emotionally abused in her family. I say probably because I believe there are predetermined factors, like anxiety and disabilities, that can diminish your self-esteem in a group setting. In my experience, for example, I received a great deal of emotional support and love from my mother, but criticism and emotional abuse from my father. Combined with my sensory processing sensitivity, anxiety disorder, and nonverbal learning, I spent a great deal of my childhood in a constant state of panic- especially in classroom settings. Feeling like you’re a failure of a human being at six years old is definitely a sting that sticks with you.

I can walk into a room and immediately sense hostile energy. Is it all in my head? Sure, maybe a portion of it is. The point of the matter is, I can tell when people are avoiding sitting next to me, or if their curt whispers and glances are pertaining to my existence. And I don’t care if that sounds vain, because frankly, it’s true.

If you are going to judge somebody promptly on the color of their skin, their gender, their sexuality, or their style, then that is a reflection of nothing more than your ignorance. Your lack of empathy or understanding for an individual who lives a different lifestyle than your own should only be a you problem, so don’t make it mine.

At the root of insensitivity, I think people are distrustful of what they don’t understand. And this is projected by a number of things; media, personal experiences, stereotypes, etc. If you’re zigging while everybody else is zagging, the world will take notice and perhaps even ridicule you for it.

I don’t mean to sound so decidedly pessimistic about the chronicles of the those who zig in a world of zaggers. There are the positives, too, of course. When we all come together as a collection of misfits, the potential for something creative and mighty.

There’s a reason I’m not using any media sources for this article, and that’s because I want everything I say here to be completely my own. These are my opinions, and my experiences, and I want everyone to feel entitled to their own beliefs. Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments, because I’d love to see a conversation develop!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know that trying to sleep in the summer can be an absolute nightmare. As if falling asleep with thoughts of crippling anxiety swirling in my head isn’t bad enough, now I have to do it while I feel like I’m baking in an oven?

Needless to say, ASMR and relaxation videos have become my go-to for falling asleep in the humid months. While many of my favorite channels are indeed ASMR ones, there are also a handful of other genres that I frequent to help me relax. Without further adieu, these are my top five favorite youtube channels for falling asleep and anxiety relief.

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WhispersRed ASMR

Genre: People & Blogs

Subscribers: 556,808

This probably comes as no surprise to many of you, as I’ve posted about my love for this channel on several occasions. Emma’s content is extremely diverse and versatile for all lovers of sound therapy, and her beautiful personality has a truly sedative effect on me. Because her voice and attitude have a particularly motherly vibe, I find it easy to relax and fall asleep to her content. Some of my favorite videos to doze off to are crystal hauls, Q & A’s, role plays, and show-and-tells.

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Sassy Masha Vlogs

Genre: People & Blogs

Subscribers: 126,071

Perhaps more commonly known as Maria GentleWhispering, I find Maria’s vlog channel somehow more therapeutic than her actual ASMR. Her nature speaking voice is very feminine and soothing, and her knowledge on life’s many adversities is admirable. Similarly to WhispersRed, Maria posts several haul videos and “story-time” style uploads. If you, like me, enjoy falling asleep to the sound of soft chattering, Sassy Masha Vlogs is a satisfying place to start.

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The Lune INNATE

Genre: People & Blogs
Subscribers: 57,257

I discovered this channel whilst deep-diving for information about crystal healing. Jillian, better known by her online presence Lune Innate, has an extensive knowledge on everything from crystals and grids, to chakras, grids, and sacred geometry. Not only are her videos informative for fellow crystal nerds like me, but her gentle demeanor and lovely voice make it easy to relax after an intense day of work. Listening to her videos feels similarly to how one might listen to a friend at a sleepover: deep talks, swapping stories, and discussing the potential secrets of Earth and the Universe.

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Buddhist Society of Western Australia

Genre: Nonprofits & Activism

Subscribers: 109,448

I found this channel after I began to worry in middle school that I was gay, and must have concluded that Buddhism would bring me some sort of peace and acceptance. Being in college now (and much more comfortable with my gayness), I still frequent this channel to listen to Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm’s Friday night philosophy talks. While this channel might not qualify as traditional ASMR, the soothing nature of Brahm’s voice combined with his incredible wisdom brings me tranquility as I find myself wrestling with my anxiety. There have quite literally been times where I sat up in bed after listening to something he’s said, marveling at the peace and closure his words have suddenly given me. The channel features other monks besides Brahm, but his hour-long talks are by far my favorites.

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Poppen Atelier

Genre: Howto & Style

Subscribers: 157,208

Straying farther away from ASMR, this is a channel I actually watch for relaxation, not necessarily listen to. Maryna is a master doll crafter who purchases cheap Barbies (and Monster High Dolls) to give them complete glam makeovers. I enjoy watching very intricate tasks, like calligraphy and doll painting, because they give me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and relaxation. Poppen Atelier is the epitome of this satisfaction, and I often visit her channel to completely distract my mind from the worries of the day.

 

Next week! Vintage Doo-Wop and The Root of Evil

I’m no stranger to mental illness, but I’m not an expert either. That being said, I have picked up a few nuggets of information along the way, especially those pertaining to capitalism and injustice in modern health care. Oh, and the poor handling of mental illness in both public and private educational institutions.

With that out of the way, let’s carry on.

In this day of age, ADHD and ADD are basically slapped on anybody with a hyperactive mind. These diagnoses usually stamped onto the identities of children when they are quite young- more often in boys than in girls. While women are just as likely to have ADHD as a man, the stereotype seems to be that only men are diagnosed with the disorder. For this reason, ADD and ADHD are overwhelmingly underdiagnosed in females who are less likely to exhibit signs of hyperactivity.

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In my case, for example, I never had any issues with sitting still in elementary/middle school. In high school, I actually rather enjoyed sitting and taking notes. The only reason I excused myself from class to get my body moving was if I felt a panic attack coming on- not because I was bored. Perhaps the reason I never suspected I had ADD was because of this reason- I wasn’t loud, I wasn’t disruptive, and I wasn’t a “problem.”

The problem is, I did have symptoms of ADD, I just didn’t realize that that’s what they actually were. Looking back, I never had the slightest clue what my math and science teachers were talking about. Lectures, graphs, and numbers would go in one ear and come out the other within seconds. I could study data for hours on end, and my brain still wouldn’t be able to comprehend what I was seeing. Did I feel stupid? Absolutely. Did I think these issues, in fact, were attributed to a learning disability and thus not my fault? No, it never crossed my mind.

And THAT is the problem.

I got through public school with decent grades and a clean record of good behavior, but I did it through what I call intuitive learning. Rather than fundamentally understanding the material itself, I watched the other students and mimicked exactly what they did. I sure didn’t learn anything, but I earned myself the grades I needed.

In science classes which required physical labs, I probably would have seriously injured myself had I not been paired with a lab partner. No matter how hard I tried to listen to directions and visualize the steps in my brain, I just couldn’t grasp the concepts. I obviously wanted to understand the safety procedures and do the work properly, but no matter how hard I tried to focus, I always found myself completely tuning out and focusing on nothingness. No, I wasn’t even just daydreaming, my mind was literally blank.

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As I said, these intuitive-learning and people-pleasing tactics got me through high school with decent grades- enough to get me into college at least. I wasn’t the smartest in my class, but I also wasn’t the dumbest- hence why I was never detected as a “problem.”

What I excelled at the most in my high school career were art and English classes, which probably comes as no surprise. I have a much easier time focusing and absorbing information when I’m provided with colors, shapes, textures, pictures, etc., and these types of classes were excellent for my talents. Not only was I flourishing and having a good time learning, I was also recognizing my strengths and realizing that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

Of course, like many other underfunded public schools, my high school didn’t see art and imagination the same way I did. These classes were apparently not as important as mathematics and sciences, as demonstrated when we almost lost ALL art/music classes to budget cuts.

*Deep sigh.*

Can you imagine being a right-brained woman with undiagnosed ADD going through four years of schooling without any clue what’s going on around you?

Luckily, we artists and musicians fought the budget cuts for the classes that we deserved. That’s another story, though- one I’ll surely go into another time.

Anyway, on with the key point. The United States is building a wall (ha) of misdiagnosed mental illness, and the building blocks are ignorance and bias. I could have gotten the help I’d needed earlier and had a much more enriched learning experience in high school, had I known my learning disability was something to be taken seriously. Until we, the adults and the professionals, put more emphasis on true signs of ADD, girls (like younger me) will still avoid coming forward and sharing their struggles. If we all paid a little more attention to how our children, then perhaps these disabilities would be properly diagnosed and treated.


Works consulted/further reading: https://www.additudemag.com/add-in-women/

 

By Sarah Desroche

ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response), despite its remarkable following, seems to have picked up a notorious reputation over the past five to six years. There are a handful of adjectives I’ve seen attached to this sensation: weird, sexual, “cringey”, strange, even “wrong.” I recently watched the This Morning interview focusing on ASMR, and was horrified to hear the sensation referred to as “whisper porn.”

 

Um.

 

The reality is, many of the people describing ASMR in this way are the people who do not experience the tingly feeling themselves. They are outsiders looking in, judging a phenomenon they simply can’t understand. As once put by Phil Collins, “Some people don’t trust what they can’t explain.”

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It is my responsibility, amongst other members of the community, to set the record straight about ASMR. By definition, ASMR is “an experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.” The chemical reaction of ASMR releases a calm, relaxing, and usually sleepy feeling throughout the body. For myself and many other people, ASMR youtube videos are used to help us fall asleep and unwind our worries of the day. WhispersRed, one of the more prominent content creators in the ASMR community, has had perhaps the largest influence on my well-being in this context. For me, listening to Emma (WhispersRed) speaking quietly in a video is no different than if my mother was reading me to sleep. Her voice is calm, level, motherly, and sweet as honey. Even when she is pattering about, just simply talking about small events from the week, I get a great deal of comfort from the easy listening factor.

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Photo from DailyMail.com

When I discovered that I had developmental PTSD earlier this year, a lot of the unusual behaviors and panic attacks I’d suffered throughout my adolescence began to make much more sense. Certain environments and activities were (and still are) extremely anxiety-inducing for me, ranging from large social gatherings to simply falling asleep at night. While ASMR can’t magically erase all of my mental illnesses and daily strifes, it plays a crucial role in helping me to balance all areas of my health. When I put my head down on the pillow and plug into an ASMR video, I’m not focusing on childhood trauma or panic attacks: I’m focusing on Emma’s voice, or the relaxing sound of someone crinkling paper or tapping. Having this outlet to relax and feel truly safe in my own bedroom is a feeling I can’t even put into words.

Emma, who also struggled with PTSD after a car accident, is a true symbol of happiness and wellness after trauma. Despite the privations that may have held her back, she has demonstrated the strength within all of us to pick up the pieces of our life. She has taught me, probably without realizing it, that beauty can be found in the most difficult of times.

In my life, ASMR videos are one of the key components for self-care. The list essentially goes as follows: bubble bath, tea, vegan cheese, Bob Ross, ASMR videos…and a good night’s sleep. I recommend these videos to anyone and anybody who expresses difficulty dozing off and relaxing. If you try out the videos and decide it’s not for you, so be it, but I amend you for giving it a chance. There are millions and millions of people around the world, one by one, coming forward and finding their place in this growing community. If you truly feel like you are one of them, don’t let any negativity prevent you from the self-care that you deserve.

Anxiety disorders are the onions of mental health. They pertain to a variety of different levels and layers, each one more intense and eye-watering than the last. When undiagnosed, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can make people feel hopeless, lost, and sometimes, even invalidated. In high school, I had a very difficult time staying calm and focused in classrooms due to excessive worry and unavoidable wandering thoughts. I consider myself to be somewhat of an “intuitive learner”- I don’t necessarily need to understand what the teacher is saying to do well in the class, I pick up cues from other students and mimic their actions. This method successfully got me through high school, but my decent grades were not an accurate reflection of my internal emotions. On several occasions, I suffered unexplainable breakdowns and found being in the public school environment to be extremely painful. Being an underfunded public high school who feared that my unusual attitude was actually suicidal behavior (and obviously trying to avoid a lawsuit if that was the case,) I was often called down to the nurse’s office, and once sent to a hospital for an evaluation. The reality is, however, I was not suicidal, and I never had been. I actually has undiagnosed GAD, and the school was putting in no effort to properly help me explore my resources. It’s extremely difficult to talk about your anxiety with a figure of authority if you’re consistently afraid of being wheeled off to a psychiatric hospital.

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After being diagnosed with GAD, I began taking a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor”- or SSRI. The medication I have been prescribed since and take daily is Lexapro- a powerful medication for reducing depression and anxiety. I have been taking Lexapro daily for about a year and a half, and have already noticed a remarkable positive change. Yes, I still experience some depression and anxiety, but my symptoms are nowhere near as extreme as they once were.

One of the biggest challenges I faced with starting college was adjusting to a new, strange lifestyle. I, like many other people, was uncomfortable with the idea of having to make brand-new friends and learn to live in a dormitory with a roommate. In my particular situation, living with a roommate for my first semester of college was an extremely traumatic experience. I felt targeted and ostracized by my former roommate and her friends- eventually reaching the point where I considered sleeping on benches to avoid going back to my room. For my spring semester, I was offered a single dorm room in the same building where I already lived, and I took that opportunity immediately.

This segways nicely into my first recommendation for anyone struggling with GAD: if you are uncomfortable with your rooming situation, do not hesitate to ask for a medical accommodation. With a medical note from your doctor disclosing your anxiety, it is possible your school will be able to offer you a single room. Unfortunately, my school has informed me that there are not enough available singles to acquire my medical accommodation for the next fall semester. Because of this, I’m going through the long and somewhat irritating process of transferring to a school that will accomodate. It may sound like a drastic move, but after my diagnosis with GAD and rather horrifying experience with my roommate, the situation is very black or white. If I have the accommodation, I will stay. If the school will not offer it, I’m going to take my twenty grand somewhere else.

Don’t forget, you’re paying for this. This is your education, your future, and your initiative. If there is something you really, truly need to make your educational experience the best it can be, never hesitate to reach out and make a request. Your mental illness is valid.

While having GAD can make it difficult to socialize and join organizations on campus, I highly recommend getting involved in something. It doesn’t even have to be a club! Consider picking up a new hobby to keep you occupied, like blogging or knitting, or getting a small pet to improve your personal accountability. And yes, while making friends can be a difficult and tedious game of chance, it’s inevitably something you will have to go out of your way to do. As of right now, I only have one relatively close friend on campus. Despite the fact that we (basically) only have each other, having a shoulder to cry on and a dinner companion has reduced my general anxiety considerably. Exploring campus, registering for classes, and even studying can become loads easier when you have a close companion to ramble with.

Obviously, it’s almost impossible to completely eradicate GAD, especially if it’s causing a toil on your daily life. There are, however, a few little helpful pointers I’ve picked up along the way. I cannot speak for everyone dealing with anxiety, nor would I ever want to. GAD is a very individualized disorder. That being said, if any of my suggestions can make even a smidge of a positive impact, I’ve completed my job here!

Ultimately, the best advice I can leave you with is to understand that you don’t need to be okay every second of every day. College is about finding yourself, making mistakes, screwing up, and then laughing about it later. If you use your resources wisely and take care of yourself to the best of your ability, I promise that you will make it out fine. My journey so far has been quite a rollercoaster, but I’m learning to appreciate it and make the best of what this experience has taught me.