CAPS STUDENT HERO: HILARIA BARAJAS

As our tabling coordinator, Hilaria is often leading our group with her own bright thoughts and ideas. We are so thankful to have her in our group for another year, and to be able to benefit from her kind attitude and fantastic mind!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress? 

Meditation in bed before I sleep helps me deal with stress. I enjoy being completely alone and within myself for those fe12ApREUs2RyNNCM2cI00xmf7n24yt2eWjqugd2gHX6UTbFKDhD-xLdOWgIa8od8IUBkXnTZVch0A25o-1ug3V23puM8TgrOfplazMUZandC91T-fZmuUCDMiURzFnXNenmQcqZr1w minutes of complete non-judgment and deep breathing. At first it was difficult to focus my thoughts inwards since my mind tends to wander all over the place. Stopping to address and thank my mind for working the way it does helped me feel comfortable in my own silence. I still get distracted sometimes, but practice helps!

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

I am passionate about my communities and the future. I like to try new things that allow me to learn more about myself and my surroundings, whether that be through music, connecting with people or nature, eating, dancing, writing, etc. I am passionate about shaping my own future and in turn shaping the future of my communities.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is here for YOU. It is centered around students and student mental health needs. College is stressful and It’s okay to ask for help. CAPS is completely confidential and free so if you’re even a little bit curious, try it out.

Hilaria is a fourth year Psychology major with a History of Conciousness Minor and she is affiliated with College Nine

 

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HER SMILE

Have you ever felt shame for going to the doctor when you had a sore throat, or for taking medicine when you had a cough? Can you imagine what it might feel like if that were the case? Well, according to Newsweek.com, nearly 1 in 5, or 42.5 million American adults struggle with mental illness every year, and yet we continue to stigmatize these struggles as if they are something rare, or something that we should be ashamed to seek help for. Chances are, either you yourself, a family member, or someone you know has struggled or continues to struggle with a mental health issue. One Peer Educator, Rebeca shares with us her beautiful story of her aunt’s struggle and recovery, and the support from her family and herself that made it possible.

HER SMILE

by Rebeca Najarro

I never realized that she always looked tired. I failed to notice that her expression never changed. Her voice seemed so monotone, it just was not the same. At the age of fifteen, I found out that my aunt had tried to commit suicide by drinking a bottle of her own prescribed medications. A couple of months ago, at nineteen, I found out that she had attempted suicide again. However, the only thing that I could see when my mom told me, “your aunt tried to commit suicide,” was my aunt’s smile.

It had been a while, mhope-street-1312498aybe two or more years, since my aunt was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and Depression. My first memories of her take me back to my first years in America. In my first few months here, I remember her holding my hand and going to my preschool’s Halloween parade because my parents could not make it. I did not know how to speak English yet, so I had not made many friends. In a home video, I happily held her hand and spoke to her as she translated to me what the teachers were telling my classmates. When I was four years old, I remember her rushing to my school to come see me when I was pushed by a little boy and injured my head on nail. She gave me a popsicle and as tears clouded my eyes, she smiled and told me that everything would be okay.

Tears fall down my cheeks as I reminisce on times when I was too little to understand the struggle that people with mental illness face. Two months ago, I was able to pick her up from the hospital. She was smiling and laughing again, her curly blonde hair was tied up into a pony tail. She jokingly complained about how her phone had died because she had forgotten her charger, so all she could do was stare at the wall. We all laughed. Since her phone had died, she could not contact anyone to pick her up and the only number she could remember was my mom’s . Her one and only wish after getting out of the hospital was to go to Porto’s Bakery, a delicious bakery in Burbank. She ordered a couple of the warm potato balls and I saw her smile return. In that moment, I realized that she will be okay. I will help my family by educating myself about mental health and raising awareness and educating them about ways in which we can support her. I am grateful that mental illness did not take the life of my loved one and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to learn about mental health and take that knowledge home to my community. Her smile will forever be my motivation to help individuals and families who suffer from similar situations.

Photo credit: FreeImages.com/Colin Cochrane

CAPS STUDENT HERO: XINRU “TINA” WANG

If the stormy weather is getting you down, stop and take a moment to get to know one wonderful and very talented Peer Educator, Tina! This is Tina’s first year with the Peer Education Program and she is already shining as the graphic designer for our fliers and soon our new blog banner! Tina’s helpful and friendly attitude is always appreciated and admired. So read on to hear more about the amazing Tina!

What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

To release daily stress, I enjoy listening to music,img_3252 jogging at the OPERS, watching good movies (the ones that really make me focus), read some interesting books, and also talking to friends on the phone.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

As a member of JSA, i am specifically interested in Japanese language and culture learning. I am also passionate in drawing, playing with puppies, swimming, reading, playing volleyball, watching movies and animations

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

Instead of a place ONLY for counseling when you don’t feel right, the CAPS is also a really refreshing and calming place for everyone to express their real feelings at anytime possible, and also to maintain a healthy lifestyle here on campus!

 

Xinru “Tina” is a second-year Intensive Psychology Major affiliated with Merrill College.

OK NOT BEING OK

I hope you’re having a good start to your week! But maybe you’re not, and it’s important to remember that that’s ok too. We live in a world that always wants us to “cheer up” and smile more, even when that might not be how we really feel on the inside. A fantastic Peer Educator, Hilaria has some words to share about the topic and her feelings when she encounters this in her own life.

OK NOT BEING OK

by Hilaria Barajas

I found this article after searching “self care” on a blog I’ve been following for some time. After reading it, I felt an incredible sense of validation and even relief. Although I can’t say I connect with everything in this article, many of the points the author brought up resonated with feelings I’ve carried for long periods of time. What I found especially validating was the idea of accepting the different aspects of yourself that don’t necessarily coexist. In my classes, we’ve been talking a lot about dialectics, defined as “reasoning which aims to understand things concretely in all their movement, change and interconnection, with their opposite and contradictory sides in unity” (definition taken from here). Basically, accepting and reasoning on something that is not coherently ONE thing, but MANY things: change, opposition, aggravation, fluidity and more.

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We are more than one trait of our personalities or one part of ourselves. We are made up of many things and it’s not wrong to change: it helps us grow. This change is usually the root of immense amounts of sadness or distress, but what I have found helpful during these times is simply sitting in my feelings. Accepting my emotions, even if at times they’re confusing or in opposition. Feeling them to their full extent allows me to move on or to find a new part of myself that I get excited to explore.

In our fast paced, capitalistic, smiley-face, “everything is GREAT!” society, we are constantly told to “cheer up”, “be happy”, “smile!” or do other things that are quick to dismiss our feelings of sadness, uncertainty or anger. While usually well-intentioned gestures, the dismissal of our authentic emotions can be detrimental in the long term. Faking it isn’t always making it. Perhaps acknowledging our honest feelings can allow us to better understand ourselves, our potentials, and our unique needs. It’s OK to not to be OK with everything; it allows us to be real with each other, even if it’s not always nice or sunshine-y. Accepting and sitting alone in your own darkness can be incredibly liberating, and within the darkness lie endless potentials for growth.

Photo credit: FreeImages.com/Maja Lampe

CAPS STUDENT HERO: MIRIAM MEDINA

Hey everyone! I hope your winter quarter is getting off to a great start! Today I want to introduce you to another Peer Educator, Miriam. This is Miriam’s second year with PEP and she continues to exhibit fantastic leadership skills and a true commitment to bettering the UCSC community!

20151008_201333What do you do regularly to relieve stress?

In order to relieve the stress that arises from life’s daily hassles, I choose to run. Running long distances liberates my mind from worrying about any stress. When I run, my sole focus is on creating a steady rhythm in my breathing, so I immediately begin to coach myself: “inhale with your nose and exhale through your mouth…repeat”. The inhales and exhales parallel with my speed. As I gain momentum, my inhales and exhales occur more rapidly; however at the same time their consistency give me a peace of mind. In this sense, it is ironic that I am able to reach a calm state of mind at a moment when my heart is racing at what seems its quickest pace and pumping my blood like there is no tomorrow. However, I get this amazing feeling when I reach my destination. At this point my breathing is pumping in my ears, but it makes me feel alive, rejuvenated, and accomplished.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

Over the past 6 years, I have grown passionate about soccer. Throughout these 6 years, I have worked hard to master the game and the mentality that is essential to play it. Although I still have much to learn about the sport, to this day it ceases to amaze me how I have improved. I sincerely believe that without my amazing coaches from high school, I would not be the same player I am today. They taught me dedication, persistence, and the most important virtue: simply being able to enjoy the game. What is awesome is that these characteristics are not only necessary to play soccer, but they are definitely essential for living our lives. Every time I step onto a soccer field, a rush of excitement warms my body as I await the whistle of the referee to begin the game. In my eyes there is an immense beauty to this sport, for most if not all of the power is in our feet and legs. The fact that I can have direction and coordination with my legs is so cool, and as the years have passed I have grown to appreciate my body for the amazing capabilities it has. Also, I love that soccer is universal and that through soccer I have made deeper connections with a variety of people and students in my school, job, and in my home town. In soccer it is known that every game or practice is a chance to get better, and that just reminds me that the same goes for life: every day brings opportunity for change.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

I would share with my peers that CAPS does not stay within the Student Health Center building; actually its resources and services can be found all over campus! For example, the locations for Let’s Talk, a drop-in program that provides support and encouragement through a variety of topics, are in the Cantu Queer Center and Graduate Student Commons. CAPS makes an effort to reach out and provide UCSC students with the help that is incredibly useful in our busy environment. Just remember, it is okay to feel stress because it is normal; once it begins to overwhelm, CAPS is here to help. 🙂

Miriam is a third year, double majoring in Psychology and LALS. She is affiliated with Oakes.

Winter Self-Care

Welcome back Slugs! It is now week 2 of Winter Quarter and we are all starting to see the next 10 weeks sprawled out ahead of us with possibly anotalone little less enthusiasm than we had on New Year’s day. Winter quarter can have a tendency to feel like the longest quarter, with its shorter and colder days and lack of vacations. This is also a time when many students and people in general can feel a little bit of winter blues, whether it’s because of the increased darkness, or the post-holiday let down.

As we settle into our new schedules for the quarter and get back into the routine of school and work, I encourage you to keep in mind that these feelings aren’t uncommon. The same way that our bodies feel tired after a long week, it is ok to feel a little down sometimes. And the same way that we try to rest when we are tired, we should try to practice extra self care when we’re feeling down. Check out this article for some quick winter self-care tips!

http://www.positive-change-tools-for-success.com/Winter-Self-Care.html

So keep in mind that your mental health is important, especially at a time of increased difficulty for a lot of people. Don’t let your own self-care get lost in the flurry of back to school schedules and early sunsets and make sure you take the time to go for a run on West Cliff, pet a dog, or grab a hot drink with a friend.