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Opinion

Bottling up emotions, struggles perceived as strong but hurts individuals more in long run

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September 26, 2013

Last weekend I went home for my town’s homecoming.

It was great to see my family and friends and see the good old Stewartville Tigers put up another win.

On the way back to River Falls, my mom and I were chatting during the hour-and-a-half trip, when she suddenly got serious. She told me that my cousin, who just graduated college, had a very serious drug problem and had intense Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Originally an athletic young adult, he was slowly wasting away into nothing. I was shocked, because even though I do not know him well, he is my cousin and I always thought of him as normal. I had no idea what was going on in his mind or in his life.

The hours after I heard about my cousin, I thought about how he could have gotten to the point where he was at to where he is now, with his mom retiring so she could take care of him. In the past couple of years I had only seen him one or two times.

If I saw him now I probably would not recognize him. I wondered what could have happened from the time that I had last seen him to now: his sad reality. During the few times I saw him I did not realize anything was wrong; judging by the way my mom described the situation, neither did my aunt.

I think sometimes we all suffer in silence, although maybe not to the extreme that my cousin has found himself in.

We let ourselves hurt, but never say anything, if only to spare the time and feelings of our loved ones and those around us. We hold in our emotions, hoping that they will go away on their own or that we will find a way to fix all of our problems ourselves. I still do not know what emotional trauma my cousin may have faced to force him into taking extremely harmful drugs that his brain would have to pay for later.

Was it just him not handling his OCD very well, or was it something more? Either way, I think we all agree that he should not have waited or tried to fix all of his problems all by himself.

The roadblocks we face in life are hard enough without us trying to figure them all out for ourselves. Sometimes we need other people to see the problems that are weighing us down and say, “Do you need any help with that?” We need those people from time to time, if only to comfort us as we go through those hard times.

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing weak about asking for help or asking for someone to listen. We cannot be brave all the time and let the darkness inside of us continue to envelope who we are is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves.

We all are sometimes dragged down by the problems of the world; whether the problems range from failing a class to dealing with a death in the family, we all need someone there to help fix us and make us well again. Maybe I will be that person for my cousin someday.

Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.