Ask The Wellness Center

It’s OK to dismiss rhetoric on a bunch of subjects as a joke or blowing off steam. Suicide is definitely not one of them. So when you suspect your loved one could be suicidal, what do you do?

My boyfriend has been through a lot of loss in his life and helping him through everything has always been a no-brainer. However, on multiple occasions he has made remarks regarding whether he wants to be alive or not. He has said he doesn’t understand why he is still alive and has even said before that if I were to leave him, he would “blow his head off,” which he regretted saying. I asked him to talk to a counselor about the way he’s feeling and that they could probably help him with (what I assume is) his depression. He was angry that I had said that and proceeded to tell me that all those things he said were just made up and he doesn’t actually feel that way; he just made a bad choice of words in the heat of the moment. Should I believe him? I am scared for him at times, but unsure if I should completely believe that he didn’t mean any of what he said originally. I love him unconditionally and just want to help in any way I can.

First off: You are a fantastic partner. You obviously care about your boyfriend, and it appears you only want what is best for him. It makes sense that you have no clue what to believe. The messages your boyfriend is sending are mixed, laced with some very serious threats.

It’s possible that your boyfriend is just venting and didn’t mean what he said. When someone has had a rough go of life lately it can make the best of us vent in ways that aren’t appropriate when you step back and look at what was said.

However, at the very least, as you’ve noticed, he’s depressed. He’s questioning why he is still alive, verbalizing suicidal thoughts. He needs help, whether the threat was definite or not. His statements have to be treated seriously. Threatening to end his life if you ever leave is not a reasonable request of you, nor is it a healthy vent. Yes, we all say things we don’t mean – but we can never take suicidal thoughts lightly.

There’s stigma attached to mental illness, but there shouldn’t be. Depression is no different from any physical disorder. I can’t imagine anyone avoiding cancer treatments for fear of looking weak. Going to therapy is one of the highly recommended treatments for a very serious health issue.

When it comes to suicide, always err on the side of caution. Suicide, or the threat of it, is not something anyone should mess around with. I think you were right in trying to get your boyfriend professional help, and I think it’s worth it to try again. Any consequence you experience from taking his words seriously will far, far outweigh what happens if you don’t take them seriously enough. It’s not your responsibility to be the professional, so let us fine folk with exorbitant amounts of student loan debt work to help your boyfriend find ways to help him get to the other side of this dark, gooey fire pit of depression.

Check out your local mental health center, which for us at NVU-Johnson would be our very own Wellness Center located at the bottom of Senators South. We are open M-F 9-4 when classes are in session. If you need someone off hours – find Lamoille County Mental Health by calling 802-888-8888. They are informed and can help you connect with someone in the community, or help make a plan to get you to the next day. Or for the phone-shy, you can text the VT crisis line texting VT to 741-741.

-Finn and Kelly, your ever-dorky Wellness Center counselors.

I’m trying to be okay not being in an emotional place for a full romantic relationship and still looking for physical intimacy. I had a short relationship earlier in the year and I don’t feel like I’m in a good time in my life to both take care of myself and keep my grades up and also maintain a solid relationship with someone else.
I struggle with school and I’ve gotten comfortable with the idea of waiting to date until I have my degree. But I’m also interested in sex and intimacy and I’m not sure how to balance it all. I’m shy and inexperienced and unsure how to initiate hookups. I’ve never slept with someone whom I wasn’t seriously dating, so any advice on figuring out casual intimacy for the first time would be appreciated!

The struggle is real.

College is the place many of us end up to figure out our new “adulting” skills, and one of these skills is balance. Taking account of all of our relationships, romantic or not, working, remembering to eat and sleep (not at the same time) while learning is a rude awakening for most, but many figure out the dance for the most part by the time we graduate.

Media has a tendency to make us believe that college is basically sex and enjoying a plethora of substances. Except, it’s not always about sex (or the substances) and that’s totally okay. Yet, if one is interested in having sex sans romantic relationship, explore the resources your school has to offer. Get out and meet folks! Go to clubs, make friends, have conversations. Set solid boundaries, letting the folks you choose to … explore… know that having a relationship in your current setting isn’t going to work for you right now.

Many of us therapy folks believe that NSA arrangements don’t actually exist. There’s always at least one string, when we have sex with someone. Strings are just something to be aware of and to manage via boundaries, communication, and expectations. They aren’t inherently bad; they are just a human quirk.

It’s okay to be direct about what you want and this will increase the odds that your sexual pursuits will be more satisfying because of it. Setting limits early helps them know about you and your desires. Trying to create them after post-hook up can lead to more difficulties and all the feels. Dating apps have this as a potential expectation, so perhaps start there. Working within a campus can be a bit more trying in a small school setting like NVU.

Finally, fumbling and being awkward through something means we are learning. So, go ahead and feel those awkward growing pains — after all, it is college. There are plenty of folks fumbling all around you.

-Finn and Kelly (again.)

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