My Mind & The Serein

BTSB My Mind and Serein Cover

 

in clear skies

i walk under my umbrella

and where my cover cannot reach

the streets are bombed by the mind’s raindrops

 

as i watch the cement under attack

i can hear the seagull’s call,

the seas of mothers strolling through the market,

the whining toddlers asking for ice cream,

 

i scream

and open my eyes to a serene summer’s day

 

BTSB My mind and serein 01Serein is a meteorological phenomenon where there is rain even though the sky is clear. My mind has been serein since I was 14.

I have been forgetting myself in deep waters during a thunderstorm; but I have never been struck by lightning, I have never physically felt the storm that drags down my mood. I have grown internal rainforests out of all the nourishment my raining mind has been giving away through the years of feeling nothing but pain; or more like floating in the pain, not feeling anything but emptiness, and raindrops.

Only this spring, my rainforest cut itself down out of sheer impossibility: it could not live merely off melancholy, it needed a little sun in order to grow ingredients for the average forest. So, my forest tumbled down with drama, and one specific evening, I found myself walking in the middle of a busy street in a specific neighbourhood in Northern Helsinki. After that, I have been trying to heal the wounds the overflow of rain caused to my roots, with different experts of the field. Now, I am finally in the middle of the process of getting a diagnosis.

My rainforest’s probable bipolarity has put me in a number of difficult situations this year. How to tell my boss why I could not handle being all alone at work; how to tell my parents I, a straight A student who is always so calm and collected and full of potential, was seeing a psychiatrist; how to tell my friends why I was acting a little differently than usual. How to tell myself that I had not failed as a student, as a young adult, as a daughter, as a friend, as a human being, even though I had a mental illness?

Mental health is widely and commonly recognized in the western world as a vital part of our overall well-being. Many services are offered to employees, students, parents, anyone; getting help has been made seemingly easy. Today, there is quite a lot of public discussion on mental illnesses, and even public personas are coming out with depression, anxiety, and so on. So why is it still so hard to accept that you yourself are one of the people with a mental health problem?

First of all, getting help is not as simple and quick as it might seem to be. When you are severely challenged by a mental problem, it just might be that your sense of reality is not as clear as it used to be, and that it feels extremely effortful to take even the tiniest step towards helping yourself out of the bad situation. For me, it took a handful of good friends and both of my parents to support me and guide me towards the right path for help; and when the nurses and doctors and health centres and hospitals kept on changing, it took, again, all of my support network to keep my rainforest from sinking to hopelessness. Even then, even when having caring people around me through the numerous appointments, the help did not merely appear and cure me. I, even if lost in a thick fog of roots and leaves and mud and puddles, had to seek for it all by myself, get up in the morning, take the bus to the hospital, take the stairs to the waiting room and sit down in the clichéd psychologist’s armchair, and talk about my childhood, my relationship with my mother, and my mood shifts. These visits would leave me empty and tired and dark, and then I would have to go on with my day as if all was fine.

BTSB My mind and serein 02

Second of all, even though mental health is a popular subject nowadays and certainly not quieted down about, it is still easy to associate mental illness with a certain sense of weakness or failure. It has been estimated that even as many as every fourth person encounters mental health problems throughout their life, but there are no statistics available on how these people deal with going through these difficult times. How do they know when a certain sadness is beyond normal melancholy, how exactly do they reach out for help, to whom is it appropriate to talk about the viruses of the mind?

Why can we still not bring up a mental illness in a discussion without most participants of the conversation being uncomfortable with the topic? Why can we not tell our bosses that the reason we cannot do more than two shifts a week is that our depression takes up all our energy? Why is it acceptable to talk to anyone about injured legs and heart surgeries but not about our bipolar minds?

For almost ten years, and more actively for five months now, I have been in a rainy battle with whatever one would call what I have; depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, or all that, or perhaps just the effects from being a Highly Sensitive Person; there is no knowing for sure. I cannot even say whether I want to have an exact label for what causes my rainforest to keep flooding, but what I now know is that I want help with gaining control over the rainfall, and that getting that help and staying helped is possible – well, only after surviving that tiring initial fight to make someone listen and take you seriously.

So, briefly, my plans for the summer are being put in different boxes to see if I fit the symptoms, having my psychiatrist’s phone number near in case a crisis happens, taking my new mood stabilizers that play with my brain-forest chemistry, and trying my best to get comfortable with having mental health problems and still being an accepted and able person, and still being me. I also hope that one day, when I open my eyes to a rainy day, I could feel rainy, and when I open my eyes to a sunny day, I could feel sunny; and that my rainforest would not be flooded anymore; and that I could tell my boss and friends the real reasons behind my eccentric behaviour and meandering excuses for skipping social activities; and that panic attacks would be equal to asthma attacks in conversation.

BTSB’s Freshman Survival Guide

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As a student, and especially as a humanist, it’s important to take advantage of your time at the university to open up your own world as much as possible. Plus, why not have some fun while doing it? Below, the BTSB staff provides a handful of tried and tested survival tips which may come handy during your first academic year (applicable to older students too!)

ACTIVITY 101

  • Get active outside of the classroom! The university offers all kinds of extra-curricular activities in the form of student organizations, study clubs, hobby clubs, teams, speksis (musical improv theater productions), and student publications such as BTSB. At the very least, make sure you attend events and excursions organized by your subject organization – they are a lot of fun and a great way to bond with your fellow students.
  • Treat your body as a temple. Brainpower will only get you so far in essay writing if your physical well-being is not up to snuff. Jog regularly, use a bike to get to class, make most of the exercise selection at UniSport – anything you think might balance the weekly grind of arduous lectures and/or strenuous partying. Square meals at UniCafe and regular sleep can also be vital; make sure that the alarm clock is working for you, and not the other way around!

ACADEMIC POINTERS

  • Some lecturers manage to let students know that they entertain a weekly office hour, but for others, this remains a well-kept secret. In addition, all teachers have an email address that is naturally used for super-important department and faculty stuff but it can also serve as a channel to stay in touch with one’s students.
  • Sometimes asking a question in class doesn’t feel comfortable or you only realize after a lecture that you didn’t actually grasp the central gist, but there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing your instructor by the sleeve, sending an email, or popping by on their office hour. Their job is to be there for you. In our experience, such semi-impromptu talks can also lead to some of the greatest revelations.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out of your own field of studies to take the occasional random class. I’ve taken courses on the portrayal of animals in cinema, North American political relationships, Afro-American music, and modernity in the US, just to name a few. Some might say that a course on The Beatles is a waste of time, but I’ve found it to be one of the most memorable and educational experiences I’ve had thus far. It wasn’t just about the music, but about the cultural impact, the lasting impression, and the 60s as a whole.

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SITSI BEHAVIOR

  • Don’t have a pre-party before sitsit! If you’re already drunk when sitsit starts, it never bodes well, since alcohol will be aplenty and you will end up drinking lots of it during the actual dinner party. Unless, of course, you go for the non-alcoholic option, which is also available (and completely acceptable!)
  • Don’t be afraid of sitsit! I used to when I was a freshman, having heard stories of the rigid rules, the etiquette and what happens when you break them. But honestly, it’s not that bad. For one thing, we don’t have any punishments for rule-breaking in our subject organization.
  • It’s also important to understand that the rules are not there so that the students could tease and bully each other; they are there to ensure that the party doesn’t fall apart and that everyone has a nice time!

NOURISHMENT & RELAXATION

  • Invest in GOOD coffee! No need to get a stomach ulcer first year in.
  • For immediate stress release, get a cat. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, pop by at the new cat café at Fredrikinkatu 55 for extra-concentrated kitty bliss. There is nothing quite like a cuddly purr-machine to take your mind off the upcoming exam week.

THE OBVIOUS

  • Write for BTSB! Oh, I should say something other than the obvious?

Live from the BTSB Checkpoint: Fashion!

Team America Presents "The Queen of England"

On September 8th, 2015, BTSB had the honor to host a checkpoint during SUB’s fuksiaiset event. From a hat, each team had to randomly draw a costume theme that they then had about 7 minutes to build from scratch using just newspapers, tape, and rubber bands. BTSB’s representatives at the checkpoint, Jesper Simola and Eveliina Kammonen, were blown away by the sheer brilliance of each of these costumes. We honestly could not have been more proud of the amazing costumes designed by the freshmen, and now we get to share them all with you.

Team America Presents "The Queen of England"

All Hail “The Queen of England!” Representing Team America…

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Feelin’ Lucky, Punk? – Team Canada’s Police Officer

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It’s a-me! Mario! From-a Team England!

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“I’M BATMAN!” – Team Ireland

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Vatch Out! – Team Wales/Transylvania

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PIKA PIKA! Team Scotland’s Pikachu

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Under the sea! Under the sea! Ariel from Team Australia

Last, but not least, one of our featured checkpoint “dinosaurs,” shows us that us golden oldies have still got it!

Former President Anna Kamula Looking Fabulous as Always

Former President Anna Kamula Looking Fabulous as Always

Special thanks to dinosaurs Anna Kamula, Salla Nuutinen, and Kerttu Kaikkonen, for helping BTSB out at the checkpoint. And a well-deserved kudos to each and every freshmen we saw! 

Photo of the Month

©  Laura Kurki

Long time visitors to our friendly neighborhood website might remember that we used to have a Photo of the Month feature, which has unfortunately been a bit silent as of late. Well, fret no more because it’s back with a vengeance! From now on, every new issue of BTSB will come with a brand spanking new photo of the month for you to enjoy! For this issue’s photo of the month taken by our very own editor, Laura Kurki, look no further than this link: http://www.betterthanslicedbread.info/photo-of-the-month/

Another way to find it is to go the front page and click on the “Photo of the Month” tab at the top of the page under our spiffy logo. That’s where you’ll find a new photo alongside each new issue. If you’re interested in submitting your own photos for consideration, please do! Hit us up on our contact page or contact us through social media. We’d love to see what kind of sights you’ll be able to capture.

Sincerely,

The BTSB Staff

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The Best of BTSB

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To celebrate the beginning of the autumn term, we here at Better Than Sliced Bread would like to welcome all new freshmen and salute all readers, old and new! Especially for those who peruse these pages for the first time, we give you some of the greatest hits from the past year or so to get you started on your careers as BTSB readers (and maybe writers too!).

Looking back at 2012-13, BTSB was critical of the surrounding society. We had our say on the student allowance discussion, went and criticized the new university library and gave our twopence on the current state of Ylioppilaslehti. Without forgetting our take on sexism in roleplaying games and ground-breaking film charities! Further, BTSB covered different angles of student life from writing a gradu to being an exchange student.

These should get you started, don’t you think? And be not afraid of venturing past the first few pages of our current publication format, you will find movie reviews, comics recommendations, indie-gamer enthusiasm, an interview with Santa Claus, essays, poems, short stories and more and more and more!

As always, feel free to comment, share and do follow us on Twitter (@TheReal_BTSB)! Once more a warm welcome for newcomers and a “hi there” for old goldies. It’ll be a tremendous year, maybe even Better Than Sliced Bread!

Freshman Haikus

BTSB has received leaked information on the results of the SUBlympics this orientation week! The freshmen were asked to compose double haikus, summing up their feelings of their first days as university students. Without further ado, here they are, these autumnal buds of poetic genius:

Everything is new
What the fuck is happening
The hell should I know

So many people
I can’t remember their names
Nothing more to say

We are so confused
Tired after the day’s walks
We just want to rest

Pants moist from the grass
The mighty Norpat rises
To a new challenge”

I am not yet drunk
Therefore asking me to write
A haiku is wrong

Confused as I was
I am sure our tutors will
Help me get wasted

Where the fuck am I
Is there anyone who cares
The tutors perhaps

The teachers perhaps
No, they just want to get drunk
But hey, so do I