Friday, July 30, 2021
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Mental Space: Safe People


Amber Gauss
Amber Gauss (they/them) is a Psychology major. They have been part of staff since August 2019. They write about Mental Health in their column Mental Space.

As someone with severe anxiety and depression, I want to touch on the importance of having safe people on campus. What this means for me is that I have people who I can trust with anything and can go to for anything at any time. These people won’t judge me or think any less of me if I have a panic attack around them, and I feel safe to do so.

However, this semester has left me with none of my safe people on campus. I’ve been told to try to make new friends, but finding safe people requires a lot of interaction that I don’t necessarily have time for. This is mostly because I have trust issues due to previous experiences. My safe people are hours away, and talking to them on the phone isn’t the same as being able to go to their dorms or apartments and just talk. It’s now a matter of coordinating schedules so that we can have conversations, which doesn’t help me when I’m panicking in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong – I trust my housemates and others, but they’re not the people I go to with big issues. I wouldn’t just waltz into their house or room and just sit there and cry; we don’t have that kind of relationship. This is very difficult for me because I feel so alone on campus this semester.

I could blame several individuals for my safe people not being here and for why I need them, but that’s a story for another time. Having safe people around me, within moments of my location 90% of the time, is something that I never knew I needed until I came to college.

My safe people exist with their own lives, goals, hopes and dreams. They are their own people, and I would never try to take that away from them. But, at the same time, they are my people. They’re the people I can go to for any problem, big or small. My people, specifically the safe ones, are an integral part of who I am. They calm me down from my panic attacks and manic episodes. They’re the ones I go to when my depression gets to be too loud.

But now they aren’t here. And there’s nothing I can do about it. So let me just say that if you see me walking around campus, be cautious of how I may react. My anxiety is on high alert because I don’t have my normal outlet, my people I can trust to let me just let go, here with me.

Yes, theoretically, you could call this codependency. And maybe it is, as codependency often stems from trauma in one’s childhood. For me, it makes sense that it may be codependency because I didn’t really have constancy or stability when I was really young. But it doesn’t feel like I’m strictly codependent with anyone. I can be my own person, I just don’t feel safe on campus without my safe people because I haven’t been without them like this before.

Anyone can have safe people, they’re just people who you feel completely safe with, mentally and physically. You don’t have to worry about what they’re going to think about you if you have a meltdown or if you make a stupid decision. Don’t get me wrong, they will definitely call you out when you’re being incredibly stupid, but they’re not going to change the way they look at you because of it. They’re people you can be stupid with, people you can joke around with like no other.

For many, including me, safe people include your significant other. And ideally, your significant other should also regard you as a safe person. If that’s not the case, then I would suggest that you find a different significant other with whom you feel completely safe at all times.

Now, why is this important to me? I haven’t been on Wittenberg’s campus without safe people since my visits and orientation in the 2017-18 academic year. I don’t like being in an environment that’s supposed to feel safe and like home when my people I trust aren’t here, I don’t like the sudden change that brings about. If you’re like me and have safe people, tell them how you feel, believe me. It makes it so much easier for the relationship you have.



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