Feeling overwhelmed— a time of overloaded work and a life where anxiety has become the norm and our degrees have become entitled to stress. This describes the sentiment of many college students.

Each individual has their own personal experience in university depending on their major, school status, year of graduation and school setting. Our experiences are a mix of good and bad, sweet and sour and maybe a bunch of apologetic memories. You could probably think of a few memories right now, some you’ve shared a hundred times with your friends, and some you’ve never even spoken of that are in the back of your mind. For me, my only remorse would be the neglect of my own health through much-needed self-care time. It wasn't until the end of last year that I realized I have done a huge mistake in prioritizing my academics over everything else. However, this past January I learned how to deal with it and react to the moral behind it. Having said that, I shall open up to you about how college taught me the importance of self-care. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s the importance of prioritizing your health before anything else. We live in a time where schools, friends, parents and society set high expectations for us, especially when you’re attending a well-known institution. However, I never realized how ridiculous that expectation was until my sophomore year. Never in my life have I thought that I’d end up gasping for air at 4 a.m., pressing on my chest so that my heart would stop pounding so damn fast or experiencing what it’s like to have a panic attack. Never in my life have I even thought I'd be experiencing each of these symptoms individually or all at once in just one night. I'm talking about Dec. 11, my first all-nighter.

The stories I posted on Instagram gave the impression that I’m chill and just joking around about the amount of work that was required from us, but honestly, deep inside it was never a joke. I hated every single step of that journey. I mean I tried sucking it up but who am I kidding? For 4 months straight I went to bed at 1 or 2 a.m. then woke up for my daily 8 a.m. class just trying to finish up the homework, just trying to meet their “ you should know this already” standard. Well, I’m sorry that I never went to pre-college at Parsons or Pratt. I’m sorry that this was my first time learning anything Apparel-related. And I’m most sorry for actually believing your claim that you'll "teach you everything from scratch, don’t worry.”

Well, I did learn everything. Everything about how a normal human being should actually be living. I learned that waiting for appreciation is the most delusional anticipation. I learned that talking about my identity is a sin. I learned so many things, but most importantly, I learned that one stressful event, life route, decision or thought is never worth losing a hundred red blood cells (RBC). I learned that self-care is not a joke, especially when you end up having anemia.

Seeing black spots, fainting or fatigue isn’t exactly the most ideal thing to experience every time you get out of your bed after waking up, working out or even just standing up. Seeing your hair fall and having trouble sleeping is not what I intended for when I signed up for that major. But anyways, the point that I’m trying to make here is that grades, meeting expectations and waiting for people to applaud your work or show the slightest act of appreciation is a waste of time. You work for yourself, you work for your ambitions and you definitely work along with your health limits. It’s something that I learned the hard way. Of course, as a perfectionist, it’s so hard for me to just “wing it” or “bullshit it.” It’s hard for me to present something that would satisfy the professor and earn me the grade when it doesn’t satisfy me, or when it’s not my true identity, but rather an orientalist demonstration of it. There’s a reason why we’ve chosen to be artists; it’s to create work based on our personal experience, belief, identity and creativity.

This past January, during winter session, I took an industrial design course called “Self-care” where I was asked to create a “speculative design” of a product that falls under the topic of self-care. Naturally, I ended up creating the product based on my personal experience.

I made a website that fully explains and expresses how the product would be represented if it were actually in the market. The goal behind my product, Anemcare, is to use one's symptoms as a tool to treat the real problem behind their illness. Often, if you go online or ask a doctor, they would inform you that you're anemic because of iron deficiency caused by heavy menstruation or an unhealthy diet, but what if none of the following applies to you? Well, stress/anxiety play a huge factor in iron deficiency and anemia. People could become anemic due to stress. In fact, the symptoms of anxiety and anemia are so similar that each illness leads to the other or feeds into it. Based on the following thoughts, one realizes that the only rational way to treat your illness is by solving the real issue instead of just band-aiding it.

Anemcare- How to make your own rug from Lena Kaisy on Vimeo.

Anemcare allows its customers to use the great amount of hair they’re losing to create their own rug. The process of weaving this carpet is therapeutic and puts your symptom into use and into curing you. Rugs have multiple functionalities that aid in relieving a person from stress. I mean, we’ve all enjoyed laying down on a piece of rug or carpet after a long day, while blasting music or just simply wanting to take a nap. The process, result and outcome of using Anemcare raise so many discussions about health, the pharmaceutical industry and our personal decisions in life. The solution for your anxiety or anemia isn’t a pill. The only reason doctors and media advocate for it is so that billion dollar pharmaceutical manufacturers continue benefiting from people’s diagnosis. It’s ridiculous, inhuman and sad to say the least. However, what’s worse is that people still continue to believe in a pill than treating their attitude towards life, bad habits or relationships. Not stressing out and curing yourself from anxiety, anemia and risk of many other illnesses, including cancer, is definitely worth the shot. Anemcare aims to raise such discussions, offer a solution and help raise awareness.

Anemcare from Lena Kaisy on Vimeo.

This might have been too long of an “open up session,” but sometimes you have to share your own personal experience with anxiety, especially when it unapologetically tags itself to our lifestyle. We’ve all been through stress, the only difference is that some of us got by while others managed to adhere it or maybe even shake it off. It’s really crucial to prioritize your health over everything else. You just have to ask yourself if one demanding event is worth losing strands of your hair? is one stressful thought worth wasting hundreds of red blood cells and causing you to have anemia, cancer or simply just out of breath? I don’t think so. Just think about it and you’ll probably realize that no matter how serious an assignment might be, it’s not as severe as long-term health problems.

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