This Too Shall Pass

It happened. It hurt. And now you’re left wondering if you’ll ever be happy again. Closure, you think to yourself, is what you need to move on and start rebuilding everything you’ve lost. There are different ways to accomplish this, but how does one know that he or she has truly gotten over someone or something and found this so-called “closure”?
[closure1] “Closure is the final step in accepting unwanted, sometimes traumatic life changes,” Dr. Doug Ruben, a therapist and national consultant on family therapy, addictions and media psychology, of Okemos said. “Achievement of closure is a gradual process, never a ‘FedEx overnight’ change. It requires passing through three main transitional stages, whether dealing with a death or end of a partner relationship.”
Ruben explained there are several steps involved when dealing with closure. First is grief over losing or leaving something familiar. Second is the fear of facing uphill and unexpected challenges that will require adjustments. Third is using memories of the bad situation (death, trauma and the relationship) as education for handling similar future situations. But if it’s as easy as one, two, three — why are so many people still haunted by past sorrows?
This may be because we never get permanent closure, but instead reach a solution to get past miseries. “Closure is easier when a person ‘moves on’ along a scary journey of the unknown,” Ruben said.
Mark Drake, criminal justice senior, has spent an entire year trying to find the closure he needs.
In March 2004, his fiancée, Joanna Russ, was killed when a truck hit her car on Dort Highway in Flint, Mich.
“It was during spring break of last year,” Drake said. “We were supposed to go off to Canada. The day before, I went to work and she was going to baby-sit some friends’ children. She left her subdivision and was in a car accident that killed her.”
His fiancée, Russ, was a sophomore at Central Michigan University, studying psychology with a specialization in children with developmental disorders. Drake’s loss was devastating.
[closure2] Drake said the two had the kind of relationship where it didn’t matter what they did as long as they were together. “Once we got engaged, eventually we started looking at the bigger picture of things,” Drake said. “Planning our lives together, we planned on getting married after getting our bachelors degrees and starting a job where we could have benefits and not have to worry about deviating from our plans if we had not come together.
“I have spent a year trying to find closure,” Drake said. “Yet, I really didn’t understand just what it was that I was looking for. Today, however, I know I have it.”
Drake said closure for him really isn’t a final conclusion or ending, but an event itself.
“I have so many friends, especially at the college age that are in and out of relationships,” he said. “I’ve come across so many people who are just like, ‘I can’t move on with my life because I just haven’t achieved this closure yet that I’ve been looking for.’ The interesting thing is that when people are generally hung up on that, it’s not really the closure they’re having the trouble with, because closure in itself is the event.”
He also said the hardest thing is trying to accept closure, because so often, like in Drake’s case, there are many questions left unanswered and unsettled feelings. “So, in actuality, you’re really not trying to get closure, you’re trying to get this acceptance of what’s really happened in your life,” Drake said. “So you get hung up, because you wish you could change it. Especially when you’re not the one that made the call.”
Accepting reality may be what closure is, but it may also mean different things to different people. When it comes to the death of a partner, spouse or a loved one, Ruben says it is a brutal war of mind over matter.
[closure3] “We feel the person is gone, but our mind keeps them alive,” Ruben said. “Closure for death is like closure for relationships. It never happens neatly and permanently. Memories of the deceased linger favorably amid daily situations so often paired with that person. Malls, restaurants, grocery stores, the bedroom, vacation spots, even driving in vehicles – all present shadows of the deceased person as if he or she was alive.
Ruben said these shadows never fade but that they blend into a bigger picture of one’s life and re-emerge at certain times, especially on special occasions and holidays. “Closure is the process of memories in remission; but these memories never cease, they just stay in layaway until you call them out again.”
However, death isn’t the only type of closure college students must face throughout their lives. Closure from relationships that are over is another aspect many of us tend to struggle with. “Romantic relationships in college are the first of many ‘rites of passage’ students experience,” Ruben said. “But what happens when these relationships deteriorate? Lies, deceptions, infidelity, incompatibility, non-communication, or just plain boredom – all of these reasons spoil the love-magnet that hypnotically attracted two partners. Some people call off the relationship, and some just let it die a slow death until each partner stops contact.”
He also said one way to help get closure from a relationship is sharing the ups and downs of the relationship. “You’re not ending the relationship on a sour note, you’re thanking the partner for teaching you about yourself and advancing your knowledge about meaningful and caring friendship,” Ruben said.
On the contrary, there are still “guilt-traps,” as Ruben calls them, that come into the picture during the aftermath of a relationship that has ended. The three instances to steer clear of are feeling as if you’ve caused your partner emotional damage, calling them constantly because you feel they are the only ones that truly understand you and being convinced you will remain friends. “You are never friends after being lovers,” Ruben said. “The more he talks to you as a ‘friend’ about his new lovers, the more your jealousy kicks into overdrive. You’ll wonder why is she better than me, and suddenly question your physical appearance, love potential and value to people.”
[quo] Renee Archambault, theater senior at Saginaw Valley State University, said not having closure on a past relationship has affected her future relationships.
“Yes, I think closure is necessary for future relationships,” Archambault said. “I do not have closure with an ex-boyfriend. This is because he has been a key figure in my life for four years, regardless if we are dating or not. Part of me really wants us to be over for good, put the other part finds comfort in knowing he’ll always be around, if I like it or not. Having this ex around is affecting any possible new relationships either of us might have.”
For Archambault, finding her closure is never looking or going back. “Like when I know the door is shut and it may be ok, or it may not. Whatever the event or relationship was, it is now over.”
Drake agrees that when a relationship is over, there is always a sense of bitterness that lingers. “So, how do you heal from something that cannot be sewn back together? You treat it,” Drake said. “Ignoring a cut doesn’t make the bleeding stop any faster or the pain lessen any sooner, so why would you expect different results with emotional wounds? But just like physical wounds, emotional wounds will heal in time and leave you with scars. The scars that remain remind us of what we have overcome and what has made us into who we are today.”
It takes time to heal any wound, especially those of the heart. Closure, whether it exists as concretely as we’d like, can be found. While those like Mark Drake will never forget a lost loved one or relationship, time eases pain and with enough of it, life can become beautiful again.

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Scary Sites

We learn to tie our shoes with help from those who have worn shoes for decades. We are taught to ride a bike guided by a steady hand that provides balance and support. Most everything we’ve come to do well, we’ve learned from someone else. Often times we’re guided step by step with reinforcement and support from others.
Eating disorders can be learned and carried out in much the same way, with support and advice on the ins-and-outs of restrictive eating and binging and purging only a google away.
[one] Pro-Ana (or Pro-Anorexia) and Pro-Mia (Pro-Bulemia) sites are dedicated to advocating anorexia and other eating disorders, typically created by anorexic women who are in favor of eating disorders and unhealthy body images. The sites claim to act as support groups, but not the kind that encourages one to take control of their disorders. Rather, these sites offer ways to become a “better” anorexic or bulimic, with tips on how to hide the problem from others. The names Ana and Mia are female names used to personify an eating disorder sufferer.
“Spread food on plates and leave them in the sink; people will think you ate,” wrote one user.
Other tips and tricks include tying hair back before purging to avoid obvious signs. Some suggest that a person spend a little time each day at pro-anorexic sites, reading anorexic diaries, and chatting with supporters on the internet, as this makes them stronger and help them realize their goals.
Aside from including tips on about bingeing and purging, the sites also have links to what are called “trigger pictures.” Women use these pictures, usually of extremely thin models or celebrities, to encourage or trigger anorexic behavior. What many might not consider is that any and all of these photos may be touched up, warping the reality of those with eating disorders. They also post height and weight statistics, along with before and after pictures, as so-called “thinspiration.”
These sites can also contain online journals, quotations and chat rooms or message boards where people can communicate.
[two] Because of the controversial content of these Web sites, some people have petitioned to have them shut down. Yahoo! administrators determined pro-ana/pro-mia Web sites violated their user agreement, and in 2001 pulled pages made on their servers.
“I think the Web sites are a shame because they’re helping girls ruin their bodies,” Meredith Mescher, journalism senior, said. “These Web sites are clearly a problem, but to take them down would infringe on freedom of speech. There are all kinds of horrible things on the Internet, but it’s their right to be there. Even if the Web sites were stopped, who’s to say the content still wouldn’t get out?”
Dr. David Novicki, a counselor at the MSU Counseling Center who runs a counseling group for eating disorders, said that while he doesn’t believe the Web sites have a use or intrinsic value, he agrees that they should not be shut down.
“I clearly believe that they should not be taken off of the Internet,” Novicki said. “It’s an issue of freedom of speech. It’s hard to be a faculty member and say ‘let’s censor that’.”
Novicki said the critical issue is that those with eating disorders that are trying to get healthy don’t visit the sites. The visitors are those who are looking for validation. “Part of what happens with people who have a disorder with eating is that it can be pretty well embedded,” Novicki said. “To find a site that recognizes that eating disorders happen and say that ‘it’s OK’ is somewhat comforting.”
Ronda Brokram, a nutritionist at Olin Health Center, said people with eating disorders “want to connect with others” and many “believe that they are OK and are proud of what they are doing.”
[three] Bokram also said she thinks these sites are visited for inspiration, either because visitors want to look like the thin individuals displayed in the pictures or “to show someone else that they aren’t as bad as that girl in the picture, so what’s wrong with what they are doing? As in, ‘it could be worse,’” she said.
But most people don’t even know these sites exist.
Kathryn Gruits, a journalism senior, said she wasn’t aware of Web sites entirely devoted to promoting eating disorders. “The sites are disturbing, and it’s sad that people will go that far for such destructive habits,” she said.
Gruits believes the sites should be shut down. “I know that won’t happen because of free speech issues,” Gruits said. “Nothing is taboo or sacred anymore. If you tell someone to shut down an offensive site, they will probably hide behind the First Amendment to justify it.”
Although the idea of encouraging eating disorders is appalling, there are ways the sites can be used positively. These sites can offer people whose loved ones are starving themselves or binging and purging insight into their world and give clues as to how to spot even the most well-hidden problem.
Pro-Ana sites take part in teaching anorexics and bulemics how to conceal and intensify their illnesses, but also may provide a place for sufferers to relate to one another, however unhealthy that may seem.

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Knowing is Beautiful

If Munn Ice Arena was filled to capacity with MSU students, at least 12 of them would be infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Would I be one of them?
“I can say that one in 500 students at MSU have HIV,” Megan Musica, HIV coordinator at Olin, said.
Olin has provided free HIV testing to MSU students for 17 years. I chose to get the test, partly because of this article and how I wanted others to know what the experience was like, and partly for my own reassurance. HIV testing at Olin is done on a completely anonymous basis, so as soon as I told the receptionist what I was calling to schedule, she quickly stopped me from giving my name, and instead, gave me a number. She spoke incredibly fast, giving the impression that she was either on a sugar-high, or reading from a script.
It is a two-part appointment. You come in first and take the test, served up with a side dish of educational counseling, and then a week later, you go back and receive the results, again with counseling.
[photo] The speed-talking receptionist then rattled off the list of available appointment times. After getting her to slow down, I picked dates and times for the two appointments. I hung up feeling a little unsure about what I had just gotten myself into. I felt ushered along, going with the rest of the crowd, again reduced to just a number and not a name. According to Musica, about 40 students a week come in for either the initial testing appointment or for the follow-up appointment. The fact they didn’t know my name left me wondering if they even cared if the test came out positive or negative. I was envisioning long, harsh needles and unsympathetic nurses in blinding white uniforms uninterested in answering my questions.
Several days later, I entered Olin’s front doors and went up to the third floor, room 357, where all I had to say was I had a 2:15 appointment. The receptionist knew who I was, or at least, what my number was. She gave me a form to fill out, sat me down in an open, comfortable and softly lit waiting room and went off to find the counselor that would administer the test.
I was still apprehensive I would soon be facing the sting of a needle in my arm as I sat rigidly in the waiting room, filling out a medical/sexual history and educational questionnaire. There was relaxing music and a comfortable chair – no harsh hospital overhead lighting, no crisp white uniform. I began to settle down, thinking this wouldn’t be so bad. It could have been the grandma-like receptionist, or maybe it was just the cups of condoms constantly within reach throughout the room. The room screamed protection.
The questionnaire was filled with questions like, How many partners had I had in the last year? Had I ever traveled outside the United States? How could I contact the HIV virus? Did I know how HIV was transmitted? How long could the HIV virus “hibernate” in my body?
I’m a generally open person about anything, so answering the questions, although they were very personal, didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. It did make me question my own knowledge of the HIV virus, however. For example, I never knew you could transmit the virus through breast milk.
[conx] A few minutes later, Musica, a small, dark-haired young woman, came in and invited me back to the counseling area. We didn’t exchange names, but she went over my questionnaire and explained everything to me in an even, comfortable tone. I imagined her saying, “What do you think of all this weather we’re having? And, by the way, when was the last time you had unprotected sex?” She immediately set my mind at ease about what kind of “educational counseling” I was getting into. She didn’t preach or judge but spoke openly and frankly about the subject.
Musica made it easy for me to talk to her about my sexual history, why I wanted to get the test done, what my knowledge of HIV/AIDS was and what the possibility was of my actually having HIV. She will be attending medical school next year to study to be a physician. She has also been an HIV counselor at Olin for two years, and enjoys her job immensely.
“It has been the most significant experience I had over the past four years,” Musica said. “I love the one-on-one contact. Although many students understand their potential risks, my greatest challenge is helping students to implement positive behavioral changes in their personal lives. I realize that every student will not make these changes, but I have given them the knowledge and the tools to do so.”
After reviewing my questionnaire, Musica asked a very important question and just about the only one that I remember clearly.
If the test was to come out positive, for any reason, what would happen? Who would I tell? How would I react?
I sat back for a moment. I had never thought of it that way. Who would I tell? What would happen? “Hey, Mom, by the way, along with acing my geography exam, I also have HIV…”
I had a moment of panic before realizing the truth. It wouldn’t matter who I told because I would be taken care of. I come from a large, close-knit family that would be completely supportive. There are times when I loathe them, probably like anyone might feel about their family at some point, but I know if worse comes to worse, they would be there for me. I also know most students who take this test don’t have that kind of support system already in place. I explained this to Musica and she agreed.
She then surprised me again by giving me the option to take either an oral test or a blood test. I hate needles with a passion, but for the sake of this article, I gritted my teeth and said I would take whichever test most students use (see what I do for you readers?) Much to my relief, Musica suggested the oral test. I felt like I had just dodged a bullet.
The HIV antibodies can be detected through both saliva and blood. Since I was a low-risk patient, Musica explained the oral test is the one they usually administer. Only very high-risk and foreign students are usually given the blood test, since that can detect different strains of HIV (such as those prominent in Africa).
Musica pulled out a metal tube from the cupboard and started filling out the paperwork. Along with an anonymous number, I also had to give an anonymous name, to keep the test completely confidential. Musica then pulled something that looked like a flat toothbrush out of the tube and explained I was to put this in my mouth, in between my lips and gums, for three minutes. Anything was better than getting stuck with a needle at that point, so I happily complied. As soon as I put the swab in my mouth, I wanted to spit it back out. It tasted like an over-salted cracker.
Once the salty swab was ready, I stuck it back in the plastic cylinder. Musica sealed it and reinserted it in the metal tube, saying it would be sent out to the lab that afternoon. She also explained if I felt uncomfortable with the test at anytime, I could call and have it canceled, and they would destroy the sample.
Test completed, Tootsie Pop sucker in hand, I was given yet another number to match my anonymous one with my test results, and was sent on my way thinking that was the easiest thing ever. Musica said if I had been a high-risk patient, there would have been more talk about changing my sexual behavior, how I could do it, why I took the risks, preventing them in the future, etc.
A week later I was back in Musica’s office, test number in hand, awaiting my results.
Without fanfare, she laid the piece of paper in front of me.
Negative.
She explained this meant there were no HIV antibodies in my system. Not that it was a big surprise, but face it, hearing you don’t have a deadly virus in your system can bring about some happiness.
If a student does test positive for HIV, Olin brings in the reinforcements. Musica said they always do another test to confirm the results if the first test comes back positive, but when it’s time to reveal the results to the student, they bring in professionals from the Lansing Area Aids Network (LAAN) to give the student the best support available.
“We have a protocol that we follow, and usually the positives are only given by full-time staff and not the student counselors, although everyone is trained to give them,” Dr. Denis Martell, health education services coordinator at Olin, said. “There are certain CDC MDCH guidelines we follow, but we usually get LAAN involved in every client that tests positive. LAAN is a great service to those who test positive and are living with HIV and/or AIDS.”
HIV testing is not the only thing the program at Olin offers to students.
“We offer them a safe, anonymous counseling environment to talk about anything, and I mean anything,” Martell said. “And then we can offer help or refer help. World AIDS Day and National Testing Day, as well as special programs, are always part of the program. We are beginning to look at outreach groups for those who do not want to come in. I think the best thing the program does for students is that it gives them an opportunity to test and be educated.”
Martell also said most MSU students are generally well educated about HIV and/or AIDS.
“Some aren’t, but I would put that percent at less than 25,” Martell said. “I think most have also become complacent with the epidemic and that we always need to keep them educated. Twenty-eight percent of the students report that they received info on HIV/AIDS from the university in the latest NCHA 2004 survey.”
I walked out feeling relieved. Although the knowledge I was not HIV-positive was a relief, I just felt better knowing.

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Siblings the new sexperts?

When you have a burning sensation in your bathing suit area, or wonder why you can’t make an erection go away, who do you turn to? A parent? Your counselor? A friend? Maybe a teacher at school? What about a brother or sister?
Personally, asking my mom if it’s normal to burst into tears after sex is mortifying. Asking a sibling, however, wouldn’t be so bad.
It has been said that siblings are sometimes the best people to turn to when you need to talk about sex.
According to Dr. Eric Howard, a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist, it depends on the siblings’ bond. “I’ve seen all different combinations of those,” Howard said. “It depends on the nature of the relationship. There is no real pattern (of who talks to whom).”
Amanda Kolbourn, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Missouri State University, has done research on the role older siblings play in protecting teens from engaging in unsafe sexual practices.
[sex] “Siblings often share similar experiences and perspectives and may be more likely to understand each other’s viewpoints than those of adults,” Kolburn said. “Because of the unique nature of sibling relationships, brothers and sisters can be important role models.”
Fisheries and Wildlife senior Ryan Schwind said that he talks to his sister, but not his parents about sex. “It’s just awkward talking to my sister about our experiences, but its easier if its just sex in general,” Schwind said. “I never talk to my parents about sex.”
Although siblings can be great to consult about sex, Howard said it is still important for parents to get involved. “I do think it is important for parents to talk to kids about sexual issues,” Howard said. “Usually, it promotes communication. Sex is still a hidden subject, although somewhat less than it used to be.”
He also said there is still some embarrassment in society because of it. “I think parents should wade in anyways,” Howard said.
Furthermore, he said that it would depend on the relationship between the parents and children when the topic of sex should be brought up, and how.
If it is too hard or embarrassing for an individual to approach parents or siblings, Howard said there are still many more sources to talk to about sex or sexual issues and that the important thing is that you do talk.
“Counselor, pastor, or trusted adult,” Howard said. “There’s a real need for better sexual education in the schools because that’s where the kids are.”

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The Down Low on the Back Door

Anal sex might be something we chuckle over or mock during a conversation, but there’s more to know about doing the back-door deed than some people might think.
Since the Middle Ages, anal sex has been taboo in many Western countries. “Heretical movements were sometimes slandered by rumors that their members practiced anal sex among themselves,” according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.org.
In the 2002 National College Health Assessment, 22.5 percent of MSU students are reported to have had anal sex, which is at least one out of every five students.
The controversy surrounding anal sex seems to mainly stem from the fact that is has been regarded as a “sin” since the Middle Ages and as something only homosexuals engage in. People were so against the act they wrote laws making it illegal.
Prohibition of sodomy was first recorded when Henry VIII was king of England and adopted a contemporary church doctrine into a system of laws. He ruled that sodomy is defined as “any form of non-procreative acts including masturabtion, oral and anal sex; they are all sins and therefore a crime.”
Sodomy has been illegal in many states in America since the beginning of our nation. In 1931, Michigan passed legislation that made anal sex, or “crimes against nature” with a person of either gender or an animal, a felony and punishable for up to 15 years in prison. In some cases, the punishment can be life in prison.
Michigan law also states that in sodomy cases, “emission” or ejaculation of sperm does not play a part in the person being accused to be prosecuted and convicted.
In 2003 the Supreme Court heard the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, in which John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were contesting the state’s anti-sodomy law. The two men had been arrested in Lawrence’s home, caught in the act of anal sex.
The Supreme Court ruled that Texas law was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment.
The decision could be used to invalidate all other states’ sodomy laws but currently, 14 states still have such laws.
So if anal sex is so “bad” and taboo, and even illegal, why do it?
“Anal sex is a sexual practice that more than a few men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, enjoy,” Nicolle Stec, a sexual health educator from Olin Health Center said. “In men, this pleasure point is in the prostate, which is found inside their anal canal.”
Wikipedia said that the anus contains many of the same kinds of nerves as the penis or clitoris and that stimulating the anus can produce sexual pleasure. The presence of the prostate gland near the rectal wall is generally seen as a source of pleasure for men that enjoy receiving anal sex. For women, pleasure derived from anal intercourse can be related to the rectum sharing a wall with the vagina, as well as the nerve endings of the anus and the G-spot.
“I have friends who have done it because they got bored with their sex lives,” Melanie Thomas, a journalism and Spanish senior, said.
Even though anal sex can bring pleasure, there are some physical aspects of the act that can bring real pain.
“The anus and rectum carry many diseases that can be harmful in your mouth or stomach,” Stec said. “The tissues of the anus are sensitive and prone to tearing if proper lubrication is not used.”
Furthermore, Stec said any time there is ripping of the tissue, there is a greater chance of transmitting a sexually transmitted infection or HIV. “When proper safer-sex precautions are taken, the risk is minimized.” She described proper precautions as condoms used consistently and correctly with proper lubrication.
Stec also stressed that the necessary component needed before engaging in anal sex is consent from both partners engaging in any sexual activity. “It is especially important to understand that at every step, an individual needs to gain the consent of their partner to move onto the next stage of intimacy.” She also said that consent to engage in vaginal sex does not translate to consent for anal sex.
Thomas said she believes anything sexual that involves emotions is good because it is an experience you can share with someone that means something to you.
No matter which hole you choose.

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Reach Out and Touch Someone

Human touch is something we all need in our lives to survive. Whether it be hugs, kisses, caresses, flirtatious nudges or even a grope or two thrown in just for fun, physical intimacy plays an important role in relationships.
“There is a lot of research now about the importance of touch, the importance of human touch,” Jack Canfield, author and expert on the development of human potential said in an article on Beststeps.com.
He continued to say that children who are touched a lot until about the age of 12, are more likely to be friendly, more intimate, and “cuddly” than those who are not given this attention. Also, those children who do not receive such intimacy may be uncomfortable with physical intimacy later in their lives and possibly become unable to make connections with other people.
Virginia Satir, a key family therapist said that we need to get four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth, Canfield said.
So does this importance of human touch carry over into our adult lives and relationships? How important is it to be physical with someone we are dating?
According to Dr. Tawa Sina, a training director and psychologist at the MSU Counseling Center, physicality is as important as the individuals make it. “There are values and priorities that individuals and couples place on physical and/or sexual relationships and on emotionally-intimate relationships,” Sina said.
Naturally, one of the most physical things a couple can do is have sexual intercourse.
“The importance of sex in a relationship depends on the individuals involved and the meanings that they ascribe to the act of sex,” Sina said. “For example, about 30 percent of sexually active college-age women do not experience an orgasm. However, many non-orgasmic women still value sex, as they have come to understand the sexual act as very intimate and emotional.” Also, Sina said that age and cultural norms play an important role in how people define sex. For some, sex is purely physical, and for others it is a sacred act.
However, Ann Flescher, assistant director of multicultural and clinical services at the MSU Counseling Center said that sexual intimacy does not necessarily translate into closer emotional intimacy. “Trust and caring grow as couples share and reveal who they are to each other,” Flescher said. “This can occur within a relationship that includes sex or where there is an absence of sex. Sex in itself does not bring emotional closeness.”
Nicole Szczepanski, a journalism senior, will be marrying “the man of her dreams” on December 18, 2004, Peter Schilt, a 2003 graduate from the University of Michigan. The couple met in May at a Christian summer camp, and they have decided to wait until marriage to have sex.
Szczepanksi said that at the beginning of their relationship, they drew many lines and boundaries, and although several have been crossed during the past year, they will not have sex until they are married.
“Believe me, it’s hard!” Szczepanski said. “I believe God designed sexual intimacy for our pleasure, not just procreation. However, I also believe it was designed to be experiences of the highest degree of pleasure and intimacy in the context of marriage.”
A relationship with little or no physical intimacy can still have lasting effects on those who are involved in the relationship, Flescher said.
According to Rosalyn Davis, a counselor at the counseling center, it depends on the person and the individual meanings (personal, spiritual and cultural) they hold about physical interacion. “People who are desirous to, and desirous of physical displays of emotion, may struggle in relationships with little to no physicality,” Davis said. “Those who need to maintain firm boundaries of physical relations may suffer in relationships where there is pressure to enter into physical interaction before they are ready.”
Furthermore, Sina said that anytime a person acts in ways that are in opposition of one’s values, they are more likely to experience feelings of guilt and/or shame. “Excessive guilt can lead to anxiety or depression, as well as conflicts in a relationship and loss of trust,” Sina said.
On that note, for the people in a relationship who are trying to steer away from “just sex”, Sina suggests participating in other activities such as bowling or taking walks and talking.
“A growth experience may be going bowling because it’s allowing you to pay attention to how competitive or cooperative you are, reflecting on why, and then sharing that with your partner,” Sina said. “Another method is to take turns planning intimacy-building dates and practicing giving up control without losing your personal boundaries.”
So the answer to the question of how important that physicality in a relationship is that it depends on the individuals involved in the relationship. To have a healthy, successful relationship, you should be with someone who wants the same level of intimacy as you do.
“Simple hugs, cuddling and massaging can allow for contact without sexual episodes,” Davis said. “However, the boundaries around this contact need to be set beforehand and then respected by both partners.”
So don’t feel guilty about your urge to touch and be touched. It’s good for you.

Aparna Echempati contributed to this report.

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Dozed and Confused

Stuyding for exams, reading that $80 course pack, partying roommates, fast food runs, Adult Swim. Just a few examples of why most college students do not get enough sleep. Rest is the one thing everyone needs that we don’t get enough of. It’s about time to start examining our sleep hygiene. With stress levels rising, it is more important now than ever to get those trusty six to eight hours.
[beds] “Sleep is essential,” Jonathan Kermiet, a health educator at Olin Health Center said. “It’s a recuperative process.”
In the 2004 National College Health Assessment, only 38 percent of student’s said they got enough sleep and feel rested when they wake up in the morning four or five days a week. That means in your 9 o’clock class on Tuesday mornings, at least half of the students there will still be tired because they did not get enough sleep the night before.
The NCHA also reported that 60 percent of students reported having sleep difficulties. Sleep deprivation can lead to many things, and not just bags under your eyes, according to Kermiet. “Fatigue, inability to concentrate, headaches, and those are just the short term effects; the longer a person goes without sleep, the effects are decreased immune system, mood swings, and depression, just for starters,” Kermiet said. “The immune system needs to recuperate to be able to fight infections. Without that recuperation process, you’re more susceptible to sickness.”
Keli Tolley, a studio art major senior, said that she averages about seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
“I know I’m supposed to get at least seven hours of sleep,” Tolley said. “Seven is my number, but depending on my day, seven to nine.” Tolley also said that if she does not get at least seven hours of sleep she gets cranky and lacks concentration and focus.
Currently, the NCHA also said 24 percent of students said that sleep problems had some effect on their academic performance. Those whose school work was most affected were non-white females who lived on campus and had a cumulative GPA of less than 2.5.
So why aren’t students getting the six to eight hours of sleep a night that is recommended for adults as the ticket to a good night of sleep?
“We do know that stress and sleep problems go hand in hand,” Kermiet said. “I’m sure that when students are pulling all-nighters around finals or midterms, there are more sleep problems around then because there is more stress then.”
I know what your next question is. What can I do to sleep better?
According to Kermiet, and everything that I’ve ever read on sleep, stress is a big factor. So naturally it would seem that part of the key to getting better sleep is lowering the amount of stress in your life.
“Stress causes a lack of sleep for me,” Tolley said. “All the things that I haven’t gotten done during the day plays through my head.”
However, there are ways to help with your sleep patterns if you are stressed. In fact, Tolley said things that help her get sleep at night are reading and relaxing or trying to finish everything so she will not have to worry about anything.
“Generally, if I want to go to sleep, I stay away from stimulants like the T.V. or computer and I read,” Tolley said. “That’s how I determine if I’m tired or not.”
Because Tolley has had fatigue her entire life, she had to give up caffeine because it distorted her sleep. “Caffeine really messes up your body and sleeping pattern,” Tolley said. “I had to start eating right and eating foods that gave me energy. It’s taken me a good two years to figure out what I can and can’t eat.”
To keep her energy up, Tolley said that eating a good breakfast keeps her going throughout the entire day, as well as eating foods such as apples which have natural sugars and offer a healthy way to get energy.
In the 2004 NCHA, over 75 percent of students said they experienced stress during the year and stress can also lead to sleeping too much.
“Sleeping too much, or taking too many naps during the day, can affect your normal sleep pattern,” Kermiet said. “When I’ve talked to students about stress and too much sleep, its invariably the women who oversleep. Not the men, typically.”
Tolley’s best advice to students who suffer from stress and sleep deprivation is to avoid consuming foods or drinks with caffeine at least five hours before going to bed and using certain pillows, light music, watching T.V. or having the fan on as ways to help sleep better.
“Get the same amount of sleep everyday because that’s the only way you can regulate your body,” Tolley said. “The more stress you have, the less sleep you’ll get.”
Advice well taken and on that note, I’m hitting the hay. Right after that episode of Family Guy.

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In Search of the Cure for the Hangover

We’ve all been there before. The alarm blares, making it feel like a thousand elephants are stampeding over your head. You crack your eyes open to find out that you still have the clothes you wore the night before, or lack any clothing at all, your breath could kill, you didn’t make it all the way into bed, and can’t remember how you even got there.
The night before is a blur because you had just a little too much to drink.
A hangover is your body’s way of saying that you met, and surpassed its tolerance for alcohol.
“Alcohol is a drug that effects your reflexes, thinking, and inhibitions,” Ruth Egnater, a registered nurse and clinic director of gateway community services, said.
According to webMD.com, alcohol acts as a sedative and depresses the nervous system when taken in large amounts. The more alcohol you drink, the more control over your mind and body you lose, and the more drunk you get.
The more drinks you have, the more abuse your body is taking from having to process it.
“The body processes alcohol through the liver, and that’s why so many alcoholics have psoriasis,” Egnater said.“When we wake up with a hangover, it’s from all the work our bodies have been doing to get rid of the drug in our system.”
Marina Levine, certified addictions and substance abuse counselor, said that alcohol has no nutritional value and that it is in fact a drug.
People have been dealing with hangovers throughout history and one article on webMD.com reported sighting that ancient Romans used to eat fried canaries to deal with them.[chaser]
Other remedies include drinking water while drinking alcohol, eating greasy foods before drinking, eating bread after drinking, taking a few aspirin before and after drinking, just drinking more alcohol, drinking Gatorade, or taking Vitamin B after drinking.
“Alcohol dehydrates your body, so that’s why you have to urinate so much,” Egater said.
So how do you cure a hangover?
Apparently, that’s the sixty-four billion dollar question, and if you have a sure-fire solution, my e-mail is at the bottom of this page.
In an article by Sean Sweat, on webmd.com, he quoted Jeffrey Wiese, MD, said that prevention is the only sure-fire hangover cure, followed closely by moderation and not drinking on an empty stomach.
Jonathon Yanca, a brew master junior at U of M said that the best cure is to prevent one. “Drink a glass or two of water, or proportionally to how much you drank, and you will feel great the next day,” Yanca said. “That’s what I do and I’ve been fine for a long time.”
Furthermore, he said he always starts the day off with a lemon-lime Gatorade and takes 600 mg of Ibuprofen. “I always make sure I eat something too,” Yanca said. “Something like a Nutri-grain bar, or the best remedy is just to sleep some more.”
Melissa Mackey, an adversiting senior, said she does several things to help with her hangovers. “I start by taking preventative measures, such as drinking on a full stomach and in the morning, pacing myself,” Mackey said. “Plan on eating warm soup, drinking a gallon of water, and taking in some serious R&R. Truth is there is no cure; you just have to ride it out.”
Other options some people might consider to cure their hangovers, is to take the well-known Chaser pill that’s out on the market. The Chaser pill works by absorbing the congeners that are in alcohol, using calcium carbonate (better known to you and me as chalk) and charcoal that attract congeners and soak them up like a sponge before they can do their damage helping you wake up refreshed and ready to go.
However, both Levine and Egnater said that the Chaser pill does not work and the best cure is to drink in moderation to prevent hangovers. “Just don’t drink. Coffee and cold showers don’t work,” Levine said. “You just have to wait it out.”
One drink takes a half-hour to two hours to be processed by the body, through the liver and being expelled by urinating and breathing. “Two percent of alcohol is eliminated through sweat, eight percent through breath, and the liver eliminates about 90 percent,” Levine said. “The rate of elimination depends on the weight of the person, what they’ve eaten before drinking, and many other factors.”
So the bottom-line? There’s no real cure for hangovers, except not drinking, but I’m sure many MSU students won’t take that road just yet. The search continues.

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Oh Canada!

At the end of this fall semester or in May 2005, thousands of MSU students will cross a stage in the Breslin Center and graduate, walking out into the real world hopefully with real world jobs. Little do many students know, that once they’ve entered the real world, they are stripped of many benefits that were provided for them while dependent on their parents. One of the main issues being health care.
America’s health care system is one of the major issues in this year’s election and after the presidential election November 2, depending on who is elected could determine whether or not certain people will have better access to better healthcare plans.
John Kerry has big plans for revamping the health care system in the nation, and wants to provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress have and to make affordable health care a right “not a privilege,” Kerry says.
To aid students in choosing a candidate whose health care plan fits them best, here are the main points of Kerry’s plan. Kerry wants to provide all Americans with access to the same health care coverage members of Congress receive. Kerry also plans on making the Federal Employee Health Care Benefits Program (FEHCP) available to everyone.
Through tax credits for individuals and the self-employed, everyone will be able to afford being covered by this program. Automatic coverage will be given to the unemployed and retirees under 65 years of age.
Randy Neice, president of the MSU Student Democrats, said that Kerry’s health plan is to create a catastrophic insurance plan which will protect middle-class families, and that Kerry believes a family should not have to choose between death of a loved one or catastrophic debt.
Under Kerry’s program, every child will have health care coverage by extending Medicaid programs already in place.
“We take over Medicaid children from the states so that every child in America is covered,” Kerry said. “And in exchange, if the states want to, although they are not forced to, they can cover individuals up to 300 percent of poverty.”
Kerry also plans to cut prescription drug costs by allowing discounted prescription drugs from Canada to be imported, making generic drugs more available on the market, and requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug companies for better prescription drug prices.
“Kerry wants to make prescription drugs affordable again by investing research and development into pharmaceutical development so that companies do have to pay for all the investment and can therefore provide medicine for less money,” Neice said. “Furthermore, he wants to expedite the licensing to allow generics to come out more quickly than they currently can under copyright laws, which will allow easier access to medicine when people need it most.”
By 2008, Kerry wants to have secure, private medical records on universal electronic files for every American and this will reduce medical errors by eliminating needless retesting due to lost or wrong paperwork. On his Web site, Kerry estimates that about 25 percent of the annual cost of health care goes towards unnecessary insurance paperwork.
Also, he supports passing a Patient’s Bill of Rights that will include the right to see the specialists they need, to emergency procedures, to external appeals process that allow patients to appeal an HMO decision, to hold health plans accountable and “whistleblower” protections for health care workers who report problems.
Should he become president, Kerry plans to help in combating the AIDS epidemic on a global scale by contributing to The Global Fund, increase resources for nations where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is catastrophic, eliminate restrictions on research and education of HIV/AIDS, and increase funding for programs in our nation that assist people living with these diseases.
Next, he also supports stem cell research to find cures for diseases. He plans to overturn the ban on federal funding of stem cell research and allow researchers to work under supervision.
Senior advertising major, Joe Merriman agrees with Kerry’s plans to help America with the issues of healthcare.
“I’m going to officially graduate at the end of this semester, so I won’t be on my parent’s insurance anymore,” Merriman said. “Even if I don’t have a job that offers health insurance, I think if John Kerry is elected president, I have more options since his goal is to make it cheaper and make certain types of medicine more accessible to the public.”

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The Gettin- Lucky Soundtrack

The lights are down, the candles lit. All you need is the perfect song to really get things going…
“Let’s get it on….”
The immortal refrain from the classic Motown single by Marvin Gaye, released in 1973, is the first song most people think of when they want to get into mood, according to a recent survey of MSU students.
“There’s not just one genre or one song [that’s romantic],” said Stollack, “There’s the whole package – something that appeals to all of one’s senses.”
[candles] It is clear, according to the results of the survey, MSU that what is romantic to a 21-year-old Caucasian heterosexual male, won’t be same for a 21-year-old African-American heterosexual female.
Other songs students say they play when making love or setting the mood come from all genres of music, from country’s Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Let’s Make Love,” to R&B’s Usher’s “Confessions,” to hard rock’s Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.”
Although the sentiment may sound good, there is no scientific proof that music has an effect on people’s romantic moods.
“There have been hundreds of studies done on how music effects people in the business world,” psychology professor Gary Stollack said. “But, there have been no studies done on how music affects a person’s romantic mood.”
There are, however, physical consequences to listening to a song, according to ethnomusicologist Elizabeth Miles from Richmond.com. “The first place music hits after coming through your ears is the hypothalamus, home of basic drives from hunger to lust,” Miles said. “Then the electrical impulses of music move through the entire nervous system, either speeding up or slowing down its function.”
[pillows] Miles suggests choosing something loud and upbeat as a “musical Viagra,” increasing circulation and breathing rate. “However, if you’re going to go slower, it should be like drinking a glass of wine: smooth, slow and sensuous,” Miles said.
Stollack said there is more to music than just the melody or harmony. Rather, it’s the rhythm that makes a person feel good. “Music is tied to heartbeats, from the jazz or classical ballads that are 60 beats per second and used to put people in a good mood, to the more upbeat hip-hop and dance songs that are 80 to 120 beats per second, and used to energize people.” Stollack said. “The beats remind us of the heartbeats of our mothers from when we were infants and she would breastfeed us, where we never had it so good!”
Music and love have been linked to each other since the beginning of human civilizations, according to Robin Frederick, a songwriter, producer, and recording artist for Virgin Records. The very first love song on record comes from an area in Egypt called Sumeria is about 4,000 years old.
Stollack estimated love songs make up 99% of all music today. “Whether it’s about your truck or your partner, it’s all about love.”

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