Monday, October 20, 2014

Mental Health Stigma on Social Networking

Over the last couple of years "status tag lists" have become popular, circulating around Facebook and appearing in my newsfeed from time to time. Status tag lists are a type of mad gab game, where you use the Facebook tag feature with friend's name (instead of a random word).  Unfortunately a couple status tag lists which are popular and show up in my newsfeed from time to time appear to be poking fun at "insanity" but in reality are perpetuating false and/or outdated stereotypes of mental health patients & contributing to stigma.

The first one looks like this:


You're in a mental hospital. Use the first six people on your friends list.
  • Person who drove you crazy:
  • Person who signed you in:
  • Your doctor:
  • Person in the corner drooling on themselves:
  • Your roommate:
  • Person who helps break you out:
The second one begins with:

"You and I end up in an Insane Asylum together. Using a sentence what would you say to me?"

With Facebook friends completing the sentence. An acquaintance posted this status today and received the following replies, which can be sorted into categories which unfortunately reflect the ignorance & stigma still in existence today towards mental health conditions:

Making Fun of Individuals with Serious Mental Health Disorder:
Nonsensical statements referring to & poking fun of "disorganized thinking" and "delusional thoughts" both  symptoms associated with schizophrenia, a serious mental health disorder.
"Peanut Butter cockroach" 
"Listen to the aardvarks... their secret lies in the carrot soup."
 "I'm a pretty princess lol"

Making Light Of Mental Health Disorders and the Seriousness of Need for Hospitalization:
Treating Hospitalization as If It's a Vacation:
"I knew we would end up here but I'm glad we are together"
"did you bring the music"
"Welcome back!"
"I knew we'd eventually end up here; good thing this isn't my first rodeo!!!" 
"Can I have your red pill?
"Told you it was a short drive to crazy!"
"lets find sexy men to play house lol"
"Did u bring your camera"
"It was bound to happen, it's in our genes"
"So [name redacted] pranks finally made u crazy enough and you snapped huh?"
"Well, isn't this some CRAZY sh*t?"
"I know you should be here, but why am I here!"
"Do you like strawberry or grape jelly?"
"To hell with that diet...lets eat!"
"This is a vacation"

Making Fun Of Individuals with Mental Disability

"dont lick that window anymore?"
This derived from the slang "window licker" which originates from focusing on and stereotyping one particular behavior of some individuals with intellectual/mental disability and is considered as offensive as calling someone "retarded"

References to Escape:
"Let's get out of here"
"How are we escaping?"
I think this refers back to a sordid time in early mental health treatment history before psychiatric medicines and talk therapy were developed. At that time, doctors just didn't know how to treat serious mental disorders such as psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders as well as developmental disabilities such as autism and therefore attempted a variety of treatments and used restraints which would be considered cruel and inhumane by modern standards (sources 1 and 2). This along with mixed with Hollywood movie portrayals such as those in One Flew Over the Coocoo's Nest are what forms this colloquialism and negative attitude. Mental health treatment and care has improved dramatically (in countries such as the U.S. and Canada) and while mental health facilities are no fun place to be, many patients seek care voluntarily for the sake of their health. With that said, hospitalization can be mandated by a court in the case of imminent danger to ones self (actively suicidal) or others (homicidal) and the issue of patients prematurely leaving both voluntary and involuntary treatment by elopement is becoming an issue due to the influence of the anti-psychiatry movement in the U.S. and abroad (source)

Crime & Mischief:
"I told you badddddddd idea ." 
"I should have known not to listen listen to you!!"
"Look what you got us into now"
Another misconception. Nope, sorry hijinks aren't going to get you an involuntary stay in a mental health facility. A decree of not guilty due to mental incompetence/mental defect is used by the courts during a trial when a perpetrator's untreated serious mental health disorder leads them to commit a serious felony crime.

Talk About Straightjackets:
The negative connotations of the straitjacket as an instrument of torture come from the earlier Victorian era of medicine. Physical restraint was then extensively used both as treatment for mental illness and as a means of pacifying patients in understaffed asylums. Wearing an institutional straitjacket for long periods of time can be quite painful. Blood tends to pool in the elbows, where swelling may then occur. The hands may become numb from lack of proper circulation, and due to bone and muscle stiffness the upper arms and shoulders may experience excruciating pain." (source) Not so funny anymore, is it? 
"This new coat is so comfy. Lol"

Talk About Psychiatric Medications:
'we'd probably be drugged so probably something like this "fyhblohdsfhnnl" '


And my finale thought: Humor about people with mental illness in need of treatment in a state/private mental institution is offensive & perpetuates stigma : /

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Refuting the Pro-Choice "Forced Gestation" Argument & Additional Thoughts

I recently read a well thought-out secular pro-life article in response to the pro-choice "forced gestation" argument which can be summed up as saying: opposition to & restriction of abortion is akin to forcing women to continue pregnancies they don't want/forcing women to birth children they don't want & in the more extreme pro-choice viewpoint: akin to treating women as nothing more than brood mares. Haven't heard this argument? Well then you haven't met the likes of the mainstream online pro-choice community over at RH Reality Check. But I disgress, the secular pro-life article I'm referring to can be read here: http://liveactionnews.org/the-pro-choice-myth-of-forced-pregnancy/

I thoroughly agree with the premise of this article & the inherently flawed logic in the pro-choice "forced gestation" argument. In addition, to argue that women are inherently unequal due to our biology & unable to fully participate in society unless we deny our feminity & alter our biology (by chemically sterilizing ourselves or aborting our off-spring) in order to gain equality is to treat women as inherantly second class citizens & seems to fly in the face of what our feminist foremothers believed. Rather women should be truly valued for our traits as individuals with intrinsic value, not who we have to become to be valued or accepted as equal (& this also could be said of sexual orientation, skin color, appearance, economic status, cultural background, or religious beliefs).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spreading Awareness About Down Syndrome

Rachael's Note: March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (named for Trisomy 21, the condition which causes Down Syndrome). The diagnosis of Down syndrome often strikes fear and dread in an expectant mother's and father's heart. The Down syndrome diagnosis often brings forth images of mentally handicapped individuals unable to take care for themselves and partake in life in any real way, and the need to care for their child for the rest of their life. Also, many people still view Down Syndrome as "terminal illness" like cancer or heart disease, and the individuals with this condition "defective" or "broken." These and other misconceptions about Down syndrome are often based on worse-case scenarios, misperceptions, sterotypes, and ignorance, and further perpetuate these fears. I have been working in direct care for 7 years and have met and worked with individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities. Today, I will be sharing information, based on my own knowledge/experience as well as from professional/parent resources, to debunk many of the misperceptions and stereotypes about Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome it is a developmental disability. Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. While there is no cure for Down syndrome, there are many treatments available for the problems associated with Down syndrome. Approximately 40% of the children have congenital heart defects. Some of the heart conditions require surgery immediately after birth/in early childhood, while others only require careful monitoring. Children with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of infection, respiratory, vision and hearing problems as well as thyroid and other medical conditions. However, with appropriate medical care most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 55 years, with many living into their sixties and seventies. Unfortunately, for individuals with Down Syndrome, there is a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's, however this doesn't mean every individual will develop it.

Also, most people with Down syndrome have only mild to moderate mental retardation. More important than IQ scores is the fact that all individuals with Down syndrome are capable of learning. Most children with Down syndrome in the United States are “mainstreamed” into regular schools. They attend regular classes for some subjects and attend special classes for other subjects and continue to earn a certificate of completion or graduate from high school. A large percentage of adults with Down syndrome live semi-independently in supported living homes and assisted living facilities. Adults with Down syndrome often hold jobs and have romantic relationships. Some high school graduates with Down syndrome participate in post-secondary education. Many adults with Down syndrome are capable of working in the community, but some require a more structured environment, such as a supervised workshop.

It's important to remember that individuals with Down Syndrome are people too. They enjoy various hobbies and activities and have individual likes and dislikes like you and I. Also, people with Down syndrome experience a full range of emotions such as sadness, anger and happiness & they respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior, just like everyone else.

Disability rights organizations, care providers, and individuals and their families are seeking to educate the public and bring about awareness about Down Syndrome so that better treatments can be found, to lend to more education and understanding of the condition, and bring about awareness.

For more information on Down Syndrome and to listen to families and individuals with Down Syndrome share their insight and experiences, please visit:

Room for More: World Down Syndrome Day

CDAC
Offers scientific research, information, education, and suuport to parents and families of children with Down Syndrome as well as awareness and education for the medical professionals and the general public. Written by parents of a child with Down Syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society Offers advocacy, outreach, education, and support and resources for families, parents, and medical professionals. Helpline: 1-800-221-4602

SOFT
Support Organization for Families of Trisomy, a nonprofit volunteer organization offering support for parents who have had or are expecting a child with a chromosome disorder and education to families and professionals interested in the care of these children.

Recommended Down Syndrome Sites on the Internet
Compiled by Len Leshin, M.D.

Hidden Treasures: The Trisomy 21 Journey
Parents from all around the world share their stories.

Video: Dreams
Dreams features children and adults who have Down syndrome talking about their dreams and what they're proud of in their lives. This fun and inspirational video made by Scott and Julia Elliott celebrates the work of the National Down Syndrome Society and the larger Down syndrome community.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Letter to Abortion Providers

Today, March 10th is National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Here are my thoughts in a letter to abortion providers (doctors, nurses, & clinic staff).

Dear abortion providers,
Although you ment well & were trying to help, there are many women who've been hurt by their abortion(s) in addition to those who've benefited.
http://silentnomoreawareness.org
http://afterabortion.com
As you may know, an abortion is often a short-term fix to long-term problem(s) such as poverty, homelessness, & limited education. Please re-consider your work & let's work together to find other ways to better address these issues & work together to strengthen & empower women. 
Sincerely,
A pro-life feminist


Posted via Blogaway

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Setbacks...

Earlier this year, I felt as if I was making strides in my battle with depression, that is until I experienced a setback in August of this past year. I didn't felt ready to share this until now...here is my story.

I had been doing well that past summer, taking my medicine as prescribed, talking walks weekly with my home health client, and even taking the city bus on errands & going to & from work to get exercise & save money (& car fuel). However I noticed my depressive symptoms slowly increasing starting in late July, when I no longer felt interested in taking my client for walks & I was becoming more irritable & withdrawn. Looking back I think a couple of major factors for me included hormone changes associated with my monthlies, & I hate to say this, but participating in my sister's wedding triggered some tough emotions for me, feelings of longing for a healthy relationship with my ex & what-ifs. And then the following weekend, I helped set up for & attended my cousin's wedding in Ohio, ouch an emotionally triggering double whammy for me. Don't get me wrong, I felt happy for them & still do, but it was hard emotionally for me.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Craft Project!

My dad and I recently completed a Father-Daughter project we had been working on in the evenings. He taught me basic carpentry skills while we turned an ordinary cat scratching post into a cat tree house (recycling extra scrap carpet, wood, & rope we had lying around). It was a ten hour project and every bit worth it, they love it!

Light Blogging/Tweeting This Week

Just to let my readers know, I'll be doing little blogging/tweeting this week, as I'm working 30 plus hours, preparing for my younger sister's upcoming wedding (which I'm a bridesmaid in), and visiting with family from out of state and country...I'm staying busy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July/Endor Day!

Happy 4th of July/Endor Day!

 
Today we celebrate freedom and liberty and remember
 those who lost their lives so we may live free

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slowly Returning from Hiatus

Hello to my dedicated readers and welcome to my new visitors. As you may know, I've been on a hiatus over the last couple of years due to personal circumstances. I'm happy to report that my haitus is over and I will be slowly returning to regular blogging as work and time allows. You may have noticed I recently made some changes in the appearance and lay out of my blog as I try to make it more streamline and easier to read and I will continue to make improvements as needed. Thank you and carry on.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is This Really Being Pro-Choice & Supportive of Women? (Or Rather How Not To Hold a Protest)

Yesterday while surfing Twitter, I came across the following pro-choice blog, AbortionChat where they are discussing protests of CPCs (or Crisis Pregnancy Centers) and I'd like to discuss a few thoughts on this...
Two weeks ago, a group of people stood outside a Crisis Pregnancy Center holding signs that said, "Come Talk to Me!" "Your Body, Your Choice!" "We Support You" and "Honk if You Love Choice!  
Here are their reflections:  
What was your objective today? Do you feel like you accomplished it?  
Damien: I was there to support women's rights and my girlfriend, so yes. I think I accomplished those goals.
Jennifer: My objective was to express my feelings about being ProChoice, and I feel like I did accomplish that.  
Echo: My objective was to talk to people and give out more information about how crisis centers like the one we were at are giving out false information and lying by omniscient [sic-omission]. I feel like we accomplished a lot, we talked to a couple people and got 100+ honks!  
Nicholas: See a protest, not really
Put into context, I think it's pretty clear the "choice" they're talking about is abortion rights. Crisis pregnancy centers offer options counseling which discourages clients from choosing abortion (nor do they provide nor give referrals for abortions), but they do focus on having a healthy pregnancy and parenting/adoption and offer practical and emotional support for pregnant and parenting women; however there are those who strongly feel CPCs should be more "pro-choice" and include politically correct information on abortion and abortion referrals and there are many who feel CPCs shoud be shut down. However, this is where I feel pro-choicers are missing the point of being "pro-choice" when they're so wrapped up in advocating abortion rights, they're either criticizing or ignoring the need for (emotional and practical) support for pregnant and parenting women in poverty.
While I usually think it's cool for a guy to support his girlfriend in her beliefs, I don't in this endeaver, as I believe his presence is for the wrong reasons. While feminists are largely changing their views on whether or not the women's partner should have imput on pregnancy decisions for the most part men are still largely excluded and shunned by mainstream feminism. With that said, one could view this guy as standing up for men to not be able to give imput into the decision, when they're affected to a degree as well. However on the flip side, there are also many men who favor abortion rights for the sole reason avoid the responsibility of pregnancy/parenting.
 Was the protest what you expected?  
Damien: ::Shrug:: Yes, except we didn't get that many people to stop talk and talk  
Jennifer: The protest was what I thought, except with less people  
Echo: Not at all. I thought there were going to be other people there, but I'm glad it was just us. It was a very chill first experience, which was nice.  
Nicholas: No there was no one else
Hmm, so not a lot of pro-choicers turned out to protest, must not be a big priority on their activism list.
When people came up to talk, what was your reaction?  
Damien: No one came up to talk to me, I'm not going to lie. When they came up to Nick, I wanted to know what they wanted to find out. I'd go over and listen to everyone else's opinion. I also wanted to make sure that the people approaching us weren't going to start a confrontation.  
Jennifer: I was surprised that they were all males.  
Echo: Nobody directly came to talk to me, which is probably a good thing, but I was glad that people stopped to talk about what we were protesting for.  
Nicholas: Hello.  
Somehow I'm not surprised there were a lot of males, as there seem to be two reasons men support abortion rights 1)To blindly support their partner, in whatever it is she wants or needs and the more common reason I've pointed out above 2) There are many men who support abortion rights for the sake of avoiding responsibility for the pregnancy/situation they've created.
What was your favorite part about the protest?  
Damien: Supporting my girlfriend. And all the honks!  
Jennifer: Hula hooping! And getting beeps!  
Echo: My favorite part was hula hooping, and the woman coming out to talk to us.  
Nicholas: Hula hooping  
Wow, hula-hooping and honks, doesn't sound like a very productive protest (lack of meaningful dialouge), maybe more for attention-seeking than anything. This compares more to the stereotypical protests expected of pro-lifers with gory abortion photos, yelling, and flashy display; this contrasts to the truely meaningful sidewalk counseling done by pro-lifers at abortion clinics by groups such as Gabriel Project, where there aren't gory photos being displayed, nor yelling of condemnation, rather they seek to have meaningful dialouge and help women connect with resources in their community to help meet their socio-ecomic needs through pregnancy and beyond.
What was your least favorite part?  
Damien: People flipping us off.  
Jennifer: Standing, and the wind.  
Echo: My least favorite thing was the people driving by and saying rude stuff to us. 
Nicholas: I forgot deodorant  
Do you realize others face this everyday in standing up for their political and religious convictions in other countries and even here in the U.S. for having differing beliefs.
Do you think you'll protest again? 
Damien: Mmm hmm. (Yes)  
Jennifer: Yes!  
Echo: I totally want to protest again! Bringing the hula hoops every time!  
Nicholas: Depends on the topic  
Did anything that happened make you think differently about being ProChoice?  
Damien: No. 
Jennifer: No. 
Echo: Nothing made me think differently about it. I was surprised at how many people honked for us! The ProChoice side isn't really publicized very much, so I didn't realize how many people were actually on our side.  
Nicholas: No my natural choice is valid and accepted currently  
Contrary to what Echo believes, the mainstream media is largely either pro-choice or neutral on the issue and the pro-choice view is often published in both editorials and articles on the anniversary of Roe v Wade and when a significant pro-choice protest occurs or anti-abortion extremist act of violence.
How do you think you can improve the next protest?  
Damien: Try to get more people, both to protest and to approach us. I'd also like to give more of my opinion.  
Jennifer: Better signs, and wind holes so it doesn't feel like the signs are going to get ripped out of our hands.  
Echo: I think making more signs would probably be a good idea, but overall I think we did awesome!  
Nicholas: BBQ  
Maybe having a table with literature and posters supporting your view with factual information and figures from non-biased sources and presenting actual opportunities for dialouge would be a good start if you actually wanted to get serious.
What did you learn from today's protest?  
Damien: Not everyone supports our beliefs. I mean, I already knew it, but people flipping us off, shaking their heads no for holding a sign saying, "Your Body, Your Choice," it's kind of messed up.  
Jennifer: I learned that people actually care. And that you should make wind holes in your signs so they don't try to bubble up.  
Echo: I learned that people are a lot more open minded than I thought.  
Nicholas: Do what thou wilt
No, it's not "messed up," part of the beauty of living in this country is people are allowed free speech and access to wide variety of information, leading to people to think for themselves, and they have the right to have their own view point, even if you don't agree with them.
Do you think the protest made anyone think differently? Did you help make change today?  
Damien: I don't know, maybe not think differently but shed some light on people supporting women's rights.  
Maybe it brightened the women's days who drove by us. Jennifer: YES! I feel like we helped make change today.  
Echo: There was one guy and his daughter that Lynne talked to for awhile. I hope she (Lynne) opened his mind to different options. I helped Jen hula hoop, so that was my contribution!  
Nicholas: Yes i made a pretty funny video on the way, and got some great giggles out of it. Highlight of my trip.
Again, doesn't sound like a very productive or meaningful protest, just a sidewalk show. I'll close with this thought: It's easy to be an activist and spout political rhetoric, hold signs, and hola-hoop, but the real challenge is in doing the legwork to support these women in navigating their options and the socio-economic challenges they face.