Shopping For Your Next Therapist?

Dear readers,

I looked through this blog, and I found nothing in it that I would consider a thing about how to help a patient shop for a therapist. If you’re one of those individuals who’s experiencing mental health issues because of the pandemic, here’s your place to learn about what to look for in a therapist that might befit the needs of someone, especially someone with a disability. I wrote a couple years back, maybe three or so, about what treatment providers can expect as they treat blind and disabled patients, but I want to talk about finding a therapist whether you’re doing this for the first time or doing this therapist shopping thing for a third time, fifth time, whatever. So here are some questions you should ask your therapist, especially without stepping on HIPAA.

First and foremost, is the therapist willing and able to work with disabled women without blaming the disability for their mental illness? Some people actually blame disability for mental illness, but certain factors such as trauma can cause mental illness. Take it from the patient who’s been there, done that, don’t like to necessarily go back and forth about it.

Is the therapist friendly and able to establish rapport with you? If the therapist feels awesome and starts establishing rapport with you, great. But listen to your guts as you should be doing with everybody anyway. If your gut feeling is that the therapist is not clicking, that’s okay. Move on to the next one.

Does the therapist have good credentials of any sort? Usually, the therapist will tell you what they specialize in, and they will give you their prerequisites, a la college and where they studied. For female therapists, I have a lot of experience with them, she will likely tell you what her experiences are with women and such, but if you prefer a male therapist, same deal. If you are a member of the LGBTQI+ community and are also disabled, it may be helpful to have a therapist who is also a part of the community, though it is not required. Black/African American therapists, according to some news things I came across, are harder to find than white ones, but don’t be shy about asking about a therapist’s experience with ethnic minorities, and do they come off as condescending or do they still click with you? If you’re of any ethnic minority, chances are you’ve struggled to find a therapist who meets the ethnic minority thing, but since there might not be one that meets your insuring requirements, be open and flexible about your choices.

Does the therapist have expperience with religious minorities? Ask any question you like about this, but for those in religious minorities groups, i.e. nonChristian groups, this is a highly important question. You may be experiencing some things related to religious stuff, so a therapist could help if they have experience with religious minorities.

Ask if the therapist can provide digital or Braille material if you’re totally blind and wish to participate in a group they facilitate? IF you want to participate in groups, odds are there will be papers to play with. So ask the therapist if they could email or help with transcribing the materials in to Braille, depending on your personal needs. Any therapist should be required to do so, but some will say some stuff about HIPAA and stuff and might not want to do this very much. It takes a bit of advocacy to do this, trust me I have a bit of experience with this.

When you first go into a therapy session for the first time with your new therapist, whether this is your first or tenth, be prepared for the good stuff. The therapist will introduce themselves, including name, college credentials if any, how many years experience they have, what they specialize in if applicable, and then they’ll start telling you the confidentiality credo that goes like, “If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or homicidal thoughts” and remind you that whatever you say to them is confidential except in the case of suicidal or homicidal thoughts. I actually had to say this during a simulated therapy session with a social work student in college, so yeah, I know waht this is all about. You will likely have to sign a release of records, treatment papers and a consent for treatment form is among these. You will likely be asked a barrage of questions if this is your first time with the therapist, but one Facebook user has suggested grabbing your prior records if this is your second, third, or even tenth therapist you’ve gone through. I’ve been through about five or seven, but in doctors, psychiatrists, I’ve been through at least six or seven. That’s between two mental health providers.

Also, you may need to ask the therapist about how many years experience they have with working with disabled patients, and do they have papers they can share with you about the results of their treatment methodologies regarding traumas or other types of therapy. You may want talk therapy to start, but if you have specific needs, something that you want the healthcare company to cover,, talk to your therapist. Community mental health care is good for some who can’t afford private practice, and having a casework person coordinate your treatment team is a plus especially if you feel overwhelmed, so be prepared to do the same as above with a regular therapist if you’re doing intakes for community mental health.

If you want, guys, I can do a Mental Health Clinics 101 if needed. Don’t be so surprised, but mental health is a tough road to navigate for some, and during Covid it has become exhaustive for a lot of reasons. Isolation can make people go insane, quite literally. The social distancing is something that kids aren’t taking well, especially if they have suicidal thoughts going on. I’m lucky I have a partner to do lockdown with, but it’s sad when your friends can’t just drop by for your birthday or Christmas or what have you. I hope this post helps a lot.

Beth

Covid, Vaccines, and Why Science Works

Dear readers,

Please read if you really care about other people. So here goes.

Covid is a bad virus, and it kills. I have a buddy who lost both her parents to Covid 19, and it sucks. For her, she will never have Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings for her children at the parents’ house again. Both parents being gone, her young daughters will have to cope with the loss of Grandpa and Grandma.

When I got the vaccine, I felt freer. Of course, I understand where some people are coming from. However, you should try and get the vaccine because you don’t want your parents and grandparents to die of a needless pandemic. If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home, please do me a favor and get the vaccine. Phiser has an FDA approved vaccine, and I got it before the FDA said anything, but i’m ready to wait for a booster shot. Know why we need boosters? Because of the Delta variant. My partner is so precious to me, I told him he’s getting the booster shot. I said he would die if he caught Delta. Our caregiver is amazing, but we don’t get enough time with her. We have two cartons of eggs in our fridge, and she hasn’t used them yet. She’s unvaccinated, and I hope not a victim of delta. But it’s only a matter of time, and strange clients, that she could catch covid. We’ve got lots of other reasons to get the vaccine, including I want to be able to go places, and do things, and go to concerts. Garth Brooks has canceled all five of his remaining shows. Is that fair? Covid is the top reason venues are actively canceling concerts. If you want concerts, get the vaccine. It’s the only way you can stay out of the ICU beds that are needed for other care. I have a buddy with cancer who needs treatment, but covid really messed everything up for her. Please consider she needs a place to go for treatment.

15 years ago …

Dear readers,

It was about fifteen years ago, and May is mental health month so I’m going to be talking about mental health stuff too. It is traumatic when your family denies you basic human rights, and that’s what happened in the fall of 2004, so when I told a cop that I couldn’t live without something or someone, I was placed in the hospital. Just for that, I was later admitted to LaAmistad Behavioral Services, a place in Winter Park, and they’ve since changed, but this place had some clear frameworks for mental health habits sand care I will get into later. But it was fifteen years ago that I was discharged from LaAmistad on May 19, and since then, you gotta admit I came close once to being admitted. That was after being broken up with, and tampered with by an ex. Unfortunately, a friend in Georgia who I no longer speak to thinks I don’t live reality. What is reality/ This begs the question of what constitutes mental health?

I’ll first tell you what constitutes mental health and wellness, and then we’ll talk about the framework of mental health and care that LaAmistad set up. And then we’ll talk about thee subpar care that so many of us are subject to, and how we can fix it all.

First, someone with mental illness so severe it needs hospitalization should and must exhibit dangerous behaviors, including SIB (self injurious behavior) including cutting your body, stabbing yourself with knives and razor blades, etc. I don’t count removing scabs or mosquito bites, or even scratching at those, because insects are everywhere in Florida. And as humans, we need to be able to remove the parasites from our bodies, that includes scabies mites and bedbugs. Okay, but SIB’s are absolutely cutting and stabbing oneself, but here’s another part of the danger to oneself and others. You must have a suicide plan, and the suicide plan can be detailed or not, but if you show this plan or talk about it, someone will say you have dangerous behaviors, are a danger to yourself and others. Homicidal behavior is a big one too.

So what constitutes welllness? Psychopathy is not mental health. If you’re the type who likes to pull the ears and tail of your dog so forcefully that the dog looks at you in surprise, or if the dog howls like a maniac as you do something really bad to them, you are possibly exhibiting psychopathic behavior. Antisocial behavior can also mean starting fires, or if you’ve got a murder rap sheet, or if you think it’s okay to abuse kids and adults in a sexual manner. All these things constitute mental illness and psychopathy.

All of these behaviors or some of those behaviors put together constitute something, and you should get treatment for it. Psychopaths are not easy to treat, but here’s the other thing about that. Psychopathy is rare, it’s not like simple mental illness, complete with self injurious behaviors, not enjoying what you once loved, and threatening suicide. Let me be clear: mental wellness is not being completely free of the SIB thing, or being completely energetic. Everybody’s brain is different. Take it from me.

Also, here’s another tidbit about mental illness: 95% of us mental health patients are the victims, not the perpetrators of violent crime. Make that also the victims of theft and small crimes. When someone with mental health issues is murdered, nobody takes notice. Example: Michael Dingas was a world class runner, and he had schizophrenic symptoms by eleven or twelve, then he was almost at LaAmistad for twelve years. When I was a client there, the young man was moved to another facility, Mom was there. But there was a nice day he went out to possibly buy cigs at a convenience store, and was run over by a vehicle on the crossing. He died a few moments later, and nobody could find the perp because there were no witnesses who cared enough to say who it was. Dingas had a funeral, and I remember his grief stricken mom was in the room. I felt the energy was off, something was truly off, and his mom needed space. I would have given her a hug, but boundaries, space right? So I didn’t. The whole point of this is that if someone did run Michael over, they would have been charged with vehicular homicide, and I think it was likely due to the stigma of mental health.

Also, if you’re being treated for mental health, you should never discount what you get out of it. LaAmistad recommends that each patient in a counseling setting receive 45 minutes per week. For me, I only get it once per month because of medicaid. Medicaid is the poor man’s health insurance in the United States, for those others who are international and curious, and doesn’t always do their thing. I have an incredibly supportive partner, one good thing about me. Having friends and a support network is vital for those with mental illness, and fifteen years ago, I didn’t have that.

What else constitutes mental wellness? Well, here’s something we human modern peoples seem to lack. Can you guess what it is? Bingo, it’s empathy. Empathy is a big thing in humans, a big need for right now. It is lack of this empathy that leads a social worker to declare her case over with an abused child victim, and then the child is murdered while sitting in a dog cage. It is lack of empathy that leaves disabled and low income families in bedbug infested apartments, white gentry buying up the places that a disabled person could use, and so on and so forth. It is empathy that makes a caring person pissed off so bad that they are driven to action. LEt’s look at examples of what empathy does.

For those living in the stone age, or you haven’t paid attention to your psychology book, empathy is something that you can do with your kid, your cat, your friends, the world. Let’s start with closer to home. If you anticipate a baby’s need for milk and feeding, you act as soon as you hear the baby’s hungry cry. That’s empathy in action. When you soothe Grandma’s pain while she lies in the nursing home, and give her plenty of food she can have, that’s empathy. When you celebrate the life of your LGBTQI+ child who’s been bullied and you give them the celebratory dinner at graduation and beyond, that’s empathy. When you put yourself in another’s shoes, that is empathy. There are many people who would say I lack this, but that’s far from the truth. I have to do social justice crap because that’s what constitutes mental illness versus mental wellness. Social justice peoples are not mentally ill psychopaths. Without empathy, you can commit a multitude of crimes, and so when the baby arrives, I swear solemnly and on my dead body I will give my baby the best shot at a good life, including empathic responses to the big questions and small ones too. IF my baby needs milk, I’m going to do it. I do plan to make sure Baby is as strong as possible, and Trenton is the biggest empath I’ve ever come across. Empaths can connect with earth and people, and I could go on about the types there are, but that’s a whole other post for a different day.

I want to say though that if you do feel a consistent sadness, Baby Blues could be diagnosable as postpartum depression, and that’s okay. Just talk to your doctor and get referrals as soon as possible so you and Baby can still share moments together.

Happy mental health awareness month. And stay safe.

Beth

How to Hit Your Fitness Goals: I Hit My Fitness Rings Today

Dear readers,

I know, I know, this is the second blog post I’ve written today. But please forgive me, I’m celebrating. I hit all three of my special fitness rings today. And you know what? yoga seems to do the trick for me. I love yoga, it’s amazing, and I don’t even need a damn yoga mat to do my thing. What I need to do is strength training with some weights, and I will get weights and fitness equipment sometime. Trenton really is supportive of my fitness goals, and I have been working on these. My favorite trainer so far as I’m concerned has too be a tie between Jessica and Dustin. They are both amazing teachers, and I like how they describe the motions they are doing in yoga. The yoga flows are amazing, and I think if I could, I’d write Jessica Sky a fan letter. She’s made a big difference in my life so far.

Thank you for the time and energy reading all this fitness stuff. As they all say, close your rings, stay active, and above all, stay safe. If you do not own an Apple Watch, please feel free to invest at least in a fit bit. You don’t have to do fitness in your home, but you can take a casual walk. A brisk walk would work.

Beth

Apple Fitness Plus: My First Impressions

Dear readers,

I’ve got my fitness goal started, and I hope that there will be exercise every single day for the next 365 days in the year. The reason? Well, I’ve been on and off meds for more than twelve years, and don’t like the side effects, plus I heard a friend got gastric bypass surgery, but that’s too risky. I don’t want to take risks and lose weight that way because it would mean cutting my stomach up. Ugh.

What I’m here to write about is my first training with Jessica, one of the yoga instructors. Well, all the trainers do different stuff in Apple Fitness Plus, and let me just say the app is fully usable with voiceover. It’s powered by your apple watch and integrates tightly with workout app and the exercise rings. So how to close your rings? First, don’t forget that you can go on DND on whatever device you’re using, I learned that the hard way, especially on iPad or iPhone. Or you can use the Apple TV to do workouts on, and then you choose the workout you want, then make sure your watch is bluetoothed and unlocked, then press play on the watch. Then, away you go. I want to talk about a yoga thing I did with trainer Jessica. She’s pretty amazing, and I brought back my inner yogi. Let’s talk about this.

First, Jessica is a fast paced but easy flow trainer to work with. I haven’t done others yet, but will do soon. Second, yoga trainers generally describe how to do the workouts in detail, but you have to have some working knowledge of yoga in order to do this.

I think I could be a yogi at heart, and I enjoy practicing yoga because you don’t have to worry about the no pain no gain thing, and I feel a bit more flexible now than I did before. Core training is very cool, too. But let’s face it, I still have to do the workouts correctly. Jessica always recommends that you go at your pace, and if you don’t understand a move, you’ll understand it later on in some way. Jessica focused on spinal and low back twists and such, which is great for women. I’m talking to you, prenatal and postnatal women at most. However, I think a lot of other people could benefit from lower back and spinal twisting and a bit of warrior pose. While I got in to postures, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t Hot Yoga anymore, and I dare not use the name of that guy who invented it. He was a weirdo, so they changed his studios to Hot Yoga. India is the birthplace of yoga, but a lot of people love it, and it works a lot. Jessica even understood the resting poses like downward dog and such, things I need to get back into at all. I felt at home with her, so far. So far so good, but there are improvements I would make.

One, I think the trainer and all trainers, according to some Apple Vis subscribers to the forums, might want to consider describing and doing textual word pictures for the totally blind yogis like myself, but if you’re doing core or HIT (high intensity training), you should know how to do all the moves, and getting a good description of each move in a small attached screen is a great idea. Also, you can share the playlists each trainer does in Apple Music. I’m going to try that, and there are lots of treadmill and cycling training things, but bear with me. I don’t have a bicycle or exercise spin bike. Why? Because what else? No room. My apartment is a teeny tiny box, and we can’t put too much other crap in here.

So what is my rating for Apple Fitness Plus? I’d say 4 out of 5 stars because of the need for descriptions of movements, not in the workout tracks themselves, but anywhere and any sort of screen attached would work fine. However, this is a great way for all of us, including the deaf and blind, to get our fitness goals met. Please note that though a totally blind person can do fitness at all, we’re going to have to bear with the trainers. What I wish the thing would have done was to show my heart rate at other times too, but it was cool that voiceover read my heart rate metrics, all as shown on my watch. Another thing, my watch announced that my exercise ring was closed. Awesome, right?

Today is an all three rings got closed kind of day, but let’s be real. I want to make sure that my body loses that weight and gets stronger every day. Chicago would be absolutely proud to hear me sing that song, stronger Every Day. That’s my theme song, so my dad would say.

Anyway, tune in for more fitness journeys with me, the denver queen, here in the blog. There will be some good stuff happening.

Thank you for reading this and have a wonderful happy new year.

Beth