A World without SSI and Food Stamps: Don’t Breathe but Imagine It

Dear readers,

I was given a scenario to ponder, especially from a Pakistani immigrant from Karachi, family support and all. HE said the following, “I’d love to drop Beth off in a country where there is no SSI and food stamps.” Well, here’s what would happen if the U.S. had none of these safety nets and social programs for disabled and low income individuals.

  1. The patriarchal system of survival would set in. This would include the neglect and abortion of female babies, especially by poorer mothers, and it already happens in the third world. When a female baby is born blind, as in most of the third world she is considered useless. The mother is encouraged to “replace” her. Doctors would probably also encourage a midwife to do away with the baby in cases of vilicide and infanticide put together in a dreaded package of death.
  2. If the baby makes it past infanthood, and goes into girlhood or toddler stage, this baby would likely be malnourished, we’re talking a female blind baby, and that malnourishment would happen because the mother has to prioritize based on ableist and patriarchal values which child should get nurtured. Likely, in places of the third world, boys will be nursed to full adulthood and manhood, not girls. If the female is lucky enough to be part of a richer family, she might look forward to a negligent diet and neglected education standards such that she could not read or write, Braille being scarce as it is and all that. The female child who is blind could die before the age of five, barring diseases but mostly malnourishment. Prioritizing boys over girls would be so rampant that female babies would still bring about sorrow in these families. It already does in the Pashtun families, where the birth of a boy brings a guy to your window and a rifle is fired in celebration of his birth, but the girl brings misery and the family is blessed not with celebrations and gifts, but with only a domestic worker in their house. The girl is reared in subservience, but a blind female would be reared in death before age five, but here’s what could happen if she goes beyond five.
  3. The female third world blind kid could also look forward to a substandard of living incomparable to that of the first world. She could be sold as a sex slave in a place such as Thailand, Malaysia, or even China. She could be sold in marriage to an older groom to spell good food for the family, this including places like Somalia, parts of Africa, Saudi Arabia, all these other places too. If she didn’t die before, she may face death by childbirth pains, and if that doesn’t kill her first, the husband’s abuse could. Sight supremacy doesn’t just hurt those who are blind and without 20/20 vision. It also encourages superiority and malice of sighted males toward blind females, and blind females in the third world should watch out for men who are abrasive, angry and abusive toward the blind spouse. With an illiterate female, this potentially dangerous husband could say things like, “Don’t go outside the home. Cook, clean and sex when I say cook, clean and sex.” This is a problem magnified by the fact that the spouse being subservient in this case is a blind female. She can expect to stand about a foot shorter than her first world peers, can expect no help and guidance in employment, or perhaps she could end up on the streets like Eliza Dolittle, the My Fair Lady character, selling odds and ends, but not getting what she’s worth. Oh, a blind vendor should get what they are worth. Even males who are blind in the third world who don’t have the privilege of emigrating to the United States should expect the same outcomes if they hadn’t died before their prime.
  4. IF a female can make it past years of being pregnant, nursing, or both and many childbirths later, the same blind woman in the third world can look forward to getting sick repeatedly, not having attention she needs in the medical department, or worse, having an untold number of kids. Some women in polygamous third world society end up having something called “putting out to pasture” done to them when they are through and say they won’t give birth anymore. Women 35 and older are at this risk, and especially when they turn 45 or 50, but when menopause sets in, a guy can sit there and put her aside to make room for a young maiden he wants badly. This girl could be insipid, unwilling and uneducated like her cowives. This is a very serious problem and is why the first world has it right in banning polygamy in some areas for some reasons, but I do believe polyamorous relationships should be legal, recognized, and allowed here in the first world, especially in a line family as in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, so read that book and you’ll understand what I’m saying. I wouldn’t mind sharing my partner with other women, only I should have the same freedom to share myself with other men, and of course, with the blessing of my partner, I would share myself with others freely and without any problem. I do think I’m open to polyamory, but the polygamous third world society brings wives and husbands together not based on a shared love of each other, but oftentimes you have marriages based on taking care of the less able or most vulnerable spouse or spouses. In any case, you might have for example, a husband with sixteen wives, one with five, some with six, but the Islamic limit is four. The four wives in an Islamic family don’t have a chance to spend a lot of time to themselves, they being repeatedly called to go have sex with a man who could be twice their age, a jerk, or someone who doesn’t know what to do about justice between wives. That’s a whole other topic I could get into, but Muslims who wish to have polygamous marriages should consider justice between wives, and this coming from Deq, my ex fiance.
  5. When a female who is blind reaches menopausal age in the third world, her health could decline significantly, and as with most elders, she could expect to die at some point. However, life expectancy in the third world could be between 45-60, depending on the age of the mother, social status and many other factors. IF the woman gets pneumonia, in the third world, she could easily have died. Without food stamps, she could be forced to beg on the streets, born blind or otherwise. HEr milk could go dry so her babies could die. There’s a whole lot of death involved in places where food safety and security programs are not present.

So if anyone wants to call me entitled for even suggesting food be safe to eat, think again. What programs should the third world have in its grasp? Let’s see for a few moments.

  1. First, a good country, third or first world, should have a good network of midwives, nurse midwives, OBGYN doctors, and many other good medical personnel who can tend to all women’s needs within their offices. For the blind female or the mother of someone who is blind, a good nurse midwife or OBGYN is a crucial first step. In the first world, we have programs like Medicaid, transportation being covered for doctor visits and other things, which I would use for prenatal visits. A doctor at the women’s clinic would give her patients prenatal vitamins because this is essential for a woman in any place in the world. Prenatal vitamins are a blessing, and they have folic acid, which can help prevent lots of childbirth complications, help the baby survive, and so much more. Just as a new mother should take prenatal vitamins no matter where, she should be able to see her doctor. There are spots in the world where that isn’t possible without UNICEF and other programs called nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) which have mobile clinics, which can serve as educational hubs for females who need it. So let’s move on.
  2. Time for the ultrasonic images. When a female in the first world finds out her baby’s not going to make it, I know it may break some hearts, but at least she’d be able to have options. Abortion is for the most part the number one legal option, especially if the birth of some babies could kill a female right then and there. If I had a baby that was missing essential organs, that decision to abort would be between me, my partner, and doctors. It would be a heartbreaking decision to abort, but saving the mother’s life is a crucial thing to make a country good for kids and moms alike. IN the United States, we currently have a mindless debate going on about Roe V. Wade, the abortion decision, and we know the consequences of not having safe and legal abortion. There are countries that don’t have abortion because of religious policy, and it opens a big door to childbirth deaths among young women. In Ethiopia, for example, many young brides die from giving birth, some who survive having been a mom end up with fistula complications. This requires surgery, sometimes even a colostomy, which then results in the potential mother being fitted with a bag that drains out her wastes, both liquid and solid. There are places in Africa where rampant misuse of females as weapons of war is commonplace, so fistulas must be repaired more frequently. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this is the case. There is no food stamps, SSI of any kind, or even the freedom to walk down your street safely at any time of day or night. You could have been kidnapped sometime ago in Sudan by a rebel group that wanted to break it apart, based in darfor of all things. Talk to survivors of the rwandan genocide. You’ll understand more.
  3. If a female with a disability wishes to live, that’s one thing. But a good country has good food distribution, security and safety programs. IF I have a baby within the next year, since I’m a first world citizen, I have access to food and water, I have access to opportunities. I have a good mental capacity, and it’s nothing about my blindness. My blindness might have presented buriers, but not to life itself.The buriers were to things like jobs and marriage prospects, but still these buriers need to be taken down. Sighted and able bodied people have jobs, lots of jobs and opportunities to apply for such. My partner and I being blind need the protections of a blind parent bill like this one in Colorado. Colorado families with blind parents can expect a boatload of protections, and there will be protection in my home for children. IF a child is abused by a blind parent, as the NFB pamphlet on such states, then the parent is held accountable just like with sighted parents. That’s how it should be. There are many blind people in Colorado with children, and they are amazing kids. One parent has a genetic condition that her son inherited, but still, he has learned to be a better person because of his mother. The mother is particularly proud of her son for learning empathy. Should we all be learning this at some point in our lives? In the third World, this Colorado mother would have been dead by the time her baby turned four, or her baby might have died before his first birthday due to neglect, lack of education on the part of parents, or the baby might have been removed in certain places because the parents are blind or physically disabled. The first world has it right in protecting parents with disabilities, and there are ultimately lots of resources on blindness and parenting. I’m slowly getting my confidence back in the kitchen, and it’s thanks to the strength and determination and the wisdom of my blind partner in crime. I couldn’t ask for better.
  4. If you think first world people are spoiled, I’m not in the least. I know that a good country also should have laws in place protecting females if they are trafficked, married too young, and much more. In the Third World, religion takes priority and the pleasure of deities such as Allah take first and ultimate center stage. Allah says this, so a policy is put in place to acknowledge. Examples of antifem policies in third world countries include the minimum age of marriage laws being that the girl can be as young as prepubescent age like eight or nine to be considered a bride. Thankfully, in the first world, we do have laws in place but not enough. The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation, the AHA Foundation, is working on political and legislative priority to end child marriage in the first world such as here in the United States. There is a rampant issue with such because of religious priorities of families, and children who are married off before the age of eighteen do not have protections such as domestic violence shelters should the older spouse be abusing her. Imagine a blind female in the third world who learns she can’t escape her abusive marriage. Not every woman or girl is lucky. One Indian able woman said that the arranged marriages in India was “state sanctioned rape.” It is, and in India, love marriages are frowned upon. Parents think they can make decisions about their child bride’s future, but this only makes things worse for her. The cycle begins again.
  5. A good country in any world should include a stellar education system, where kids are bussed to the school for free, or there is a way to transport kids in unsafe neighborhoods, and the education of all children is considered. Afghanistan banned girls from being educated beyond sixth grade, and the Taliban will only make it worse. Pakistan could end up doing so, but moreover, blasphemy laws are in place to prevent critical thinking about Islam. Why? The education of humans should include the skill known as critical thinking, and this helped me question and eventually debunk all sorts of mythical crap about Catholicism, which I was born into. Both myself and my partner are just about Atheist, but goddesses are a special thing. For me, I know the power of fellowship, prayer and thanks to some things, but I don’t think the male god in the scripture should be allowed primacy or to exist. This god is jealous, in some areas wrathful, and in other areas quite sexist. There are portions of the biblical and Qur’anic scripture that specify what a woman does, how she dresses, what she eats and what happens during her menstrual cyclees. Inheritance laws are another challenge to overcome. There is a lot to unpack here.
  6. A good country should have compulsory domestic abuse laws. The country should have safety spots for young vulnerable and elder vulnerable people so that if an elder is abused, they can be placed in a safe place. If a child’s been sexually abused, it shouldn’t be that she’s doomed to marry her rapist. She should be allowed to put justice before the man’s desires. IF a man rapes a girl, he should be punished, and the girl should be paid up for therapy and restitution should be given to her in any amount, including millions of dollars if her resulting child is special needs/disabled. The birth could be a trauma for her because she could find that her baby is the rapist’s mirror image. In some states, rapists have custody of the kid. This should never be the case, and my partner has never done this to anyone btw. He is a loving and caring personality, and all I care about is his happiness, helping him get to a point of peaceful living, helping him be a better person and father to kids one day. HE is sweet, cuddly, and has a beautiful deep laugh. I love it all.
  7. A good country has social programs for the disabled person and has ways to protect their education, welfare, and social acceptance. Haiti thinks, for example, it is unacceptable to be blind, and the white cane … or the cane we use to navigate is seen as a beggar’s badge. In many third world countries, blind people beg. It’s through no fault of their own, it is the fault of the society for not protecting blind children’s rights to education and safe housing. In Tibet and parts of africa, if my partner or I were born as we are now, the families of both of us would have tossed us into the hills to die as in ancient Sparta in Greece, and Spartan living conditions abound in Laos. I kid you not. In India, education of disabled kids is a debatable issue. Well, I’m here to say that education is and should never be up for debate. Neither should marriage equality, the rights of transgender youth and adults, or many other things. Human rights are not up for debate. In the third world, religion is sacrosanct and central to most laws and policies about gender roles and family life. In most Latinx countries, Mexico and Chile and others, women can’t seek abortion, but that is slowly changing. In Islamic countries, women can be hanged for having a love affair. Why are these policies allowed to exist? Because religion is so central it is sacred to those who write and craft such policy. Examples of religious zealots may include a Jordanian who was quoted in one of Hirsi Ali’s books, and he said something to the effect of, “Whether we like it or not, women are not equal to men in Islam.” I’m here to call bullshit to all political ploys to put women out of office.

Any good country should be run by people who get it. I could go into other ways countries can change, but the third world is an absolute mess when it comes to who lives and who dies, particularly when it comes to gender selection and able bodied versus disab disabled folks. Pleas stay tuned.

Beth

Why a Waiting List for Disabled Young Adults is Sabotaging Our Human Right to Shelter

Dear readers,

I know this sounds wrong, I know this might come off to some of you as entitlement, but imagine yourself a senior 62 years or older. How many places and things do you qualify for? Now, go blind and be in your young years, like 18-60, just below the senior line. How many places do you qualify for? You’re at the bottom for consideration for marriage, social status, jobs and transportation and that’s not acceptable. I was recently attacked on Facebook for begging in some people’s minds. I was literally beyond furious with a law firm that refused to represent me, and it led to one woman calling me a narcissist. First and foremost, what is narcissism? That’s for another post for another day, but the takeaway I got from most of these vehement critics is that I was “entitled” to “special treatment.” That’s not the case, not at all.

On April 19, thereabouts, my beloved Clayton Jacobs applied to be a resident here at this building, the one on West Ninth, but was met with barriers along the way. He was met with much opposition from the staff, which included but was not limited to a print or PDF image application he could not read or even render with his Voiceover or NVDA (nonvisual desktop access) screen reader. Most of my Facebook cohorts suggested a risky venture to get that done, divulge personal information to strangers. Clayton does not like to do this, and does not trust anyone to fill out papers for him which is understandable because of his upbringing, which on no uncertain terms, nobody is familiar with. LEt me give a brief backstory, and use one sentence to describe Clayton’s upbringing. It’s only one thing: toxicity but also violence. People have done violent and toxic stuff to him in the past, same with me, so we’re demanding that the building change things so we don’t have to put ourselves at risk and divulge personal information. In an age where a credit card can be compromised on the dark web, we should be prioritizing blind people’s identities and interests, including making all housing applications usable and accessible online through PDF’s that are tagged for being filled accessibly, meaning all the form fields can be rendered so you fill them out easily with a screen reader. I saw such forms for Denver’s court system when applying for a restraining order against an online frenemy. I was scared that this frenemy was gonna put me in danger by being present in Denver, spreading rumors, threatening me and my then boyfriend and congratulating him for hurting and abusing his power as a man to be insecure, impose religious sexual restrictions, and many other things. Men who do this type of thing don’t appeal to me, and that’s a whole post for a different week.

For all I’ve been through, I want to explain the reason we’re seeking front of the line preferential treatment as it were from this building.

  1. Trenton and I split amicably, and I want to ensure that both my cell is paid off, Trenton gets a pad and the mother doesn’t make him block or report my contact information.
  2. I do not see this as any less of a case, but Clayton was gentrified out of Arizona because of high housing prices, high rent from an apartment building which is fair market no assistance, and of course he’s also blind.
  3. There is a special risk for blind females, LGBTQ males and females with disabilities, and so many other groups of people who are homeless. Homelessness is not fun, and I’m not going to allow myself to be pregnant with someone’s kid other than Clayton’s, which means anyone who tries to rape, rob, steal or mug me is going to have to head for the high jump because I’m not interested in anyone else. A women’s shelter and men’s shelters are not safe places for Clayton, myself and Trenton. Clayton’s experiences as a homeless man in California have taught him a lot, and Trenton does not even deserve to be left in the dark. I may be an ex lover of his, but for you who say I’m selfish and narcissistic, go fly somewhere else because I care about Trenton’s risk of being shot, mugged or raped. Clayton has seen it all, practically, but I don’t want him to see anything detrimental to both of us. All I see in our cards is victory, and if this building case is any example of how persecuted we are as a people who are young and blind, I don’t know what else to say. This building does not administer a waiting list properly, and it prioritizes Hispanic seniors over younger blind American adults. They Bombshelled Clayton with the 3.5 year wait list, and I won’t allow them to do this because of the print and the inaccessible parts of the common areas we discovered.

Here are the highlights:

  1. We saw inaccessible buttons in the laundry room on the washers and dryers, and a very visually based machine that tells you how much you have on your laundry card. The machine pretty much is visual, not adaptable for blind people, so if a building says they’re for seniors/disabled, they must accommodate blind people. End of story. Laundry rooms like this one require the so called assistance of a sighted caregiver, and even that is not good. Only two washers work at a time, and there are many more, but the residents seem to enjoy breaking and defiling the washers and dryers. That makes it hard for people like my caregiver April to do her job. People need to respect all property on the premises.
  2. We discovered inconsistent locker labeling, some keys weren’t also labeled, and there are a lot of things about the mailboxes I could say that wouldn’t look too good in print. They’re not labeled to put it mildly.
  3. The vending machine things aren’t labeled, and they need to be because let’s face it. Blind people see the vending machine, or they hear it if you want to be so politically correct, and the machines just have blank buttons on them, plus sometimes you don’t know if a product is sold out or the thing is empty. Shame on the building for doing this.
  4. Pertinent information such as lease agreements, papers related to important news about building stuff and the calendar must be made accessible. They aren’t. The building’s excuse? “We have to print the stuff in nine languages.” I call bullshit. I call serious bullshit because bullshit is as bullshit does, and there is technology that can enable you to change languages and scripts so easily, plus Braille is though a loud thing to print out, it is still doable with the writing programs and transcribing things like Duxbury for example. There are tons of transcription softwares available for Braille and yet nobody cares. Well, blind people need to learn Braille anyway, and deafblind people need access too. The blind and the deaf/blind need to be able to have independent lives, and the community unfortunately is responsible for this. Why? Because the sighted and able community has set up a world that doesn’t like or care about blindness or deafness or both in combination.

How do we expect to do things? Well, here’s what we are doing now.

I’m fixing to apply for more creative writing jobs, but music lessons require a Bachelor’s, which for me has been a barrier because of blindness and people’s misunderstanding of such. Blindness is a sensory disability, and let me tell you it’s been a rough road for nearly 36 years. Blindness in the skills terms is the use of nonvisual techniques to achieve the same thing as a sighted person, but the kicker is that society is sight supremacist. How is it, you ask? LEt’s take a look.

First, the minute you’re born. When Clayton and I were each born in places like Iowa and Florida, the docs told our mothers differing things, but I clearly remember my mother telling me what her OBGYN said, or was it her obstetrician? He said clearly, “She will not get a driver’s license.” That was the beginning of my mother’s furious wrath about me being blind. Clayton’s mother might have heard a similar thing, but what doctors do in the pattern of dissing disability is simple. They tell you to put the kid away in a box and forget the child, have another to replace them. This happens to a variety of kids, including blind and intellectually disabled people. 80% of Down’s Syndrome babies are aborted through the use of prenatal testing every year, and people get the wrong impressoin of disabled infants and childcare for those people. Down’s babies and children need special consideration for all kinds of aspects, but blindness being the most biblically feared makes doctors do a double take. Both mine and Clayton’s blindness conditions were from birth, but both of us got blind in different ways. My mother had Rubella syndrome, but Clayton once said something about genetics, but what are the chances of us having blind kids? We could keep going but it would lead down a strange path.

The minute you enter school, there are barriers everywhere. Clayton’s and my lives were very different, but still almost similar. My mother didn’t know how to bring up a blind female child, and she abused me because she didn’t want an illegitimate child out of wedlock. Clayton’s mom and dad had two more kids, a boy and later a girl. I had two brothers to contend with. While we both had issues with siblings, mostly because they got all the gold and attention, we had far different experiences when it came to violence and how each family unit dealt with it. While my parents kept on rewarding my brothers for hurting me, only to stop when I kept telling them it was unfair what they did for them versus me, Clayton’s parental units rewarded violence and anger out of his brother, as if to say, “Okay, go ahead and kill your brother.” It was as if the violence in his own family was a game to get rid of the most vulnerable person in the house, and for a variety of reasons, the brother went on to become a criminal in a prison system. Clayton lives now with all the anger and hurt inside, and it comes out sometimes, but it’s not necessarily his fault. I try to be there, but it’s tough sometimes. I love him so much, and I see good in him a lot, that good being the tender way he embraces me, kisses, and whatever else he does. I won’t go into it here.

AS for both our educations, they were hampered by teachers. My teacher of the visually impaired, while I had a long relationship with her, was stupid enough to tell strangers about my love life. Clayton had a variety of personalities and TVI’s to work with. There is a TVI shortage, so if anyone wants to be one, just learn Braille and cane skills too, and close your eyes and try to live as we do every day. I had good cane instructors, but I was experiencing a lot of emotional abuse at home. Clayton’s abuse might have looked a bit or a lot worse, but abuse is abuse no matter what the cause. Most disabled children experience one or more forms of abuse, especially female children around the world. Disabled females seem to be undesired all over the globe, especially in the third world, but it doesn’t get much better in the United States and first world countries. For instance, the Braille literacy rate among blind people is now 7%, according to some new study Clayton pulled out. Not shocking, it was 10% in my youth. 7 is unacceptable, only 3 out of 10 blind children are taught Braille by a properly certified TVI, teacher of the visually impaired. Clayton and I are the lucky few blind adults who read Braille, which was invented by a twelve-year-old French boy in a blindness school, but was vehemently opposed by his French school directors for the reason that the directors wanted the students at that school to be so heavily dependent on them. Sight supremacy at its finest occurred in this school back in the day. We would visit French monuments, including the blind school in France, where Braille was invented, but what I want to really do is visit Notre Dame, listen to the sounds of a pipe organ, hear the bells peeling the vespers and evening mass or something, but that doesn’t mean I’m discounting blind schools. They might have restrictions on visitors. Foreign visitors might be intimidating, but if I spoke French, I might have the ability to persuade the heads up that I can visit the spot and learn about the history of braille. Louis Braille invented this writing system, yet only 7% of the blind read it all the time.

When you leave school, you get seriously destroyed in college. Both Clayton and myself are college dropouts, neither of us has a Bachelor’s, but I have an Associates of Arts degree, which Clayton said was more than he could get. That AA is going to serve me in some areas, but Bachelor’s degrees are required for so many things. I can’t get the Bachelor’s however because of general education requirements that may have visual things to fix. In Clayton’s case, community college and universities refused him, didn’t accommodate, or flat out violated his right to get the degree of choice, and left him with so much debt. I won’t go into detail here, but for me, that debt was there nonetheless, but debt collectors met me on the phone and said to me to pay up, but I said, I don’t have any resources and won’t enrich those who threaten or harass other people for a living. I ended blocking university style debt collections agencies instead of answering the phone anymore. Clayton was still required to pay back his debt, which is hampering him from doing other things he wants to do with his life, things like provide for his partners or buy a home for himself and anyone else who cares to say they love and appreciate him. I do, of course. I have possibly got a credit freeze, and this is because of my parents or someone hiding information about me from credit bureaus. I don’t know if this is sert in stone but that’s one possible reason I can’t use credit apps and such, can’t get a credit score in Braille because I have zero. At least I don’t use credit careds, but I need to be able to build credit. Most disabled teenagers and adults don’t even know the first thing about finance or credit, and most apartments are requiring credit checks and so on. This makes it an affront to blind and disabled young adults. We need shelter, and without credit checks, we’d be better off.

Now, when you marry, you lose benefits. Blind people should not lose anything for loving another, and to love another is the greatest feeling in the world. Clayton’s marriages ended but the takeaway is that divorces are not pretty, benefits and SSI is cut, and the women he married expected him to get a job, any job. For me, the man has to do honest work, legitimate work at home jobs included. Clayton has had some work experience, has an excellent work ethic, and gets stuff done. He recently laid out a beat for a song he composed, and he’s bound to get an album full of songs done under his stage name, esoteric Quality. I love his music, and some of you may say nay to his stuff, but his stuff speaks truths no rapper dares venture into. NOt even Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg gets into things like blindness and the struggles of a disabled or blind man. I do want to confess his latest track, Conniving Mastermind, is a gem. When thousands of years pass, and both clay and myself are dead and buried, I want that track to be considered a classic alongside Tupak and Biggie and all the other rappers who are either dead or gone in a time gone by. Rap and hip hop is one way Clayton has found helps with his coping skills, and I’m proud of him for writing the lyrics he does, but here’s the kicker. Both of us have similar experiences with psych wards and psychological care. What some people don’t understand is that rap and hip hop artists are not psychologically unstable people. Tupak was a great rapper, so was DMX, so was the Notorious B.I.G. Esoteric Quality will go down in history as someone who’s trying to wake up the world with his music, and I love what he’s doing because having your independence or writing rap lyrics are no justification to put someone in psychological confinement, and that’s what happened to each of us. I want to say the therapists at Wuesthoff Hospital in Melbourne, Florida should have taken a closer look at the guardianship and realized my parents were abusing me with it. Clayton got his wish from what I can see about his rap lyrics, but not without a school reprimand which was unreasonable and so on. I also wasn’t allowed to socialize with my class on a Disney or Universal Studios theme park trip. Clayton got no walk across the stage at high school graduation. It always saddens me when I try to think of what our children’s future will be, Clayton having to tell this part of the story. Some disabled people don’t even get to walk because they are on special diploma and have bad grades. Exceptional education students oftentimes have to stay till they turn 21, colleges refusing to accept them.

Some kids get married out of high school, and others college. When a blind person tries to start life out, housing is difficult to find, wait lists abound, and we have no choice but to live with Mommy and Daddy, but in our case, we fully refuse to do so because of abuses. Clayton’s and my parental units do not deserve access to their grandchildren from us, which we agreed on, and my parents don’t deserve a daughter if they can’t treat my rights and my finances and yes, my person, with respect. They did none of that. Allowing a violent sibling to rape, rob and abuse the blind person is not being nice and not contributing positively to that person’s upbringing. Moving on.

While seniors can apply for untold numbers of services, blind adults are left isolated and alone, some committing serious suicide, some crimes. It has become apparent that the National Federation of the Blind is untrustworthy because of sexual abuse scandals that rocked the organization’s training centers. It is not safe for anyone to attend Ruston, Littleton’s or Minneapolis’s training centers because the staff and students need to relearn boundaries and proper relating to each other. End of story.

As for the entitlement, we’ve fought all our lives for existence. I have to fight for existence that is more peaceful, including the right to vote, marry and love the man or woman I deserve and the right to be respected. I have a right to being included in all decisions pertaining to myself, including about where I live, in whom I should trust and with whom I have intimacy. End of discussion. My rights are mine, not up for debate. Entitlement is a dangerous thing to think about disabled people. With the rampant abuse of disabled males and females, there are other people to consider.

First off, I want to consider what happens in disaster circumstances like the pandemic. Clayton and I need to be given material that helps us foster our independence, not forces us out of activities and isolates us. I was forced out of DWC and Soar because of rides and illegitimacy of any request for such. Soar wanted $5 of my wallet, but that ain’t happening. It’s not contributive to my survival at this point, and it’s not contributing to my self care. I’ll do a post on self care and what that means later.

For jobs, I want to tell you I applied for two jobs, and I’m applying for more, but they’re in creative writing. I might be a ghost writer for some random company. I don’t quite know, but it’s a romance sample they want, and that’s what they’ll get.

However, the process by which most applications work is sickening to say it mildly. Clayton can’t readily apply to just any job because it has to match skills and requirements, some including that you need a driver’s license. Even if the job doesn’t need driving, this piece is designed to wipe out disabled applicants for such. This must stop.

If no one is willing to hire blind people, that is why the so called entitlement should exist, and should be considered more than that of seniors and sighted supremacists. In fact, a white supremacist who shot up a supermarket was glorified by not only the fact that someone liked his manifesto, but that someone had the guts to say he was mentally ill, but I’ll give Jason Black credit for saying he knew what he was doing. He’s right. Sight supremacy is dangerous, and this housing crisis spells out why.

So we filed complaints with HUD and the CCRD, Colorado Civil Rights Division, and we got almost a slow as sugar molasses response from different people, but we’re chugging along.

Thank you guys for reading, and please feel free to engage in the comments.

Beth

Tribute to Ray Khan

Author’s Note: The following contains some references to drugs and rehab, mental health issues, sometimes even guardianship abuse. Reader discretion is advised. Also, this is a sort of tributary note to Raymond Khan, a young man I knew from way back in 2006, both of us were jailed, sort of, in rehab. LaAmistad should be ashamed of itself for its ableist and controlling approach to rehabilitating substance and non substance use peoples with mental illness. You put up a big fight with me about relationships, and I need to be able to forge connections, not forget them. I want to say a few words I should’ve said to Ray, and I want him to know that things are going good, but without further adieu, here it is.

Dear Ray,

Things have been crazy since you last saw me. I think about you sometimes, although the times I thought of you were very hard ones. When I thought of how you almost lost yourself to crystal meth, how you almost killed yourself a few times, maybe more, my heart went and stopped in the middle of everything. Ray, you really are someone I cared about in 2006, and yet a piece of you stays with me every day. I have at least a few things on my mind I wanted to straighten up with you.

First, I should have never been forced to end relationships and not forge a connection with you. I loved you, and what any nurse or doctor should know is that forging connections helps and stabilizes an individual’s treatment by a long shot. Undoing all the person’s health and well being by disconnecting them from everybody in the world doesn’t help. Ray, I loved you dearly, but I tell you, I have a partner and a good life ahead of me. The guardianship’s been discharged, and you can tell everybody that you and I could have been freed from this had Florida not fucked up and gotten me in trouble at seventeen, and nobody believed that my mother was capable of slapping me in the face. I would love to charge my mom with assault if she ever pulls shit like this again, but no, I won’t. Why? Because there’s. more stuff she did that I could tell you and you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

The guardianship was abusive, I had to stay in loveless or unromantic relationships because of the possibility of being abused at home. Orien, a young man I knew in high school and who’s grown now, will not have anything to do with me. Trust me, not that way. We’re friends again on FB, but trust me on this, my parents deserve a lawsuit and jailtime for committing probate fraud. I didn’t even know what the fuck probate was, and trust me, you would think I was nuts if I told you. Guardianship is evil, it destroys families, it tears apart lives. It did so to me, and did you hear about Britney Spears? She’s out of Conservatorship.

Ray, I hope you are there somewhere in the ashes of my existence, dancing on a cloud, or perhaps you’re alive on Earth somewhere far beyond. Canada? Maybe. But have you watched what’s going on in America lately? Please tell me you’re not cooped up in some prison cell lamenting on drugs, being on drugs, etc. I wanted you to be strong and try and be someone that you can be, the best version of yourself. I cried today thinking of the stuff I should have said to you, but it got worse. When we were in the so called catapult ceremony, the one where we pass the coin and say our goodbyes to the people leaving the treatment center, I was a wreck. You remember right? I told you I’d be the lead actress in your movies, whatever they were to be. Ray, I tell you, I felt the whole time that I was not the lead actress in my own story, not until recently. Ray, if I could only tell you that Clayton Jacobs, the man I call my boyfriend, is the best supporting actor in my story. HE gets the Oscar nod and perhaps he wins Best Supporting Actor in. my personal story. Why? Because Clayton heard your name and your story from my lips, and he understands greatly. Clayton has held me while I cried, kissed me when I was sad or happy, and has made love to me through all kinds of stuff. We’d always had each other’s backs, even through some rough stuff we both had to deal with. Ray, we’re coming up on some currents in our lives, Clayton and myself, and trust me, I am always the lead actress in my personal story now. I changed my bank account, I changed my direct deposit amounts and info on it, and my dad will soon have to close the account. I’m not going to have him sit there and say he can have his name on my account, which he will no longer do. My mother and dad think they can tell me who to be with, but because the guardianship was abusive, I had it discharged. My parents woke up only halfway. They won’t define the guardianship as abusive, wrong, and fraudulent. Probate fraud should and will always be one day against the law, but I want guardianship to be a federal goddamn crime. Why? Because it tears apart families, rips people’s lives to shreds, and for disabled women, sometimes we have to sterilize because in the minds of the government, we are less than, inferior. Ray, I’m sorry to say you weren’t the love of my life, and I didn’t exactly get the chance to give you the flower of my virginity. I don’t care. What virginity?

It started with a Dallas, Texas convention I was coerced into attending by the center in Littleton, Colorado Center for the Blind, and they required everybody to fly to Texas for this stupid conference while you had National Federation of the Blind (NFB) people sitting there praising the god of their own, Kenneth Jernigan. It was a motley crew of idolatry, sexual misconduct, and more. I lost my virginity to Deq Ahmed and Mosamil Yahya or someone like that, but we’ve had to mull over such things. Clayton would never have cared, at least, that I had to break it off with Deq Ahmed because his clan and family didn’t approve of him marrying a blind American woman. I would have argued that the clan had no right to Deq because of blindness and because such honor is antique. No, the word here is antiquated. I would suggest at a clan meeting that we move forward and modernize and recognize the right to choose one’s own mate. Period, point blank, end of story!

Ray, when I was with a man named Jason, the whole time things just didn’t work. Jason was abusive, and he was pro on the case of my guardianship, he wanted to say I needed it. What a very inglorious bastard. He liked the reactions of folks when he said, “You’ve signed your death warrant for being friends with Beth Taurasi.” I call bullshit. Death warrants are for murderers, Aileen Wuornos included, or perhaps Ted Bundy. But not me, I didn’t kill anyone, I didn’t do it, and if I did, it was an accident. I have no capacity to see where I’m aiming that stupid gun, and where I’m going to aim it is anyone’s guess. Jason had almost killed my friend Trenton’s current girlfriend, and furthermore, Jason wishes all his exes dead. Oh wait, Jennifer died. I can’t believe she did, and that bastard wants me to forgive him? I can’t forgive myself for even loving the guy. But thinking back, Jason was a big turning point into why I hate almost 80% of guys, not all guys, but I kinda don’t like a lot of them. IF a guy suggests that a woman’s place is beneath him, where she submits, etc, he isn’t for me.

When I dated Blake, things got hairy. His mom said I was “psycho” and should not date Blake. Blake lost his brother to gun violence, of course, but I’m not a fan of the woman who did it, although in some ways gun control might have stopped the murderer from ending the brother’s life, and the mother blames me? She didn’t have to blame me, she didn’t have to justify Clara Deitz dating Blake for the short time she did, and the impression was fake. All of it, fake. Clara should not have broken Blake’s heart in front of the world, and she did. Blake I wish as punishment should “take a wife of whoredom” as in the Bible, Gomer was a whore who went with Hosea, her husband, even when she was being bargained for and such. Hosea brought her back, but they had two kids together, I forget the names. But if Blake wants to try and mess my life up he can’t. Our friendship is rocky because of his mother’s prejudice against psychological diagnostics, and she doesn’t realize I have PTSD. Not quite as bad as a guy Blake knows, but not as bad as my cousin, Robert Zemcik, a veteran in the army who’s survived many many occasions I can’t go into. Zemcik’s experiences in the army should not be forgotten, and neither should those of other vets, Afghanistan and Iraq war vets included. I donated money to the wounded Warrior Project years after Blake’s breakup, but alas, I don’t know where it all went.

Trenton is my current latest ex, after Joey who was a bad boy. Joey tried to mess with me, tried to egg me on, and a troll tried to fuck with me while I was just getting started with Trenton. I was frequently accused of whoring around, told to get a proper marriage, all that. But now, Clayton is probably the only man I could say is doing it right. I can’t believe he would know me for five years, would let me into his life, would hold me the way he did, and would make love to me the way he did. Ray, if you only saw my face when I found Clay at the airport, I was overjoyed. He was sitting there waiting for me, and I ran forward to give him a big giant hug. I wanted to love him right there. We got back to his place, and lo and behold, his hips got close to mine, and his face. Oh, his beautiful face. Ray, Clayton can’t see as I don’t, but trust me on this, he is a good man. Clayton treats me like a beautiful queen, honors me the way men should honor the women in their lives, and in turn, I want to do nothing more than honor him. Like in Gladiator, I will honor Clayton, and because he’s honored me, I will do what is right. I’m behind him 100% of the time, and trust me, he is for me as well. Ray, if you only knew.

IF you only knew the way things were back in the day. I still can’t get a job, can’t do things without verification, oh so they wanna believe I’m not who I say I am? Bullshit. I am Beth, the girl you once knew, and I hope you will always remember me. I hope you will remember me, and it is because I remember you that I can’t forget. I can’t forget the time we were walking around, and we kissed somewhere outside of staff eyes. All this and other bullshit, I just wanted to kiss you again. YOu really do have a lot to offer someone, and I hope you found a beautiful pair of lips to kiss, arms that will hold you, and a pair of eyes to stare into. My eyes, god forsake me, are blind. You never understood. You never wanted these eyes. These eyes cried for you, and my heart beats every day regretfully for all the times you had to stay ten feet away. I’m done, I’m done trying to cry over this spilled milk. I love you dearly. I don’t know what to say. But Clayton is my true love, not you, because you don’t seem to get it. Ray, my pain is great, but my heart soldiered on for years knowing you were out there somewhere.

Ray, if there’s one thing I should have said to you, it was this. Clayton is the right man for this undertaking of loving me because he’s blind, has the same eye condition, and we’re on the run with all the love we have in our hearts. We love one another with such passion it isn’t funny. Ray, contact me if you dare. If you read this, you will be rewarded for your trouble. The water of time may stand between us, but for Clayton, he has ferried himself over the waters of space to me, and has offered me his heart. Ray, this truly isn’t goodbye, not forever. It is a new beginning. Perhaps you will understand if you see this blog and understand what kind of person I am.

Sincerely,

Beth Taurasi

Down to the Last Day

Dear readers,

I’m writing you all to inform you that I did not exactly go to any bar last night. I couldn’t. Trenton, my beloved man of seven years straight, is sensitive to loud noises and crowds, so we opted out. It was a bummer, but I couldn’t have done service tasks with all that music. Oh well. My buddy was on bass, and he played with a country band, but I’ll still be supportive of this band and all its endeavors. I hope they chart and do successful stuff.

In other news, it is Autism Acceptance month. Why not awareness, you ask? For the same reason I want to be accepted, loved, and adored, autistics deserve the same things. Humanity is a fickle bitch, it does not like to accept problems or quirks about people and such. There are many fickle bitches in humanity, but the ficklest bitch in humanity is the unacceptable behaviors of its members. One of those things is called ableism, and it permeates every aspect of society.

Here are some examples of ableism, and how I’ve dealt with those. Believe me, it ain’t easy.

  1. I have been accused at a Walmart in Lakewood, Colorado, of harassing customers when the management couldn’t get help for me. Nobody cared. Nobody looked my way. I ended up calling a buddy of mine, one who lives in the Golden/Jefferson County area, and 20 minutes later, she arrived at the store to help me shop. Since then, I don’t go to that Walmart or even bother calling because the last time I called, nobody picked up. This Walmart has a long way to go to accepting blind customers, especially those on EBT food stamps. Making us get a subscription is not gonna solve the problem of ableism and unacceptable people in the store calling me out for harassment.
  2. There are places and establishments where broken accessibility things exist. When it comes to restaurant menus, for example, my beloved Trenton and I have been to places where the menus look like shit. Well, okay, the binding is falling apart, the Braille itself has been riddled with oopses, like errors in the Braille exist too many times to count, and here’s this former Braille proofist saying this. I have had to tell my former boss that there are so many weird format inconsistencies, point them out, and so on. I could write a novel in which all the menus I’ve seen had this problem or that problem, but I digress.
  3. Another thing I notice is that kiosks are not usable by blind and visually impaired people. Blind folks, especially Clayton and myself, have encountered places and casual eating establishments other than the McDonald’s somewhere or other, that have these awful kiosk thingies, and they aren’t usable. I’m this close to saying that we should ban all inaccessible tech including these kiosks, especially when it pertains to blindness. Blindness ought not to be a barrier to inclusion in society.
  4. Now, besides blindness, let’s get to ableist assumptions about autism. First off, cars drive too fast. Some autistics bolt, and they run off. That’s good if the place they go to is not the highway. So my late friend would put her daughter in a large carriage so she didn’t have to walk around not feeling safe. The mother needed peace of mind. I get it. Some autistics just get damn overwhelmed by the sensory overload that some places have. Now, here’s something that could help with this. Quiet rooms do help a bit, but there needs to be more of those.
  5. Autistics are said not to have “good” social skills. Who cares. Autistics have special subjects they enjoy. They have quirky by nature behaviors, but what are we doing? We are enabling killers to fix them by making them nonexistent. Case in point, the Disability Day of Mourning put on by a lot of people across the country. People hold vigils in honor of autistics who die of what’s called vilicide, and my buddy Arielle Silverman, author and blogger on Disability Wisdom, has covered this subject a lot. Dr. Silverman says that vilicide often gets different sympathetic responses but all for the killer, not the autistic victim. This is dangerous and lethal ableism. My friends with autism can understand.
  6. Ableism enables abuse. Every form of ableism here, trust me, will enable abuse. Abuses range from isolation from friends and family, isolation from the outside world in general, and limits on what you can wear, what you can do, and be. Imagine though if you were LGBTQIA+ and autistic. In specific categories, like transgender folks with autism, there are limits on healthcare now based on hateful assumptions and perverted thoughts about these people, but autistics with preferences other than the heteronormative ones are deemed unacceptable, and therefore abused, go back to the prior entry for talk of vilicide. In any case, if one is transgender, of color, and disabled, society doesn’t like that. Who cares.
  7. Ableism can also have a huge impact on education. Let’s take the learning of Braille for instance. Braille is literacy, I’m not gonna lie. IF not for Braille, I wouldn’t have won 13th in my county for spelling bees, don’e super well in spelling, grammar, and other things. My mother even relied on me to help her compose essays in e-prime methodology, where you don’t write the verbs and conjugal words for the words “to be”, the state of being is out so yeah. My mother was proud of me for having composed essays, and I compose regularly here on this blog. However, Braille enabled me to also understand paragraphs, sentence structure, and many other things. Braille is also a helpful labeling tool, organizing my CD catalogue being a good example. I had all kinds of labels on CD’s and my CD’s were labeled and alphabetized according to genre, artist, or group. Holy moly, I had thousands perhaps that amount of CD’s was a bit much, but you’re talking to a musical guru here.
  8. Ableism and education part 2. So if you don’t know Braille as a blind person, you can’t function as well. I’ve also wanted to point out that too many schools think Braille is inferior. Like what the hell is inferior about Braille? Nothing. Louis Braille, a French born blind schoolboy, invented this dot writing system so we blind folks wouldn’t have to depend so heavily on sighted assistance, but we still have a long way to go. Clayton and I have experienced countless forms of discrimination and nobody knows what to do with us because we say, well, as a good example, where is the Braille signage for bathrooms? Clayton and I don’t want to find each other in a woman’s restroom, but if we don’t have a way to read a sign that says “women” or “men”, someone will look Clayton in the face and say, “Get the hell out. This is the girls/women’s bathroom.” But I could give you a whole list of other uses of Braille people aren’t looking at. Example, Braille cards. If a group of blind people want to play, you get a bunch of Braille playing cards, right? Wrongo. It’s harder to do than you think. Uno is fun, but I haven’t played in a long while, but I do know how to do it. But I want to be able to participate in things. So the best thing a retailer can do is sell Braille playing cards. Imagine I had a poker night at my house. Clayton and Trenton join me at the table. Let’s imagine I said, “Let’s play five card stud.” I do that right away, and the cards tell you if it’s a queen of clubs, for example. Maybe if I had two more or no more than four, I’d play hearts. Someone has to play the two of clubs first, then you just do strategy based on the cards you have. IF you have to break hearts, hearts are broken when you put a 2 of hearts on the pile. The deck for this game is split in to four sections. See? Braille has lots of uses. But people aren’t getting that. While TVI’s and professional aids who work with blind students are getting less and less cool, let’s also do something I’ll highlight below.
  9. Blind people should be teaching each other. Ableism has allowed sighted supremacy to pervade the career market for teachers of visually impaired and special education. This is a dire thing, and dire needs are being known forever. For special education teachers, we need folks who are disabled themselves teaching others. Blind people have specific needs, including a Braille teacher, someone to show them tech, someone to teach them proper and good ways to cook and manage a place of their own, and much more, and I did get all that at a place that does hire blind folks. Colorado Center for the Blind, while under investigation for banning people for reporting perverts, is however bad it may seem, a good place to begin. I want to see empowerment on all sides for blind folks, especially in tech. See below.
  10. Blind people need a society that doesn’t put barriers in front of which technology they use because one piece of tech isn’t an option because it doesn’t talk. Examples, Android versus iPhone. I could go on and on and on. Android has come a long way, but when I first saw it, cheap it may have been, but accessible to the point it is now? No it wasn’t. I also have to worry about cooking appliances, healthcare devices, and other things not being usable for me, and some brands are simply better than others. IF I had diabetes, I would need an insulin pump as an option, but guess what? The only way I can ingest insulin now is with a needle, ewww. I don’t like needles, and they can hurt people if placed in the garbage. Insulin pumps, however, are inaccessible, and sighted assistance is often required to make the pump change doses and such. I do know of one thing called the freestyle Dexcon, which can sit on your arm and the app is fully usable, but that just tests your glucose, and that’s fine but no needles and pricking for me. Management of other healthcare needs can be a challenge for us too. My buddy Ray uses a feed tube to keep herself alive and sane. Her feed pump just beeps, and she frequently needs help with that and formula for her feeds needs to be placed in the right area. Every time I get a new piece of technology, I have to ask myself, how the fuck do I use it? Since manuals are written in print, not often Braille, I do the smart thing and look those things up online. I have to place my faith in humanity that the damn websites and manuals for peripherals and tech are readable by Voiceover which is my screen reading software of choice.
  11. Ableism messes with people who can’t walk or stand. Let’s picture if someone wanted to use the bathroom. What happens often is there’s just one damn handicapped/accessible bathroom suite. It’s huge, which works not only for wheelchair folks, but claustrophobic people. Universal accessibility of bathrooms isn’t the only thing. Housing and such has no idea how expensive it is to put a bar on a wall of a bathroom. Suppose someone got paralyzed by birth or in an accident, and required special care. If there were less barriers in housing, ableism being the top reason for this, caregivers wouldn’t necessarily be a need. Take my friends Patrick and Jessica. They’re wheelchair users, one with MD, muscular dystrophy and another with limbs that won’t straighten. Patrick Henry Hughes needs a big house with bars on the walls, and should be given the architecture and supports to do the stuff he loves. Same with his now beloved wife Jessica, who has the same if not differing needs. The two of them could choose a barrier free housing place, but that is expensive. Luckily, Patrick got support from a TV show, supportive family, and so much more. That doesn’t always happen for people with MD and CP and other conditions that require or sometimes necessitate the use of a chair. The chair can mean any number of conditions, but the main thing is architecture of buildings must meet disability friendly guidelines, and there is a pocket of society that doesn’t accept. How can we do better? First and foremost, well, we need to build access into everything from the ground up.

I’d like to dedicate this post to all my disabled buddies and congratulate the people who get married in my community. However, ableism has another awful sinister undertone. Marriage equality with benefits attached does not extend to disabled people. If Clayton marries me, he loses about half of what he earns in SSI benefits, may lose medicaid and many other things. I might get jacked as well. Clayton knows the system better than I do. IF a spouse makes more than a partner with a disability, all bets are off that the disabled people married here are so out of luck. Their check is cut, and they have no choice but to starve, dress in rags, or worse, fight the system and lose. I want ableism to go away in that regard because we shouldn’t have to choose love and lose money.

Thank you so much for reading, all. I will be flying out tomorrow and I can’t wait. I cannot wait so much, and Clayton is really excited too. HE’s a very excited and happy camper, and I can’t wait to join him on some adventurous travels. I guess it’s bon voyage to me.

Beth

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.

Before you travel to Euroope, read this important and timely book.

Dear readers,

So you want to go to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, or you want to order a beer at an actual German beer cafe or something, or perhaps you want to visit museums in Italy or the UK. You make your travel reservations, and then when you fly into Amsterdam, you want to see all the wonders that the Dutch bring to our world, but then … oh no. Some guy just cornered you and is staring at you because he wants sex. Is that what you want your European vacation to include?

If you are wondering why I wrote this, read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book, entitled Prey and find out more about Europe’s problems with Muslim majority countries, and moreover its problems regarding women and females of all types being groped, stared at, intimidated. The book has a big trigger warning, so bear that in mind. However, Hirsi Ali does it again. She’s a women’s rights advocate and though she may not be a lawyer of sorts, Ayaan’s book reads like a big giant sociology project on Europe. Here’s some of the summary details of what she says in this new book. I know some of you will cringe thinking about this, but these are important details.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes two years out of the more recent, and gobbles up lots of news reports from those years, 2015-2016. In this book, she summarizes many attacks on women by asylum seeker men from different countries. I know where she’s going. But to summarize, she also says that immigration done right is the answer. She points out a lot is wrong with European justice systems, and because of the men in her attack profiles, most of them from Africa and the Middle East, attacking European women and getting away with practically anything, she says liberal feminists aren’t being taken seriously. We know that in prior books, Hirsi Ali summarized the security she’d been living with for lengths of time. Ayaan’s bodyguard of whatever is necessary because she gets death threats. I personally would never touch her with a ten foot pole, but I would want to meet this woman. I practically idolize her stuff, and I’ve dealt with the same sorts of things she has in regards to men. Not all men would leer at me, but some do. Some think I have a nice butt, but I have to use a bit of humor to throw it back in their faces. That doesn’t always sit well with some. Now, what would Ayaan Hirsi Ali want us to do in Europe if we’re women? Well, here’s the deal.

First, don’t walk out in the nude. These guys really think that if you walk out there naked, you’re asking for it. However, if you do want to walk out in the nude, carry mace or sprays with you. I would carry mace even here in the States because there are just some guys who won’t leave you alone if you are in their presence.

I’d require all girls seeking to do European trips to go in groups. A travel group would require you to do a curfew and be back at a certain time, and you would need to be carefully monitored as to where you are. Traveling alone is not advisable especially for females at this time. But then again, you want to avoid another Natalie Holloway, and this means you don’t want to end up on everybody’s disappearing list on the newspapers, as Holloway did. She was in Aruba, having a lot of fun, but then she started drinking. This leads to my next thing.

I’d drink responsibly in Germany. Or Ireland, UK, or anywhere else. I’d drink only a certain amount and then go right back into soft drinks and so on. Germany is a good example of a country that doesn’t let you drink if you’re not eighteen or can’t reach the beer bar. If anything, drinking is part of the cultures in the European countries you’d likely visit, so be prepared to make sure you do drink responsibly.

For LGBTQI+ travelers, again go in a group. You might have to forego walking hand in hand in certain areas with your partner given the way people might leer at you, and it isn’t even the native born species doing it.

Make sure you check in with friends and family back home regularly. IF someone attacks your travel group, prepare to defend the group and tell the local police about it. Also, get a phrasebook of the native language so you can identify words for things like, “some guy groped me” or “Some guy wanted my money.” Don’t hesitate to try out the native language if that’s what you need to do. Example, if I’m attacked in Germany, I want to tell the local police in German that “I was attacked by a guy wearing a green skull cap and I took his shirt off. He sounded like some dude from Morocco.” IF you are fluent in German, that’s all well and good. However, if some guy is attacking someone who doesn’t know the native language of the country, just try your best to describe your attack in English, of course. Most European schoolchildren today are learning English, but don’t take this for granted. You want to tell the police that your attacker was this guy who looked a certain way and wore such and such. Same thing you would do in America.

Do not let anyone walk you home. As weird as it sounds, it’s essential that only group members walk each other home.

Make sure your stuff is accounted for before and after your trip. Make sure you have all your papers in order, and if you’ve been attacked, be sure you take care of this situation with a group member partnered with you before you fly home.

As much as I’d like to say someone should walk a girl home, it’s not possible anymore. Knowing the language would make you less of a target to enemies and strangers. Example, if you visit Norway, know your Norwegian like the back of your head. There are two dialects within the language, so learn them both. Get your Norwegian in gear so you can communicate with a Norwegian policeman or woman or whoever if you get assaulted. This way, you can describe the crime that was committed against you. It would also help to learn a bit of Arabic, or even Berber, or some other languages so that if you can figure out what the attacker is doing, you can yell at him in his own tongue. That might scare the crap out of him, and knowing what to say when will get you far on the road to a successful trip to Europe. Now you can move on and look at wines and beautiful paintings and stare at stuff at all times and not worry as much.

Beth

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

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