a short post on preparing for crisis text line training

Hey everyone,

So today I started crisis textline training. The first thing is to read over the modules/ lessons independently. These include text and videos. We have to do four of those modules by our first live session which will be a video chat format for four hours. That’s gonna be such a long time but these people seem really lively so it will probably fly by and will be a good chance to connect with the other counselors in training/ staff.

Anyway I thought the videos and text were well done and enjoyed it. I did one module and will probably do one or maybe two everyday but do it slowly so I can really concentrate.

The first talked about the history of the organization and how it’s such an important medium for helping teens texting, and how it’s given them all kinds of huge amounts of data on issues youth are dealing with even up to what times of day certain issues are highest. They mention a website:

www.crisistrends.org (or .com I’m not sure)

That shows all this for free.

It’s just really inspiring. I guess it was only started a few years back in 2013 and has grown to this huge national organization. People realized the need when incorporating texting into the d something.org campaing which is a site for teens and social change. They’d send out texts about the various things going on at the site. And people really responded to that.

Then they started getting texts reaching out with issues the teens were having. The first one was from a girl who was being raped by her father. That inspired them to create this organization and it just went off from there.

It was really cool to learn what an impact it has and that I’m goning to be a part of such a wonderful community.

A final word on accessibility so far is that I’m finding it very accessible! And Heather Cam one of the staff though I don’t think my official trainer has been the best about always answering my questions with patience and caring!

So that’s it for now. Will update you more on this probably after my first group session.

Book review: Breaking the Silence by Casey Watson

This weekend I finished another amazing Casey Memoir. It’s Breaking the Silence. It centers on two boys who are as different as can be with their needs for coming into care. The situation is not like any they’ve been through. at all and Casey Mike and the family have to deal with unexpected twists and turns from the start.

The first totally unexpected surprise is their link Worker John Fulashaw turning up mid afternoon with a nine year old boy named Jenson with his social worker.

John and she are extremely apologetic for this emergency placement. They say they found out thirty minutes ago that Jenson and his thirteen year old sister have been left alone for two weeks while their mother and her boyfriend went on vacation. And so it was thought they needed to be put into care right away as they’ve yet to even be able to contact the mother.

Casey and Mike quickly get over their shock and get to know Jenson. From the start he appears to be a boy who is need of boundaries and parenting. Not a typical foster child having dealt with abuse necessarily, but it’s clear he’s lived in a world where his parents can’t be bothered. He is used to not bathing, having clean clothes or getting up at an early enough hour to properly get ready for school. He also swears a lot despite Casey and Mike’s gentle reminders. John assures them that Jenson’s placement will only be for a week or so until the mom comes home.

As the days go by it’s clear there are complications. Jenson at times responds positively to the boundaries at other times is argumentative. It comes out that Carley Jenson’s older sister in fact did know where their mother was, and planned to meet at some point. Perhaps the mom was fine with her children in care to give her even more of a break. Jenson also says/ implies that his sister is her favorite and he gets blamed for everything in the family.

In the process of the social services reviewing things with the status of the family it comes out that the mother’s current boyfriend has a criminal background. Until they can do that Jenson can not return to his parents. He is furious about this and it shows in his difant behavior, fighting at school and even trying to escape school to sneak back to visit his sister in spite of social services wishes.

Casey tries to understand this troubled child but it was hard with so little information and such a chaotic placement.

Then as abruptly as with Jenson, John calls to talk about another upcoming placement. This is with a nine year old boy named Georgie. This would be a long term placement where Casey and Mike would use the behavior management program they were trained in as specialist foster carers.

Georgie is moderately autistic and has lived in a children’s home all his life. Currently the home is closing and the very caring and committed staff want to find Georgie a good home.

This child emediately strikes Casey’s heart as her son Keeron has Asberger’s. She can deeply relate to how hard it is for a child with special needs to grow up and find good solid loving support and care. She believes with her personal knowledge of autism from both her son and working with kids in a behavior unit she can really help this child.

However the overwhelming aspect is that , they still don’t know the story with Jenson and his family and what will happen. So for the first time in their fostering life Mike and Casey will have two different foster kids at the same time.

From the start things are rough. It doesn’t help that Jenson and Georgie are actually from the same school. Jenson already considers Georgie a “freak” and has bullied him in the past. So when Georgie does arrive things are tense. In getting to know him, Casey gets a crash course in the notion that like all issues everyone’s autism presents differently. Georgie is verbal but often uses movie quotes to express his feelings, or mostly from the Dr. Who show. He also loves quiz shows. He has obsessions, one of which is collecting and arranging stones.

He has extremely particularl likes and dislikes for everything from food to the color of the walls. They were going to put him in their other child’s room which is pink. But he had a huge meltdown over this it being sensorally way too much. So Mike and Jenson did a quick paint of the spare room which is beedge. .

Casey is able to have a lot of support with Georgie especially through talking with his former staff at the children’s home. She learns that putting up pictures of the people in the house what they’re going to do that day ETC hel.ps Georgie orient in what always feels like a strange and scary world. When Georgie keeps to his routines and has his needs attented to he’s actually apritty easy child to look after.

Jenson however is still a huge mystery to Casey. Particularly as he’s merciless in teasing and winding up Georgie. This gets Casey easily cross with him and quick to blame him for incidents. Something that she’s usually more objective about. Both her children and Mike, but especially Keeron call her on this. Keeron says he knows she’s overprotecting Georgie and so quick to say others are picking on him and feerce about it. From his point of view he knows what others think of him. That they think he’s crazy or weird or a freak. And in his world where things feel so different he thinks the sameo f them too sometimes. And doesn’t care what others think. But seeing his mom always so upset trying to push people to like him was the worst part for him. It takes Casey awhile to really hear this and not be defensive, But when she does it dramatically changes her attitude. She continues to give Georgie the special care he needs while at the same time trying to expand his skills by teaching him to be more verbal. With Jenson she listens more and is less quick to blame him.

As time goes on Casey learns something about Jenson’s past a horrific event he went through and was blamed for. That was the missing piece of the puzzle of why he acted how he did. Once she knew this she had a lot more understanding for him.

Once the tention broke it seemed the boys were actually bonding. This was clear when they all went on a holiday. Jenson got a huge self-esteem boost in the talent show and Georgie had his own fun but it was clear he did love it in spite of not being comfortable participating in many things.

It comes out that Jenson is now bullying kids at school for picking on Georgie which is a total turn around! Georgie is actually socially connecting with Jenson as well.

At this point abruptly the kids are moved. First Jenson

Is moved back to his mother. She promises to work with social services and get help for her family. Jenson is happy about this but Georgie is very sad and feels the loss emensely. However it is now a blessing that the two are at the same school and will continue to have that bound.

A week or so later Georgie is assigned a new social worker. Casey thinks now they’ll be able to really start the behavior program. However the social worker has other good but unexpected plans. She knows of a foster family who had great success raising an autistic child and then placing him in a supportive living program for young adults. She feels this would be a good placement for Georgie to best meet his special needs and eventually give him some independence and life skills.

While it takes Casey and Mike completely off guard they’re so happy that Georgie has this chance. Saying goodbye is painful. But they know they can always visit Georgie and keep up that bond.

It is discovered some time later that Jenson sadly could not continue to live with his mother as she was unable to parent him. However he did go on to go into care and did well there.

This placement in so many ways was a first for Casey and Mike. It followed no linear process as so many of the other placements have and tested Casey especially and her personal feelings. I think it was Casey who grew the most as a person through dealing with Georgie and Jenson.

expanding my network through linkedin, reconnecting with former classmates, forming new connections !

Hi everyone,

So yesterday I don’t know why but the idea struck me that I could get more readers on here if I posted to other sites not just twitter. Robert and I were hunting for Kate Latham, the head of harper Element in a quest to get a couple of authors to continue to publish audio books. I asked Robert if having my posts up on linked in might help me get more readers, writing/ informal counseling/ volunteer oppurtunities and generally expand my circle of supportive connections.

I thought he’d say Sammy you’re crazy! He did say that, but only when I sent him a link to a book on audible instead of my updated profile LOL!

No he said actually that would be a great idea!! So I spent a really content afternoon adding people to my network. And it was really cool too because I got a chance to see profiles of former classmates. That was the most moving part for me.

It was great for example, to see that a girl who I watched during our time together really be extremely passionate about child life, working now as a childlife specialist. It was wonderful to see this easygoing guy who worked so well with kids in crisis on a psych unit have a job similar at aresidential school for kids with emotional problems.

The list goes on. I’ve yet to send out all my connecting invitations because I was so overwhelmed by the huge list of “people you may know” and that I did personally know them all well almost. I either knew them in person or looked up their info in the case of several expressive arts therapists in the area I wish I could meet. It was also cool to see profiles of people who work at Trilogy and thresholds. Best of all was seeing profiles of people at Albany Care. From the PRCS to Mr. J of course, to the nursing staff. And no I didn’t ask them to connect. We do that enough every day LOL

Anyway I’m really excited that I got the go ahead from my tech advisor to do this because I can only imagine good coming out of it. Having the chance to see what others are doing in job or volunteer work and showing them the things I’m passionate about.

book review: Clean by Amy Reed

Hi everyone.

Last week I finished reading a powerful book called Clean byAmy Reed.

The book is set at a drug and alcohol rehab center for teens. It centers around a group of teenagers who couldn’t be more different. From the bully, to the sheltered homeschooled church going boy with big secdrets of his own, to a girl raised by a nanny in a very rich but neglectful family, to a girl who’s mother died of cancer and who then was responsible for looking after her alcoholic family.

There are Five in total. In alternating points of view they talk about their day to day lives in the center. They all start out still detoxing from substances and absolutely hating being there and picking on each other only seeing their differences. Slowly as time goes on and guided by a confrontational but very caring group therapist, as well as reflective writing assignments,they delve into their individual reasons for falling into drug and alcohol abuse.

As with all unhealthy behaviors, the addiction itself is the way of coping it’s the things under the s surface that need to be dealt with. Which include coming to terms with loss, divorce, sexual abuse, bullying ETC.

Shirley the group therapist is as I said extremely confrontational. Never beating around the bush, talking straight and brutally honest with all members of the group. The other group members are encouraged to do the same. In fact their favorite word, when someone is trying to hide how their feeling/ not being honest is bullshit. Yes and Shirley swears too! For all this you can tell from the beginning that they appreciate her straight talking tough love approach.

For one member illness runs much deeper. She is also dealing with an eating disorder and self injury as well. The other members of the group and Shirley try to reach her but she just slips further into her inner world. In her writings, which are cryptic almost poetic she never speaks of herself in the first person. She says “the girl” meaning her. I always thought if at some point she could use I to claim her own feelings and experiences this would be a step in the right direction.

As time goes by there’s much insight gained by all members through their relationships with each other and they form a strong bond. It seems just as they’re getting on solid ground the program is over. It surprised me that it was only thirty days long then again I’ve heard this is the norm for drug and alcohol programs. You would think it would be longer.

But they leave with the support of one another forever and all seem ready to embark into the outside world knowing at least a foundation of insight about themselves and why they got caught up in what they finally take seriously as a life long disease and struggle. They are tentatively hopeful that they will be on the right path and not end up in rehab again though they know it could always be a possibility.

The book ends with a heartfelt letter from Olivia, the girl who was emeshed in her eating disorder, who ended up moving to a residential proram to meet her own needs. She talked about hafving hope for herself and her future in spite of the crisis she found herself in. And she did really get a lot from their time together even in her own world. Oh and finally she did use I in her writing. It just struck me that it was the first time. Then again it was a letter. And the poetic reflections of the girl were for her therapy assignments. Still the letter seemed more grounded with substance, and not so airy and wrapped up in metaphors to the point you had to think to realize what she was saying as with her therapy assignments.

I recommend this book to anyone dealing with addiction/ mental illness. Whether their struggling with it, have struggled or know someone who is. It describes the variety of experiences that can lead someone down this road and how they can heal. It also interested me as I never read anything about life in rehab. I’m always interested in reading about life in residential treatment. Anyway if you read it/ have reactions please comment.

my therapy session

Just came back from my big therapy session about an hour. It was very emotional and I have a lot to think about but we’re on the same page again and moving forward with continuing therapy. If you just wanted to know the results that’s what it was and feel free to not read the whole ins and outs if it doesn’t interest you!

Well first of all Jonathan was like ten fifteen minutes late in a meeting with the administrator that happened to be about fixing the guys phone which I thought could have waited. In the meantime twenty million residents were looking for him as well as staff, as well as someone stopped by looking for a job. Annie one of the caseworker says the solution to all our problems here is to clone Jonathan and I think she’s right!

Anyway we finally get in there. I had written this whole long e-mail about everything I was feeling the whole not sure if I need a new therapist, not knowing where we stand with our relationship ETC. Well he didn’t get it. He’s like oh this 14 page thing? He was teasing it was like two pages I do tend to write long e-mails.

In the beginning he said he was pressed for time so did I want to “talk about nothing” for twenty minutes (we’ve been known to sometimes have chat sessions) and then wait til tomorrow at one when he’ll have read the e-mail. I was like no way and just dove in.

I told him everything about feeling like he’s backed away from me the past months. And what all the staff have said about me being less of a priority due to doing better ETC. And just not knowing where things stand and being really hurt and angry and not sure where he stood in my life. He listened to me and then asked if he responded.

I said go for it.

He said my little survey of all the PRCS was inaccurate. None of them ever said they went and asked him why and they didn’t. And they were just trying to say things that would try to make me feel better. Because when I’m emotional I want to draw conclussions and solve things right away. Even if it’s not a positive conclusion (I’m actually usedf to that with hurtful relationships from my family) it’s better than not knowing.

He said at no time did he stop caring. He said I was the one that backed off and I debated him on that for awhile. He did admit that things got really crazy with the days off and not being able to get ahold of him and stuff. I told him all my friends who had listened and gone through this with me as well didn’t like him anymore. He said they were riht ande he could be off the wall sometimes. I guess he’s a good therapist just for admitting that!

We talked about how I went to Edith and talked forever literally months intensely about all this. And how she was the one that said the a stuff about him backing off, perhaps the more intense therapy was crisis intervention ETC. He said if he were her he would have only responded with that I should go talk to him. Which she did. I think I wore her and the other staff down by endless pestering again for my quest for any answer.

He said he had heard from Edith how I was doing and that I was hurting and upset with him. We disagree on this though I do see his point of view. Apparently he made the thought out decision that rather than act on what she said, making her like the mediator, he chose to wait me out and wait for me to come to him. He kept emphasizing that when I did finally ask to meet he responded right away. I’m like yeah but I think if you knew you should have done something. Especially as I’m sure she told you I felt disconnected. If you found me even if I was mad I would have appreciated it and felt really cared about. He said he got that and in the short term it would have solved things faster but he thought in the long term it was better that I come to him when I’m ready and bring this stuff up. And he didn’t want it to turn into me going through Edith for things.

So as I said to summarize: He never thought of me being less of a priority. He has always cared about me the same. We’ve built up this strong relationship, and he said he doesn’t know of anyone who’s better able to work with me. We talked about though how it’s hard for me to connect with other staff as I’m waiting for them to misunderstand me and I shut down.

He did point out correctly, that he never really does crisis intervention with me. We’ve talked about handling crisis, self injury. And I’ve gotten wild in his office throwing stuff ETC. And at that point he’s called in staff and they handle it. Which is true.

So we’re back on track. And I’m extremely relieved. I’m glad I did see him really. And so happy I don’t have to put myself through the whole trying to work with a new therapist thing and have him there. I still question the wisdom of his decision not to seek me out. I wonder if I ended up self injuring or going into a crisis if he would have done differently. But I do see his point.

Anyway that’s all she wrote. Thoughts? Have you had similar experiences with therapists?

big meeting with my therapist tomorrow

Hi everyone,

So you all probably remember me talking about my therapist Jonathan Eastmon.

To review, Jonathan EAstmon is the clinical director of Albany care where I’ve lived since November 2013. He is an amazing clinician trtuly rewspecting each person as a human being and finding flexible ways to work with pretty much everyone. He tries to guide the staff towards his same way of working which makes Albany as warm and caring as it is. I still wish there weren

T hundreds of people living here. And because he truly cares about the residents being as happy as possible he really wants to help us with like everything. From problems with caseworkers to issues with computers and other things, he also happens to be a tech wizard and is solving tech problems all over the facility. He’s great with working with all the staff that come in and out of here and like I said you couldn’t ask for a better director of this place.

When I first came here I had absolutely no interest in therapy. I was so suicidal and barely wanted to live and thought therapy would make me worse. I was really self injuring a lot and this put me in power struggles with the staff. After a couple months of this jonathan burst into my current PRCS office sat dowsn and said that he wanted to talk about my self injury. And that he wasn’t gonna tell me to stop. So we talked about it for like two hours. And came up with a care plan based on harm reduction and one of the conditions being I see him for therapy. He said I could think of it as chat sessions not therapy if I didn’t want to.

Whatever you ccall it it was really hard opening up to him and learning to really express my feelings talking about every self injury incident that happened and stuff. I tested him a lot in the beginning to see if he would really be there for me and he passed all the time and as we talked about everything our relationship grew. It’s him I give credit for for putting me on the right path to getting my SI under control. I loved having him in my life to depend on and connect with.

Over time he’d have some crazy scheduling problems. One quirk he has as I said is he truly wants to help all hundreds of people staff and residents here that he’ll say he’s gonna do something like meet with you and then not be there. I’d sit waiting and he would be nowhere in sight. Often no one could get ahold of him or I’d hear at the last minute that we had to reschedule and then he wouldn’t reschedule. We talked about this on several different occasions and how upset I was. In fact at first him missing a session would send me into crisis, I’d scratch just to spite him and not talk to him for two weeks. Over time I became better able to cope with it and more understanding but that had it’s limits especially when he’d say he’d reschedule and he didn’t.

I had a big argument with him about this time last year and we made this whole agreement that he’d give as much notice as possible before missing a meeting and he’d reschedule within that same week. This lasted like for maybe one or two misses but not longer than that. Over the past six months or so things really changed. For awhile he’d backed off on responding to phone or e-mail contact though I was always able to do so. I knew it was because I was doing better and connecting more with staff mostly Edith. But it seemed like more and more our individual meetings became less of a priority til I wondered often if they were at all. I just plain could never get ahold of him. I did et mad and frustrated and a couple times during this period I did cancel on him when he finally did schedule something which is counterproductive. But that was more about in the moment feeling like I’m so over him and there’s nothing I could say to stop this from happening, since talking with staff it’s a huge fault of his and I learned he leaves them hanging too which for awhile made me really mad and still does! But anway I haven’t met with him since June for this reason.

Around that time I decided to just go and find another therapist. Not sure if I posted about Melissa this one woman I wrote who’s right in Evanston. She’s a dance therapist and seemed really nice and understanding about my financial situation me being blind and just over all situation. She agreed I could come for $10 and my mom agreed to fund this. Right up til I was gonna meet with her I just got so overwhelmed with starting a whole new therapy process. Not so much telling my story which I’m good at but opening myself up to make that connection to give the person a chance and to work through all my little quirks and see how acceptintg this person really is. It takes patience and a certain kind of openness to work with me. I wrote her and she said she understood. I said I was particularly sensitive and I explained the Jonathan disaster. She said if I chose to see her she’d be there for the long term and I could contact her anytime.

So I guess that offer is still there though it’s been months since I asked my mom about paying for it and not sure if she will or not. Sometimes she says money is fine and sometimes not so I don’t know.

I had planned when signing up for some groups either with trilogy or thresholds the two big organizations around here, to ask for an individual therapist. A woman from thresholds is coming the middle of this month to talk to me about their services. This would be free due to them taking Medicaid. Part of me thinks it might be good to see another therapist outside here and get a new perspective. Edith agrees but says it’s up to me. We’re both kinda amused because right now she’s basically my caseworker and therapists. And she says I don’t listen to anything she says anyway and we just laugh about it because in spite of that she really does help me. She has my same sense of humor and is really overdramatic with expressing herself and it kinda reminds me of Deborah from MA and it’s just funny. She’s my one huge connection here. If she leaves she’s taking me with her.

Anyway so Jonathan is finally back from vacation. And so I decided before deciding whether to see another therapist or not I’d talk to him. First of all clear the air with all this stuff about him pulling back from me apparently due to me doing better, yet he never discussed this with me, and there needs to be a balance because when I don’t hear from him at all I feel he doesn’t really care at all. Talking about all this will help me figure out if we really can keep going with therapy again. Which I’d really like to do actually because it would bew so much emotionally easier to do that than start a whole new relationship.

My friends say I should clear the air to get closure but that I should go with a new therapist like Melissa. That Jonathan will just back out again get caught up in his work and not be able to see me and how hurtful that would be. I think if I’m gonna do this I have to accept that this is a huge quirk of his that won’t change anytime soon. I mean if he does the same thing to staff than it’s not about me being a resident or anything it’s just him. So I guess I’d have to just know that as it has before this issue will likely come up again. If I can figure out the whole why he backed off in the first place, minus the scheduling thing, I’d at least know he truly still cares even though I am doing better emotionally. I feel like being able to accept this is easier than trying to work with a new person and the damage that would cause. From everything from understanding self injury/ the harm reduction plan I have, to my relationship with my best friend and older sister (adopted) Jess. All outside professionals when they hear about our relationship automatically albel it codependent or say I have poor boundaries. That was pretty hurtful. Jonathan and staff here know both of us intimately and how it was we became friends what our stories are and the ins and outs of our relationship, and basically that though there’s always room for improvement it’s more healthy than unhealthy and we couldn’t have gotten this healthy individually without each other.

So tomorrow is the day. I wrote all this out in an e-mail to him as I often do. First to remind him of our appointment. By the way, even when he puts something in his phone he’ll still forget! And also to let him know what I want to talk about so he can really think about it. I’m hoping this will go well and we can start fresh whether I see someone new or not. Jess says maybe I could do both which would be interesting. So yeah I’m really excited actually. And hopeful.

long term care for people with mental illness plus self injury

Many people might not know anything about what I’m gonna write about but I’m gonna write about it.

Self injury, my definition is the use of physically inflicting pain on oneself (cutting, burning, scratching ETC) in order to cope with emotional pain. This means different things to different people, and each case of self injury is as individual as each person’s experiences of the symptoms that accompany it usually anxiety, depression, sometimes eating disorders PTSD ETC.

Self injury is most commonly by the everyday person thought of as occurring mostly in teenagers. And that does happen a lot. It can happen to people of all ages both men and women.

There are still even with all this, a lot of therapists doctors and other p[rofessionals who don’t understand self injury at all. They can’t even begin to get their minds around the fact that someone could purposely hurt themselves and cause in a lot of cases extremely visible and deep wounds to their body, at the very least pain, and that this is helpful in any way to them. It just baffles them. Others take the tac of assuming it’s for attention. And yes one thought about self injury is that some people do it to show others what’s going on in the inside their thoughts and feelings through cutting ETC. That doesn’t mean their drama queens or anything. The emotional pain and trauma behind the behavior is still just as deep whether you’re doing it for attention, a term I hate, or not. It’s most commonly in this sense thought of as then being a part of borderline personality disorder. Which while part of that official diagnosis isn’t always the case and furthermore people with BPD I feel deserve a whole lot better treatment than they’re getting. I don’t have this, but from watching friends that do deal with professionals, or a pforssionals reaction when I tell them a friend has it and I’m looking for help for them, it’s like OMG BPD really? Umm no. Like it’s too much trouble than it’s worth or like the person that has this is somehow now not worth caring about, and will just self destruct anyway. Sadly that’s truly the deep feeling this one friend has, that professionals all her life have just said she’s doing it for attention so don’t take anything seriously and just brush it off. Which is why I hate the term doing it for attention.

Then you have psychiatrists that say you’re3 doing it because you must be hearing voices. Like that’s the only thing that could ever push someone to do this to themselves.

I was lucky to find Jonathan, and then how he got the staff here at Albany on the same page about all this. That it’s a coping mechanism and should be respected as any other coping mechanism and talked about easily, the same way you’d talk about drugs or alcohol or someone who has sex to cope emotionally etc. Like it shouldn’t be this huge elephant in the room that people can’t talk avbout. He tries to keep explaining to people the psychology behind it to have it make more sense. And he’s done a good job here with my friend Jess and I. We both have a history of self injury. We both do it differently physically and have vastly different emotional reasons.

The problem became when I got another friend who deals with this except on a more severe scale. It was then I realized how limited your options are at least on Medicaid. I’ve seen wonderful sounding residential treatment centers, outpatient clinics ETC that deal with this issue. And despite the misconceptions there are more and more therapists now finally getting it and learning how to treat it, mainly with DBT but there are lots of proaches as with any issue.

The problem is nine times out of ten even the really good therapists, who are in private practice, don’t accept Medicaid. I actually think it’s more along the lines of they can’t apply to be on Medicaid or something crazy. Like in IL I guess an individual in private practice can’t apply to be on Medicaid however I have seen some individuals listed who do take it so I have no idea what to say about that.

Certainly the residential treatment options and partial hospital programs are out. Alexian brothers has a specific department for self injury recovery. They wrote an awesome book Self-injury: simple answers to complex questions. Sadly reading the book is as close as I will get to knowing their program. Being a free standing behavioral health hospital they can’t be on Medicaid either. I guess the pattern here is somehow changing policies (like that’s gonna happen anytime soon I know!) so that more places are able to take Medicaid. In IL in particular it’s really hard.

So someone like my friend who by the way is in a wicked small town in IL where there isn’t even really public transportation, really doesn’t have that many options. She’s kinda stranded at her house and can’t drive so she’s at the mercy of someone being able to even take her to like get her meds and to a psychiatrist, which sadly sometimes doesn’t happen which partly is the issue her body not getting meds regularly. But even if she were in like Chicago where she didn’t have the transportation problem. She still wouldn’t have a ton of choices in a therapist. When I went to turning point in Skokie which is clearly their one community mental health center, I found out they’re most uncomfortable with this topic. Claiming they don’t have the specialized training to deal with it. That or eating disorders, or adictions that aren’t in late stage recovery. These are serious problems that I’m sure a lot of people in the local area have to deal with. It’s so sad to me that they can’t get the training get therapists in there that can do it. They had one DBT therapist but she wasn’t even willing to talk about it in group. It wouldn’t be a problem if you had like at least a couple other options to go where you knew you’d get solid care on it.

There are good places that can treat this stuff. They’re just not anywhere near affordable to people on Medicaid, it’s like we don’t even haqve half a chance on it.

Moving on…

I think the problem becomes even more comples when you look at people who for whatever reason only have stability living in some kind of residential setting be it a group home or intermediate care facility or somewhere. This has been the case for Jess and I. For whatever reasons there’s no way that we could emotionally l live elsewhere. Neither of us, for our own reasons have much support from family and friends. And neither is emotionally ready yet to live on our own.

We’re very lucky that we both ended up here with the extremely skilled and flexible Jonathan Eastmon as clinical director. It took some doing as both our cases are very different, and I think ours is like one of the first times that they’ve had to tackle self injury. But they did it and we’re both doing pretty well.

The problem I think is when the issue gets more severe. And I know each case is different and I’m finding that even here they’re not skilled enough to handle certain things. Like people using certain objects and things to cut that could easily be sneaked in here and just the level of physical injury that would cause.

So all these places that normally take people with all kinds of mood disorder, anxierty, psychosis issues are not able to take on this problem. Over time I’ve gotten very frustrated with all the people saying no. And I know that’s not the way to go about it because they aren’t doing it to be mean. It’s just something they can’t take on and are probably afraid of doing more harm than good.

I don’t really care about the number of places that can’t do it I just want to know what places can. And I’m having a hard time finding that out. Again there are specialized group homes and things like that for this but again no Medicaid.

Jonathan said he’d make some calls. I did find one place another ICF that would take the level of need but I actually don’t know which hospital my friend is in in order to get things set up for her.

Jonathan said some of the places that would take this issue of self injury I wouldn’t want my friends to go to. Which scares me to death. It sounds like jail for people with mental illness or something.

I’m wondering about people in other states since I only know IL. Though I lived in MA all my life, I had my breakdown before I left so I don’t know anything about the mental health system there. I’m curious to hear from Medicaid folks if possible. What your experience has been with finding care either outpatient or inpatient/ residential that can help with this since apparently it’s so specialized and so many of the places that deal with it are either private insurance or private pay. I’m really interested to hear about this because it’s important to me.

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Book Review: Little Prisoners by Casey Watson

This past week I read another amazing and heartfelt memoir by Casey Watson.

It describes her work with her third foster placement, a sibling group that’s placed first strictly as an emergency placement. The watsons just step off a plane from their vacation after their second foster Child, Sophie left, when their link worker John calls to inform them of two children taken from their home due to extreme neglect. They’re a brother and Sister, Ashton and Olivia, six and nine. Social services got a report of them being dirty and unfed and of the parents with learning disabilities unable to take care of them. They also have three or four other siblings younger than Olivia.

At first Casey and Mike are unsure about taking on a sibling placement. They also know that this wouldn’t be the work they signed up for, as they became specialized foster carers doing a standard behavioral modicifaction plan. However as specialized carers, it seems that they’re often refered to tak on children other mainstream carers would not.

Within just a day Casey informs her whole family, her young adult son and his girlfriend, and her daughter who has two children of her own and her husband. And they’re all in support of this decision.

When Ashton and Olivia arrive with two social workers the level of neglect takes the watson’s breath away. They describe Olivia’s hair as so covered in lice it looks alive. Both are dressed in extremely dirty clothes casey can’t even imagine using for rags. They are extremely thin and underweight and their skin so dirty they can’t actually see the white of their skin it’s all incrusted with dirt.

They only come with a few things, just as dirty and unusable c lothes and an extremely dirty but loved large doll that Olivia is incredibly attached to called Polly.

The first task is to get the children properly cleaned up. In doing so they find open and scabbed sores all over their bodies, and dirt so stuck between ashton’s toes it first appears they’re webbed.

Once this is done as well as a large amount of lice removing shampoo applied the children seem a bit more happy and normal looking.

A problem that shows itself on their first day and that continues to become worse and worse throughout their stay is their sexuality. Olivia asks to sit on Casey’s father’s lap and when he gets uncomfortable with her movements around his private area she says she’s “ wiggling like with grandad.”

This is unsettling but nothing compared to the pattern that continues. Both Olivia and Ashton treat sex very casually and as a normal part of life. They’re often found touching their own and most unsettling each other’s genitals at meals or just sitting doing stuff. The first time they’re told about how our private parts are private they say , “but it’s ok with family right?” as in that the touching, sexual play ETC was just a part of family life.

It’ sickening to mike and Casey and they don’t know any way to really stop it. Constant teling them this is inappropriate just goes over their heads. The only thing to do is watch them like hawks and even so a lot of sexual acting still happens between them like it’s a normal part of life.

Another issue that’s more disgusting in a physical sense is their toileting issues. The two of them even Ashton age nine, often go to the bathroom in their pants and wet the bed. As well as do a pretty good job of covering surfaces/ themselves with it. This leaves Casey with a lot of cleaning to do, and for her it’s extremely more anxiety provoking than most as she’s obsessed with cleaning. Needless to say it makes for an unsettling environment. The two can’t seem to help it. Olivia does make a point of doing it increasingly when stressed smearing the walls, and even going poo on someone’s front lawn!

This is something over the course of their stay Casey and Mike try to improve. They even use the points system though not formally and this seems to give them some incentive. They also want to do well with it as they’re starting a new school. School seems to go well. The teachers getting a clear understanding right away of Ashton and Olivia’s learning needs as they’re quite behind in school not surprisingly.

As time goes by it’s apparent that this isn’t any emergency placement and that the children are there for the duration until a court hearing when they’ll likely be placed in long term care or adopted. The Children’s social worker Anna is pretty ineffective. In some ways her hands are tied. For example, in the UK children in care can’t start with counseling until it’s decided where they’ll be long term. This is I guess to prevent any sudden changes

In counselor if the child is moved from the area based on the results of the hearing. However this leaves Casey and Mike, mostly casey as she’s at work all day, with children with very serious issues mainly sexual acting out beyond anything the couple can even think of how to best treat. At one point Anna says something really condescending like “I know it must be very hard. Poor you.” Seriously?

While the children are there casey is determined to try to give them some kind of childhood experiences that they never had. Instead their world was filled with horrific repated abuses that both are convinced is normal. Casey and the family go on holiday and have a wonderful time. The whole experience of going somewhere and having fun is so foreign to them. There was of course a minor meltdown when Casey discovers that the children were told by social services that they were “going on holiday” when they were actually going into care and the watson’s weren’t notified of this. Learning they were in fact in care did set the children’s progress back a bit. But they made gains again and by the time the actual holiday came they were in good spirets about it.

They had never been to the beach and were overwhelmed at first by the feel of the sand/ water. Eventually they warmed to it, though mike at one point had to dismantle a couple sculptures of sexual body parts! They celibrated their birthdays, a week apart, on the vacation as well. Towards the end of the vacation Ashton opens up to casey that he was made to “do sex things” with his baby cousin and how he hated it. When told they’d have to tell Anna he shut down even more and became angry and closed off. Trying to rebuild a relationship with him after that was very hard. He being older, seemed more disturbed than Olivia for all her issues she seemed able to adapt and relearn things like about how this sexual stuff wasn’t right at her age. A psychologist who near the end of the book evaluated the children confirmed that Ashton being that much older was more disturbed, in danger of becoming a sexual predator, and had a psychological profile identical to his mother’s.

As the court hearing draws near and is completed social services decides that the two should go to separate long term carers. Many carers will not take a sibling group, and the two of them together particularly ashton’s influence on Olivia was doing more harm than good. When told, as with some other things in life that Casey thought would traumatize them, ashton and Olivia took it quietly. Of course their survival tactics with growing up with so much abuse and unpredictability in their young lives was to numb out on their emotions.

Olivia was found a lovely couple on a farm and it was the perfect placement for her. With lots of room to run she had a lot of energy, part of which was due to her ADHD, along with being able to play with lots of animals. Including a puppy that the social worker brought with her to go with her to the farm so they both could be new members. When leaving Olivia barely said goodbye to Casey and Mike as she was so wrapped up in the new pet. John said that’s the nature of attachment disorder.

It took a bit longer for them to find a place for Ashton but they did. It was a couple with no other children who Ashton did seem to like.

Casey and Mike were forever affected by these two incredible children, the horors they went through literally being prisoners in their own home, and their strength and how much they did heal while in their care. The epilogue said a year later both children were doing very well with their new carers.

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I’m back from having a cold this week

Hey everyone,

Did you miss me? (I expect to hear a lot of yes/s!)

Well I was out this week with a cold. First one in two years. The two years I’ve been at Albany care with around three hundred people in close quarters who some of which don’t have exactly excellent hygene to put it mildly and without going into too much detail. I think my immune system adapted though because the first month I was here, being between the end of November, moving to a place with above mentioned individuals, still wanting to die ETC I got two colds in a row.

But after that I was cold free. So Sunday had a sore throat. Which is always the preview to a cold. Which really sucked. Almost all other days I don’t have a thing planned. This past week though Jess and I had two things planned.

One was to go tour Belmont crossing and see what their facility has to provide. We’ve scheduled this tour so many times and now will just add to the list I guess. They’re very understanding people and so we’ll just reschedule again.

The other thing was Tuesday night. An inter play meetup workshop. Inter play is a creative arts system that uses movement, voice and storytelling. This would be Tuesday night at a local church as the venue, nothing to do with church at all! Anyway it would have been my first night going out for any kinda social activity at night literally since moving here! I had psyched myself up to be ok with Jess and I taking our meds with us and asked the organizer Jeff everyquestion under the sun which he patiently answered. So I was both excited and anxious. But Monday I felt terrible. Wanted to tough it out and at least do Belmont but right after lunch was completely overwhelmed leaning on Jess’s shoulder and being the big sister she told me I wasn’t going anywhere. And for the past few days has kept me resting hydrated and eating like a big sister should!

So I’m finally feeling well enough to blog. All week I wanted to write. Have finished a couple of books to review but the thought of sitting and typing was too tiring. Plus probably due to the cold and my body kinda dealing with a lot I was dealing with mild brain zaps. Nothing like the week I had of them but just a little particularly when sitting up or stressed so yeah.

I’m sure I haven’t missed much in the blogging world. Like I said will be coming out with those reviews hopefully tomorrow or even one tonight I don’t know. And talking of other things as I always do.

I’ve been accepted for crisis textline training!

Hi everyone,

So something I’ve been working on recently is applying for crisis textline’s crisis counselor training program. Crisis textline is a branch of the eight hundred suicide organization, where those in need can text for help rather than call. Some find it easier to do this, especially younger adults/ teenagers. And for some communicating vocally is so risky emotionally, or even in a sense of having others around that might overhear, that texting might be the only way for them to get help.

Below is a video explaining this from the organization.


From someone who is deaf/ hard of hearing.


I want to thank Edith my caseworker for finding this organization in the first place. We were looking for something I could do from home as there aren’t a lot of hotlines in the Chicago area. I want something I can do onmy own time in privacy before stepping into the world of possibly volunteering in person at a physical hotline location.

The application process was pretty straightforward. Unfortunately the application form itself is not accessible to NVDA and I don’t think other screen reading software. I only know about NVDA because that’s what I use. You can see the boxes but can’t go in like with a normal edit box where you can just hit enter it won’t let you there. I have no idea on how to make sites more accessible or even how to explain to a sighted person who probably has never heard of this what the issue was.

But Jared, an intern at the organization was so patient and nice about it. He said he’d be glad to fill in the application himself. I just saved a draft for him to fill in, sent the questions by e-mail and I was done. They ask a lot of questions about your passion for helping people, what issues you would feel most or least comfortable dealing with ETC and try to really get to know you.

The next part is having two character references. These can be anyone you want. I chose two very good friends who were glad to help.

I heard back saying I’d know by the 29th. So I was very surprised when I got an e-mail from Heather Cam yesterday saying I’ve been accepted!!

I was very excited and forwarded the e-mail to like everyone. Including telling all my twitter followers.

I’m really excited to start this journey. I’m told we’ll be doing a lot of online modules but also have sessions with webcam. It will be really cool to connect with others in my training group and others in the organization in general. I’m hoping to possibly make friends/ or at least connect/ share my passion for helping others with other like minded people.

I do wonder about accessibility and if any other blind/ visually impaired people have volunteered before. It’s ironic too that I don’t know how to text at all. I tried using google voice and it plain did not work and dictation hates me so yeah. Which is good they have an online platform. But never thought I’d be helping with a texting service of any kind.

Lastly I was sent an e-mail today asking for my thoughts on a team name for my class. Don’t quite know what this is about but sounds cool. I chose the comfort Kittens! So everyone who’s able to vote for that cause it’s awesome!

Seriously. If anyone reads this and has experience volunteering and has tips/ encouragement ETC please share. Especially anyone who’s blind/ visually impaired if possible. Training starts October sixth. Will keep everyone posted!