The crestwood stories

I’ve decided to just take the plunge and share this. Warning it’s long!
sCrestwood Stories.

IntroductionJenifer Thomas is a new resident of Maybridge. She is 23 newly graduated with her undergraduate degree in social work. She relocated to Maybridge hours from the state she grew up in , and the city she went to college in. She is about to embark on a two year internship as part of a masters program in social work. During this time she will be mentally and emotionally tested and transformed in ways she could never imagine. She’ll touch and be touched forever by the people she meets along the way and discover herself, her strengths and especially the parts of herself and her life that she thought she left behind in her quest to start over.

Chapter One: The interview

Jen

I am startled awake by something. I don’t know what. I’ve been restless and jumpy more than usual. I know why today is a big day for me. I roll over in bed and turn on the bedside lamp. Accidentally kicking my sleeping short hair cat Mazey. She looks up at me totally annoyed.
“Sorry baby. It’s time to get up anyway.”
She’s a pretty smart cat. She knows that “get up” means time for food. She races down the hall expecting me to follow her. I take a minute and gaze out the window. An unexpected late summer breeze blows the branches of the tree outside. That’s all it was, the branches hitting the window. Huh. Well good to know. I probably would have been awake now anyway.

I check the time. Five AM. I have to leave in a couple hours for my big day, so might as well try to have a relaxing morning. We’ll see about that. I go down the hall and into the kitchen where Mazee jumps off the counter (Ugh cats on the counter!) and rubs against my legs. Ok get out the disgusting smelling cat food. Mix it up. Please Mazee don’t be obnoxious today and not eat this and then have a meow fest a half hour from now!
I do think animals understand every word we say. She must have heard me because she eats contentedly. I don’t turn on the tv or music. I like it quiet. It feels peaceful in my little apartment with the windows open letting in the cool air and soon hopefully, sun.
I pour some white cranberry juice heat a pastry. Sit down at the table. Try to clear my head. I can’t believe it’s actually here. The day that I go in to interview for my internship. Interview is probably not the right word. Technically I have the internship. So do all the other students in my program. But professors and seminar leaders have emphasized this as “an interview” to treat it as such as if you were applying for the job. Good practice.
I go through my morning slowly. Clear up my dishes open the curtains so Mazee can do some bird watching. Tidy up the living room even though I’m a pretty clean person. Anything to distract myself. I check the time. Six then six thirty. Time feels like it’s slowly passing in one way, yet speeding by in another. Kind of like a kid at the beginning of the summer who can’t imagine having to go back to the boring routine of school. Then suddenly it’s September fourth and they’re heading to the bus stop wondering where summer went so fast. I’m not dreading this in the same way a kid going back to school would. I chose school after all. I could have easily just not gone back after moving here. But I feel I need this, to prove to myself that I’m a competent intelligent person. After… No. I can’t think about that. Not today. This is my fresh start. Hey look at the time it’s time to go.
I go over to the window and give Mazee a cuddle. Being careful to not get white hair on my dress pants. “Wish me luck!” She puts her head back her ears twitch. Well good enough.
I’m an incredibly anxious driver. Often I wish that I didn’t have to drive at all. But I’m also an incredibly anxious public transportation user. So I guess there’s no winning with this. I hate the crowds on the road I hate the crowds on the bus and metro I just hate crowds. A couple times since moving here I’ve seen big white vans with the logo “The Ride: ADA” Sometimes I wish I could do that, just get picked up and driven somewhere. Of course I’d probably be staring at the driver the whole time anxious over how he’s driving. Sigh.
I listen to the sounds outside the car. Birds chirping kids playing in a park as I drive by. The world getting ready for a late summerday. There is a fair amount of traffic for a good sized city and having to take the main roads downtown where the Crestwood office buildings are located. But I make good time. My interview is at nine and I pull into the parking lot at eight forty five. There is plenty of parking space and I consider just trying to have a quiet fifteen minutes out here before having to go in. But then decide best to make a good impression being a bit early. Plus being a bit familiar with my surroundings might ease my anxiety. Not having to just walk straight through reception to a random office.
Crestwood isn’t what I thought. We were told in our intro seminiar that it is the largest human services agency in the city. It looks like a regular office building. Like there are probably others renting out space with their random small businesses that have nothing to do with human services. People just needing an office to rent. I repress the urge to walk down the halls reading all the signs on the office doors or looking in any of the windows. I go straight into the front lobby. A cheerful kind looking woman greets me at the desk. “How can I help you.”
My mouth freezes for just a minute. I recover quickly not that she noticed.
“My name is Jenifer Thomas. I’m here to see Mr. Chapman.”
“Oh ok great. He’s in his office he’ll be with you shortly. You’re with the Hamond masters program right? I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of you guys coming in here in the next two weeks.” She smiled.
I felt at ease in her presence and hoped that everyone else here was just as kind.
I take a seat on a comfortable couch and look around. It’s a nicely decorated space. With soothing bright but not too bright colors on the walls and paintings of nature scenes. There is a builtenboard and posters announcing various things but I would have to move to see them and I don’t want to seem figity.”

It feels like I’ve only just sat down when I hear a low male voice say “ Jenifer Thomas?”
His voice makes me jump. I guess I thought the secretary would just tell me to head to his office when it was time. I didn’t think he’d personally come to greet me. Shows what I know about any of this. Ok ok calm down answer the man.
“ Yes?”
By this time I turn around and he’s right there a few feet away. Tall with kind blue eyes and brownhair he smiles and extends his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too Mr. Chapman.”
He smiles brightly. “Please call me Tom. I left teaching many years ago to escape hearing Mr. Chapman all day.”
“Ok Tom. I’m happy to meet you.”
I follow him down a long hallway. Turn right and the first door on the left is part way open. It’s a nice space with a big desk, complete with laptop and other computer equiptment . Shelves behind it are neatly stacked with books. On the opposite side of the room there are a couple of comfortable looking chairs which match the paint on the walls and are similar to the couch in the lobby. I’m not sure where to sit.
Tom notices.
“Sit wherever you like. Speaking to a man behind a big imposing desk like this one can be intimidating but I don’t mind if that’s where you want to talk. But I set up the corner over there,” he points to the chairs and coffie table “ to make people feel more comfortable.”
This guy is nothing like I expected and was told in seminar to expect. Or at least be prepared for: a stern official type who certainly wouldn’t be asking me where I wanted to sit.
Because the view from the window seems interesting from where I’m standing I head towards the corner.
Tom grabs a notebook and pen a a folder and comes over. “You thirsty? Water coffie anything?”
I wonder when he’s actually gonna get to the interview. This was quite amusing.
“Water please.”
He reaches to the side of his desk into a neatly tucked away little fridge and pulls out a water bottle.
We both sit down. “So. Do you like to be called Jenifer or Jen, something else.”
Suddenly a storm erupts in my head voices male and female so familiar to me shouting”Jennifer! Jeniffer? “ Growling, high pitched so loud. And then a smaller voice,”Jenny, Jenny, Jenny”
Oh no not now. I take a deep breath and try to glance out the window for something to focus on and hope Tom hasn’t noticed. The clamor in my head lasted less than a minute but it’s rattled me and I’m hoping I can get my footing back.
“umm Jen is fine thanks.”
“Good. Good. OK so. I won’t keep you in suspense you got the internship.”
I give him a small smile. “Yeah that’s what I’ve been told. This is sort of an introduction.”
“Yes. A chance for me to personally get to know each student learn about them in the same way I would for an actual interview. But try not to be too anxious. There isn’t the pressure of fighting for a position here. In fact as you know you’ll be in good company. There’s more than enough Crestwood to go around.”
I knew this but it still is a relief to hear it. And washes away the panic of a few minutes ago.
“So do you have any questions for me?”
I was a bit taken by surprise. Don’t they start with “tell me about you” or something? I look at him confidently.
“Well I’m wondering about Crestwood. I know in general what you do and why Hamond holds this agency in such high regard. I’d just like to hear from you your perspective on things.
I take a breath. That was the longest sentence I spoke to this guy. I feel drained hoping I didn’t say too much at once. I have a tendency to talk nonstop when I’m anxious.
Tom seems relaxed and open to my first words to him.
“Absolutely. We’re quite a place. A maze of programs really but it’s at least under one roof. Well not technically we’re pretty spread out. Here are our main offices and some other offices, clinical staff, supervisors. We do rent office space upstairs,”
I knew it!
“Mostly for professionals we refer clients to. Therapists in private practice just getting started. Often it’s people who have been with us awhile become licensed and want their own space. But still in the crestwood community. We are like a community here.”
That’s interesting ok. Now what.
“That’s great. It sounds like your agency really does a lot to help staff here feel comfortable. And you’re quite organized. Spreading out services makes sense as it’s such a big city. Can you tell me a bit about what you provide? I mean I kind of know from reading online and seminiar but…”
“ Absolutely. We work with as many populations as we can. We aim to work with people from all walks of life dealing with all kinds of issues. From low income families having trouble just getting by day to day, to teen moms, to children and adults with severe behavioral health needs. We also pride ourselves on being inclusive. We have many clients with additional disabilitys. Our buildings are wheelchair accessible. We regularly have deaf clients and many of the staff know some ASL. With an interpreter around pretty regularly and a VP system. So we really want to look out for everyone.”
I don’t tell him that I have no idea what VP is and I never knew anything about having to know sign language to work here so yeah. But I am impressed. I haven’t had much experience with people with disabilities again didn’t think it was part of the program. But I guess I will learn maybe. Depending on where I’m placed.
“ I hope that helps you understand a bit about our agency. I know your seminiar leaders will go over more of the ins and outs of every department as well as some other things. We love giving detailed orientations to new interns. Would never want to just throw anyone into the deep end.”
Well that’s another pleasant surprise. People I have sort of stayed in touch with from before or those I’ve told in passing warned her that interns are often just tossed around wherever an extra pair of hands is needed and expected to figure it out. Clearly not the case here.
“So I’d love to learn a bit more about you.”
Oh no here’s the question I hate. OK let’s run the script
“Well I’m 23 years old. I have my undergraduate degree in counseling…”
“No sorry I mean I know that I have your resume right here.” He taps the folder.
“What I meant was about you. For instance, I came to crestwood after teaching at Hammond for many years. I was getting really tired of there being no actual experiential learning for students. Back then they didn’t have nearly as comprehensive a program as they do now. I had been talking with people over at Crestwood so much to try to persuade them to be more flexible and perhaps give students more responsibility and support there. Some people got fed up with me but the director didn’t. He called me in and wanted to hear what I had to say. And then said I might be a good fit. We’d try it anyway. That was about ten years ago. Back then crestwood was still finding it’s identity. It was doing well but there were far fewer programs. I would like to think I’ve helped to shape the organization as a whole.”
“You probably did.” I said politely. I was getting tired. This interview wasn’t going like I’d prepared myself for for weeks. I just wanted to say my scripted speech on my life, leaving out anything even slightly unsettling and be on my way.
“Well I’ve always felt like I wanted to help people. Really help people. I’d babysit neighbors children and notice things. Like maybe they were always a little anxious around the time there parents would be coming home or they were really tough to handle on some days. Hard to keep them focused moody. It seemed deeper than general ups and downs of a child but I didn’t know how to put that into words. “
I look over. His eyes are on me his face open and calm.
“And then I’d be on the bus or walking into town and see people. Just watch people go by looking sad or frustrated or just clearly fed up with life and I wanted to know why. And why they were able to walk down the street day after day passing all these other people and yet no one seemed to reach out ever. Not that I wanted to just go ask a stranger about their life story but you know.”
“I do you seem to have a deep emotional connection to this work.”
“Yes I do. I know I will have a whole lot to learn. But my heart will always be in the right place.”
I wouldn’t have said that last part if I didn’t feel like Tom would understand. It sort of came out too not really rehearsed. But it is true. And it’s why what happened before was so painful. I can’t keep thinking about that. I’m sitting in front of a man who is the total opposite of what I expected a supervisor to be and I seem to be making a good impression. I dig my nails into my palms impatient with myself.
“Jen are you ok?”
“Oh yeah. Yes sorry. What were we talking about?”
“Oh don’t worry nothing actually. You just looked a bit deep in thought for a minute.”
Oh that’s nothing. Sorry I’ve been accused more than once of daydreaming.” I try to laugh it off. There’s a beat of silence where it seems like he might ask more questions. But then he says “Ok. Good. Well I do have a good idea now about you. I always want to know in the person’s own words what’s lead them to this work, what drives them. There is great reward in this work but also great struggle and can be emotionally very draining. I want to find a person’s strengths right away to help them when they’re feeling a bit burnt out.”
Ok well that’s nice and all but I am soo uncomfortable with this guy wanting to have these personal chats.
“That’s great. Thanks. That means a lot that you care so much.”
“I do. Most people here do in fact. So now on to the nuts and bolts.”
He stands up and opens a desk drawer. “Here is your folder. It’s thick I know but a lot of it is just reading more about the program. Our expectations, how we work with your supervisor and staff at school that kind of thing. As well as a schedule of team meetings for each department and the order in which your orientation will go. As you know a huge advantage of the program is that the first month is taken up by leading small groups of you through the different departments and services. According to your preferences. You check your choices on this form. I won’t promise you’ll get your first choice but you’ll get some. We really try to match people with things that resonate with their interests and abilities. However a big part of the job is expanding your comfort zone. So you may end up in a department doing something you never thought you would. You might like it you might hate it but we all need these experiences as professionals and people in general. Builds character.” He smiled.
“OK so I’ll see you in two weeks when you join your group for the intro seminar . I really look forward to working with you Jen.”
Finally it’s over. I look at the clock. It’s been an hour and a half. How long are these things supposed to go for again? Oh well. All I want right now is a breath of fresh air and a nap. I’m sure Mazee won’t mind. I stand up and shake his hand. “Really looking forward to working with you.”
“Would you like me to show you out? I’m going on break anyway.”
“No no that’s ok.”
I wanted to just get out no more friendly chatter. I wave as I turn down the long hallway and into the lobby. The secretary looks up. “Jenifer hey how did it go?”
Jenifer again something jerks in my head. I’m surprised she even remembered my name.
“Umm fine, great. He’s really nice. And just umm I like to be called Jen.”
She smiles. “ No problem. Look forward to seeing you soon Jen.”
I walk out the door down the path to my car. The sun now shining brightly in mid morning. I’m free. Well for two weeks anyway. And then I start this thing that.. I’m so lost. This Tom Chapman seems to go against everything I’ve been told. And I have to read up on that packet he sent. Somehow I missed the stuff about going around to different departments for a month and filling out choices. And that thing about “expanding my comfort zone” scary! And I just really hope it’s not in the disability program. I realize how judgmental that sounds. But hey I’m talking to myself finally in my own head with no pressure to be anything. But yeah I mean I just have never worked with or even met many people with disabilities. So that’s all. Just don’t know what I’d even do. Especially with the whole sign language thing. Oh well best to not worry about it at the moment. Time to go home and have a cat nap, as in a nap with my cat.

Any specific resources for people wishing to write mental health/ disability themed fiction?

So as I embark on the huge task my brain has thrown at me I’ve apreciated people’s comments on how to channel the energy. Into writing which of course he will be my editor LOL!
This seemed to resonate such that in the middle of the night last night when I tried to go to sleep after being on for awhile I couldn’t and spent two hours writing the first part of the story. I’m torn about posting this here if people even will want to read it or will criticize spelling. So gentle comments please.
However the subject that I’m most worried about is representing people and situations I have no personal knowledge of in sensitive and true to life way. For example I know all about living in a residential care facility and about mental illness in general the stages of recovery denial different professionals ETC.
However as I plan to eventually bring in characters with various disabilitysI’m stuck. These are things I don’t have a personal handle on. So how can I do a good service to the people who will read this and likely find a lot of real life in it that resonates with them. I know for me a huge thing when I review a book is to say if it accurately represented mental illness, therapy and other treatments ETC. Some authors do a good job of this others do not. For the ones that do I would love to connect and ask these important questions. How to be a writer who is intelligent and knows the lay of situations that they’ve never experienced but that they feel they must explore through this medium as a way to reach out to the real life characters who so need good representations and knowing a supportive advocate is there who gets it as much as an ally can.
So please I am wondering if anyone knows of a creative writing site/ fb group. Where the focus is realistic fiction I.E young adult tough issues, to do with disability ETC) I want to have people around who can gently but honestly give tips on how to speak accurately. Any thoughtson this are so apreciated.

The total opposite of d depression: geting to know this new mood

Hey everyone,
So still dealing with this new thing, don’t know wha call it aspect of my personalityor random mood or something.
Sleeping has been hit or miss. after being up all night tuesday. Wednesday night though I could not relax for a nap I was able to have a calm night and wound down reasonablely.
I think thursday night was similar. Last night was harder. I tried geting in to bed at ten reading on various devices ETC. Then just couldn’t stand it anymore and came online realizing that I had taken up a good couple hours of trying to unsuccessfly sleep.
So I went on to crisis text line and did my volunteering. It was nice and weird to be onin the middle of the night. But I was proudof my work.
Then I believe I did fall asleep at two thirty. Woke up at four I think. Worked til breakfast. For that time I felt absolutelylike if I didn’t start writing my creative stories mentioned in my other post I just couldn’t stand it.
So I spent a productive couple hours writing an intro and full chapter.Not sure about sharing but maybe will just make it a post and people can read or not.
After breakfastI was worn out enough to nap and then not want to get up. But I quickly busied myself as the minute my brain turned on there was the pile of ever changing things I have to do. Grab one task do it carefully. Focus only on it. The other things are lined up in the wings waiting for their cue. Next! And then the same thing happens.
In this way I did some FB posting stuff. But did not just sit and surf pages and groups all day I was very intentional about what I was doing. Wrote back and forth with Robbie a little which was nice. Did my afternoon shift and then skyped with friends. Got off when needed went to dinner. Came back did some more posting looking things up like a special cream for my spots that I want to get monday at walmart. Listened to an awesome audio performance by Robbie that he did before leaving. It was truly funny and it was good to just laugh and focus on it completely.
I sent people some things I said I’d send them with no delay.
Then I took my bath carefully cleaning my still mystery spots. Hoping we can talk to the pharmacist at walmart. But also was so relaxed I spent time playing with my bath toys which I would usually skip in my hurry to just get on with things. But now it seems part of the bath routine.
I came out and did some blogging here. Again talked to Robbie and he gave me a few sources to help with the Kat situation which was also good to know. I’d write them now but would likely get an annoying out of office reply. And as with everything now I feel the need to do it right not just be scattered about it.
So overall this experience has been the total pposite of depression and anxiety. In that state you are so tired you can barely think. You know you have to do things even self-care but you just can’t. You want to focus on something but your brain is just going so slowly. With anxiety you’re physically so keyed up heart rate increase tention ETC that it’s almost imposible to focus on anything. And of course there’s the middle ground where though there is a huge struggle to not do things to have no new ideas you can drag yourself along or through an anxiety atack only to withdrawn.
With this state I can focus very closely on each particular task/ thought/ idea. And know where the line of ideas is and just follow it like some internal schedule that’s out of my control in terms of the establishing of this. I guess it’s a good state to be in to do homework or go to work LOL!
What do others think. I hate to label this at all as I feel it would demean the incredible experience to a label that needs to be fixed. I love my new ideas and energy and ability to focus calmly and efficency. However the scary questions are: Where did this come from. Blowing through my brain one night and seeming to change everything. Is it healthy about the no sleeping? How I try so very hard to just relax and am physically exhausted but internally fullty in tune with the things that must happen now. Often there’s no reasoning with this thing.
Do others experience this. He said I was “a little manic” but that it’s within the realm of anyone’s mood spectrum. As long as I’m aware of it that’s what’s important. Still I’m not stupid and know the not sleeping can’t go on forever.

Accomplishments of 2016 and goals for 2017

So today is the last day of 2016 what a year I’ve had!
So we’re all on the same page here’s my post from this time last year
https://matterstosam.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/accomplishments-of-2015-and-goals-for-2016/

So let’s look at where we are now:
I did have Edith until July of this year. I successfully nigotiated a difficult relationship with a bad fit for a case manager well a couple actually and Jonathan said I did it well being as open as I can, which is huge, compromising and in general sticking particularly with Stephanie longer than he would have expected. Now am starting out with Anna and we’ll see where that goes.
Have kept Dr. Fyazz. No med changes at all. No hospitalizations. However at the end of January she is retiring from her work at facilities, and the amazing psych unit. Which I kind of wanted to go to just because it’s really awesome LOL! So we’ll be geting someone new for me that hopefully is understanding sensitive and sensible about meds understand self-harm and goes to a decent hospital!
I figured out recently that the last time I cut was november 10th of 2015. And this remains the case.
I got through several Jess related difficult situations as in hospitalizations both medical and psych, overnight sleep test appointments and now her short term stay in the observation room without going into crisis myself which is huge.

I got through a huge technology crisis that went on for months where everything seemed to be breaking down at once. Jonathan was instrumental in eventually geting everything fixed again but it was an extremely hard time. But again I didn’t go into crisis or cut.
Had my one year aniversary with crisis textline in september I believe! I’ve gotten so much from my connections with this organization. To see them really take feedback from all sides and take quick but really efficent action is so great. Have never quite encountered such an organization. Was also thrilled to be a part of the accessibility team working along side web design staff.
I established a partnership with Jonathan around Human resources in regards to hiring new caseworkers. I completed this task well sorting through resumes giving my honest thoughts on things and following through on everything. I hope to continue to do this.
I am still just as connected with all my online mental health friends. Sadly haven’t found any in person groups. A lot has to do with money and insurance but we’ll keep working on it.
Connected with Kat and started really exploring ASL, as a blind signer, and deaf culture. Our relationship has been the best thing this year I think. She’s truly deeply found her way into my heart and I think I have hers. Right now she’s emotionally fighting for her life both against her illness and against a truly uncaring and crazy making system that’s literally denying her a home. I plan to stand behind her one hundred percent and am sending out hope that she will find a home that works for her. And if it means moving out of state we’ll always be good friends.
My strong desire to learn ASL, even when no one thought I could brought me to connect with Nai Damato a truly compassionate talented person. I now know about how absolutely a blind person can be an ASL interpreter. I also am learning more about the autistic community, social justice and what it’s like to be friends with someone so truly self-aware and up front about their moment to moment feelings/ thoughts it’s striking.
Through Nai I also met Lavonya. The beautiful Unicorn! Who sadly we lost in august of this year. Her spiret and perspective as a deaf blind autistic super cool mom will touch me forever. I met her friend Sarah who has done respite care for her autistic daughter and her for years. This makes me want to pursue similar work volunteering and connecting with those of all disabilities and finding the common ground and enriching each others lives. Through Kat, Nai, Lavonya Sarah and just my own experience challenging such tightly held beliefs about communication between people I feel like it’s opened up a new thread and journey in my life.
What else. Oh I gained weight lol! Don’t know how much I weighed in 2015 but I’m now around 136 and maintaining. It was awesome to recently skype with my family and hear them say I looked “really good!” and not like a twig anymore! They still tease me endlessly about going for walks. If I make that a goal for this year my Dad will hit the floor with a heart atack!
goals for 2017:
Continue therapy with Jonathan. Possibly look into a group, or second expressive arts or other specialized therapist to compliment our work.
Watch all of Switched at birth with AD and enjoy that Robbie and the accessible digital media project plus some amazing folks on both the audio description and network end won that one! Continue to work on similar projects for access to media including books, tv/ movies, websites ETC.
Continue to pursue ASL, connections across perceived boundaries of disability and my new friendships.
Jess and I visiting my family! We’ll see how many years this sits on the list.
If not that, then Jess and I going on some kind of vacation like possibly to a friend’s house? An online friend or something! We haven’t been out of albany in three years anywhere overnight except the hospital we need a vacation and if we’re doing well I bet we can figure something out.
Get connected with cat shelter. Again this was on the list but never realized.
Continue with crisis textline! Continue working on accessibility, strengthening the community through any creative ideas or feedback and just in general becoming more a part of things.
One thing I noticed is how hard it was for me to articulate my feelings or even admit my thoughts about wanting to maybe move out. Where now it’s a common thing that people know this. They know exactly what I am thinking I’d be ok with, what right now, I don’t think I could handle ETC. As I talk with more and more disabled people who are self-aware and feel safe enough to claim their needs without apology I’m starting to do the same. Starting to not care or worry about people who will judge me for poor mobility skills not living on my own, in the tradditional sense, or even wanting to ETC. I’m much more focused on surounding myself with people who will truly accept me for who I am even if that is unsure or changing.
Possibilities that have unexpectedly come up in the past week due to really intense mood shift:
Hopefully learning to manage this new feeling of intense energy, focus and overwhelming desire to act on a million ideas at once, all positive but still. Learning to try and do normal things like sleep without my brain insisting I do something that could tutally wait but feeling irationally like I can’t.
Capitalizing on the positive energy by: Exploring realistic creative writing, fiction around the themes of mental illness, working in human services/ social work, people with disabilities ETC.
Seriously investigating the toy like me campiagn and connecting with players in that group.
Discussing and even perhaps helping invent blindness or other disabled dolls/ toys specific to whatever needs the child has.
Exploring play therapy for adults. Doing it informally for myself at home. Doing other creative writing using props such as dolls and other toys as the foundation of these stories.
This all seems so crazy and before monday night I never would have thought in a million years about any of this. Or that geting a few dolls and learning to dress and undress them and pretending I’m their mom would open up something so new, incredibly positive at the same time a bit scary.
So I think I’ve made my goals for the year very clearand got a chance to reflect on the past year. We’ll see what unfolds! I will invite you into the daily journey as it happens and know you support me as I support all of you in having a great year!

“it’s because she’s deaf”: Being rejected from accessing psychiatric services due to deafness

Please read the below especially if you’re someone who has  had problems  accessing mental health services due to another  disability or knows someone who does. And if you’re someone as passionate as I am about finding long term solutions to  what truly is a crisis. And in the short term doing everything we can to find people, like  my friend, the  care they deserve.

Update: Sadly the temporary solution of moving her to a   deaf centered   mental illness group home did not work due to their inability to address her physical health concerns. She was re-hospitalized and the decission was made to send  her to the deaf/hoh unit at the state hospital. I’m hoping this isn’t the end of this intelligent,  loving, and vibrant woman’s life in the outside world. This should  not have happened!

 

 

My friend has been hospitalized at    an inpatient  psychiatric facility since the  beginning of this month. She was discharged from her former facility. I asked the clinical director there why  over at  least a dozen    facilities in the area would not take her. Would not even come interview her at the hospital to see  about her  needs. I thought it was a combination of her having a medical condition in  addition to psychiatric illness. But he said what I was afraid deep down I’d hear,”It’s because she’s deaf.”
Right away I said well that shouldn’t be a problem. There are solutions to this. He went on to say that actually in IL there are a lot of things going on that work at odds with each other and with people getting what they need.
First of all the health department could come into  any facility that has someone with additional disabilities to mental illness. And  they could comde in and see that the facility wasn’t up to standards for a facility that works with whatever  disability.  The staff could say they have developed solutions  to  whatever additional needs the person might have.   The person could say one hundred percent  they’re happy. Well  the facility would then still get a violation against them for not being disability compliant or whatever.
On the other hand, there’s nothing saying by law you need to have these accomidations in place. For example,  these facilities by law don’t need to have live interpreters. So this way a facility could say oh we don’t have any. And no one could fault them for that. They could fault them for taking the person anyway and making their own solutions even if the person is happy! It’s an ass backwards twisted system.
And there doesn’t seem to be a third party here. A group of people to really educate all these places about how you can work with disabilities and mental illness and it really won’t be expensive or unworkable. These people could establish what’s needed at least an initial foundation so that the person and facility have some common ground. Likewise they could talk with these health department officials and say that in the absence of being able to have everything technically up to    official standards people have to make their own home made solutions. If it works for everyone why punish them. The people who should get warnings or whatever are the places that will reject someone without even meeting them without even considering it for more than a few minutes. Knowing full well that person has nowhere to go.
I love the clinical director of her former  facility. Just  because   she isn’t  coming back doesn’t mean he’s turning his back on her. He is trying as hard as anyone. This is clearly a systemic problem and likely something that all people with disabilities and mental illness face.
The only solution I see is some kind of as I said mediating party that can both educate places around how accomidations can be done as well as calm the health department down. Without this you have these two opposing sides and no middle ground and just a confusing mess. And really it’s just leaving these places wide open to say oh well we don’t have to provide this so that’s it. We don’t have to provide accomidations, and if we try but it’s not up to par we could get violated.
That this could override looking at a person who clearly needs these services and pushing them away is absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating.
I asked about a task force  in IL  for the deaf with mental illness. as I mentioned above but there appears to be none.

I wonder about other states and their policies around this. I plan to explore more. Please share this with friends, family, co-workers, anyone in the fields of  human  services,  disability rights, and mental health. Feel free to contact me  personally at: nelsonsam68@gmail.com

My friday managing the new energy and a good day

So today was good. I think I’m learning how to handle this huge amount of creativity/ hyper ness or whatever. It reminds me in a book where this girl was learning how to spinn magic thread. The thread came out of nowhere and kept going all over the place tangling itself into knots but she had to learn to control the threads with her magic to go where she wanted.
I feel like that like sometimes it will just knock me down it’s so strong. Like walking with a hyper dog on a leash or controling a horse.
This morning for example. I was like totally mentally in high gear at like eight. But physically needed my morning nap as I’ve always done. It pulled and pulled against me that I had to do everything right now and could take a nap whenever. I just lay there standing my ground mentally eventually I did fall asleep. But it was an interesting internal dialogue I’ve never had to have before.
The rest of the day went as the others have gone. With very intense focus I’ve gone through what needs doing. Do one thing, other stuff organizes itself waiting in line to go next. Next! the next thing comes up. It’s really cool to have this power of focus and order in my mind.
Did some facebook stuff Was very happy to have Robbie home from vacation so we skype chatted.
I had my therapy session. In terms of the psychiatrist I was totally right in knowing that I’d get one hundred support in carefully finding someone new and going over options.
He hadn’t read the e-mail I sent him the other day but he read along as I tried to explain what was going on. He says “they call it manic” not high. But that he said that it was fine as it was just a little I was aware of it and hey we’re at the end of the year and you have spring in you so go for it!
He thought my ideas were interesting and creative but was not so impressed as I am. The only person who’s as impressed/ overjoyed about it is Robbie who is already making plans for me to write kids books LOL!
So it was a good session. There was one very difficult issue which I’m putting in another post.
The rest of the night went fine. I did meet with Anna. Generally things went well. I’ll say more about our meeting fully in another post. Am feeling like I need to wind down now

Found out my psychiatrist is retiring at the end of the month am surprisingly calm

So as you know myself, and my close friends all have the same psychiatrist. As well as a bunch of people at Albany of course. She also goes to several nursing homes, works inpatient at Masonic hospital which is an extremely good hospital! And also at a clinic.
She’s had to tell people that at the end of January she is retiring from working at the nursing homes as well as Masonic.
This is very sad but not really unexpected if you think about all she’s doing and likely all the years she’s been in practice.
It does cause huge issues for all patients particularly those here and other facilities because the psychiatrists that work at these facilities are so few and far between. Because there are rules about who can work here and their out of hours policies and stuff.
They do have a couple new psychiatrists I believe. The predominant hospital is St. Marys! Which was terrible. They also do have the Dr. I had before Fyazz Gil but he works at Thorack which was not good either.
Not only that but whatever psychiatrist I got they’d need to be comfortable with self-harm and the unique care plan that’s been developed here. Though I haven’t had issues in awhile it’s a big part of my history. And like Jonathan always says the minute you turn your back on your illness that’s when it knocks you down! Meaning always be careful and always be aware of where it is in relation to you.

You can have an outside psychiatrist it just takes some doing.
Due to my new superpowers, LOL, my high focus/ energy or whatever you call it, I did not panic! I’m just going to talk with Mr. J about it when I see him today. And make it a first priority when I sit down with Anna who I haven’t met with yet but who is very excited to have me on her caseload.

Really enjoyed skyping with friends!

So another good thing that happened today was that we had a skype call with friends from a support group I run through e-mail. We had these a lot when it first started but it dropped off for awhile. Having a voice to voice connection after having established safety through e-mail dialogue can be great I feel for online friendships to get to know people at another level. It was so good to hear everyone’s voices and not just the written word.
I was having problems with my internet which were annoying but it still did at least work. And I could type in the messenger chat when they couldn’t hear me.
I look forward to doing this more.

Exploring a strange new intensity and focus/ more toy shopping

Did finally wind down last night. I went to read before ten and slept til six in the morning which was good for me.
I was happy to have finally wound down to a normal state of just being able to relax. I woke up feeling that same sharp clearness in my thoughts and just feeling up. Like just feeling incredibly creative and incredibly I don’t know just strangely on top of the world. Open to all kinds of new ideas I would soon find out.
I woke up with the thought. Why had I never figured it out before? Kat or any deaf person and I could communicate using those Braille magnetic letters that have raised print on them. I mean they’re raised shapes with Braille. But just OMG OMG why did I not think of this. It would be like any communication spelling board but it would be something. Even to just get across a couple words in person. I was overjoyed.
I wanted to buy those letters now. As I went online I thought about how I had them when I was really little with some kind of magnetic chalk board thing. I googled and sure enough they still had them. And only nine dollars pack. They have numbers too. I decided to get an extra pack of letters so we’d have more to work with.
Unfortunately I must have not entered in my newest credit card, after my last one went through the dryer LOL. So had to stop and think. And realized that I actually don’t need the letters right now. Sadly Kat isn’t here and I doubt Jo would want to do a sit down spelling things to me!
Getting more tools for my doll play is way more important.
So I was happy it didn’t go through. I’d transferred the money to be able to buy the two things we’re getting now. So I was glad about that.
I was buzzing with excitement. Eventually did have breakfast. Then hung out some more. Feeling into this new feeling. Sometimes it feels like something slipping through my fingers like when you’re supposed to be walking a dog and they just pull the leash right out of your hand. Would love to say walking a cat. But simon didn’t exactly run down the street in his harness!
I guess I could say it’s like having to rein in a horse which I have had a few experiences of. Learning how to use the Reins not that I was ever like thrown off or anything.
So it’s like that. Like I could feel all the energy building inside me and going off in all directions but somehow in the back of my mind I’m able to pull everything back into line and intentionally do one thing at a time. Decide I’m going to do something, think about something ETC and then move on to the next thing.
I’ve never had so much mental energy that it’s really gone off everywhere. And it’s a process. But I got the hang of it throughout the day. I was able to lay down and listen to a book on my victor player and actually took a peaceful nap.
Even when deep cleaning happened and we went to the sixth floor dayroom which Jess swears is usually quiet there were annoying people there. Playing loud music. I put in my really good noise blocking out headphones and listened to my player for awhile. But couldn’t stand it when he turned it up and then just kept playing it.
I asked if I could go to the room Jess is in. She said yes and that it is usually very good in there in terms of not that loud. And it wasn’t. You have the usual three other people in the room to deal with but two were watching tv and one was listening to the radio. I personally would get annoyed by the noise quickly but I did get used to it when I was in a four person and Jess has too.
I played with the dolls. Just held them and thought about their lives. And all the new things we can do soon.
Halway listened to disgusting Jerry Springer. The really lazy CNAS on three would have that and other annoying shows turned up to the max. Even on softly it was still too much. I have no idea why it’s even on like at all. But anyway.
We came back and rearranged the room. I find too that when I’m doing stuff that usually I really don’t want to do or have trouble not getting frustrated/ anxious on, now I was ok. Like I neatly put everything away and was just so calm. Usually either Jess or I get tense with things being totally out of order especially with replugging stuff in. But we did it quickly.
Best part of the day was doing my shopping. Bought Jess the lego carrying case she desperately needs. And I bought a care for your doll kit with everything a mom needs to get started. Right now they only eat pretend food and have nothing to suck on except my finger which probably doesn’t taste good.
So that was good. Then I skyped with my e-mail support group for a little while. Which was wonderful.
Had dinner no feeling like I’m gonna be totally anxious then again it was pretty quiet.
After dinner the dolls Allie and Lexie had an enjoyable half hour of skating, we have a pair of iceskates, and then I changed outfits and put them to bed. Working on dressing and undressing them is so good for spatial/ fine motor skills for me.
Took my bath. Actually did that before the doll play. Got my meds. And am now just here. Jess is upstairs. We’re both resigned/ at peace as much as possible with the fact that she’ll be in the other room for at least a few weeks more. We have a solid routine going which helps.
It’s nice and quiet. My thoughts are on the next thing I will tonight and what my steps will be to go to bed soon relax and hopefully get some good sleep.
I don’t know why this is happening I haven’t had any med changes. There was rumblings of possible bipolar II from one psychiatrist in one of my hospital stays. Jess having known many that have it, has always said she thought I might have a touch of it. Jonathan is not one to label. He said even if he got an absolute confirmation of a diagnosis he wouldn’t be sitting there looking for signs of mania or depression just to prove the theory. He’d observe and see where things go outside of any labels.
So that’s how things will be. I joke about the bipolar thing but I really don’t want this great feeling and mental ability to be boxed in and labeled as an illness.
Only time will tell.

So what do people think about this? Especially those who know me most recently as in the past c couple years?
And what are your thoughts on the magnet board! I think it’s pretty brilliant only because we haven’t found anything even close to that kind ofcommunication ever for Kat and I.

Exploring a strange new intensity and focus/ more toy shopping

Did finally wind down last night. I went to read before ten and slept til six in the morning which was good for me.
I was happy to have finally wound down to a normal state of just being able to relax. I woke up feeling that same sharp clearness in my thoughts and just feeling up. Like just feeling incredibly creative and incredibly I don’t know just strangely on top of the world. Open to all kinds of new ideas I would soon find out.
I woke up with the thought. Why had I never figured it out before? Kat or any deaf person and I could communicate using those Braille magnetic letters that have raised print on them. I mean they’re raised shapes with Braille. But just OMG OMG why did I not think of this. It would be like any communication spelling board but it would be something. Even to just get across a couple words in person. I was overjoyed.
I wanted to buy those letters now. As I went online I thought about how I had them when I was really little with some kind of magnetic chalk board thing. I googled and sure enough they still had them. And only nine dollars pack. They have numbers too. I decided to get an extra pack of letters so we’d have more to work with.
Unfortunately I must have not entered in my newest credit card, after my last one went through the dryer LOL. So had to stop and think. And realized that I actually don’t need the letters right now. Sadly Kat isn’t here and I doubt Jo would want to do a sit down spelling things to me!
Getting more tools for my doll play is way more important.
So I was happy it didn’t go through. I’d transferred the money to be able to buy the two things we’re getting now. So I was glad about that.
I was buzzing with excitement. Eventually did have breakfast. Then hung out some more. Feeling into this new feeling. Sometimes it feels like something slipping through my fingers like when you’re supposed to be walking a dog and they just pull the leash right out of your hand. Would love to say walking a cat. But simon didn’t exactly run down the street in his harness!
I guess I could say it’s like having to rein in a horse which I have had a few experiences of. Learning how to use the Reins not that I was ever like thrown off or anything.
So it’s like that. Like I could feel all the energy building inside me and going off in all directions but somehow in the back of my mind I’m able to pull everything back into line and intentionally do one thing at a time. Decide I’m going to do something, think about something ETC and then move on to the next thing.
I’ve never had so much mental energy that it’s really gone off everywhere. And it’s a process. But I got the hang of it throughout the day. I was able to lay down and listen to a book on my victor player and actually took a peaceful nap.
Even when deep cleaning happened and we went to the sixth floor dayroom which Jess swears is usually quiet there were annoying people there. Playing loud music. I put in my really good noise blocking out headphones and listened to my player for awhile. But couldn’t stand it when he turned it up and then just kept playing it.
I asked if I could go to the room Jess is in. She said yes and that it is usually very good in there in terms of not that loud. And it wasn’t. You have the usual three other people in the room to deal with but two were watching tv and one was listening to the radio. I personally would get annoyed by the noise quickly but I did get used to it when I was in a four person and Jess has too.
I played with the dolls. Just held them and thought about their lives. And all the new things we can do soon.
Halway listened to disgusting Jerry Springer. The really lazy CNAS on three would have that and other annoying shows turned up to the max. Even on softly it was still too much. I have no idea why it’s even on like at all. But anyway.
We came back and rearranged the room. I find too that when I’m doing stuff that usually I really don’t want to do or have trouble not getting frustrated/ anxious on, now I was ok. Like I neatly put everything away and was just so calm. Usually either Jess or I get tense with things being totally out of order especially with replugging stuff in. But we did it quickly.
Best part of the day was doing my shopping. Bought Jess the lego carrying case she desperately needs. And I bought a care for your doll kit with everything a mom needs to get started. Right now they only eat pretend food and have nothing to suck on except my finger which probably doesn’t taste good.
So that was good. Then I skyped with my e-mail support group for a little while. Which was wonderful.
Had dinner no feeling like I’m gonna be totally anxious then again it was pretty quiet.
After dinner the dolls Allie and Lexie had an enjoyable half hour of skating, we have a pair of iceskates, and then I changed outfits and put them to bed. Working on dressing and undressing them is so good for spatial/ fine motor skills for me.
Took my bath. Actually did that before the doll play. Got my meds. And am now just here. Jess is upstairs. We’re both resigned/ at peace as much as possible with the fact that she’ll be in the other room for at least a few weeks more. We have a solid routine going which helps.
It’s nice and quiet. My thoughts are on the next thing I will tonight and what my steps will be to go to bed soon relax and hopefully get some good sleep.
I don’t know why this is happening I haven’t had any med changes. There was rumblings of possible bipolar II from one psychiatrist in one of my hospital stays. Jess having known many that have it, has always said she thought I might have a touch of it. Jonathan is not one to label. He said even if he got an absolute confirmation of a diagnosis he wouldn’t be sitting there looking for signs of mania or depression just to prove the theory. He’d observe and see where things go outside of any labels.
So that’s how things will be. I joke about the bipolar thing but I really don’t want this great feeling and mental ability to be boxed in and labeled as an illness.
Only time will tell.

So what do people think about this? Especially those who know me most recently as in the past c couple years?
And what are your thoughts on the magnet board! I think it’s pretty brilliant only because we haven’t found anything even close to that kind ofcommunication ever for Kat and I.