Communication and accessibility are basic human rights.
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
One of my goals for this blog is to start creating more content about mental illness. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. It is amazing that in our current time, there is still such a stigma surrounding mental illness; It is still a taboo topic. I want to be a part of changing that. I want people to know that discussing mental illness is no different from discussing any other kind of illness. Mental illness is a real illness; it's not a bad character trait or a personality flaw.
One of the reasons that it can be challenging to raise awareness about mental illness is that these illnesses are usually invisible. Most people with mental illness "look healthy". You can't tell I have depression and anxiety by looking at me. Most people with mental illness have been told they don't "look sick" more times than they can count. The only way we can make mental illness visible is if we speak out about it. We have to stop hiding behind the stigma that society has created and refuse to be treated as second class citizens.
So, in this post I'm going to share 10 things that happen to me when I'm in a particularly bad depressive episode. My depression never goes away completely, but there are times when it gets worse. These are some of the things that happen during the worst episodes (this list is, by no means, exhaustive)
1. I am depressed.
This seems obvious, right? The problem is that many people don't understand what depression really means. Many people think it is the same as feeling sad when the reality is that sadness is just one fragment of depression. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say "everyone gets depressed". That is not true. Everyone gets sad, but not everyone gets depressed. There are also differences between situational depression and clinical depression, but that topic will need a post of its own.
2. I am exhausted.
I'm pretty much always tired; that comes with the territory when you have major depression. But in particularly bad times, the fatigue gets even worse. It is overwhelming and anxiety-producing. Sometimes, l fear that I am literally going to fall asleep standing up.
3. I can't concentrate.
I have a hard time concentrating on just about anything. My daily Bible devotions, my job, blogging, reading a novel, etc. My mind wanders and usually produces thoughts that fill me with anxiety. I am too busy putting out those fires to have any head space left to concentrate on anything else.
4. I can't run simple errands.
Simple things like going to the store, the pharmacy, the post office, etc. seem impossible. I can't possibly get dressed and go out in public. What if I run into someone I know and I have to talk to them? Am I awake enough to drive? The list of thoughts surrounding going out for any reason is pretty much endless.
5. I cut back on, or stop, engaging in my hobbies.
I find myself reading less, blogging less, and practicing signing less, among other things. Partially because I can't concentrate on them and partially because, even when I do get engaged in them, they don't bring me the joy and satisfaction that they typically do.
6. I cut back on socializing--a lot.
Just like getting out of the house to run errands, the list of reasons my mind can come up with for not leaving the house to socialize is daunting. What if they get mad because you can't pay attention? What if you just start crying for no reason? What if you get sucked in and they you can't leave when you feel like you need to? Do people even want to be around you?
7.I am more irritable.
Things that normally wouldn't bother me make me incredibly anxious or angry. This is not only unpleasant for me, but for all those around me.
8. I don't cook for myself.
Breakfast for dinner happens a lot. Cereal, toaster waffles, etc. Pizza on a wrap that can be put in the toaster oven for 5 minutes is also on the menu frequently. I have zero motivation to cook a full, balanced meal.
9. I clean significantly less.
Just like with cooking, I have no motivation to clean my house. The mess will start to make me anxious, but I still feel I can't possibly get up and clean. And, cleaning and leaving the house on the same day? Forget it!
10. I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because of the burden I put on the people in my life when I'm in a bad depressive episode. I need a lot of help with things that I feel I shouldn't need help with, and that is an unpleasant feeling.
Do you struggle with mental illness? Are you a caregiver of someone with a mental illness? What do you wish people understood about your struggle?
"If you're not familiar with the Deaf community and Deaf culture, you may have never heard the term "hearing privilege" before. Hearing privilege highlights the things that hearing people do on a regular basis without giving them much thought. For Deaf people to do the same activity, it requires effort and planning; it's not something they take for-granted like hearing people do. That is my basic definition, but I want to let the Deaf community do most of the talking here. So, here are some examples of hearing privilege from Deaf individuals.
1. "You know when you have #hearingprivilege when you don't have to worry about closed captions being on so you can follow it. Or having to ask the person sitting next to you to repeat the announcement that was said over the PA. Or having to base your friendships off who has the patience and time to be able to fill you in on what's going on around the table. (For those who does this for me, you mean the world to me.)"
2. "#HearingPrivilege is being able to accept a last minute invite and not have to go without access."
3. "#HearingPrivilege: listening to the radio and hearing about upcoming local events that nobody bothers to tell you about because they assume you won't be interested."
4. "#hearingprivilege is not having to know that your colleagues feel economically burdened by your access and presence."
-Joseph Hill (obtained through Lisa Cryer)
5."#hearingprivilege is my kids being able to take part in every aspect of our family: conversations over dinner, overhearing phone calls with Comcast, listening while the doctor talks to me, the privilege of 'selective hearing'. You can't know how much peripheral learning happens within a family until you meet people who didn't have access to any of it."
-Cameo Hunsaker (obtained through Lisa Cryer)
6. "#hearingprivilege is asking if a 3 year old reads lips."
-Valerie Snowflake (obtained through Lisa Cryer)
7."#HearingPrivilege is not dreading family events (or any events in general, really) just because of communication barriers."
9. "#HearingPrivilege is not having to ask the person interviewing you for a fast food job to stop turning their head from you when talking."
10. #HearingPrivilege is being able to go to conventions and conferences on business and not feeling lost in conversation between others.
11. "#hearingprivilege is saying " Never mind, it's not important".... and not feeling the affect."
12. "#hearingprivilege is having access to live TV... Live."
13. "#hearingprivilege is knowing what your classmates say regarding the topic during class."
14. #HearingPrivilege is not having strangers tell you that you need a device attached to your body to be "fixed".
- Lisa Cryer
15. "#HearingPrivilege is skimming past all of these posts because they don't apply to you personally."
If you are hearing, how much privilege do you feel you have because of it? Do you take a lot of things for-granted in your everyday life that would be a lot more challenging if you didn't hear?Did seeing these example make you more aware of the things you take for-granted?
If you're Deaf, can you relate to these example? What other examples would you add?
Let me know your thoughts!
What is International Week of the Deaf?
The International Week of the Deaf (IWD) is celebrated each year during the last full week in September. It was first initiated in Rome, Italy in 1958 by the World Federation for the Deaf.It is celebrated in September to commemorate the first meeting of the WFD
Why is IWD important?
The WFD states that The International Week of the Deaf is "the only week in a yearthat sees highly concerted global advocacy to raise awareness about the Deaf Community on different levels." Each year, there is a theme for the week. This year, the theme is "full inclusion with sign language". The WFD expands on this theme by stating that "the full social inclusion of deaf people is possible when sign language is recognized and used widely within the society." Below is a video (in ASL with English captions) where I describe what that statement means to me. I will also discuss why IWD is an important time for Deaf ministry organizations, such as DOOR international.
The importance of resources from Deaf people:
Here's all the websites I mentioned and gathered information from. I encourage you to check them out and get an even broader perspective on this very important week for the global Deaf community. My perspective is limited by the fact that I am hearing. I highly encourage you to also look at these resources made by Deaf people for Deaf people!
I apologize for the delay in getting this video out. I filmed it several days ago, but it took me awhile to finish the captioning. I am working on getting more efficient with captioning and any tips are welcomed and will be much appreciated! I will continue to stick to my guns and not make any videos live without captions; if everyone doesn't get access at the same time, it's not equal access. And, if you've been following me for any length of time, you know I'm all about equal access!
This is video number 2 in my series "The Chronic Chronicles". In the first video, I talked about what it's like living with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. In this video, I show you my supplies that help me have a better quality of life!
Thanks for reading and watching!
TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with the topic of suicide.
Your Role in Suicide Prevention:
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, so I wanted to be sure to get at least one post in about how we all have a role in doing our best to prevent suicide. The stigma that surrounds suicide is enormous; it's a topic no one wants to talk about. However, not talking about it has serious consequences. The stigma is one of the biggest reasons that numerous people don't get the help they need and, consequently, die by suicide.
At this point, you may be wondering what role you could possibly have in suicide prevention. If you've never experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings yourself, never interacted with someone with suicidal tendencies, or you're not in the medical field, if can be hard to know what you can do to help. The best way to start is to know the signs.
The following signs that someone may be considering suicide are taken from the American Foundation for Suicide prevention:
What do you do if you think someone is considering suicide?
Most people are afraid to ask someone if they are considering suicide. This is totally understandable, for many reasons. It's not exactly an easy topic to bring up. And, you may be afraid of offending the person or making them feel even worse. However, studies have shown that asking someone if they are suicidal does not increase their risk of taking their life. On the contrary, it can actually lower it. Asking someone directly if they are suicidal is not always possible, but it's a very good place to start if it's feasible.
Have resources handy.
So, if you ask someone if they are considering suicide and they say yes, what do you do then? If the person is willing, you may be able to take them to your local emergency room or call 911. However, there are other resources that may seem less drastic to the person in crisis. It's a good idea to have these types of resources handy. You shouldn't handle this on your own; both you and the person in crisis need the help of trained professionals.
US National Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
People in crisis can call this number and talk with a trained professional that can offer them options for treatment.
Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741
For many people, texting someone is much less daunting than calling them. If the person in crisis is more comfortable texting, this is a great resource. This resource is also very useful if the person in crisis has any type of disability that makes it impossible or difficult for them to speak and/or hear on the phone.
This isn't a fun topic to discuss, but it's an important one. So, I encourage all of you to learn the signs and know your resources, because you could end up saving a life!
About the event:
Last weekend, I was blessed to be able to attend Beth Moore's Living Proof conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. I have watched Beth speak on TV and online, so I knew that she is a powerhouse and that she's extremely passionate about speaking Truth into the lives of other women. Sadly, I have not had the chance to read any of her books yet, but I definitely will! I was so excited to see her live!
The event was incredible! It's hard for me to even explain it; but the Holy Spirit was very present and very active in that arena. There were 2,000 women attending the conference. To my surprise, Beth said this was the smallest conference that she has had on this year's tour. Seemed pretty crowded to me, so I said a quick prayer of thanks to God that this was the particular conference I found myself at!
Even though there were 2,000 women there, the event had a small-group Bible study vibe.I was not expecting that at all--and I loved it! Beth taught mainly from Colossians 4, adding in other scriptures throughout her teaching for additional support. Her theme was "Staying afloat the fellow ship." (Get it???) She talked about how important it is for us to be in constant fellowship with other believers and that, at the same time, our main goal is to reach outsiders, or non-believers.
I was seriously impressed with Beth's teaching skills! She used lots of visuals, which helped me remember her main points. She actually had a (filled) salt shaker in her hand constantly and would shake it when she was reminding us how to Biblically season our conversations with non-believers with salt! Everyone was cracking up! I plan to attend this event again next fall, and I can't wait!
Whenever I go to an event, I'm always scoping out how accessible it is to different needs. I like to continue to support events that are accessible and help events that are less accessible understand why accessibility is so important. Plus, I like reporting back to all of you! From what I could gather, Beth Moore's conference was very accessible. There was an ASL interpreter in the front of the arena. There were several areas of seats that were reserved for attendees with special needs. I saw a few people in wheelchairs that seemed to be able to get a good view of what was going on on the stage, as well as enter and exit the arena comfortably. So, Living Proof Ministries gets an A for accessibility from me!
My personal challenges:
I don't go to large events like this very often. One of the biggest reasons for that is the fact that my disabilities can make it challenging. In order for me to go, it has to be something/someone I am really interested in and I have to be able to plan a lot of things ahead of time (how long the days are going to be, when I can rest, a plan for an escape from visual and/or auditory stimulation if needed, etc.)
So, what challenges did I face at this event? First of all, crowds of any kind are difficult for me. I feel trapped and claustrophobic when there are too many people and I can't move around. Also, arena sitting is not typically my friend. My body protests those hard, squished together seats every time. By the time we left the 2 1/2 hour Friday night event, my back and my legs were SCREAMING at me! I couldn't wait to collapse into my hotel bed! And, the 2 1/2 hour car ride there did not do my body any favors either. Travel is also extremely hard on my body. And most events involve travel and those arena seats. So, yeah...
A large amount of visual and/or auditory stimulation can be challenging for me too. Of course, I mentally prepare to take in more stimulation than normal when going to an event like this, but I'm typically still exhausted and overjoyed by silence at the end! Crowds and high amounts of stimulation can make it difficult for me to focus on my surroundings. And, there were these "speed bump" like things on the floor of the arena. Yup, you guessed it. I tripped over one! Also, my hands were shaky and achy (didn't mean to rhyme that, but whatever works), so as I tried to open my iced tea, I ended up spilling a bunch of it.
Was it worth it?
Short answer: yes. This was a great event. Beth Moore is an amazing teacher. Her praise band is fantastic. I had good fellowship with family and friends. But, that being said, there's a reason I only do these types of things once a year or so! It typically takes me at least 3-4 days to get back to my "normal" energy level (which isn't normal anyway).
I highly recommend this event to all women who love Jesus: able-bodied and disabled people alike!
I was prompted to make this video after watching a video on YouTube where Rikki Poynter (a fairly large YouTuber that I follow) described a recent experience of having a "Christian" comment on her social media pages and claim that he was able to cure her deafness, as well as cure all of her deaf and blind friends. He then started to talk about Jesus in a way that made it clear that he was not trying to share the gospel or lovingly offer prayer, but instead to draw attention to himself. When Rikki asked him to stop commenting on her posts, he did not stop. I made this video to apologize to Rikki, as a Christian, and to let her know that we do not all take that kind of approach to offering prayer or talking about our faith. I also wanted to challenge fellow Christians to make sure that we are not falling into this trap! If we come off as arrogant, condescending, and/or confusing, what's going to attract people to God? In this video, I offer some tips of how we can be the prayer warriors that God calls us to be, and to do so with gentleness and respect, which God also commands.
Even though English is my first and primary language, this was my first English vlog (it is closed captioned)! I need to work on not saying "um" and "like" so much! It seems that it wouldn't be weird to make a video in English since I speak English all day long, but it was actually a little weird talking on camera because I've never done it before. I definitely want to continue branching out with vlogging, both in English and ASL (videos will always be captioned). I plan to continue written blog posts as well; I enjoy both platforms and the way I can mix them together to compliment one another. I've got some ideas for both platforms that I look forward to sharing with you all soon! I'm continuing to learn more about both blogging and vlogging, and I'm so grateful to all of you who stick with me through this journey!
I've decided to get a new vlog series going. It's been awhile since I've done any vlogging, and I think it's about time I get back into it. This series, "The Chronic Chronicles", will discuss my experiences living with various chronic illnesses. This first video discusses what it's like to live with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (a rare, chronic disease with no known cure). These vlogs will be in ASL, but, even if you don't sign, I've got you covered. There will be an English transcript posted below the video here on the blog as well as in the comments section of the video on YouTube. Enjoy the new series and please feel free to ask questions or share any of your own experiences!
Transcript: Hi Everyone! Today I'm going to discuss a chronic illness that I have called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. That name is long, I know, here it is again. The short name is CVS, so I'll use that now. Ok, CVS sucks. You have probably never heard of CVS because it's rare and most doctors haven't even heard of it. I have gone to the doctor and told them "I have CVS" and they say "what's that?" and get very confused. It's very frustrating! I was born with CVS. When I was a baby, I had problems with vomiting. All babies do vomit, but mine was very severe. The doctor tried many different things, but none of them worked. My mom stopped breastfeeding and tried many different formulas, but that didn't work. I got diagnosed when I was 22 years old. Yes, for 22 years I had no name for my illness. A few doctors tried, but they couldn't come up with anything. What is CVS? It's kind of like migraines in your stomach; it's weird. It's also connected to migraines in your head; I have both. Sometimes, I have them at the same time, and sometimes they're separate. There is very little research done on CVS because it's rare and there's not a lot of funding. Nobody wants to pay for more research; it sucks! Some of the research has caused some doctors to think that CVS might be a mitochondrial disease. That makes sense to me because I'm always very tired, and mitochondrial diseases cause tiredness. Doctors used to think that only kids could have CVS, but that's not true. Now they know that adults can have it too. Sometimes kids grow out of it, but sometimes they don't. Like me; I've had it my whole life. What happens when I have a CVS attack? Obviously, one thing is vomiting. But, sometimes, if I take my medicine early enough, I can prevent the vomiting. I will still feel sick, but I won't vomit. It definitely helps some. Other symptoms include: headaches (like I said before, the headaches and the stomachaches are connected), nausea, pain in my arms and legs--especially my legs; they will hurt a lot! When my legs start hurting, I know I need my medicine because a CVS attack is coming. Also, my hands get really weak. I can't hold anything; my hands are useless. Also, my eyes are very sensitive to light. If I'm on the computer for a long time, sometimes I will get a headache and my eyes will get blurry. Also, this can happen if I am in a room with too much light or flashing lights. Then, I have to rest my eyes. Sometimes I use my eye mask to help my eyes rest. I'll show you. It's beautiful right? I got that at the dollar store! CVS in unpredictable. One week I will be fine and be doing all my normal activities: work, socializing, church, etc. Then, other weeks, I will be exhausted! I will nap in the afternoon for 4 hours sometimes when I'm having a CVS attack. If I'm sleeping that much, I know that an attack is coming and I need my medicine. I'm always more tired than most people, but sometimes it's worse, and I know an attack is coming. When I have a bad week, I can't leave the house much. I'll only do the things I have to do. I will go to work and then come back home and sleep, and that's it. No socializing, no going to the store, which is annoying, and I can't get any errands done, which is also annoying. My hope is that more people like me, living with CVS, will express their feelings and encourage more awareness so that people can get diagnosed sooner than I did. 22 years, wow! Now, I'm 27. Yeah, I've known for 5 years now. Also, I hope that the research can get more funding. I don't know if that sign (research) is conceptually accurate. Yeah, I wanted to share my chronic illness experience. Thanks for watching, bye!
1. I make eye contact when speaking or listening to people whenever possible.
2. I turn the sound on videos off!
3. I use captions!
4. I’ve learned about other differences people have besides Deafness.
5 I’m more expressive!
Do you have a skill or a hobby that you find makes differences in your daily life? Comment and tell me about it!
Here’s a list of things I “should” do today:
Here's a list of things that will most likely occur today:
Sometimes, we have to put our "shoulds" off to the side for a time and give our bodies, our minds, and our spirits the rest that they need.
I’m weak today. It’s been a long, tiring week, physically and emotionally. But, this verse helps me to remember that, in my weakness, He is strong! So, here I am, admitting my weakness and praying for Christ’s power to rest on me today! I know that my weakness is covered in His grace, and for that I give God praise, glory, and honor!
Hopefully by next week, I’ll have my next post done. It is outlined, but it is an ASL post, so I need to film it, caption it, and get feedback from Deaf friends on it before posting it. ASL posts take a more time and effort, but I believe they’re important for me to include since the principles of this blog include acknowledging communication differences and creating accessibility. It’s important to me to expose my readers/viewers to sign language in order to promote awareness and sensitivity. So, stay tuned! God bless!