Archive | Psychology RSS feed for this section

TED Talk: What’s so funny about mental illness?

4 Nov

I just watched a TED Talk by comedian Ruby Wax called “What’s so funny about mental illness?” in which she explains that it’s time that we put an end to the stigma of mental illness. Since I completely agree with what she said and I am passionate about the field of psychology, I just had to share this video with all of you. Let me know what you think of it! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

What’s so funny about mental illness?

How come every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy, except the brain?-Ruby Wax

People who say they’re perfectly fine are more insane than the rest of us.-Ruby Wax

Advertisements

For anyone needing a pick-me-up.

25 Oct

Though it’s Thursday, which is only one day closer to Friday (and the weekend), the light at the end of the tunnel that signals the end of this incredibly hectic week seems very dim. At this point, I am up to my eyeballs in notecards that cover Developmental Psychology, Community Psychology, and Human Biology. Whoever thought it was a good idea to give me 3 exams that are back-to-back on a Friday is a complete nut job.

However, as I was taking a quick break from trying to memorize buckets and buckets of information last night, I was reminded of a short, but effective motivational video that I saw about a year ago. It’s called “Jessica’s Daily Affirmations,” in which a little girl named Jessica is standing up on her bathroom counter and looking at herself in the mirror as she proceeds to state everything she loves about her life. Even though it seems a bit silly, it is a video that never ceases to put a smile on my face and inspire me to get my work done.

Even though I may never have as much guts as Jessica (as well as not being a cute little girl who can easily get away with standing on her bathroom counter shouting positive things at herself), I have always been a lover of quotes. I don’t know what it is about reading others words regarding the difficulties of life, but it seems to help. So, even though you won’t catch me shouting positive phrases into the bathroom mirror every morning, don’t be surprised if you see some of the following quotes written on post-it notes that have started to accumulate on my bathroom mirror and other places that strike my fancy.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive. -Howard Thurman

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. -Helen Keller

We must let go of the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. -Joseph Campbell

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. -Elizabeth Gilbert

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours. -Ayn Rand

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass. -Maya Angelou

Social rejection through the eyes of a CP adult.

3 Oct

I walked into my Community Psychology class this morning to see the following prompt written on the board:

Journal about a time when you experienced disapproval or rejection from peers. What happened? What kind of thoughts and feelings did you have?

When I was in middle school, I took a required Physical Education class every year. In my middle school PE classes, we played “slaughterball,” which was our definition of dodgeball. I think “slaughterball” is a more accurate description of the game though. Every week in PE, I was chosen last for slaughterball. Even though being chosen to play was better than not being chosen at all, being chosen last was one of the worst feelings I ever experienced during my middle school years. When someone who sprained their ankle the day before and was on crutches was chosen over me, it pretty much felt like getting punched in the stomach.

Even though I know that many middle schoolers go through the experience of being chosen last for a game or sport, it didn’t feel the same. Though I know that other kids who were chosen last may have experienced the same feelings of hurt, frustration, and not being good enough, I know that I was chosen last simply because I didn’t have the level of physical ability that my other classmates did. I can’t even count the number of times I came home from school crying because, once again, I had been chosen last. I think it was even harder for me due to the fact that I couldn’t change the fact that I had CP, while the person who had sprained their ankle would be healed and ready to run around with the other kids in a matter of weeks. There never was a 6-week period for me to “recover” from my Cerebral Palsy. At the same time, it’s not something that I suffer from. It is just something that I have. No amount of exercises or talk therapy can change the fact that I am a 20 year-old girl who has Cerebral Palsy.

I’m incredibly familiar with social rejection. I’m way more familiar with it than I want to be. From being chosen last in slaughterball to getting pelted last in slaughterball because the other kids knew that I couldn’t move fast enough to avoid the ball coming at me, I’ve felt it all. I know what it feels like to be stared at, not just by kids but by adults as well, due to the fact that I walk funny. I know the feeling of sitting in my high school auditorium  watching a mini-play in which the main character had Cerebral Palsy…letting the tears come…and wanting so badly to just get up and walk out of the auditorium, but knowing that doing so would cause me to draw even more attention to myself. I know the feeling of having people avoid me due to the fact that I make them uncomfortable or they are just unsure how to act around me. I know what it feels like when someone is dying to ask me what is wrong with me but can’t seem to even say it because they are too afraid of bringing it up and hurting my feelings. Worst of all, I know what it feels like to have someone imitate the way I walk and then using the bullshit excuse of “I’ve been told to observe people for a class.” No, I’m not kidding. That happened.

You could say I have felt more than my share of social rejection. Sadly, the majority of the social rejection that I have felt stems from the simple fact that I have a visible physical disability, so I naturally become an easy target for teasing and social rejection. However, don’t think that I am saying that all the other kids who have experienced social rejection but don’t have CP are any less important. That’s not what I’m saying at all. However, I think it’s important to understand that due to my CP, I became an easier target for teasing and social rejection, so in my eyes, it hurt worse simply because I was being teased about something that I couldn’t change. Despite the fact that I have gotten stronger due to experiencing so much teasing and social rejection, it wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. Even now, if I get funny looks due to the way I walk, it hurts. It makes me want to cry or scream. It takes me right back to how I felt in middle school when I was chosen last for slaughterball because of the simple reason of having a physical disability. Being triggered to those moments of rejection in my childhood only takes a moment. I’ve always known that. However, the prompt in this morning’s Community Psych class made me remember just how easy it is for me to feel exactly how I did in middle school. It only takes a moment, a trigger, or even the two simple words of “social rejection”….until I’m back in the gym of my small town private school getting pelted with a red rubber ball because I wasn’t able to move quickly enough.

Sunday’s Studying Song.

30 Sep

I needed some background music while I do research on the social stigma of physical disabilities for my Community Psychology project. This seemed perfect. 🙂

The helping profession.

20 Sep

I’ve been glued to On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey A. Kottler for the past 2 days, taking in each and every word with excitement and wonder. Since I want to be a counselor, any book or article that talks about the helping profession is music to my ears. As if I need any more reasons or drive to be a counselor, I went to a Psychology talk at my university today that was given by one of the professors in the Psychology department here, Dr. Wetter. The talk was titled, Mechanisms of Change: Why do people improve in therapy? Just as the current book I’m reading has captivated me, I was pulled in so deep to the talk today that I was actually a bit sad when it ended. Ways to measure success in therapy and many well-established therapy techniques (like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Behavior Therapy etc.) were discussed. What I found most interesting though were the reasons why people improve in therapy. That isn’t to say that all people do improve, but the talk looked at those people who did improve to try to figure out what factors went in to their improvement in therapy. The factors included common factors (such as a healing setting, expectations of improvement, a treatment ritual, and the therapeutic relationship. Not surprisingly, the therapeutic relationship is the most important), specific factors (such as cognitive restructuring, challenging negative automatic thought, behavior activation, and exposure), therapist variables (such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, amount and type of training, professional experience, and interpersonal style), and client variables (such as severity of diagnosis, co-occurring diagnoses, age, sex, race/ethnicity, expectations for change, and preoperations for change). Though it was a lot of information to take in, I was hooked from the very beginning!

I didn’t need yet another reason to be a counselor because I already have so many that I might burst from happiness. However, it is exciting that I have found something that I am passionate about. After Dr. Wetter’s talk, I made sure to go up to her and tell her how much I enjoyed her talk. Plus, I also wanted to introduce myself and see what classes she’d be teaching next semester. She’s teaching theories of personality as well as a class on trauma disorders. I told her that she could count on me to take both. Before I spoke with her, another student was asking her if there were any undergraduate research opportunities that were related to therapy. Even though there were not any undergraduate research opportunities specifically related to therapy, Dr. Wetter did say that next semester she will be continuing her research on trauma disorders and she’d be welcoming students. Not only did I attend a Psychology talk today that I absolutely loved, which furthered my drive to be a counselor, but I also may have gotten a potential undergraduate research opportunity out of it. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all! 🙂

Writing: A Thriving Mechanism.

16 Sep

I’ve been in a relatively happy mood over the last week, which explains my lack of writing lately. As strange as it may seem, my desire to write often decreases if I’m in a good mood. I partly think this is the case because for as long as I can remember, writing has been a coping mechanism. I began writing at the age of 8 because there were stories in my head and poems that I felt just needed to be expressed. I continued to write not because I had all these wonderful ideas for stories, but because at the age of 11, my intense surgeries began, which were followed by lots of intense physical therapy. I wrote to let out the pain.

Lately, my desire to write has changed somewhat. I no longer use writing as a coping mechanism. These days, writing is more of a thriving mechanism. Of course, I do have down days, and my writing definitely comes in handy during those times. However, more recently, my writing has been a tool to celebrate what I have overcome. Living with Cerebral Palsy isn’t easy. Even though most people can probably figure that out, the majority of people don’t know what people with CP face on a regular basis. That’s why I strive on a daily basis to share my story with the world. Even though I haven’t written that much regarding my memoir, I still talk about my life with CP on a regular basis when it comes to this blog.

Even though I’ve only begun having a CP focus on my blog since beginning my memoir in January, I can already see the incredible impact that it’s had on me as well as others. In terms of my life, sharing my struggles of having CP has made me happier and has put me on the path of ever so slowly accepting myself. It has also allowed me to realize that I was born to do this. I normally don’t use that phrase because in my head it holds a little bit of a religious connotation. However, all religious connections aside, I do feel like being a CP advocate and sharing my story of living with CP is what I was born to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing I was born to do though. I love psychology just as much as I love advocating for others with disabilities, and the thought of one day being a counselor for kids with special needs seems like the perfect fit. Then again, I don’t know what the future holds. I’ve got my entire life ahead of me. In terms of my blog, I’ve also seen how focusing on talking about what it’s been like for me to live with CP impacts others as well. Since beginning to discuss living with CP this past January, I’ve received wonderful feedback. I’ve received comments and emails from parents of children with CP who have thanked me for giving them a window into what their child faces. I’ve received a comment from a girl who is facing a lot of the same surgeries in the same hospital that I went through. I’ve had a woman come up to me at a restaurant after overhearing me talk about writing my memoir to tell me that her son has CP and that she fully supports what I’m doing. Even though I have a good amount of benefits that writing my memoir has provided for me, I do it for everyone else. I do it for the kids with CP. I do it for the parents of kids with CP so that they can better understand what their children face. I do it for Grace, a girl I know who has CP, because it’s the only way that I know how to help her. As well as writing my memoir for the families that have been affected by CP, I write about my life for the general public as well. Not many people know about CP, and I know for a fact that not many people know what someone with CP faces on any given day. That’s what I’m here for: to be the voice of every other kid with CP who just wants someone who understands what they’ve faced.

So maybe I don’t have to use writing as a coping mechanism anymore. However, I believe that’s one of the biggest steps that I could’ve made. Rather than being set on writing through pain, I have chosen to focus on the people who I am impacting every day through my words. It is because of all of you that I have decided to continue my writing journey. Someone’s got to be the voice of so many who are currently faced with having to live with Cerebral Palsy. Why can’t that voice be mine?

Teaching “social graces” for physical disabilities in schools.

29 Aug

In my community psychology class, we have been asked to do a project on a societal problem. I’ve chosen the stigma of physical disabilities and the social consequences that are connected with physical disabilities. Obviously this topic hits home for me since I have a physical disability, and I’m excited to start researching. Plus, I feel like this project could provide me with some great material to possibly include in my memoir.

I feel like the social consequences of having a disability, physical or not, is something that isn’t brought to too much awareness. Other than my intense surgeries and intense physical therapy, being able to socially adapt is probably one of the hardest things that I’ve faced due to being someone with a physical disability. I learned very early on in life that I was going to have to be the one to initiate relationships with classmates and people in my community. Everyone wants friends and people to count on, but as I was growing up as someone who was “different,” it was the one thing I wanted more than anything. However, in a society where being different isn’t the norm, it makes things that much harder for those of us who are a bit unique.

Today when I was talking to two of my other classmates who are also interested in the topic of the stigma of physical disabilities, I mentioned that grade school and middle school were very hard for me socially. I was picked on, stared at and didn’t feel like I had a place where I fit. Today my classmates and I were trying to think of reasons why that might be so, or why the stigma of physical disabilities may be so high. One thing I pointed out was that many kids don’t automatically grow up around someone with a physical disability. Therefore, to them, seeing a student at school who is physically disabled is something that’s “different” and “not normal.” However, what would happen if we chose to implement a kind of program in schools that taught kids the “social graces” of dealing with disabilities, while also pointing out that it’s important to “empower” the individual with the physical disability so that they feel like they matter within the classroom? Though it may seem easier said than done, I feel like today’s kids are lacking the simple awareness of the presence of physical disabilities. Since they may not be around them on a regular basis, they don’t know how to react, so of course they are going to feel uncomfortable. That’s understandable. However, as well so many other societal problems we face today, maybe education is the first step.

Though it may seem far reached, having a type of class on social acceptance is needed in today’s schools. Not all of today’s parents are going to properly teach their kids to be acceptable of all types of people, so maybe it’s something that should be brought up in the school system. As well as decreasing the level that kids with disabilities are being teased, I feel like it would help broaden other kid’s views of their society as well as help those with physical disabilities realize that they have a place where they can not only voice their own opinion, but actually be heard by their peers.

Yes, the fact that I was picked on as a kid made me stronger. However, I didn’t get stronger because I was picked on. I got stronger because I learned how to deal with being teased. However, that shouldn’t be something that kids with physical disabilities need to learn. There needs to be a certain level of respect that exists towards kids with disabilities in today’s school system. Providing today’s middle school kids with an education of “social graces” when it comes to kids with physical disabilities doesn’t necessarily mean that those kids would need to immediately befriend those with physical disabilities. However, I feel like emphasizing that kids with physical disabilities should be treated the same as those kids without physical disabilities would decrease the amount of bullying, physical and emotional, that is present in today’s schools.

I, of course, am fully supportive of decreasing the amount of bullying that is present in schools today. From my own experience, I know how much bullying hurts, especially when you are being bullied for something that you are not able to control. I feel like providing a class of social acceptance would help decrease this issue, thus allowing future kids with physical disabilities to feel comfortable among their classmates. Though I know that my school experience would hopefully have been somewhat different if a social acceptance class was provided at my school as I was growing up, I am willing to accept that I faced lots of teasing if it means that I can help future kids not have to experience it to such a high degree, or better yet, not at all.