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2013 is here and so is my yearly post about what I hope to accomplish :)

For the past few years, I’ve posted a sort of to-do list of things I want to work on or accomplish in some way over the coming year.  This year is no exception, though I admit I usually have this done by December 31 of the previous year, so I’m running a little behind compliments of starting the year out with a cold and not feeling up to doing much of anything beyond sleeping and sniffling.  Today is the first day in about a week I’ve felt something nearly human, so I thought I would work on my list for the coming year and see what I can come up with.

  • Continue my quest to lose weight yeah I know a stereotypical resolution, but it’s something I’ve been working on for the past year and am making some slow progress, I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the past year, and hope that by next year I can lose another 30 pounds maybe a little more, but not so much that I’m losing it at an unhealthy rate.
  • In conjunction with my weight loss goal, I want to reach a point where I need to buy some new clothes because my existing clothes are too big for me.
  • I would also like to work on something that I haven’t been able to do in a long time, because of anxiety issues.  I want to see if I can get to where I can ride the bus on my own again.  I know to some it may seem like one of those things some would say why is that a goal you just go stand at the bus stop and when the bus arrives you get on ride to your destination and get off, what’s the big deal?  well, for me, my anxiety disorder has prevented me from riding it, because I feel trapped and by the time I get to where I need to go I’m so anxious that I find it almost impossible to do whatever it is I rode the bus to go do.  I rely heavily on other people to get me from place to place, and I want to be more independent if I can and I think that working on riding the bus and finding ways to make that doable for me would be a huge step in the right direction.  I have a Peer Specialist and I think it’s something she could help me work on, she just doesn’t know I’ve considered this yet, so I think she’ll be impressed that I’m even thinking about it.
  • I would like to work on my research project more than I have been.  I started researching the history of Warren State Hospital, a couple of years ago, and over the past 6 months that project has been on the shelf gathering dust for the most part, so I would like to try to work on it at least one day per month this year, more if I feel inclined to but my basic goal is one day per month.
  • With the latest school shooting, I have seen a huge increase in the stigma people have towards me as someone with a mental illness.  The media found out the shooter had Autism and since then the myth about mental illness and violence has been magnified about a thousand times greater than it was prior to the shooting.  I use a Psychiatric Service Dog to help me manage my anxiety, depression, and help with medication reminders.  Someone who seemed genuinely interested in service dogs was talking to me and very friendly until they asked what type of work my service dog did.  When I said she is a Psychiatric Service Dog the person literally had a look of panic on her face and she took 2 steps back away from me, then told me she was “in a hurry”.  So this goal stems from that experience.  I want to find creative ways to help people realize that not every person with a mental illness is violent or should be criminalized because of the actions of a  very small minority.  I’ve had other similar experiences like the one I described but until the recent shooting they were scarce, now it seems like all I have to do is say I have an anxiety disorder and people flee.  I want to be a diplomat and try to help people realize that Lanza wasn’t like the majority of people with mental illnesses.  I don’t know exactly how I will do this, but it is my hope that I can leave a positive impact on the people I come in contact with when I’m out running errands and that maybe I can help at least one person realize that I’m not a criminal because someone else messed up.
  • My last goal for the coming year is to write and publish at least one article per month over the coming year.  The topic doesn’t matter, it could be an opinion paper on how red the tomatoes are in my grocery store, or something more serious like a tribute to someone who means a lot to me. Pretty much any topic will be fair game, I just need to have it published by the end of each month.

Those are things I hope to work on or do this year.  most items will not be finished at the end of 2013, but I hope to be able to show something that demonstrates I made progress on them.  The weight will be easy to measure, while the stigma related goal will be a lot tougher to measure, for it I think I’ll simply have to document responses I get from people I come in contact with and hope its a fair gauge of what is really happening with that issue.  I may use my writing goal to help with the stigma goal, and maybe write a letter to the editor about what it’s like to have a mental illness since the latest school shooting.  The bus goal is probably going to be my most challenging goal in that I haven’t ridden the fixed route bus in probably 3 or 4 years, and for me any change in routine even if it is a positive change can throw me for a loop, so While I’m hoping I can carry out the bus goal, I’m scared out of my mind of that one.


“Top rookie with anxiety issue joins Rockets’ camp”


Basketball (Photo credit: mvongrue)

Article Link

This October 8, 2012 article on the Cumberland Sentinel website talks about Rookie basketball player Royce White and how he’s trying to manage his anxiety and the travel demands of playing basketball for the Rockets.

“What we should fear after Aurora”

Aurora Borealis, the colored lights seen in th...

Aurora Borealis, the colored lights seen in the skies around the North Pole, the Northern Lights, from Bear Lake, Alaska (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

Article Link

This July 31, 2012 article found on Philly.com’s website, offers a sense of understanding while pointing out that violence exists in our world, while explaining some of the thinking that crosses our minds as we try to heal and move past incidents like Aurora.

I had previously posted a rather rambling post filled with my own frustrations, which I believe may have resonated with some, but ruffled feathers of others.  I still don’t believe that what happened in Aurora was right on any level, but I have come to the realization through other things in my life, that the question of “Why?” is one that there is sometimes not an answer to. Like many others I have wanted to blame this or that or some other thing for what happened, but in the end the only one responsible is the guy who pulled the trigger.  We may not know why he did it, or even be able to understand his reasoning if we do learn what his motive was.  This isn’t to say that what he did was right, just that it wasn’t anyone other than the shooter who choose to cause chaos at a seemingly safe place.  My anger and frustration about the situation does nothing to correct any problems that may have allowed him to make his choice, but if I focus on what can be done to help others heal, and maybe prevent a similar situation from occurring.  I don’t know what the answer is, just that it is going to take each and every one of us, myself include, working together and putting our own agenda’s aside and taking a hard look at the effect that anger and hatred has on this sort of incident when used in an accusing way.  Take a moment to ask yourself what you can do to have a positive impact on someone else instead of perpetuating the fury that the shooter in Aurora displayed as he and he alone chose a path of destruction.  My heart goes out to those who were in the theater, as well as the friends and families of them.  Let’s focus on healing, and overcoming instead of pointing fingers and placing blame.

“Vet uses music to heal — but says he’s no ‘hero'”

Article Link

This July 9, 2012 article found on The Sentinel website, talks about what one Veteran is doing to not only help himself, but to help others along the way.  He plays guitar and sings about his experiences in Iraq as a way to promote healing for himself and others.

“Using yoga as a gift of empowerment”

English: Blue Ridge Rollergirls doing yoga on ...

English: Blue Ridge Rollergirls doing yoga on skates during pre-bout warmup. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article Link

This June 26, 2012 article on the PhillyBurbs.com website talks about the use of yoga in empowering girls and women and describes  how something a simple as a description of a scenario can build up or tear down someone.

“Tim’s Place, Restaurant Run By 26-Year-Old With Down Syndrome, Serves Hugs With Lunch “

Article Link

This June 22, 2012 article found on the Huffington Post website is one I found to be inspiring on many levels.  The article with an accompanying video talks about what may be the first person with Down Syndrome to own a restaurant in the United States.  Very inspirational story to say the least and one that brought a smile to my face as I looked over it.

My thoughts on “Society’s bars” accompanied by a well written Letter to the editor by the same name

I found this Letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and even though it was printed on Friday, August 24, 2007, I feel it raises some great points about how stigmas imprisons Mental Health Cnsumers in a ‘prison without bars’.  I’ve faced stigma in my own town, and can understand where this person is coming from.  In my situation, I was applying for a cashier position and after discussing my Mental Healt disability briefly, the store owner stated, “I usually hire people like tht for dusting”  I’ve never been back into that store since that day, because I don’t want to put money in the wallet of a business that would assume that Mental Healt Consumers aren’t capable of anything more then dustig.  I love the open and honest descriptionthe writer of the following letter to the editor offers and as I said, it was printed last August, but it is something that needs to be heard at every level of society.

Society’s bars

I live in a psychological prison — the bars are made of stigma, and society put them up. The minute my doctor diagnosed me with schizophrenia, up went the bars. It’s now 2007 and society still thinks that I have two personalities, am violent, live under a bridge eating from garbage cans and pushing a shopping cart around while talking to myself. How a society could be so ignorant for so long is beyond me.

My name is James. I have but one personality, have not a violent bone in my body, own my own home and have yet to buy a shopping cart. I work full-time and currently have a good career in the health and human services field. I supervise more than 10 employees and plan on continuing to excel in my field. There are many others just like me leading perfectly normal lives and living all around you.

I take medicine on a daily basis and with the exception of an occasional bout of depression have no symptoms at all. This illness has put me through sheer hell with the worst part being the way society has treated me. I believe that for the most part this society is cold and shallow, but I accept it the way it is. Why then can’t you accept me?


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