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“Meet Hamlet, Lancaster Co. Courthouse’s newest employee”

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This June 26, 2014 ABC27 article with video segment talks about the newest employee at the Lancaster County Courthouse a Service Dog name Hamlet trained to aid in decreasing the anxiety of those going through the court process with the primary role being to work in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse courts, but he will have other roles as well when he isn’t in court.

A service dog putting keys into his owner's hand.

A service dog putting keys into his owner’s hand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Vet says he was asked to leave Walgreens because of service dog”

 

Walgreens

Walgreens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article Link

This June 20, 2014 article that includes a video, on the KDFW Dallas website talks about an access issue that a Veteran who is diagnosed with PTSD and uses a Service Dog as part of his treatment, had at a Walgreen’s store.  The article also includes responses from Walgreen’s and statements from the Disabled Veteran in addition to offing some information on what the ADA says about Service Dogs and whether they are required to be dressed in any kind of vest or not.

KDFW

KDFW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m Blogging for World Mental Health Day October 10

I have worked on developing and enhancing my list of items I use as personal medicine.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term “personal medicine” let me explain it a bit.  Pat Deegan describes personal medicine as things we do that make us feel better, and reminds us that medication prescribed by our doctor is not the same as personal medicine.  Medication or pills are something you take.  personal medicine is something you do.

Here’s a list of some of my personal medicine items and how I benefit from doing them.

  • Bicycling
    • Riding my bike helps me manage my anxiety by giving me an outlet for some  of the anxious energy
  • Blogging
    • Blogging helps me feel connected to the world around me and at the same time gives me a sense of purpose
  • Playing video games
    • When I play video games, I am able to take a step back from things that may be overwhelming me, and I get an opportunity to regroup before trying to face whatever is overwhelming me again.  I also use gaming as a way to practice social skill in an environment that is less threatening to me then face to face encounters with other people tend to feel.
  • Knitting
    • Knitting helps me in a few ways
      • gives me a creative outlet
      • helps me quiet my mind by doing something that doesn’t need lots of thinking, and I can sort of meditate a bit
      • allows me to do something nice for other people and when I see people smile when I give them something I have knit, I get a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of warmth that helps take the sting out of the rough patches I may be experiencing in my life.
  • Researching
    • Researching or learning more about whatever I happen to have as a pressing question on my mind, helps to quiet my mind, and satisfy my hunger for information.  I will often have a question or idea on my mind that seems to almost take over my brain and make it tough to think about anything else, and I found that simply taking a little time to do a little research into the question  or idea helps me settle my mind by giving me information to satisfy the thoughts.  It’s kind of like if you have a baby that is hungry who is crying and fussy because of being hungry.  Once you feed the baby and satisfy the baby’s hunger, the baby will generally settle down and be more content overall.  In many ways that’s what my mind is like but instead of being hungry for food,  my brain gets hungry for information, and the questions or ideas are like the fussy baby.  I feed my mind information and the fussiness dissipates.  So while I do realize that most people don’t do research for fun, it is something that I not only enjoy, but am able to use to quiet my often noisy brain.
  • Journalling
    • Journaling helps me sort and organize thoughts, feelings or ideas, and gives me a second option for handling the questions and such that often become overwhelming to me if left unchecked.  If I don’t have time to do research right then, sometimes just the act of writing down the question, topic, idea or whatever it is that seems to be taking over my mind, it allows me to in a sense say ok, I recognize that this is on my mind and needs to be further considered, but I’m going to table it and deal with it later when I have more time.  In short, it’s like I’m emptying my brain a little so I can focus on the thing I need to be focused on at that moment.
  • Walking
    • Walking, like bicycling helps me manage my anxiety, my weight, and helps me kind of clear my mind by getting out and enjoying nature a bit
  • Interacting with my Service Dog
    • Interacting can be playing, training, working, or simply cuddling, but the thing all these forms of interaction do for me, is divert my attention off myself and help keep me from dwelling on things.  I also get to explore the world around me much easier than I could on my own.  The world is a very scary place for me, but using my service dog helps me manage the fears and anxiety I have about the world around me that pretty much paralyzes me if I’m left to handle things on my own without my Service Dog’s help.  I get a sense of joy, accomplishment, and am more likely to interact with people around me then I would on my own.  My service dog bridges the gap between  my world and the world around me in a way that in some ways is almost magical, as well as being very difficult to put into words.  She has the ability to make me laugh or smile at times when no human has been able to succeed, she gives me comfort, bolsters my braveness, and even though she is the one being trained, our training sessions give me a sense of accomplishment and pride when I see her begin to master a skill I’ve tried to teach her.  She’s learning to help me, and I’m learning to reach beyond myself.

All the things I listed above are things that help me in many ways, but they all are able to have a positive impact on my mental health and even my physical health and by doing things that impact both my mental and physical health, I feel more like a complete or whole person who is better equipped to face the world around me and everything it has to offer.

Image I'm Blogging for World Mental Health Day on October 10

I’m Blogging for World Mental Health Day on October 10

 

“Changing the Lives of Veterans One Service Dog At A Time”

English: Golden Retreiver Service Dog

English: Golden Retreiver Service Dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article Link

This March 2013 article on the Harrisburg Magazine website, talks about the benefits of Service Dogs to Veterans with PTSD, and points out that the public needs to respect that the dog is a service dog and not a pet despite the handler not having a disability that is visible to the naked eye.

My Service Dog does similar work to aid me as what was described in this article and I know all to well that while my Service Dog has made life more bearable for me, the public can be downright rude at times with the staring and questioning.  A Service Dog is a medical device and should be responded to with the same respect that would be expected by someone using a wheel chair or cane.  Always remember that just because the person holding the leash of a service dog doesn’t “look” disabled doesn’t mean they aren’t, if they weren’t disabled they wouldn’t need a Service Dog.

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.

 

“Corbett Signs Law to Protect Service Dogs”

 

Article Link

This August 9, 2012 article found on the Gant daily website, talks about the new law that Gov. Corbett signed to help protect Service Dogs.  and includes a link to the bill itself.

 

New PA law protects Service Dogs

Video Link

This August 6, 2012 video/article found on the WICU News website out of Erie, talks about a new law that makes it a 3rd degree misdemeanor if someone’s dog attacks a service dog in Pennsylvania.

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