Healthy WHOLE Bodies!

Penis and vagina are not dirty words.  They are not obscene words.  They are not words that should not be spoken in the halls of legislature, particularly when a discussion of reproductive health is going on!  They are words that need to be spoken, they are words that should be spoken.  They are needed for the education of our children, and, unfortunately for the education of some adults.

These past weeks have been filled with discussions of how our government cannot seem to have a discussion about women’s reproductive health partly because speaking the word vagina in the legislature is considered obscene.  Personally, I think this stems from a lack of education about sexuality in our nation as a whole.  We don’t even discuss these parts of the human body until junior or senior year in high school in many states.  We are leaving children uneducated, and turning out adults who are unable to talk to their children about their vaginas and penises and unable to have healthy sexual relationships in some cases.

Everyone needs to know about vaginas and penises.  There is nothing wrong with talking about vaginas and penises.  They are human body parts.  Parents need to teach their children how to take care of their bodies and this includes vaginas and penises.  They need to know how to keep things clean, how they might be used, how not to use them, when and where to use them.  Its OK.  It isn’t going to sully them for life.  It might even be a way to protect them from trauma in life.  If they know the truth, the whole truth, perhaps we can stop the cycle of shame that surrounds penises and vaginas and sexuality in general.

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No One Can Take That Away

You may want me to be silent. You may not want to hear the things I say.  You may be offended by what you hear when I speak. But I have been silent for too long, and I will not be silent anymore. You will hear what I think. You may be offended, but I have a right to what I believe, and no one can take that away.

Truth or Scare

This post was inspired by Autistic Hoya’s blog post, here is an excerpt:

Those who report the news have a duty to report the facts, to make every effort to educate themselves about the dangers of misrepresentation, and to represent the subjects of their writing fairly. Until our journalists learn that their language can have significant and severe repercussions for the lives of the people whom their language maligns and misrepresents, we will continue to face attitudinal barriers across all spheres of society that have been reinforced by the imagery and language used to describe us and construct perceptions of who we are and what our disability means. We will continue to suffer the consequences of dangerous words. The Dangers of Misrepresentation- Autistic Hoya

Like AH, I also cringe every time someone who commits a crime is labeled with autism, a mental illness, etc.  For me of particular concern is bipolar disorder, as I am bipolar.  It seems like every time this happens, its sets us back.  Yes, some people with mental illness do commit crimes, people without mental illness commit crimes.  But the majority of people with mental illness do not commit crimes, just as the majority of people without mental illness do not commit crimes.  For me it is comparable to when there is something that is a terrorist “act”, if a person is Muslim their religion is mentioned left and right.  However, when the person is not Muslim we rarely hear what religion they are.  For example (Man Crashes Plant into Texas I.R.S.), in this particular incident no where is this man’s religion mentioned, and his act isn’t even called terrorism, when it is quite plainly an act of domestic terrorism.

Every time a person who has committed a crime is labeled with a mental illness, all of the worst aspects of the mental illness are listed in the description.  And those who don’t know a lot about mental illness are given just that bit of information, without a responsible mention by the journalist that “most people with “mental illness A” are not like this.  The stigma surrounding mental illness increases, and more people are less likely to say, I have “mental illness A”, more people are less likely to seek treatment, and more people needlessly suffer.  Most mental illnesses can be helped either with medication or therapy or a combination of the two.  But the more the media stigmatizes mental illness the less likely people are to seek out treatment.

We need to strive as a society to get correct information out to everyone.  The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be lessened.  We need to be open and honest about people who live with mental illness each and every day.  I am bipolar, I live with it every day.   I live in a house, I have a husband, I have a daughter.  I enjoy reading, cross-stitch.  I have other health issues.  I take medication and go to therapy, I find this combination works very well for me.  I go shopping and I love to cook.   With the percentages of adults and children who have a mental illness (“1 in 4 adults or 57.7 million Americans and 1 in 10 children”, Mental Illness: Facts and Numbers) chances are you know, live near, or work with someone who has or had a mental illness at some point in their lives.   Perhaps the stigma kept them from telling you, or maybe they knew you well enough to tell you.  But every time I share this information, unless I know the person well, I worry.  I worry about their reaction, I worry about the stigma, and I worry about the misinformation they may have been fed by the media.  But I also hope, I hope that I might educate, that I might correct any misinformation they might have, and that I might make a new friend, a new ally who can go out and spread some more correct information.  In my own little way, maybe I can lessen the stigma that exists out there.

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.NAMI.org

Money…

This post was inspired by a recent conversation with friends.  We were discussion how we have become masters of stretching each and every penny.  Some of us are single, some of us are in relationships, some of us have kids, but we all have that one thing in common, we have to budget, budget and then budget some more, and even then there are often months when ends just don’t meet, and something goes without being paid, or someone goes without something they need.

Statistics show that the dis-abled are more likely to be unemployed, or under-employed.  And when you take into account that many people who are dis-abled are uninsured or under insured with far more health costs than many people, this puts us into an even greater bind.  I know a good many people who remain unemployed or underemployed simply so they may qualify for state health programs (medicaid) so that they can get what they need health-wise, while generally going without or with less on other necessities such as food, shelter, heat, etc.

We need to replace the systems we have in this country.  We need to make sure that people have the necessities they need.  People should have a right to healthcare, shelter, food, education,  all of the necessities in life.  People should not have to choose between medication they need, and being able to eat for the month.  People should not have to choose between what NECESSITY they will have and what NECESSITY they will go without.  And so many of us who are dis-abled are doing just this.  And we get excited when we get an extra $20.

Savings is unheard of, at least in my circle.  Its just not even an option.  and the most insulting part of this whole thing is that people just don’t get it.  “Well if you just did A, B or C you would be able to have a savings (or make ends meet, or not be struggling.).”  There is always something “they” think  “we” should be doing to be better off.  When if they lived our reality for a month, perhaps they would realize what we go through all the time.

Authenticity

Inspired by (letter to a friend who suggests i am sick because i want to be)

How many times a day do you get asked, “how are you?”, “how are you doing?” etc.?  Probably a couple, depending on how much you get out.  Now, how many of those people want a truthful answer?  Are they looking to really know how you feel?  Do they want to know how much pain you are in?  Do they want to know the truth?  There are a good many days that go by when my truthful answer to that question is, “I feel horrible.  I am in pain.  I am tired all the time.  I have no energy to get things done that need to be done.  I am angry, frustrated, scared and downright pissed off.”   When I told a doctor a couple weeks ago that I was scared because they didn’t know yet what was wrong with me and the possibilities left on the “list” were not great options, her response was “be positive.”  And I cannot be positive all the time, and when I am sitting at the doctor with horrible diagnoses staring me in the face, its nearly impossible to “be positive”.  But it seems that everyone wants you to be positive.  Half of the images that many people post on FB tell you to “be positive” in one way or another.  But what if you can’t be positive, what if your brain chemistry and your life situation are leaving you feeling negative?  I say, that is OK!

I think more than anything else, being authentic, your true self, being positive when you feel positive, but also owning anger and frustration when you feel those things, is really empowering. For years and years, I tried to follow the “God doesn’t give me more than I can handle” and “I need to look on the positive side of things” or “if I can just do/be/have this everything will be ok or “if I pray enough, or believe enough things will get better”. When, in reality, none of these things is true. Illness is illness, disease is disease, sometimes you cannot, you just cannot.   No matter how much I may want to right now I cannot tie my shoes, I cannot tie my daughter’s shoes, and that makes me angry, it makes me frustrated.

When you act positive even though you don’t feel positive, simply isn’t authentic, it is a LIE, and when you LIE to yourself, you hurt yourself. And I just cannot do that anymore. The people around me may not like it, but its the truth, and as it has been said some people either are not ready for or cannot handle or do not want to see the truth. But that is their problem, not mine.  So be prepared, because if you ask me the question, “how are you today?” and you are looking for a positive answer, you may not get what you are looking for, you might get a negative answer, and that is authenticity.  Do you really want a lie?

Silent No More

***TRIGGER WARNING*** (discusses abuse in institutional settings, and mild cursing)

This post was inspired by this article http://articles.boston.com/2012-06-01/letters/31908788_1_electroconvulsive-therapy-shocks-judge-rotenberg-center

This is disgusting, and the sad thing is people out there probably would say “oh those kind of places don’t exist anymore” the sad thing is THEY DO. Places where people with dis-abilities, developmental, mental, physical, are not treated as human beings, but rather cattle, beings to be moved from one thing to another, “entertained” so that they don’t make trouble. And if they do make trouble they are locked away in the “safe” room. Or shocked. Or denied “privileges”.

Go to sleep at a specific time, get up at a specific time, take your meds, sit and do a craft that even a 5 yo would be insulted by. Maybe watch a little tv, but not something that you would like to watch, something the staff wants to see. And if you all “behave” then maybe you get a special treat.

THEY EXIST, they are supposed to enrich the lives of the people who they “take care of” but they don’t. They just move them through like cattle. And sometimes when one of the people has a health issue, they can refuse to call 911 because the person, might be making it up to “get attention”. There is so much bullshit involved in the institutionalization system in this country, and so many people have NO IDEA! NO IDEA that any of this is going on, because they can’t be bothered to look. They don’t want to look. They want to see happy people doing crafts and taking walks on perfect green lawns. They don’t want to see “safe” rooms where people are locked up 24 hours a day alone, they don’t want to see children being shocked because they didn’t behave, they don’t want to see a man die because the last several times he had been to the emergency room it was diagnosed as a panic attack, and so they didn’t call 911 for him when he asked them to because he was feeling ill, and HE DIED, HE DIED, HE DIED! (http://disabilityrightnow.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/the-death-of-al-bing/)

These places exist and they need to be put out of our misery. Because we are people, HUMAN BEINGS, and we all deserve better, we all want fulfilling lives. Maybe we can’t work a job 9-5, but we don’t deserve to be oppressed, abused, neglected, or murdered because of our dis-ability.