Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sorry...I've Been Sleeping

I think I am slowly perfecting the art of hibernating, or at least semi-hibernating. I've had busy days and have been in bed around 9:30 most nights. Life just has no pull against the thought of warm blankets. Just making the most of the end of the hibernation season.

Please enjoy this video while I nap.

THE CURE-Lullaby

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Annual Checkup

The recent shootings at Northern Illinois University have raised questions once again as to why these events keep happening. While I can't say that this is my area of expertise, I do think that our failings in dealing with mental health issues is one of the roots of this problem. In this article (, the issue of both stigma of mental health issues is raised as well as how effective we are in dealing with them. It is a fact that many mental health disorders begin in late childhood and early adulthood. It is not uncommon for a mental health disorder to have rapid onset. Knowing the signs and symptoms of the most common disorders should be as widely spread knowledge as women knowing how to do a self breast exam. We know the signs of a heart attack. We know many of the warning signals of cancer. Why do we still as a society seem mystified by mental health disorders?

I believe part of the reason for our failing level of knowledge in this area of health is the stigma that mental health issues still carry. Just like many other illnesses they are often genetic in nature. Much like the rise in other illnesses due to the environmental pollutants we live with, mental health disorders often are triggered by many of these same elements. We fill our food with additives and preservatives. We drink water from lakes with barely acceptable mercury levels. Is it any surprise that there is an increase in mental health disorders? Yet, unlike their medical counterparts, mental health issues carry with them a stigma. Only with widespread knowledge will this stigma ever be lifted.

So, what should we do? My suggestion is to take mental health issues just as seriously as physical health. Know the signs and symptoms of some of the most common disorders. If you have concerns, take yourself or your child immediately to a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. You wouldn't attempt to treat yourself for cancer. Why would anyone think that they could attempt to treat a mental health disorder on their own?

Monday, February 18, 2008


Those who have known me for a long time know that once upon a time, I was a runner. My freshman year in college I was goofing around in the first snow of the season in Grand Rapids, Michigan and broke my ankle. I wish I could say it was a simple fracture, but the truth was that I literally shattered the joint and couldn't even walk for longer than I can even believe. For years my ankle was weak and even with physical therapy, I was left with seriously curtailed range of motion. I really, in some aspects, have never been the same.

At the time of the accident, I was a pretty physically active person. I enjoyed running, riding my bike and skiing. After the accident, all of these things were very painful to me and usually ended up in further injury due to compensating for my less than perfect ankle. I really haven't run in any serious way since then. I have missed it all these years. When I think of who I am, part of who I think I am is a runner. I still think I am a runner. Today for a short time, I was a runner.

I am always afraid of breaking into a run because of the pain that it frequently involves. I have been busy with school and more out of shape than ever lately. Today at the gym, I was warmed up and walking at a good speed and with a steep incline and when I lowered the incline and upped the speed, I kind of thought, "Why not?" What was the worst thing that would happen. I might fall. I might not be able to handle the pace. The worst thing that did happen was that I immediately noticed the extra weight I have been carrying.

In a heartbeat, or a few hundred, I felt like a runner again. I immediately found my stride and my old running posture felt like a friend. I like the feeling of pushing myself further than I think I can go. I like crawling up into the far recesses of my brain to find that extra bit of strength to get me through. I am very good at moving through pain. I realized today that I can run again.

Two seconds after this realization, my dream of one day running a marathon also came springing back to life. I thought of Bubs' sad experience this past year, but I also thought of another friend's positive experience a few years ago. At 43, I am not ready to give up on my long held dream. I'm a girl who likes a project and a challenge. It's what I live for.

So here's the deal. I really want to run a marathon. It's early in the season and I do think I could be ready by next fall. The thought of seriously being a runner again makes me giddy. Keep in mind that I ran today in walking shoes and those suckers are heavy! I can do this. I want to do this. I'm not sure yet how I am going to balance this with school when it starts again, but I'm tired of being unhealthy and I desperately miss running. I'm putting this out there so that people will check in with me and make sure I'm not slacking. I want to bring back that part of who I am. I want to hear that gun go off. I want to run.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Belly of Winter

The holidays are over, the first few beautiful snows have come and gone. The temperatures have hit rock bottom. Is it any wonder that many of us start to feel a little uneasy this time of year? Even though T S Elliott has said that April is the cruellest month, I have always felt that February is far worse. There really is no promise of spring yet. Winter is growing old. The lack of sun starts to take its toll on the collective psyche of the metropolitan area, leaving most people a little crankier and sullen than usual. When I think of Chicago, I think of people with a big warm smile, but not so much in February. This is the month that I wonder why people don't hibernate. I'm jealous of bears. I want nothing more than to curl up under a pile of blankets and stay there until the sun moves further north and the world is a little brighter again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Start Making the Dream a Reality Today

I don't know about any of you, but screw Mardi Gras this year. I am so much more excited to go vote and begin changing America. I know I only have one vote and that this is only the primaries, but today I feel like I can have a hand in reclaiming our country. It's finally happening.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Despite All My Rage I Am Still Just a Rat in a Cage

Can't think of a more fun way to spend a weekend than to have multiple observers while you do therapy. I'm in the process of getting an additional certification for my job and today I got to try out the new therapy technique with one of my clients while several people watched from another room. In all honesty, in many ways it really doesn't fluster me at all, I just hate the idea of it. I have no real fear of failing in front of others in part because I know that therapy is such a crap shoot anyways. Each kid is different and every day is different and depending on who is in what kind of mood, sometimes you are just more successful than others. It's a harsh reality, but it's the truth.

So this new therapy shows a lot of promise, but in some ways I feel like I am being reined in a bit too much. A lot like my experience with religion, I have a hard time really feeling like anything is the be all and end all in the world of therapy. I have learned to trust my years of experience and my knowledge of the child. So, to be hobbled by one particular approach is a bit difficult. Even though I claim to be an ABA practitioner, my boss likes to call what we do "enlightened ABA." This essentially means that if something isn't working, fix it.

I guess in some ways I don't mind being poked at and stared at as long as it gets me closer to having a better solution for my clients. I have a lot of questions for our teacher tomorrow. I get critiqued in the morning and I hope I learn something. Later in the day I get to do my best rat impression again. Sometimes I wonder if my clients feel the same way.