I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Dreams are Made of These...

One Friday a month, I attend a "Dreams" group.  We're a group of women who each have some kind of big goal and we meet to share what we've accomplished and to receive feedback about what else we could do.  We meet at L'Madeleine restaurant.  I went a few weeks ago and even though I had already eaten, I purchased two cute, little pastries. To tell you the truth, they were a little bland, but at least they're pretty!  (Sorry about the picture quality...)

So what is the dream that I'm working on with this group?  It's to get on disability.  No, it's not a trip to Paris or a course at a prestigious college, but to simply receive disability benefits.  Only it's not so simple.  To get disability, you have to prove you have a disability, which means filling out long, complicated, governmental forms, going on interviews, and collecting paperwork.  This would be hard and stressful for anyone, but put on top of everything that a person with a disability has to deal with, it's a very daunting and stressful task.  Really, I know what to do.  I have another very close friend who got disability benefits on the first try and I'm pumping her for information on how she did it.  What I need is encouragement, which these ladies provide.

But why would why I want to prove I have a disability?  Isn't that just more anxiety provoking and frankly, depressing?  Well, the process IS hard to handle, but for me, proving that I have a disability to the government is making my life a little better.  It's not that I want to mooch off the government, but that I need some help.  To be honest, my goal isn't really to get onto disability, but to be more independent-to have my own space and I can't do that on my own.  If I was a regular thirty-year-old, I would just strap on my bootstraps and get a job.  I'd work hard and with my college degree and my go-getter spirit, I'm sure I would make enough to support myself.  And I am not being too sarcastic here.  I do know how to market myself and one of my strengths is how well I promote and sell myself during an interview.  In my experience, if I interview for a job, then I am almost bound to get it.  Unfortunately, keeping it is another story.  Soon, I am so full with anxiety that I cannot perform my job as well as I thought I could and certainly not as well as I said.  Then I feel embarrassed, under pressure, and eventually so depressed I have to quit the job.

It sometimes feels weird to have this as my current big goal, especially when others who do not know me really well start talking about what they're looking forward to.  I feel fine talking to people that really know me, like the people at my small church or my family and close friends, but around a gathering of people around my age who are starting families, careers, or exciting, "regular," dreams and I don't know what to say.  The problem is partly my fault and partly society's-my part is that I am judging my insides to other's outsides, which never leads to the truth, and society's part is that it stigmatizes disability.  As I have said before, having a disability is natural.  We all have an ability that loses its functionality at some point and the ones in our society who have a tougher time because of their disability should be lifted up and helped in our society instead of being condemned.

My dream is to become more independent and if that requires me to try for disability, then I will with all my heart.

Discussion Question: What are your big goals and dreams?

I loved the Eurythmics in fifth grade and I still love Annie Lennox!  Here is what we've both really wanted all along (But what's with the cows?!):

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Social Justice & Spiritual Events in Atlanta

"God calls us to some things we cannot do alone." This is from the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta Church Action eNewsletter  (RCCAtl.org)  All of these events have to do with social justice, feminism, spirituality, world healing, or World AIDS day, which is on Thursday, December first.

1. Unity North Atlanta is hosting the Tibetan Buddhist Monks Nov 27-Dec 4. They will create the Medicine Buddha Mandala Sand Painting for world healing. You read about the interfaith meditation service coming up on November 30 in last week’s eNewsletter. On December 3, the famed multiphonic singers of Tibet ’s Drepung Loseling Monastery, whose sellout performances in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center received national acclaim, will perform Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing, ancient temple dances and music. We are fortunate to again have the mystical, colorful, peaceful monks at Unity.

2. Faiths Act at MedShare is hosting the first Sweet Talk of the year on November 28, 11:15 to noon. Join the MedShare community to learn about the importance of biomedical servicing technology to save lives in developing countries. Eben Armstrong, an award winning biomedical engineer at MedShare, will discuss his international experiences in South America and Africa . He has trained hundreds of biomedical technicians to build the capacity of hospitals to serve impoverished communities. Additionally, faith communities are invited to learn about the Faiths Act Campaign for Sierra Leone at MedShare this year. Please R.s.v.p. to srahim@medshare.org by 11/25/11. Sweet Talk will be held in the volunteer sorting room at MedShare, 3240 Clifton Springs Road , Decatur , 30034. 770-323-5858.

3. The Light of Hope Church of Inclusion honors caregivers with an inclusive worship service each month. On December 4 there will be free healthy food for all diets, musical entertainers, dance, motivational speakers, awards, prizes, and more. Rev. Shon L. Freeman, Sr. would like to invite everyone to this special event being held in memory of the late MaMa N’Jere Alghanee for her many years of caring and giving for those differently abled. Event is Sunday, December 4, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. , KES, Building, 6615 Tribble Street , Lithonia 30058 , Call 678-358-1180 or emaildisabledinaction09@yahoo.com if you need info.

4. The Third Annual “Taste of Faith” celebration for the Atlanta InterFaith Leaders Fellowship is scheduled for Sunday, December 4. Come and bring family and friends. This year at a new location, First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 LaVista Road, Tucker 30084. Tasting of foods from multiple religious and ethnic traditions will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Ben Johnson will bring greetings and brief comments midway through the event. No charge or pre-registration for this event. Saeed Raees, chairperson for this year’s Taste of Faith, invites all who are willing to help assure a broad representation of foods from our diverse traditions. If you can make a contribution in this way, please contact Saeed as soon as possible at saeedraees@gmail.com. The focus of the celebration is conversation and fellowship to build new bridges.

 5. Decatur United Church of Christ, 109 Hibernia Ave , Decatur 30030 , has announced a new time for its Taize` Service, first Sunday, 6:00 p.m., in the sanctuary. December 4 is the upcoming service. Their telephone number is 404-373-2933.

 6.  Atlanta Community Ministries invites you to participate in an Advent Sabbath Rest Silent Retreat Four Hours of Rest with God Monday, December 5, noon to 4 p.m. at Ignatius House, 6700 Riverside Drive on the beautiful Chattahoochee River . Register by pressing the link. Fee is $22.00 and includes a meal and materials. Questions or scholarship needed? Call Becky Shoaf, Team Leader at 404-358-7760.

7.  More opportunities to take the Mental Health First Aid Training. Learn how to help someone who is developing a problem or experiencing a crisis. Training costs are $155 per person ($125 for students). Each participant receives certification in Mental Health First Aid (valid for 3 years), a manual, and other resources, and lunch each day. Winter two-day courses will be held on Dec. 6 and 8, and Jan. 10 and 12, and Feb. 9 and 10 at Kirkwood United Church of Christ. For more information or to register for a course, go to www.hoperesourcesonline.com or contact Kathryn Bryan atKathryn@hoperesourcesonline.com or 404-919-5179.

 8. Our friends at the National Domestic Worker Alliance are organizing an unusual campaign. If you have felt concern about how our decisions on immigration are impacting families you will want to read about this initiative to ask children and youth to write letters about why families should be able to stay together. http://www.webelongtogether.org/wish
 9. Toiletries, especially deodorant and toothpaste, are in short supply at the Clothes Closet at Holy Comforter's Friendship Center. To help, contact Matthew at 404-627-6510 or HCfriendshipcenter@bellsouth.net. Holy Comforter, an RCCA member, is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta among people who are marginalized by mental illness and poverty.

World AIDS Day Programs

1. DeKalb County Board of Health's Ryan White Early Care Clinic and their community partners celebrate World AIDS Day with a program featuring noted speakers and a performance by AfriSalsa, December 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free HIV Testing will take place at DeKalb Addiction Clinic, 455 Winn Way , from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.

2. Service of Healing and Hope featuring Voices of Atlanta will be held at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church on World AIDS Day,Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m. Rock Spring Church is locate at 1824 Piedmont Ave , Atlanta 30324 . The entire community is invited.

3. The Museum of Design Atlanta has special programming for World AIDS Day, December 1. Running now until the end of the year, exhibits include Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Posters and selected panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. In commemoration of the day, MODA will be open for 24 hours straight, from midnight on November 30 to midnight on December 1. Regular museum admission will be charged with a portion of the proceeds going to AID Atlanta and the NAMES Project. Commemoration will include poetry readings, a lecture about the quilt, dance and musical performances, and much more.

4. Greater than Aids is a national movement responding to the AIDS crisis in the U.S. You can order free World AIDS Day materials this week from their website.

The two  events that interest me the most are the training for mental health first aid and the work for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.   What events interest you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

October Books

I Hate You-Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerome J. Kreisman and Hal Straus – I recently underwent psychological testing and while it did NOT say I have BorderlinePersonality Disorder (BPD), it did say that I have a lot of BPD traits.  And I mean a lot, so I decided to read up on it.  This book is considered the leading reference for helping people understand BPD.  Although full of much useful information, it is very easy to read.  While reading it, I resonated with much that was said about being Borderline, especially this line:
A borderline suffers from a kind of ‘emotional hemophilia’; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling.  Prick the delicate ‘skin’ of a borderline, and she will emotionally bleed to death. (p. 12)
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the diagnosis of BPD either from the viewpoint of the patient, a family member or friend, or a clinician.  And I would give this book five stars except for one very key point: the book is extremely offensive towards homosexuality.  Several times when talking about rates of homosexual or bisexuality among people with Borderline, it lists them as a “sexual perversion.”  The book is also not very friendly towards those who are into the kink lifestyle, as it also lists kink as a sexual perversion.  I did not mind so much the kink stereotype, as it is a typical reaction, but the authors really should know better when it comes to homo- and bi-sexuality.  Sexuality is not a perversion, even if it is not between a man and a woman and I am disappointed that the days of mental health professionals thinking that they are not long past.  Unfortunately, I am forced to overlook the book’s homophobia, as the book really does contain a lot of very useful information.

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon – This is one of those rare books where after reading it, you still cannot put it down, because you’re so wrapped up in the emotion and wonder of the story.  This is the story of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic story, The Little Mermaid, only adapted and fleshed out for adults.  This is a truly beautiful story and I almost wept when it was over.  The story does differ slightly from the original, but I am not going to ruin the ending by telling you in what way.  Turgeon’s imagery is mesmerizing and I especially love the grisly shipwreck scene in the beginning.  Except for the music, I have always detested the message behind Disney’s version of the story and I had forgotten that the original Anderson version has a more philosophical bent.  In it, the mermaid is fascinated with humans, because she is intrigued by the fact that humans possess immortal souls and that in marriage, the two human souls intertwine and become whole.  She does not win humanity by merely kissing her human lover, but by getting married, because it is then she will gain her soul-otherwise, she loses her humanity and instead becomes sea foam.  What is especially intriguing about this book, is that Turgeon adds an adult twist by incorporating politics into the story, complicating the relationships between the two princesses and the prince.  She adds moral dilemmas, drama, and issues of justice and war.  Both women are characters to look up to, reminding us that life is much more complicated than the oversimplified Disney version.