Posts tagged ‘disability’

Shamanism Part 3- Other Words, Other Worlds

I encounter with relative frequency, individuals calling themselves shamans or having an interest in shamanism in both online and offline settings. I suspect most of them are not Evenki or Tungus Siberian folks, though there is the occasional exception. I would humbly propose to other well-meaning defenders of indigenous cultures that screaming cultural appropriation! at these New Age “shamans” is probably not the best approach, especially if they are not actually the ones leading the weekend sweat lodge retreats and publishing books on Shamanic Wiccan Druidry. Instead, let’s have conversations.

Is there a better word to use than shaman?

What are you trying to describe with the word shaman or the adjective shamanic?

A role serving a particular community as a spiritual specialist who does lots of intense spirit work, healing and otherworld journeying?  What tradition do you work within? Are there more culturally specific terms?

A solitary path that involves intense spirit work and otherworld journeying? Spirit worker, mystic, hedge witch/wizard/warlock

A belief/worldview involving plant, animal and other spirits?  Animist

Some Potentially Very Bad Reasons for “Deciding” to be a Shaman include…

Connotations of “Noble Savages” who are more “in touch with nature, what it Truly Means to Be Human etc.” in contrast to This Corrupt Urban Industrialized Disenchanted society that I still don’t want to leave cuz indoor plumbing and electricity are nice… Please unpack your cultural assumption baggage again- some books that might help:

Playing Indian by Philip J. Deloria

Orientalism by Edward Said

Books, articles and classes on postcolonial theory, postcolonial feminism, anthropology, cultural area studies (American Indian, East Asian, African diaspora et al.)

You have what Western medicine classifies as a mental illness, chronic illness or other disability. Therefore, shaman *must be* your spiritual calling!  You have a shaman-sickness! You are specially/chosen or “marked” by the Gods/Spirits/Ancestors! Your suffering, isolation etc. now has meaning and It All Makes Sense Now!  OK, let’s slow down. I admit this one is a little close to home, as I myself qualify as neurologically divergent in various ways (autistic, epileptic, ADHD, etc.) I believe this *does* make my spiritual perceptions and experiences unique and different in various ways, but I’m hesitant to jump to the conclusion that This Means I Must Have a Special Cosmic Destiny!!!

For one, I know plenty of other people with the same conditions as well as other disabilities that do not have any such spiritual inclinations and get pretty darn irritated when they get the “You are Special Child of God” or the other extreme “You are possessed by demons!” crap from people or similar Pagan/New Agey versions- “You’re an Indigo Child”, “You did something bad in a past life, and this is your punishment”. There does seem to be a higher than average number of Pagans with various disabilities and medical conditions, how much of that is self-selection or by Higher/Lower Powers That Be is up for debate.

You are transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual, intersex, asexual, kinky, yada yada…and once again this gives you a magical ticket to shaman-hood. In various cultures- yes shaman-type roles are often associated with gender-bending/blurring/fluidity and sexual “otherness”,  though it’s important to remember that late 20th-21st century Western identities like I just mentioned above are different from alternate sexual and gender identities found throughout human history and contemporary cultures around the world. We can certainly find a lot of inspiration and ideas from these various identities, and learning about them can put into context how we view GLBTQ+ identities in our own cultural settings, and how they can have collective and individual spiritual meanings and roles. But likewise, a gender/sexual/romantic minority might see their identity in a completely secular manner, or see their identity as mostly incidental to their spiritual role and development.

Advertisement

October 5, 2015 at 10:00 pm 4 comments

Disability News Round-Up

I’ve been posting lots of disability-related news on my Facebook, time to share them here!

Neurotribes Examines the History & Myths of the Autism Spectrum– Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism & the Future of Neurodiversity is a new book by Steve Silberman, a non-autistic man who did wild things that many autism organizations were seemingly not capable of doing (sarcasm) – actually interviewing and listening to people with autism and taking us seriously! He suggests that we channel money into actually helping autistic people rather than researching genes & environmental causes to prevent us from existing. Thank you, Steve! (just don’t read the comments- anti-vaxxers)

The Disability Community’s Bechdel Test– Cast disabled actors whenever possible and tell better stories (Note: comparison to the “Bechdel test” is kind of a misnomer) Still, read it anyway.

Dear Disabled Person, We’re Sorry but You’re a Real Inconvenience, Signed (Insert Conference Name Here) A post from last year, but still just as relevant. I’ve often noticed people running events think of accessibility in various forms as an extra, an add-on, like a luxury. When it determines whether someone can come to the event at all, or fully participate, clearly it’s not a luxury! It’s a basic necessity. Though I imagine there are probably ways we can always improve, I think it made a big difference in planning BECAUSE- Bisexual Empowerment Conference, A Uniting Supportive Experience last year that we had multiple people with different types of disabilities & medical conditions both on the planning committee and on the board- Deaf, learning disabled, psychiatric/mental ill folks, chronically ill folks, folks with various type of mobility needs, food allergies etc.

Right to Independent Living for Right to Suicide- Sisters of Frida, disabled women’s group in Britain

I *am* in support of euthanasia as an option in extreme circumstances- such as being towards the end of a terminal illness. However with current situations, both in Britain, the U.S., Canada and pretty much everywhere we need to focus on creating a society in which *life is worth living* for everyone. I think we also need to build more intentional, inter-generational communities- biological nuclear families are only one option. Putting supports in place for independent living is important, but *interdependent living* is I think even more key.

September 10, 2015 at 2:39 am 3 comments

Way of the Sacred Fool Update

Self-Care Spirituality– this is about the theory, the next will be about practice

September 1, 2015 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

RCAD: General Experience with Disability

redefining-disability2

  1.  What is your experience with disability? — Do you have disabilities? Do you have loved ones who live with disabilities? Do you work with people who have disabilities? 5)What are some significant moments/events in your life that connect to disability? — For example, you can talk about hearing a diagnosis for the first time, meeting a role model, learning something important that helped form your understanding of disability, etc.

I discussed my various disabilities in the previous post, in this one I’ll focus on my broader disability awareness. When I was first told about Asperger’s Syndrome, I rejected the label- it sounded too negative. Even so, as a kid, I went to Camp Courageous of Iowa, with kids will all different types of disabilities. Even though, at the time I didn’t really identify as disabled and thought that the doctors were “lying”, I came to better understand and empathize with people with disabilities from that experience. After we moved to Minnesota, I and my brother both attended Camp Discovery or Camp Hand-in-Hand, both run by the Autism Society. Being around other kids with Asperger’s, I felt “normal” for once, and came to see it as a set of differences that are a disability in broader society. I reclaimed it as part of who I was, and made it my own, rather than a file that belonged to doctors and my parents.  These camps are held at sites owned by Courage Center in Golden Valley, and there are sessions for many types of disabilities, for both children and adults. Since there were several sessions for Deaf people, many of the staff are Deaf, and each cabin had a Deaf counselor. We learned some sign language as one of the camp activities, as well as informally, and I know one camper who took classes in ASL at St Paul College and was planning on getting certified to be an interpreter. I’m not sure if she has finished with this training. Anyway, I think the interaction between autistic and Deaf people is particularly interesting, since autistic people tend to have trouble reading and using body language, learning sign is a great way for us to learn body language and emotional expressions more systematically and explicitly, and it has potential as a form of communication for non-verbal autistics. Having adult autistics working at the camp- each cabin had one called a Mentor was also amazing, and I become a Mentor myself and worked as one for 7 sessions over the years.

I attended Augsburg College, which has great programs for students with both physical and learning disabilities. I will talk more about accommodations in a later post.  But anyway, in some respects college was like a grown-up version of going to the Courage camps- I had many friends with various types of disabilities, particularly in Queer & Straight in Unity and we helped each other when needed, and you didn’t feel like you constantly needed to explain yourself and your needs- a little here and there yes, but for the most part these differences were pretty well understood and accepted. All the roommates I had throughout college had Asperger’s or other learning disabilities, and one roommate used a wheelchair. Having him as a roommate definitely raised my awareness of accessibility issues, we’d go around, plan various social activities and realize “Oh, crap, Levi won’t be able to get in to that place!”

Questions from 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness-

6: Do you have a family history of mental illness or mental health issues? (Caelesti’s note: I’m including anything that falls in the DSM-V, such as developmental & learning disabilities)

Ah, yeah you could say that! Especially on my mother’s side- I call the range of symptoms they have “the O’Leary spectrum”. My dad has Attention Deficit Disorder & depression (including Seasonal Affective Disorder) , and my mother has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and a mix of anxiety and depression (I’m not sure of specific labels) My brother is on the autism spectrum, also has ADD and depression. Several of my mother’s siblings and some of their children have various mixes of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive symptoms, AD/HD, and one person is bipolar & dyslexic. My mother’s fraternal twin sister is very calm and clear-headed in an odd contrast to the rest of her siblings!

June 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm 1 comment

Society for Disability Studies and Karen Nakamura

Interesting- account of anthropologist Karen Nakamura’s studies of Deaf/deaf and schizophrenic communities in Japan. Wonder if there’s anything relevant to disability issues in Shinto or Zen Buddhism?

Mad Trans Dreams

I spent the last four days at the Society for Disability Studies conference (SDS). This conference has a lot of serious problems, including high financial cost, plenty of jargon, and ongoing racism. It’s also amazing in some ways, including great people, better accessibility than any other academic conference I have attended, more undergraduate presentations than any other academic conference I have attended, and fantastic conversations. I decided to go mostly because it would give me a chance to hear presentations by people whose work I admire. One of those people is Karen Nakamura.

I first heard Dr. Nakamura speak at a queer disability symposium at NYU a few years ago. I was so excited about her work that I rushed out to buy her most recent book—Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan. In Disability of the Soul, and the accompanying short films, she shared some…

View original post 1,083 more words

June 19, 2015 at 3:24 am Leave a comment

Redefine Disability Awareness Challenge/30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness

  1. redefining-disability2

Image description: Redefining Disability: A Discussion of Pop Culture, Media and Changing Perceptions. Below: Join in at rosebfischer.com  Mottled rainbow background

A fellow blogger, Rose Fischer came up with this comprehensive list of questions about experiences with disability (they can apply to oneself or experiences with friends & loved ones) , inspired by Marcy’s 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge which I have also listed below. I might combine the two sets to some degree but will link back for each individual question. I also might use it for ideas to make my own list- there’s stuff I want to talk about and stuff I’m less interested in, but I have trouble articulating what that is and I might have a better time getting responses and viewpoints from other people if I participate in something like this. Plus Rose is a really cool person, and I want to support her projects as I am able. Some of the questions I’ve already answered to some degree in older posts, so there might be a little repetition. If you want to participate yourself, please link back to her page here and use the banner if possible (She also makes lovely graphic designs!)

  1. What is your experience with disability? — Do you have disabilities? Do you have loved ones who live with disabilities? Do you work with people who have disabilities?
  2. If you have a medical diagnosis, do you see yourself as having a disability? Why or why not? If you don’t have one, how do you view the concept of disability or the people in your life who have them? — I’m trying to be as broad as I can with this set of questions. I know that people have different ideas of what “disability” means and I want to give room for that discussion. Presumably, if you are taking part in this challenge, you either have a medical diagnosis that is typically regarded as a “disability” or you know someone who does.
  3. What have your experiences been with medical treatment and/or therapy been like? Do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings about your experiences?
  4. Do you think that it’s more important to emphasize medical treatment, life skills, community integration, or a combination of these things?
  5. What are some significant moments/events in your life that connect to disability? — For example, you can talk about hearing a diagnosis for the first time, meeting a role model, learning something important that helped form your understanding of disability, etc. (Partial answer here)
  6. Are your activities of daily living affected by disability? If you’re comfortable, share a little of your daily routine.
  7. Is your work or school life affected by disability?  Describe some of these challenges.
  8. Is your family life affected by disability? In what ways?
  9. Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?
  10. Does disability affect you in other ways? If so, how?
  11. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.
  12. Describe a good day in relation to the ways your life is affected by disability.
  13. Describe a bad day.
  14. Describe your baseline, or an average day.
  15. What are the biggest challenges that you face in regard to disability?
  16. What do you think are the biggest challenges that your family members face in regard to disability?
  17. Have you experienced discrimination because of disabilities? Discrimination comes in many forms, from refusal to employ or accommodate a person with a disability to treating that person with disrespect because of it.
  18. Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities?By preferential treatment, I mean situations where you were treated better or differently from your peers even though there was no valid reason.
  19. In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities? — Examples might be that it’s harder for you to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.
  20. Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability? — There is a lot of debate about appropriate language and definitions of disability. Since there’s no widespread agreement, I want to hear as many views as possible.
  21. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.
  22. What would you tell someone who has recently been diagnosed with your disabilities or disabilities that you are familiar with?
  23. What would you like the general public to know about your disabilities, disability in general, or any other relevant subject?
  24. If you could “cure” the disabilities that affect your life, would you? Why or why not?
  25. What things are most important to you when it comes to media representation for people with disabilities or your disability in particular?
  26. What barriers do you encounter in your daily life when it comes to disability?
  27. What is your opinion about forced treatment, and who should decide when a person is or is not capable of making sound decisions about treatment?
  28. Do you or someone you know use adaptive equipment/adaptive technology and how does that affect your life?
  29. Are there ways that disability affects your self perception? — Ideas for this might be self-esteem, confidence, body image, future plans, etc.
  30. Do you see disability as more of an asset or a drawback in your daily life?
  31. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.
  32. At what age were you or your loved ones diagnosed?
  33. How has your life changed as a result of that diagnosis?
  34. How has public perception of disability changed in your lifetime?
  35. How has your perception of disability changed in your lifetime?
  36. How has medical treatment and technology changed in your life time?
  37. Have recent advancements in medicine or technology had any affect on the way you manage your disability?
  38. How would you like to see the medical community change in the future?
  39. What technological advancements are you hoping to see in the future?
  40. Are you involved in any political or social activities related to having a disability? This could be anything from an advocacy group to an informal social gathering to participation in adaptive sports.
  41. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.
  42. Why do you think media representation for people with disabilities is important?
  43. What is your country of origin and are there laws protecting the civil and human rights of people with disabilities there? In what ways are those laws enforced or ignored? (Some discussion here)
  44. What would you change about the way your country or region reacts to disability at a political level?
  45. In what ways does the educational system in your country accommodate students with disabilities or your disability in particular? How can such accommodations be improved?
  46. If you could change one thing about the way that disability is perceived in your culture, what would it be?
  47. Are you involved in any groups or subcultures where perception of your disability is relevant? — Examples might be religious groups, sports teams, a racial or ethnic group that perceives or reacts to disability differently from the “main” culture you belong to.
  48. What is the worst experience you’ve ever had related to disability?
  49. What is the best experience you’ve ever had related to disability?
  50. What other questions or topics that this challenge include? The last two prompts will be free post days, so feel free to include answers to some of them.
  51. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.
  52. Free post day! — Write about anything on your mind today. Any topic that the series doesn’t cover, anything going on in your life related to disability, something you’re excited for, something you’re frustrated about.

30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge

1 What are your mental illness(es) Explain a little

2 How do you feel about your diagnosis?

3 What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?

4  What are the pros and cons of having a mental illness(es) or your specific illness(es)?

5 Do you believe nature (biology/physiology), nurture(environment), a mix, or something else has an impact on mental health?

6: Do you have a family history of mental illness or mental health issues?

7 Do you think there are any triggers or patterns to how your illness(es) effects you?

8:  What age you were diagnosed at?  At what age do you think your symptoms began? (You can make a timeline)

9 What are some of the important events in your life, that may have effected your mental illness(es) for the worse or better? (You can make a timeline)

10 What is the best thing in regards to your mental illness(es)?

11 What is the worst thing in regard to your mental illness(es)?

12: What do you think about your diagnosis in general?  (Some ideas are: stereotypes, commonalities, misdiagnosis, over diagnosis)

13: If you know the criteria of your illness(es) which ones do you think you meet? Or what are your most common symptoms?

14: Have you ever experienced stigma?

15: How has your life been effected by your illness(es)? (Some ideas are: relationships, career, school)

16- How many people are you “out” to with your mental illness(es)? Why?

17: If you could get rid of your mental illness(es) would you?  Why or why not?

18:  What do you wish people would understand in regards to mental illness and/or mental health?

19: Have you ever read a self-help book or a book related to psychology?  What is your opinion on them?  If you have read them do you have a favorite?

20: Where do you get your support?

21: Many people say stress triggers symptoms, do you agree or disagree?

22: What is your opinion on medication used to treat mental illness(es)?

23 What is your opinion on therapy? (It can be any type, some examples are: group therapy, talk therapy, social skills training, exposure therapy, ERP,DBT, CBT, ACT,  marital counseling, and many more)

24 What is your opinion on alternative treatments or treatments that aren’t commonly used? (Some examples are: EMDR, hypnotherapy, herbal or vitamin supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy, art, music, or recreational therapy, ECT, VNS, TMS, DBS)

25 What is your opinion on forced/coercion in mental health treatment? Can be legal (law enforcement or psychiatric holds) or a “helping” friend/family member.

26: How is your day-to-day life effected by your mental illness(es)?

27  Explain a “good” day.

28 Explain a “bad” day.

29 What are a few of your goals regarding your mental health.

30 What does recovery mean to you?

June 19, 2015 at 1:01 am 3 comments

Experiences with Vocational Rehabilitation in MN

Often when I tell people I am looking for work, and they know I have disabilities, they will suggest that I try Vocational Rehabilitation. I have done that twice. I don’t think I am going to go thru with it again, though perhaps it might be more useful as more money is now going to be spent on Voc Rehab rather than on sheltered workshops. (This article is not entirely forthcoming, but comments on that later…)

The first time I applied for V.R. was in 2009, after I had interned for the Al Franken campaign in 2007-2008, and my next gig wasn’t until next November as a holiday temp worker at Jo-Ann Fabric.

Some things I wonder about Voc Rehab are: Do they ever talk to experts on the labor market?  Or rather the labor market as it really is (as in not the stats that say “X number of jobs were created last year in industry Y” but it doesn’t mention that many of them were part-time jobs that don’t provide benefits. The Social Security people do, as they had a labor/vocational expert testify that I was capable of being a hotel maid, package handler etc. Wow, guys- thanks for the vote of confidence, I had no idea I was able to do such amazing things! *sarcasm* (Applying for SSDI was NOT my idea, by the way) I’m pretty sure the S.S.A. doesn’t talk to state V.R. people because at one time, my counselor told me that she “wasn’t sure I was capable of holding down a job”. At that point, I had been fired *once* and had held various unpaid internships and temporary jobs. But I had experience doing stuff, even if it was kinda random. Like no other 20-something year-old ever! (Sarcasm) I am not sure what this lady was expecting that would make me more employable- she was a VR counselor after all, didn’t she have tons of people with no work experience? Or who had been fired from multiple jobs? Or criminal records? Or simply guilty of the “crime” of being “too old”?

Anyway, the way it works is, you apply and submit various documentation that proves your disabilit(ies) Then you meet with a V.R. counselor and they interview and help you work on an employment plan. This can include evaluations of your skills, classes/workshops on interviewing, resume-writing, or if some miracle you can prove that you *really* need it for your super-specific employment plan, you might even get them to pay for training. This last one is highly unlikely if you are college-educated like me. In the realm of V.R., I was supposed to be an “easy” case, with my education and comparatively mild disabilities- though how “mild” they are doesn’t really matter, if you are competing with a zillion non-disabled people with better resumes and better social skills. I wanted to work in the non-profit field, in some type of entry-level job. I applied for lots of clerical positions. In retrospect I realize that clerical jobs are not really a good fit for me, but hindsight is 20/20. The V.R. person will often refer you to another person who works for an outside organization (a “vendor”) to help you with your actual job search, because the V.R. person is just there to supervise the case in general, and they have a zillion other cases. The first time I tried V.R. they referred me to an organized called HIRED. The lady who worked with me was very nice, though her expectations that I’d be able to easily find a job proved rather unrealistic. I also feel like people who work in nonprofits themselves are more easily impressed by a resume filled with volunteer work. People who do actual hiring don’t seem to be.  In the end I had to leave the program, because I was dealing with health & family issues.

The second time I tried V.R. was in 2012. This time I applied because I had learned of an organization called AutismWorks, that as you can guess by the name specifically works with adults on the autism spectrum. What a relief! I would not have to waste a bunch of time explaining my version of autism. I was already working part-time for Erik’s Ranch, but was still considered eligible. What was odd is that I was later kicked off both V.R. and Medical Assistance after I picked up a *temporary* job that was *up to* 15 hours a week, and was estimated to last a month or two. (November-December) But apparently that made me SOOO wealthy and successful that I didn’t their help anymore. *sarcasm* This job didn’t lead to anything else, it was for a very small company and they just needed help on one project. In retrospect I could’ve challenged both of these. But I have a hard time dealing with bureaucracy just getting the paperwork done right and turned in on time. And it was the worst time of year for my stress & depression- December. Merry Fecking Christmas! But yeah- word to the wise, even if it’s hard & stressful, if they kick you of Voc Rehab for a temporary gig, challenge it. Get a letter from the employer saying that it is temporary, what it pays etc. If the employer has told you that this position is unlikely to lead to another permanent one, and he/she is not actively referring you to other clients or something, include that in said letter. Documentation is always your friend, when it comes to disability bureaucracy.

Anyway back to the actual process with Autism Works- they may have changed how they work since then, as they’ve grown and expanded, but this is how I did it then. They did various evaluations including an adult autism quotient (exact name I’m unsure of..) We did an interesting exercise with a social worker who specializes in “community based social work” in other words she does it from the perspective of how the person relates to their community, not just as an isolated individual which I thought was an awesome idea! Basically I went around with her and Greg my AW counselor and showed them around the Augsburg campus and Dinkytown and talked about my experiences and what stuff was important to me and why.

I thought about working with kids with disabilities, and applied for a bunch of aide positions at various schools. I did get a couple interviews- the one I remember seemed out of my league when they asked me about my “pedagogical philosophy” or something. I actually *know what that means* but I..don’t really have one. On paper this are pretty entry level positions but in reality with how teaching jobs are constantly being cut, I have to compete with actual trained teachers.

I did lots of informational interviews with nonprofit people I knew. It’s true that info interviews are a good way to get experience interviewing in a less stressful setting- because you are asking the person questions, and so you don’t have to prove yourself and all that. Greg was thinking that what works well for people on the spectrum is for someone in a company to recognize your abilities and create a position specifically for you. (That sounds rather pipe-dreamy to me!) Info interviews, networking to more people to interview, and yah you’re supposed to follow up with them, and maybe they’ll “keep you in mind” when something opens up and such. I also haven’t seen much of people moving up within the nonprofit realm, I mostly see people who worked in corporate and then “fell into” it, or they ran into their old college roommate blah blah. I talked to various former co-workers at my campaigns and they seemed to have no actual advice for me- just “volunteer forever” and “keep doing what you’re doing” which is…what? If I did a lousy job, or hell they just plain don’t remember me much and don’t really care, and don’t want to help me find work, then just go out and say it. Stop pretending. Otherwise it’s just as much of a charade as any other job interview.

So anyway, I’ve gotten to the point where I think I need to create some sort of mini-Conspiracy to Employ Semi-Awkward People with Goofy Brains…it can consist of people with said brains (whether officially pronounced by a shrinky-dink or not) who are either working, looking for work, run a business, as well as people with other disabilities or no disability who think employing people with interesting minds sounds like a cool idea. People who I’ve identified as Giving a Crap, not just random people I know who just pretend to Give a Crap.  I want to talk to people who think I’m a cool person who’s capable of doing cool stuff, and aren’t all uptight about whether I have this perfect resume with no gaps or a cheerleader personality. (well maybe cool isn’t the right word…but something!) Anyone who has an idea for a better name, feel free to suggest!

April 16, 2015 at 2:34 am 2 comments

Self-Care Virtues: Self-Advocacy

Of all the Nine Noble Virtues, the one that I most wanted to re-write/re-frame from a disability-inclusive perspective was self-reliance. Even from a historical view-point, it does not really make sense. A tribe or village or household had to rely on itself but an individual did not have to be completely self-reliant unless they were utangard– cast out from society and left on their own. This “virtue” seems to be more of an influence from extreme individualist capitalism than ancient Norse culture.

The Greek Delphic Maxim of “Know Yourself” also comes to mind. From what I understand this is often seen as “know your limitations, know that you’re human, mortal, imperfect”. This sort of idea is a lot more emphasized in Christianity, but in European polytheist traditions we often go to the opposite extreme of proving how awesomely heroic we can be, how many mystical, magical powers we can develop and so forth.

Self-advocacy is a movement among people with disabilities, particularly developmental/intellectual disabilities. Self-advocacy means explaining your disability or health condition to others, and advocating for accommodations, equipment or other considerations that you need.  When growing up as a child with a disability, parents and others do advocacy for them (well hopefully they do!) but as a child gets older, he/she/zie needs to learn to effectively self-advocate for themselves. Non-disabled people do self-advocacy as well- a pregnant woman might ask for accommodations in her working conditions, a left-handed student might ask for a left-handed desk, and so forth.

Being a self-advocate is different from being a disability rights activist, because it is only asking for getting your own needs met, and not trying to change broader social structures to make society accessible to all. However, being an effective self-advocate can be a great step towards becoming an activist.

Resources:

History of the Self-Advocacy Movement– Interesting that it started in Sweden!

Speak Up: Your Guide to Self-Advocacy

Self-Advocacy: What’s That?

October 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Depression/Mental Health Pagan Links

When searching for articles, posts and books on Paganism and depression/mental illness, I found so much stuff that I decided to make another post to include these resources, in addition to the general Pagan/Disability resources post. I will make another post about distinguishing mental illness from shamanism/visionary/magical experiences etc.

Pagans, Mental Health & Abuse– extra kudos for discussion of related social justice issues involving shame, access to care etc.

Pagans in Recovery by Isaac Bonewits- Old essay- numbers of people with “issues” may be exaggerated…for one I will say as an Aspie, I have detected a noticeable number of Pagans who may be unlabeled Aspies, but I don’t think *most* Pagans have Asperger’s/autism.

Pagan Therapy & Counseling– blog last updated in 2013, but still has good info

Dealing with DepressionExhaustion, Bees and Depression by Nimue Brown This is advice for people who have depressed friends/family members in their lives- very helpful and not specific to Paganism, the second is social commentary. I also thought she wrote a book about depression, but I can’t seem to find mention of it!

Finding Motivation– (and other posts) by Nornoriel Lokason on the Staff of Asclepius blog (Depression & PTSD)

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Level of Skepticism by Sarah Anne Lawless

“Almost everyone in the Pagan community has suffered from a mental illness at some point in their life because 20% of the general population (in Canada) has had mental health problems during their lifetime.” Err, not sure about that statement. It’s a lot though.

“Sometimes the (online and physical) Pagan Community is too accepting and accommodating of everyone’s own personal level of crazy. Because we are on the fringe, many think we have to accept anyone who identifies as one of us and take them as they come.  Sometimes we are too afraid to tell someone they are crazy (this is especially hard to do when the person in question is in a leadership role). After all, who is a Pagan (believing in many gods, spirits, and magic) to tell someone they’re nuts or are taking something too far? But when no one calls a stop or calls bullshit, then things do get taken too far and people with real mental illnesses end up being accepted as sane.”

My “primary” line with other people is when they want me involved in their “weird”. What’s my motivation? If people want to involve me in their personal weird/kink… they need to provide a reason for me to care.”- comment from Scylla

I feel that way too. I meet a lot of Pagans that are *so relieved to be accepted* that they feel the need to share everything (Hell, I’ll admit, I’ve probably been guilty of this at times too!) I’m pretty open-minded and accepting and non-threatening seeming so often I get Way TMI pseudo-therapy session info-dumps from people I just met. Umm, thanks for sharing. Some of these people just really need a friend. I understand that but *insta-friendship* share all your personal info at once is a good way to scare people off, not keep friends. It also leaves a person very vulnerable to manipulative people. Boundaries are a thing a lot of us need to work on.

Pagan & Crazy by Alexandra Chauran- “My Pagan path has led me to British Traditional Wicca, which can be a complicated route to follow when mentally ill.  Not only do I deal with the psychological issues inherent in any religious practice that involves the supernatural, but Traditional Wicca requires that I work with others who are historically cautious about the company they keep. In fact, Ed Fitch wrote a document titled “So You Want To Be A Gardnerian” that implies that the ideal prospective coven member is, “not currently in psychological therapy.” Coven of the Wild Rose does not accept people who take psychotropic medications or require therapy and writes as a footnote to the above document that, “if you cannot function as a fully responsible adult individual in the mundane reality then you cannot function effectively in the magical/mystical realities and should not even attempt to do so until you have all your oars in the water and they are working all in proper tandem.”- last part in bold seems reasonable to me.

I can understand if very disciplined, focused magical groups are more restrictive in their membership, personally I think people with mental health issues that are getting treatment and have been stable for a certain length of time should be included, a similar rule could be in place for former/recovering addicts & alcoholics. I think excluding anyone who takes SSRIs and such and/or sees a therapist now and then but otherwise lives a stable life is ridiculous.

August 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

Myth of the Perfect Social Justice Ally

Thanks to the internet, there are lists of “How to Be a Good Ally” directed towards members of many different social advantaged groups: whites, heterosexuals, men, middle/upper class people, able-bodied, neurotypical, and cisgendered (that’s non-transgendered) people. While that’s fine and dandy and many of them do give good advice, I still don’t call myself an ally. There is way too much baggage attached to it, and activism is already hard enough!

There is myth of the perfect ally held among white & class privileged people, and its why I find white anti-racism groups to be hostile to newcomers, certain exceptionally enlightened white people think they can do no wrong and jump on other people when they mess up. Good intentions are no excuse for ignorance, prospective allies are told in every possible type of ism-fighting group. It’s not my responsibility to educate you, use Google if you have a question!

Now, I can understand impatience and distrust from people of various non-dominant groups. Many of them who have fought long and hard in the trenches know there is no magical exceptionally enlightened cadre of white folks, men, heterosexuals etc. I realize as a person with various privileges, I will have to prove myself again and again, and some people will never completely trust me. I don’t blame them. But it is extra hypocritical and annoying to get this from people who have the same privileges- and often more privilege than me. What’s so special about them? They went to the right grad school and studied with Cornell West or Judith Butler? They’re teaching in the South Side of Chicago? They’re good anarchist vegan Buddhists? They betrayed whatever dominant group they belong to, and have suffered mightily for it?  Please. Whatever they’ve done, they too are the product of a racist/classist/everything else-ist society, and they continually need to unlearn that. They’re only one slip-up away from losing that book contract or speaking gig about diversity issues. Gee, that sounded kind of bitter. Yes I admit that maybe I’m a little jealous of career activists. But my point stands- there is no perfect ally!

I suppose if I didn’t belong to any non-dominant/oppressed groups, this empathy would be a lot harder for me. But I know many times, reaching out to non-autistic people, and even autistic people who have a negative Autism Speaks view autism, is hard. I don’t have the luxury of brushing them off and telling them to “just Google it” when they ask me questions that seem ignorant. I try to meet people where they are. Sometimes I get frustrated with people who claim to support people with autism but go about it in (I think) the wrong way.  But I try to set aside my anger and explain how I feel.  And I have to deal with difficulties of communicating with a neurotypical each time I do that.

Every “ism” is different, every person who experiences and benefits in different way from each “ism” is different. We all have our journey we have to take in understanding that. Some people won’t get very far on those journeys, but they won’t even be able to start if we won’t talk to them.

August 8, 2014 at 1:21 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


Calendar

December 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category