Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mental Illness in Society

I was at the Student Union and Recreation Center- The SURC- at school yesterday.  G and I often eat lunch together and then visit the coffee shop to look out the window and sip steaming beverages.  Sometimes we go for a walk and sit in the Japanese garden.  It's nice and peaceful and we know most of the people. I love routine, and I especially love healthy routines.

Yesterday during lunch, a young man stood on the second floor and began screaming about the end of the world, world war three and other such ideas and threatened to jump.  He was clearly having a break of some sort.  I felt bad for him. Two police officers tried to escort him out but he was clearly resistant. I would be too, if I were that scared and disoriented and suddenly being touched and having to do things against my will.  It would be worse if he'd been arrested before.  Probably he has been. In all, it took 6 officers to sort of gently get him to go with them.  I called my friend Joy who is a counselor on campus and she was waiting for a directive to go see him.

It's sad that in our country we have such little concern for mental illness. That the medicine he might need is out of reach because he doesn't have a job or insurance.  He can't get either of those things without medicine.  It's a cycle impossible to break without intervention.  At least 20% of prison inmates suffer from untreated mental illnesses.  We pretend mental illness is awful and stigmatize it or dismiss it so that we don't have to pay for it as a country.  Then we pay for the human cost and the violence and the inevitable incarceration.  It is not humane.

I don't excuse myself either.  I know people with mental illness. I love people who are regularly sick.  Their brains don't work as well or on the same track as others and they have to hide it and feel bad as though there is something unlovable about themselves.  This could so easily be me and in the early spring it is me, depressed at the end of winter and waiting for March to pass.

Every person is lovable and deserving of love and compassion. That young man in the SURC certainly is and if I don't have compassion for him, then perhaps I don't have enough compassion for myself either.

"Why don't they just tase him?" said a young woman.  Others nearby snickered.  He was making a bit of noise and people were nervous.  They just wanted him to go away.  I couldn't help myself.  "Why on God's green earth would you tase someone?  He's not violent."  "Well, it won't hurt him," she said.

Yes, it would hurt him.  When you are tased, even a healthy adult without a pacemaker on a low level, you lose control of your bowels and bladder and it's absolutely humiliating. This man is already being dragged out of a public place by the police. Why add to that?

As a society, we need to stop using violence as our go-to option.  Let's try reason, compassion and perhaps a little understanding.  The campus police were calm and as gentle as they could be, using only minimal force.  I know because I watched the whole time.  I'm glad they didn't hurt him.  He needs help instead.

I don't often moralize on this blog, but I hope today that you are good to yourself, that you show compassion to others, and think of kindness before violence.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Random 5 Friday (On Friday This Time)

It's Friday and time for my five random events or thoughts this week.

1.  I love my students, and this week I got to take a class on a field trip! I'm so grateful for grant funding and pilot courses.  This one was to the Wind Farm just outside of town.  The winds are regularly up to 40 miles per hour.  There is a local sandwhich shop and the owner, Roz, made us paninis (Ok, mine was a gluten free, vegan sammy) and sent along a panini grill. I cooked lunch for everyone.  We did a boatload of writing, had a very interesting, hour-long lecture and got to go inside one of the turbines. These ones are 220 feet tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty and there are 149 in our area.  Good times!

It was so loud, but the noise is mostly wind.  The propellers sound much smoother and are so enormous.  This is the first video I've tried to upload so let me know how it plays.

My Class

Perspective Shot
2.  I am not a morning person.  Repeat: I am not a morning person.  At least I never have been.  Maybe I'm getting old, but I used to regularly stay up until 1, 2, and 3 a.m.  Now I'm yawning by 9:15 and passed out by 9:45.  Eleanor also gets me up pretty early to feed her and give her water. She really likes routine, much like her staff.  I mean owner.  Ah, who am I kidding? I'm pretty much her servant.  It's also getting colder at night and G likes the bedroom cold. There are two comforters on the bed and another blanket.  Eleanor usually sleeps on my feet, but lately I'll wake up to her sleeping under the covers next to me- both of us purrfectly warm.  Happens every winter.  However, since she's taking Methiozole for her thyroid, she's lost the volume of her meow and the volume of her purr has increased.  This wakes up G.  Usually he can get back to sleep but not always.  When that happens, well, let's just say that I woke up extra early this morning to a kitty extraction.  He removed her from the covers, snuggled her and put her back where she belonged.  She huffed off and didn't come back for hours! 

Also, no pictures of that... 

3.  Since I'm not a morning person but a night person forced to function in society and to serve a cat, I spend a little time each week, maybe thrice weekly, at the gym.  I enjoy weightlifting and G does not. He also goes in earlier than I do each day.  So he heads to the shower and I head to the gym around 6:30.  Here's what that looks like in Ellensburg, Washington. 
"So that's what morning looks like!" 
4. Next week is my last week working at my job.  It's been a nerve-wracking and frightening journey since June. I am disappointed that even though I have a contract, my employers just couldn't come through.  I am glad they tried. I'm incredibly sad that this is happening but not sad that we came here.  G feels the same way, and says we'll be just fine.  It's so hard to let go. I'll still be teaching for the English department and they have been so, so supportive! They will put me on full time in January if I'd like, even though the pay is deplorable for people who do not have an annual contract.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all of the love and support I've experienced.  We will get back on track soon. G is terrific at his job and I'm not sure how they ever managed without him. :) He amazes me with his resiliency.  I think it's true that even though my job is falling apart, I am not as worried as I could be.  Everything else is so good.  Work is work, but my life is very fulfilling.  What's life without a little danger, right? 

Yeah, I'd still rather have some security.

5. I cut my hair off today.  I usually cut it in the fall/winter every other year but I just got tired of all the styling and junk you have to do to look good and cut six inches of my hair off.  Pictures to come soon...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Random 5

Ok, so my Random 5 isn't on Friday this week, it's on Sunday.  Ah well, I'll give you your money back on this one!

Anyway, here are 5 random things from my week.

1.  My cat takes selfies.  She's pretty good at it too.
"This is my good side"

2. I took my students Dumpster diving this week.  The trash situation in Washington is amazing.  Of the six or so sites we visited, they were organized, clean, and had recycling for plastic, paper and aluminum.  Not anything like what I saw when doing this in Oklahoma.

3. I gave an assignment for my students to go outside of their comfort zone and try something they have never done before.  I gave a list of 20 or so suggestions. Two of the males in my classes chose to go try on women's clothing and not explain if they were asked.  I am proud of them for choosing to challenge ideas of gender and masculinity. Both reported it being an uncomfortable experience, but worth it.

Not my actual student

4. We went hiking yesterday and really enjoyed it.  For once, the wind wasn't up and the sun was.  It was a beautiful, bright, clear fall day.  We scared up a couple covey of quail (say that twice fast!), and a few little snakes by the marshy areas, and found a hornet's nest.  I loved it- beautiful day and hours of visiting with G. Ellensburg is a wonderful compromise for us; G gets a city and I get away from people by walking 15 minutes in any direction.

Nobody was home

The trails here are well managed.
5. Confession: I put off my grading all weekend and now I have to spend my afternoon grading. Wah! Fortunately, I will have help and inspiration from the usual suspect.
She finds your grammar...lacking. 

There you have it. Hope you had a good weekend and week.  I'm also excited that my niece, who just started college a few weeks ago, has moved out on her own.  I'm a proud auntie, even though she thinks English is her worst subject. <3 br="" nbsp="">