Chronic Help: How to Be There for a Friend With a Chronic Illness

This is a wonderful article by Lexi, detailing easy things that friends or family can do to help those with chronic illnesses. It can be a daunting task to figure out where or how to help, but she offers some simple ways to help you get started. I’m so very appreciative of Lexi’s continued, valuable input. Thank you and enjoy!

by Lexi Dy

Chronic Illness

When you have a loved one suffering from a chronic illness, you want to help
in any way you can. By trying things like helping them get to doctor’s appointments,
providing home upkeep, and designing a stress-free home and work environment, you
can help your friend or family member and create a stronger bond. The following guide
presented below by Love.Karma.Food can help.

Help them get to doctor’s appointments

Your loved one may not be able to drive themselves to the doctor. When this is the
case, offer to give them a lift. Head over the night before to make sure all preparations
are ready. Make sure you have all the right forms of ID, a medication list complete with
dosages, medications needed during the appointment, snacks, and a change of clothes.

Arrive to pick up your loved one early, but don’t rush them out the door. Ensure
everything you arranged the night before is ready to go, then head out. As AARP
explains, you should be prepared to stay in the waiting room during the appointment;
your loved one may want privacy.

Help with home upkeep

Offer to help with cleaning (at least) once a week. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean
every time, but do wipe down surfaces like countertops, appliances, and mirrors. Clean
and disinfect the shower, tub, and toilet. Do laundry, especially bedding and towels.
Make sure that all of these items are on your loved one’s list and tackle anything else
they might ask you to do.
Some tasks will require the assistance of a professional. For instance, getting up on a
ladder to clean the gutters always seems easier than it actually is. Enlist the help of
trained gutter cleaners who have the right tools and knowledge and can inform you of
any issues. This is a task you usually only need to do twice a year depending on your
location.

Help them find assisted living

Deciding to move to an assisted living facility is a major life decision, and it’s important
to consider all of the pros and cons beforehand. If your friend has decided this is the
best course of action, spend some time helping them find a facility that suits their needs.
There are many websites dedicated to listing area assisted living facilities throughout
Houston. Not only can you check ratings and look at the services they provide
(transportation, pet-friendly, hospice, etc.), but you can also request pricing information
to see if the facility fits their lifestyle, medical needs, and budget.

Always invite them out

AgingCare notes that you shouldn’t let your loved one be defined by their condition.
Treat them as you would anyone else and include them in activities whenever possible.
Simply put, always invite them and don’t be offended if they don’t come. Let them know that it’s OK if they can’t make it and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Don’t, however, get the idea that if they came to more events that they’d be “better.” Don’t try to fix them. A little encouragement to join in is fine, but don’t push too hard.

Be empathetic and compassionate

More than anything, you want to be an excellent listener. Don’t just sit and nod, really
listen. Avoid interjecting; it’s important that your loved one knows they can vent to you
without interruption. Ensure they know that you’re there because you love them, not
because you feel obligated. Validate their concerns; if they’re worried they didn’t
complete enough work that day, just note how frustrating that must be. Don’t offer
suggestions or try to pep them up. They’re allowed to have a bad day like anyone else.

Help design a stress-free home environment

The state of one’s home can have a major impact on mental well-being. Start by
removing clutter, especially in places like the bedroom, kitchen, and home office. Items
needed the most should be out in the open, while items that are used less should be
tucked away. Further, make the most of natural light.
If your loved one works from home, it’s especially important to make their office a calm, relaxing space. Ensure their technology is up-to-date, particularly if you’re very tech-savvy and you know shortcuts. Check that their desk chair is ergonomic and comfortable.
For some, an unsupportive chair can increase pain from their illness.
Supporting a loved one with a chronic illness is vitally important to your relationship.
Just be there for them. Whether you transport them to doctor’s appointments, help them
find assisted living facilities that suit their specific needs, invite them out regularly, show empathy and compassion, and design a stress-free work and home environment, you can show your support and love.

Photo by Unsplash

Life Changing Career Shifts for Women

When the Thomson Reuters Foundation collaborated with the Rockefeller Foundation to poll women at work in G20 economies about the challenges women face in the workforce, they found that the issues women are most concerned about are work-life balance, equal pay, harassment, career opportunities, and the choice between children and career. During the global coronavirus pandemic, women were disproportionately impacted by lockdowns that shuttered non-essential businesses and closed schools. This was especially true for the high percentage of women considered essential workers who found themselves without child care and socially distanced from their previous support systems. If you’re looking for some ways to enhance your life and improve your prospects in Houston, TX, consider starting your own businesses, seeking more sustainable careers, and pursuing promotions. 

Starting Your Own Business

Women entrepreneurs have greater control and flexibility in their personal and professional lives. The first step for starting your own business is to create a business plan. Business plans increase your chances of success, help you get funding, and guide the path of your business from start-up to expansion. Your business plan should describe your company, its structure, the funding needed, and its financial projections. Think of your business plan as a tool that projects the future of your business over the next three to five years in the areas of sales, marketing, pricing, and operations. Once you have a business plan, your next steps may include finding a mentor in your business industry, hiring a business coach, networking within your industry, and searching for grants and loans.

Seeking a More Sustainable Career

As your life evolves, career choices that seemed promising when you were young may not be a good fit for your life as your passions and priorities change with time and circumstance. Mid-course career corrections may not be easy but they can be incredibly rewarding if executed with a growth mindset. A great way to get started on a new career path is to take classes or volunteer in your field of interest while evaluating how well the change will help you meet your goals. Researching the salary, culture, and lifestyle of the new career path can help you make the leap with confidence.

Pursuing a Promotion

Many professional women react to the challenges that women face in the workplace with the desire to be the change they want to see in their chosen industries. The way to do this is to get promoted and gain the authority to make policy changes that support and uplift working women. For many women, that means going back to school for their bachelor’s degree or postgraduate degree, as well as taking continuing education courses and certification classes. Going back to school can sharpen your skills and enhance your career prospects while giving you a competitive edge over others vying for the same position. 

Finding Work-life Balance

Work-life balance is critical in the lives of women because women typically have many people who depend on them for care and support. This includes children, parents, extended family, or the community. For another example of how women can adjust their lives to meet challenges, check out the LoveKarmaFood blog.

Image via Pexels

Image via Pexels



Spoonie, Interrupted

(a lil’ bit)

Hello, everyone out there! It has been crazy here, as always, and here we are already looking at the end of July! Where does the time go? There are 92 days till Halloween (as of today, 7.26.22) and 152 days till Christmas! Before you know it, 2023 will be here! Sometimes, I’m bewildered at how quickly time flies by. I remember when I was a wee girl how the days would just drag on and on. Now, I feel like I need a lasso to reign it in. My kids are all grown now and living their lives, even though two remain at home and I have a grandbaby! It’s nuts. I try to purposefully slow things down in my mind and savor every memory.

a person sitting at a table with halloween decorations and a bucket of candies
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

Let’s see, where to begin… Alright. In spoonie land, things have been meh. My recent rheumy appointment has at least supported my belief that pain management could be doing more, but the question remains, will they do more? This is not to imply in any way that my doctor is bad or doesn’t listen to me. He’s quite wonderful, and I’ve referred the family to him. However, amid this ongoing opioid war, my doctor, along with many other doctors, has taken a more conservative approach when it comes to managing pain. We regularly do injections, nerve blocks, and radiofrequency ablation for both my S.I. joint and my neck. I can, and will, bring him the recommendations of my rheumy, but it is difficult to say what he might do. I’ve been very open to procedures of minimal invasiveness. I have two spinal stimulators and I take fairly low doses of opioids. If my rheumy feels like there’s more room to go up on meds, I would hope he is open to listening.

My pain is from both the R.A., Ankylosing Spondylitis, disc degeneration, and failed S.I. joint fusion and failed spinal fusion, but also from fibromyalgia, which is more soft tissue related. There are multiple areas plagued by pain, and I know one pill can’t cover everything, so I’m hoping there is something out there (or a combination of some things) that could help reduce pain. I even brought up at my last appointment the possibility of an intrathecal pump, which would allow the medication to bypass my liver. Pain meds and medications, in general, can be taxing on the liver to filter out, so if there is something that could help alleviate the strain, it would be something to look at seriously. We’ll see what the future has in store for us.

In other news, I’ve also been watching my grandbaby. Mama went back to work and I’m happily watching him so she doesn’t have to put him in daycare. Unfortunately, both of them contracted COVID, and although they are doing well, she hasn’t been able to work and I haven’t seen the little guy. I miss him terribly, and I’m looking forward to being able to spend some time with him again. It’s amazing how quickly you become attached to their little souls. I’ve always loved children and growing up as an only child, I knew I wanted a big family. I wanted to see the relationships between siblings, and I wanted to teach them that, no matter what, they would always have each other’s backs. And they have. Now, I have this little grandbaby-a boy-and I get to share his life in this different role as Mimzy. I’m looking forward to being there for him, giving him a safe space where he can learn and grow. I know all his aunties will be there for him, keeping an eye on him and gently steering him back onto a path of goodness should he veer off the path. I know that they will defend him but also respect his space to grow and experience life and make his own decisions. I’m sure it will be quite an adventure for everyone.

My grandson and his favorite pacifier.

My other “crazy” has been because of mental illness. My anxiety and OCD have been quite active and difficult to manage. This has been affecting my dermatillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) that I struggle with. I hate doing it, but sometimes I don’t even know that I am doing it, which makes it difficult to break the cycle. One of my BRFB is morsicatio linguarum—where I bite the sides and tip of my tongue until it bleeds. I can remember doing this as far back as I can remember. It was a way of diverting the pain of childhood bullying and dealing with anxieties. I never knew what body-focused repetitive behaviors were until maybe five years ago, and only a year ago did I dare bring it up to my psychiatrist so I could deal with it. It was shameful and embarrassing. I didn’t know anyone else who did it, and then I began reading about others who struggled with the same thing, and it made me feel “normal.” I use quotes because the picking or biting may not be normal, but I am. I am just a human being who has problems like so many others, and this is comforting. I’m trying to work through breaking the cycle of biting, but it’s difficult. Oral BFRBs are one of the most difficult to break habits from because your lips, cheeks, and tongue are all accessible to your teeth. But I am gentle with myself and forgive myself when I do it, because most of the time, I don’t even realize it. If you think about it, I’ve had this problem for 40 years. It’s not going to stop overnight.

It may seem that I have abandoned blogging, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think my previous and more consistent posts way simply be more random. I plan on working on things around watching the baby and everything else I need to do, so be patient with me, please! There are more posts coming!

I am 1 in 4

**TRIGGER WARNING**

protest against roe v wade overturning in los angeles ca
Photo by Derek French on Pexels.com

I’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster since Roe vs. Wade was overturned, swinging from white-hot fury to inconsolable grief, and it’s been difficult to put pen to paper and find the words I want to share with you. I never thought I would ever have to (or need to) share my abortion story with anyone (except maybe a few). I am not famous or influential; I am simply a woman like you.I am 1 in 4 women who have had to make that decision, and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You aren’t an evil person. You are human and your body is your own to make any decision that is right for you. 

My choice was based on having two children already and being in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I was using birth control. However, 1.) chronic illness and antibiotic use may have caused the birth control to be ineffective, and 2.) I suspected my (then) husband of tampering with my birth control. The second time I got pregnant was a result of my husband raping me before I finally left him. I had no idea at the time that a husband could rape his wife, but I knew that if I had another child, I would have no other choice than to stay with him. I had no higher education and no means of caring for my children on my own without his help, and I made the painful decision to terminate in the best interest of the children I already had. 

people woman street new york
Photo by Emma Guliani on Pexels.com

Women shouldn’t have to explain themselves, justify themselves, or prove to anyone that their decision is the best one for them. She is the one who has to bear the duration of the pregnancy, bring that child into the world, and possibly raise that child until they are 18 years old. No argument against abortion makes sense to me. Women are not vessels to incubate a child until birth because it fits their moral or religious beliefs. You cannot force a woman to bear a pregnancy to term because you think it is best for her. We are human and the overturning of this decision has painfully reminded all women that we are less than. That we do not know what is right for us and, worst of all, that our body is not our own. 

This is emotional and even as I write this, my fingers almost unable to keep up with my ping-ponging thoughts, I am forced to take a breath. My third abortion, or D&C as it was called, happened because of an ectopic pregnancy after my third child was born. Had it been a viable pregnancy, it would never have been terminated, but ectopic pregnancies that have gone untreated can sometimes cause death. I was lucky to have had the pain that brought me to the doctor, or I might not have had my last child. But I will never forget the pain of that loss. 

As women, we are given the gift of bringing life into the world, but it should be a life that is wanted or a life that you are willing to grow until you give it to someone else to love and cherish. Pregnancy should be on our terms. No one should be forced to endure the pregnancy of incest or rape unless they want to give that life to another. No woman should lose her life to a botched abortion because they didn’t have access to one close by. There are millions of reasons why a woman should be able to terminate her pregnancy, but the biggest one is: Bodily Autonomy

road people art new york
Photo by Emma Guliani on Pexels.com

What is bodily autonomy, you ask? It is the power of the individual, in this case, women, to make decisions about their bodies without coercion or the fear of violence. These decisions can be about what they are comfortable doing with sexual partners, husbands, contraceptives, and as basic as health care. Forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy that she is not willing to sustain, or that is unviable, goes against recognized human rights. It is beyond cruel to force a woman to breed against her will. It is beyond cruel to tell her that she has to travel to another state to have the procedure done when she may not have either the support or resources to get her there. It is beyond cruel to force upon her the responsibility of a child, who will impact everything from her ability to continue school to her earning potential. The argument that she could give the baby up for adoption and choose life is grand, but there is still the gestation of that baby in her womb. Does she even have the resources available to care for herself or to see a doctor regularly? Will she be safe, living on the streets, or forced to be in an unsafe environment because she has nowhere else to go? Will she be mentally capable of letting the baby go after it is born, if adoption is an option? Making the callous decision to restrict women’s access to abortion health care will have long lasting consequences for the women of this country. 

Mental Illness: The Myth That All Mass Murderers Are Mentally Ill

Mental illnesses include a whole range of different conditions that vary in degree of severity from mild to severe. Within this are two broad categories that can be used to describe these conditions: 

Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI) 

AMI encompasses all recognized mental illnesses. 

SMI is a smaller and more severe subset of AMI. 

So, for clarity, AMI is defined as “a mental disorder, behavioral disorder or emotional disorder. Those within the AMI category may have disorders that impact their lives mildly, moderately, and even severely. Those that fall within SMI are defined as having a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairments, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.1 NIMH

School Cross Walk Sign

Is someone who commits murder, or mass murder, mentally ill? If they do not have a history of mental health issues or behavioral issues that fall into a mental health category, are they mentally ill? Do we look at all the people who have murdered anyone and just say, “Oh, well, they must have been mentally ill?” It makes me simultaneously angry and frightened that our legislatures chalk up tragedies like our most recent in Uvalde, Texas, to a “mental health issue.” It angers me because the idea that all mass murderers must be mentally ill is simply false. 

It is true that severe mental illnesses are found more often among mass murderers. About one in five are likely psychotic or delusional, according to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century. The figure for the general public is closer to 1 percent. But the rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder.” 2Are Mass Murderers Insane

In an article by Michael Friedman LMSW, in MedPage Today, “People with mental illness rarely commit homicide, and few homicides are committed by people with mental illness. About 5% of homicides are committed by people with psychotic conditions.3 Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder People with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of a crime and far more likely to take their own life, than the reverse.

Looking closer to home, and as someone with mental illness, I find the statements of Governor Abbott [Texas], to be particularly distressing, misleading, and perpetuating the myth that the mentally ill are violent. It is upsetting to me that the only time the conditions of our mental health system are brought up is to bolster his agenda that stricter gun laws won’t save lives and that his concern for mental health issues is solely a diversionary tactic. No, it’s not only upsetting to me, it’s horrifying. Horrifying because there are many, many reasons to fix the mental health system, many more reasons than the violence of a mass shooting and not just in Texas. For example: 

4Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder

Has Governor Abbott done anything to help the mental health system of Texas? No. “Texas ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.” Oh, and by the way, “in April he slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs.” But, according to Governor Abbott, “We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health.” We do. But slashing $211 million is not the way. 5 Abbott Calls Texas School Shooting Mental Health Issue

Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

It is also my opinion that chalking up an individual’s twisted thought process which leads them to kill 19 innocent children and two teachers to being mentally ill, diminishes his culpability in this heinous crime while at the same time stigmatizing the mentally ill. Why? Because claiming mental illness implies the person is insane. They didn’t know what they were doing. It is not right and it is not fair. Not only to those who suffer mental illness (which already bears the weight of stigma attached) but to those grieving parents attempting to make sense of what happened and all those other families who still grieve the loss of a family member taken too soon. 

Extensive case history shows that mass shooters don’t just suddenly break — they decide. They develop violent ideas that stem from entrenched grievances, rage, and despair. In many cases, they feel justified in their actions and regard killing as the sole solution to a problem. They arm themselves and prepare to attack, choosing where and when to strike. Often this is a highly organized and methodical process.” 6 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

Our minds can’t help but try to unravel and understand what can bring another human to this point. We look at it and think there is no way this person could be thinking with a clear and rational mind, and yet…if not suffering mental illness, what? I believe we have to look between what is normal and what is mentally ill. That space between, because a person that goes out and kills indiscriminately can’t be “mentally healthy.” 

metal and wooden swing in park
Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

There are warning signs that can be looked for in some, such as: “threatening comments, personal deterioration, patterns of stalking and other aggression, as well as fixating on guns, graphic violence, and previous mass shooters.”  7 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

I believe wholeheartedly with Follman that to make progress it’s, “going to take everything we’ve got: strengthening our nation’s gun laws, quashing a surge in violent political extremism, raising cultural awareness of shooter-warning signs — and, yes, investing in a lacking mental health care system to give troubled people the help they may need before it’s too late.” 8 Mass Shooters Don’t Snap. They Decide To Kill

We can’t just talk anymore. We can’t just offer condolences and prayers. We can’t shake our fists at one another blaming. We can’t hide behind the Second Amendment when innocent people are dying. When our children are dying. Change never came easy. Sometimes it requires sacrifice. Sometimes it hurts. But those families are hurting. And that hurt will never go away.

clear glass candle holder
Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

Sources:

1National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 2022. Mental Illness. [online] Available at: <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

2Carey, B., 2017. Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say (Published 2017). [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/health/mass-murderers-mental-illness.html> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

3,4Friedman, LMSW, M., 2018. Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean Mass Murder. [online] Medpagetoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medpagetoday.com/psychiatry/generalpsychiatry/76884> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

5Hixenbaugh, M. and Siemaszko, C., 2022. Abbott calls Texas school shooting a mental health issue but cut state spending for it. [online] NBC News. Available at: <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/abbott-calls-texas-school-shooting-mental-health-issue-cut-state-spend-rcna30557> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

6,7,8Follman, M., 2022. Op-Ed: Mass shooters aren’t mentally ill people who suddenly snap. They decide to kill. [online] Los Angeles Times. Available at: <https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-05-21/blaming-mental-health-mass-shootings-buffalo> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

How You can help families in Uvalde, Texas.

How to help victims of Texas School Shooting

Texas Elementary School gofundme Shooting Relief

https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/living/story/victims-families-responders-uvalde-community-school-shooting-84967792

Sexual Assault Awareness

**Trigger Warning**

Nearly every 68 seconds, a woman in the United States, is sexually assaulted. Every 9 minutes that victim is a child. However, only 25 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison. [1] 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime [2] and 1 in 3 female victims of completed rape experience it for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17 years of age. About half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance. Nearly a quarter (24.8%) of men in the United States experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime and about 1 in 4 male victims of completed or attempted rape, experienced it between the ages of 11 and 17.  

Rape is a heinous and repugnant act of violence that is not only brutal in the moment but scars a victim for life. It alters their idea of society and people, causing them to distrust those around them. Although that moment is brief in comparison to the multitude of events which shape a person’s life, it remains the one that is seared forever into a survivor’s soul. You remember where you were when it happened, the time of day it was when it happened; you can recall everything with acute clarity that will never vanish from your mind as much as you may want them to. And while you may be able to move past it. you won’t be able to forget it. Not ever.

It is beyond my scope of comprehension that the population within the United States at most risks for experiencing sexual violence are children. But it is. The numbers are difficult to determine because it is often not reported, however, authorities agree that the numbers are likely higher than what is even seen. Research has repeatedly shown the harmful impact of sexual abuse upon children’s physical and mental health. Although there can be signs of the trauma, it can differ

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;

Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;

During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;

Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;

Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

Victims of Crime Org

with the age of the child, while some may not show any indication at all. This is why there needs to be continued focus on prevention and communication; teaching children about body safety and healthy body boundaries as well as strengthening their communication skills about sexual matters with positivity and encouragement. [3]

There is also the problem that child sex abuse is not “uniformly designed,” so statistics may vary. [4] We also know from studies conducted in 1986 and then again in 2000, 2002 and 2005 with similar results that approximately 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported rape or attempted rape, after the age of 14. Frighteningly, children who had experienced rape or sexual assault in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience a rape or attempted rape in their first years of college.

Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse can also be detrimental to young males, resulting in the increased odds of sexual behaviours that lead to unprotected sex resulting in sexually transmitted infections and causing early teen pregnancy. Studies have shown that abused boys were significantly more likely than nonabused boys to report all three risky sexual behaviours. [5]When people and even some health providers hear about men and sexual assault, there is an almost automatic assumption that men are the perpetrators. It is not easy for men to view themselves as a victim, or as someone who has been abused. Young men who have been abused may develop a host of complex difficulties as in “struggling to deal with overwhelming memories and emotions, to establish a sense of self, of personal and relational integrity, separate from the traumatic experience and its ongoing impacts.” Something that really struck me about the difference between how men and women interpret their own sexual abuse experience is summed up beautifully in this quote:

I recognise culturally for women to talk about sexual  abuse was a risk of them appearing to others as damaged goods and so on; but for men I think it was different because it gets mixed up with gender identity and not so much for the women the self-image of a man being sexually physically able to look after yourself and the necessity of doing that and so on and so forth….I know you’ve got males who have been sexually assaulted and, because of stigmas of society, are still unwilling to get counselling and help for it.” Teram, E et al. (2006). Towards malecentric communication: sensitizing health professional to the realities of male childhood sexual abuse survivors.

Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 27 (5), 499-517

One of the tragic results of a young male who has been sexually abused or assaulted is a “robbing of their masculine identity” compounding the trauma of the assault. [6] “Women do not report the same effect of the sexual abuse.” This is partly because the majority of abuse and assault on men are by men, and the majority of sexual assaults and abuse on women are by men. A victim should not have to worry about how their rape is perceived, nor suffer the confusion or pain of wondering if they are no longer heterosexual (if that is how they identified prior to the assault). Attention should be focused on the healing and on being able to come to terms with the assault and moving past it because the memories will always remain. The best we can hope for is a scar to form that reminds us of the trauma that happened, but not the continued and re-lived pain of it.

In discussing vulnerable populations at risk for sexual assault, we must then draw awareness to the LGBTQIA community. We know that there can be slightly higher rates of violence because as a community they experience “higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which put us at greater risk for sexual assault.” [7] There is also a higher rate of hate-motivated violence, which can take the form of sexual assault and can be experienced more prevalently upon the transgender population and more acutely among “transgender youth, transgender people of colour, individuals living with disabilities, homeless individuals, and those who are involved in the sex trade.” [8] In 2011 Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, uncovered disturbing statistics. For example, “12 percent of transgender youth report being sexually assaulted in K–12 settings by peers or educational staff; 13 percent of African-American transgender people surveyed were sexually assaulted in the workplace; and 22 percent of homeless transgender individuals were assaulted while staying in shelters.” [9]Something that should be shocking and yet sadly, is not, are those professionals who have established themselves in “helping” positions who violate the trust and become the perpetrator. Fifteen percent of transgender individuals report being sexually assaulted while in police custody or jail, which is more than doubles (32 percent) for African-American transgender people. “Five to nine percent of transgender survivors were sexually assaulted by police officers. Another 10 percent were assaulted by health care professionals.” [10]Just as distressing is hate crimes. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP):

Acts of hate violence, such as harassment, stalking, vandalism, and physical and sexual assault, are often supported by more socially sanctioned expressions of transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia and are intended to send a message to LGBTQ communities. . . . Many LGBTQ people also face substantial bias because they belong to other traditionally marginalized groups along other axes of identity such as race, class, incarceration history, immigration status, or ability. . . . membership in more than one traditionally marginalized community can increase targeting for severe violence.

In many of the hate violence against the LGBTQIA community, the victims are transgender women (50%), while the rest were male, many of who are non-conforming. I don’t like graphic descriptions, but in this regard, it is important to know that in these crimes, in which murder was often the result, there was sexual violence and/or “genital mutilation before or after their murders was a frequent occurrence.” [11]Hate crimes are largely more prevalent against people of colour, and so it is not surprising that in 2009 53 percent of LGBTQ hate crime victims were people of colour. “Of the 22 anti-LGBTQ hate crime murders documented by NCAVP that year, 79 percent of the victims were people of colour. As noted above, 50 percent (11 individuals) of the 2009 murders tracked were transgender women; of those, 9 were people of colour (82 percent). Of the other 11 murders of gender non-conforming people, 5 (45 percent) were people of colour.” [12]

It is my hope that this post has brought awareness to a subject that is difficult to talk about. But when there are so many vulnerable in our society, I think the only thing you can do is talk about it, write about and do all you can to inform people. It’s easy to say, “It won’t happen to me.” It’s easy to believe that you are protected in your home with locks and alarm systems. But the sad fact is that none of us is truly safe, and within your circle of friends and loved ones there may be those who are more vulnerable and you cannot protect them. However, arming yourself with information and sharing it with them, could protect them from this violence.

If you or anyone you may know has been the victim of sexual assault, please reach out.

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Hours: Available 24 hours

1-800-656-4673

HelpingSurvivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault https://helpingsurvivors.org/


Sources

[1] RAINN

[2] ASVRC

[3] The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

[4] Victims of Crimes Org

[5] Science Direct

[6] Living Well

[7] Human Rights Campaign

[8] Office of Justice Programs

[9] Office of Justice Programs

[10] Office of Justice Programs

[11] Office of Justice Programs

[12] Office of Justice Programs

I am a Mimzy

I had great intentions of getting several blog posts up for April, but alas, that has not come to pass. I will, however, get them up as soon as I can. They are related to the month, as in, National…in April, but I think these two deserve to have the spotlight on them regardless of the month.

There has been a very good reason for my absence, despite the usual illness/pain. I became a Mimzy in early April, to a beautiful, little boy. My second daughter gave birth on April 6th, naturally, and I couldn’t be prouder of her. He was 7lbs 15oz and he’s just adorable. I am so excited to have a grandson and be able to share so many things with him. Life is constantly surprising you.

I hope you can understand the delay, but know that I will get back to writing asap. Here are a few pictures of the little one.

Baby K.J.
Baby K.J.’s ride home
Baby K.J. looking out into the world!

How to Look Great and Feel Better

The LoveKarmaFood blog brings people together with chronic illness, struggling from some of those secondary issues that many of us have, with a focus on healing through food – holistically. Reach out today to find out more!

Image via Pixabay

How to Look Great and Feel Better

Are you struggling with your self-image? Do you constantly feel tired or lack motivation? Or maybe you just want to take yourself to the next level. Making changes to your physical and mental health can help you look and feel your best – and here are some suggestions from LoveKarmaFood on how to do just that.

Exercise Regularly

Work up a sweat most days of the week to feel and look better. Not only does regular exercise keep your body in top physical condition, but Insider notes that it also puts you in a happier place. Exercise ramps up your endorphins to create a positive feeling while strengthening your muscles. 

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is something everyone should practice to stay mentally healthy. Here are some self-care tasks to try:

  • Sleep. The CDC recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep to feel rested and energized.
  • Get outdoors. Fresh air and nature views can help you feel better.
  • Find support. A professional counselor or a support group are common examples of support options, but you can also seek support to help with your setting. For instance, paying a professional landscape company to spruce up the property is a great way to improve the appearance of your home, which can give you more stress relief and boosts your overall positivity. 
  • Connect with friends. Spending time with friends can lower your stress and improve your mood.
  • Focus on gratitude. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for can give you a more positive outlook. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves staying in the moment and taking control of your thoughts. Practice being aware of your surroundings and not rushing through moments as part of self-care.

Clean up Your Diet

What you eat impacts your overall health and how you feel. Eating lots of junk food often makes you feel sluggish. Let yourself splurge a little so you don’t feel deprived, but keep most of your diet healthy and nutrient-rich.

Set Goals

Setting goals using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) method can boost how you feel about yourself. It gives you something to work toward and creates a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps you want to switch careers, but you don’t have the right degree. Enrolling in an online program can help you get the education you need to pursue a new path.

Try Something New

Try a new hobby or learn a new skill to improve your confidence. Hobbies give you something fun to do with your spare time, and they can provide a new perspective while enriching your life.

Keep Up With Care

Don’t wait until you have a health problem to go to the doctor. Scheduling a well-care visit yearly gives your doctor a baseline to make it easier to diagnose health issues early. Your doctor can provide customized recommendations on diet, exercise, and other factors that help you look and feel better. 

Control Stress and Anxiety

Having uncontrolled stress can leave you feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Find ways to manage stress, such as breathing exercises, visualization, yoga, and meditation. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults experience anxiety disorders. If anxiety is taking over your life, see how Mind Atlas’ mindfulness program can help.

Explore Your Style

Looking and feeling great can come down to your physical appearance. Explore your personality by testing different clothing and hairstyles you love. Expressing yourself through your outward appearance can help you feel confident. It’s also about feeling comfortable, so choose clothes made of quality materials that are also versatile. If you’re a new mom, for example, go with dresses, nightgowns and PJs that make nursing easier, no matter where you are. 

You Can Feel and Look Great

Taking charge of your mental and physical health helps you look and feel your best. The two go hand-in-hand. When you feel better about yourself, you live a happier life and accomplish more, getting you closer to your maximum potential.

Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

Image: LKF

Traumatic brain injury [TBI] is something that we hear of periodically in the news, as in the case of Tracy Morgan’s car crash that resulted in his traumatic brain injury. We   hear of it when football players suffer terrible concussions, or when other athletes, such as cheerleaders, sustain devastating falls. However, it is not something that we think can happen to us and our perception of what a TBI is, can be very far from the truth.

Traumatic brain injury is defined as: an alteration in brain function…caused by an external force.

It is extremely important to understand that every brain is different and therefore every traumatic brain different. In order to be an ally you can’t assume you can tell by sight or symptom, whether someone has sustained TBI or to what extent they may be experiencing it.

Traumatic brain injuries can occur due to motor vehicle accidents, sports, or recreational injuries, domestic violence, falls and other external forces.

Approximately 5.3 million plus adults and children in the U.S. are living with some sort of permanent brain injury related disability. Many of these injuries are the result of stroke, infections, disease and brain tumors, but those numbers also include mild traumatic brain [MTBI] injuries or what we typically know as concussions.

 A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body. This occurs from a mild blow to the head, either with or without loss of consciousness and can lead to temporary cognitive symptoms. Yet there may be symptoms which aren’t obvious and go undetected or may not appear to be related to a head injury.

  • Sleep difficulties or irregularities
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Slower than normal reaction time

Older adults are at higher risk for concussions. It is important to encourage preventive measures.

The Dept. of Defense issued guidelines of key ways to recognize a concussion in order to get immediate help and treatment. These are:

  • H- headaches or vomiting.
  • E- ears ringing.
  • A- amnesia, altered consciousness or loss of consciousness.
  • D- double vision and/or dizziness.
  • S- something is wrong or not quite right.

4 in 5 TBI related ER visits are older adults 65years and older. It is highest among persons 75 years and older. You can assist your loved one who may be at risk in the following ways:

  • Removing home hazards like throw rugs or (at minimum) securing them to the ground firmly.
  • Lighting up living spaces to avoid tripping.
  • Employing assisted living devices like (handrails, grab bars and raised toilet seats).
  • Regularly reviewing meds with doctors.
  • Staying as active as possible.
  • Wearing sensible shoes.

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury

This begins internally due to disease, poisoning, a hereditary condition, lack of oxygen, stroke or other internal medical issues.

Reducing Screen-time Post-Concussion

There is evidence that reducing screen time helps reduce recovery time. Avoiding screen time in the first 48 hours of acute-concussion recovery may greatly reduce the duration of concussion symptoms to allow for important cognitive brain rest following concussion.

It is thought that the rapid eye movement involved with watching continually refreshing LED screen pixilation can cause eye muscle strain for someone who has just suffered TBI. Also, back-lighting from most screens and the loud noises from some electronic devices may also cause other negative symptoms in post-concussive patients.

False Facts Concerning Traumatic Brain Injury

You can always see brain injury on CT or MRI scans.

False: CT & MRI are looking for bleeding in the brain, skull fractures and other acute trauma. Not all brain injuries -like concussions- will appear on these scans. A clear CT or MRI does not eliminate the possibility of brain injury.

Two years after a brain injury no more recovery can be made.

False: After the first 9 months of recovery, time is no longer an indicator of recovery; what is the most important after this is finding proper therapies for your symptoms. Doing the right activities 50 years post injury has the same chance of recovery as receiving proper treatment 9 months out. Improvement is always possible!

Concussions are NOT serious.

False: Concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury. If you are experiencing any symptoms of concussion, it should never be considered trivial, minor, or “part of the game.” They are signs of brain injury and “mild,” is only a reference to the fact that they are not usually life threatening. But it does not mean it’s not serious and while many people will fully recover two weeks post-concussion, a percentage of patients will have lifelong symptoms afterward.

Individuals with brain injury don’t think about suicide.

False: Sadly, it is not an uncommon occurrence for patience to experience after a traumatic brain injury. Nearly 1 in 5 brain injury survivors admit to suicidal ideation, plans or attempts in the 5-year period after injury. If you need help please call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Only athletes get concussions.

False: TBI is a common result of motor vehicle accidents, falls (particularly with elderly and children), military action or blast exposure, intimate partner violence, abuse, gunshot wounds and other physical trauma.

Sources:

Brain Injury Association of America

CDC Traumatic Brain Injury

Epilepsy Awareness

Purple Day

March 26th, 2022 is Epilepsy Awareness Day.

There are about 3.4 million people with epilepsy nationwide: 3 million adults and 470,000 children who suffer with epilepsy. http://www.cdc.gov

It can be a debilitating chronic disorder that affects even the most mundane aspects of your life and can rob you of being able to do tasks that many of us take for granted.

I was diagnosed around 2008 with an unspecified seizure disorder, that took years to be able to control and has prohibited me from driving. Though I have not had tonic-clonic seizures in over a year, I still have absent seizures frequently; this means I have active epilepsy.

Active Epilepsy

An adult aged 18 or older has active epilepsy if they report they have a history of doctor-diagnosed epilepsy or seizure disorder and:

  • are currently taking meds to control it or
  • had one or more seizures in the past year or both.

A child aged 17 or younger has active epilepsy if their parent of guardian reports:

  • that a doctor of health care provider has ever told them they their child has epilepsy or seizure disorder, and
  • their child currently has epilepsy or seizure disorder.

What is a Seizure?

It’s a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings and in levels of consciousness. http://www.maycoclinic.org/diseases

Seizure types vary by where in the brain they begin and how far they spread. Most last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. A seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of a Seizure

These can range from mild to severe depending on the type of seizure. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:

  • temporary confusion
  • staring spell
  • uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and legs
  • loss of consciousness or awareness
  • cognitive or emotional symptoms such as fear, anxiety or déjà vu.

Types of Seizures

Focal seizures

These result in abnormal electrical activity in one area of the brain. These can happen with or without loss of consciousness. This is called Focal Seizures with Impaired Awareness and Focal Seizures without Loss of Consciousness.

Generalized Seizures

These appear to involve all areas of the brain:

  • Absence seizures (previously known as petit mal)
  • Tonic Seizures
  • Atonic Seizures
  • Clonic Seizures
  • Myoclonic Seizures
  • Tonic-Clonic Seizures (previously known as grand mal)

What does a Seizure Feel Like?

Everyone has a different experience with their own specific seizure, however for me, when I experience an absence seizure I just blink out of existence for a few seconds. This is one of those reasons why it’s dangerous for me to drive. When I experience a tonic-clonic seizure it’s frightening and for me, I only have a brief second of awareness of what is going to happen- like when you are on the verge of falling asleep and you feel like you are falling and jerk awake. Except I am not conscious during these episodes and when I come back, I can be disoriented and almost always feel nauseous. You can read about Destiny’s Experience here.

Common Causes of Seizures

The most common causes of seizures is epilepsy, however, not every person who has a seizure has epilepsy. Some types of seizure disorder may be caused by genetic mutations and:

Other Triggers

  • High fever
  • Lack of sleep
  • Flashing lights, moving patterns or other visual stimulants
  • Low blood sodium (hyponatremia)
  • Medications, such as certain pain relievers, antidepressants or smoking cessation.

If you have Seizure disorder or Epilepsy, know that you are not alone. Seek out epilepsy support organizations to help you deal with the struggles of having epilepsy.

Epilepsy Alliance America

Epilepsy Foundation

Cure Epilepsy