Sunday, December 27, 2009

Better update

Thought I'd write a bit of a better update then the last one. I get tomorrow off in lieu of boxing day which makes me SO happy! And it means I'm not stressed about trying to fall asleep tonight knowing I don't have to get up early tomorrow!!!

The main stressor in my life right now is the fact that my mom is quite sick. We would out a couple weeks ago that she has Ovarian cancer, and it's spread to other places in her abdomen. This is upsetting in and of itself, but the hardest part is just how sick it's making her. She can barely function, and she doesn't start Chemo till January 4. This means that I've spent more time with my family in the past month then I had in the past year up to then. I go over there every Sunday afternoon, which used to be my one guaranteed "me" time, and help her out with stuff. I've been blessed to a have a boss who is very flexible and has given me time off to drive mom to appointments and stuff, but it's a big change.

Work hasn't been the world's easiest lately, and since I tend to use work to hide from my life, it's made things difficult that there's conflict at work. One of my coworkers was really dragging the team down, they're currently on a leave, but we're now adjusting to increased case loads and shifting job responsibilities. I'm actually kind of enjoying that, my case load was far too small if you ask me. Either way, there's been a lot of tension at the office, which makes it hard for it to be my happy place. I decorated for Christmas in there (I'll post pics if I remember) and it's my special place.

I worked at the Shelter on Christmas/Boxing Day, which was really nice. I have a bunch of things to say about people feeling entitled and never being happy with what they have, but overall, it was great. I loved being able to be there with those people who simply had nowhere else to go. Our spontaneous turkey dinner was not so welcome, but whatever.

There's some other stuff going on that I can't post about till it's over, but right now it looks like my dad may be retiring, but there's a lot of stress around that. Church is busy as always. Yoga is GREAT!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm not dead

Hi blog world. I just wanted to let you know that I'm still around. I still read blogs, I just haven't found it in me these days to write any. Family life has been crazy. My mom has been diagnosed with cancer, which has already spread, my grandma's quite sick, and a bunch of other stuff. Blogging hasn't been on the top of my priority list.

If anyone still reads this, I would appreciate any and all prayers, good thoughts etc... my family and I.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've been horrible about blogging this past while. I've been anemic, had bronchitis that wouldn't go away, an ear infection that made me not hear and well just felt generally crappy. Sleep continually won over blogging.

I'm better now though! So hopefully, more blog soon!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

chronic suicide ideation

As most of you know, I work in a program for adults with mental illness who want to reenter the workforce. One of the main criteria for program admission is current stability. In other words, you have to be emotionally ready to work and have enough control over your symptoms to function in a work environment. We'll support you, we'll advocate for you, we'll work with your employer, we'll help you, etc, but we aren't a placement agency, we help people find jobs in main stream employment. Of course, because no one is perfect and mental illness can be unpredictable, not all over our clients are able to find employment, and they don't all remain stable. Right now, I'm working with a client who is very not stable, and it's a little bit outside my comfort zone.

Said client is chronically suicidal. Suicide ideation is part of her daily life. However, since entering our program she has attempted suicide on three different occasions. She was not stable enough to maintain employment. So, it came time to discharge her and refer her to more appropriate services. So I did... refer her that is. She and her doctor decided that a hospital day program was a good option for her, it offers DBT and CBT skills training and would provide her with tools and a lot more support then our program can. So the client and I agreed that I would discharge her as soon as she started the program...

The program kept bumping her date of admission back, and so, two and a half months later, here we are. We meet for counselling, but I feel like we're getting no where. Every session is potentially our second last session (we'll do a last one for closing once she starts) and because her suicide ideation is so prevalent it's almost all we talk about. We have safety planned so many times that both of us could probably recite the whole thing backwards, forwards and upside down. The crisis lines have heard from her day in and day out for months. The mobile team won't see her right now because it's a "long standing issue". I was out of ideas.

So, when I saw her for the second time this week, an extra session, just to get her through till her day program starts Monday (we hope, we hope, we hope) I took a totally different approach. Rather then doing the whole ASIST thing where you explore reasons for death, reasons for life, align yourself with the side that wants to live, safety plan and contract (which I don't do anyway), I thought, we'll, this isn't changing anything, screw this. So, we talked about death. We talked about who finds her body, we talked about how long it stays in her apartment, we talked about who feeds her gerbil, we talked about her funeral, her ashes, the affect on different people in her life, and you know what, our session went a whole lot better. I wasn't frustrated (something my student noticed in our last session) and I left more room for silence and thinking. She wasn't forced to answer the same questions (with the same answer "I don't know") as usual. It certainly wasn't the answer, and it certainly didn't fix her suicide ideation, but it seemed to be a better approach.

In April I'm going to a two day workshop about working with chronic suicide ideation and it's connection to trauma. I'm super excited. I felt very unequipped in this situation, and while I did make all sorts of appropriate community referrals, the person she felt comfortable talking to was me. So I did research, I consulted coworkers and my supervisor and I kept in mind that not only do I not know everything, but I don't have to know everything.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

second guessing

I'm second guessing myself today. I don't usually do that. In general, I'm pretty good at leaving work and work and not thinking about it once I get home. Every now and again though, there's a situation which gets under my skin. A decision I made that I'm just not sure about. Today is one of those days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vacation is going amazingly well. I'm hanging out with this fine canine named Apocalypse. He's pretty awesome, but VERY hard to get a picture of as he doesn't hold still long enough.

As I mentioned in a previous post a couple months ago, my vacation is with someone I met on the internet, a fact which concerned some of my friends, but it's turned out wonderfully. At least for me, I hope she feels the same way! I've known my movie loving friend online for 5 years now and I've been planning this trip for many of them. It feels so great to finally just get to hang out in the same room, even if all we're doing is reading/reading the internet.

Vacation has been so relaxing, and I still have 2 full days left! Today we went to take in some tourist sites, but for the most part we haven't been doing much of anything, something I've been greatly enjoying. We've been to mass, church, small group and movie discussion group. Watched movies and played boardgames with her roommates. I lost horribly at the game of life tonight, but really had quite a good time of it. If you ask me, I should have won, however the money didn't agree.

I hope all of you are doing well and have fun vacations to look back on/look forward too!

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm on vacation right now and it's wonderful! I took that picture on Friday. My friend and I sat on some rocks and just "were". It was amazing. I am soooo relaxed, and I'm finally getting healthy too. It turned out I was quite anemic, which was definitely the cause of my lack of energy and depression. I've been taking double the usual amount of iron and despite the stomach ache, I feel SO much better. Vacation is wonderful. Friends are wonderful. Walking on hills, definitely not so wonderful, but still, in this gorgeous place, it's okay.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

realities of life

I haven't posted about death in quite a while. Since switching jobs, I haven't had nearly as many encounters with death, although I will say that every time I work at the shelter, one of the first things I find out is if anyone has died. So, it surprised me yesterday, when my father told me about a client from two jobs ago who died this week, a attender of the church I attended in my first couple years of university, and more recently, someone I locked up in the drunk tank at the shelter.

Anora was a broken woman, rarely have a met someone with SO much anger and pain inside, and yet, she tried to fight, as best she could. A woman, who grew up surrounded by drugs, abuse, alcohol, gangs, neglect and suffering, full of instability, it all came with her to her adult life. Trauma doesn't disappear when you turn eighteen.

Anora was found dead in a pool of her own vomit. She didn't make it through that nights drinking and drugs. We'll never know if she intended to die that night or just went a little overboard and her tired body couldn't handle anymore.

Very honestly, and this really surprised me, I hope she wanted to die. Not because I think her life was so horrible there was no help for her, but because I hope that she was ready to go. I hope this wasn't an accident and there was still some fight left in her, I hope she didn't intend to wake up the next morning full of possibilities, I hope this was on her terms, and her time. Or perhaps, she simply gave up caring, which is the most likely scenario given what I know of her.

And so today, I mourn the lose of Anora, and I pray that people will continue to make an effort for others like her, so that not every tragic story has to end in more tragedy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

there's a cat on my head.

My orange cat is on my head right now. NOT impressed. Oh well.

So, big revelation of the week. I need to SLOW DOWN! Yesterday I came into the office and got right down to business. Things with the student and with new staff had left me kind of overwhelmed, but I came into the office ready to get back on top of the pile and jump start my week.

Well, I not only got on top of the pile, but I just kept climbing. See, I have a habit of being very intense. It's a really ADHD thing (which I've never formally been diagnosed with, but well, I fit all the symptoms...) Anyway, it's that ADHD thing where you can focus really intently on something you're interested in and you just zone right in, but then in other scenarios you're just bored out of your mind and can't focus at all. SO, what I'm trying to say is that I did a TON of work yesterday and really didn't leave a lot for the rest of the week. Or maybe it's that I did all the "interesting" work yesterday, and have boring stuff left for the rest of the week.

See the thing is, yesterday I went through my case load and checked up on them all. Hadn't heard from them? Gave them a call. Missing information? Tracked it down. Needed a letter sent? Wrote the letter and sent it etc... Did I do any class prep or group development? Nope. Now, maybe this is good, but guess which part of being a social worker I like best, class development or dealing with clients...

I'm still working on finding that balance in my day. Finding the time and the pattern so that I spend a good amount of time on my various tasks. Fridays are almost always saved for catching up on my documentation/administration stuff, and since my clients never show up on Fridays I've basically stopped booking their appointments for then. I tend to have most of my clients on Wednesday when we have our job search group, and the rest fall in on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I lead class/group on a completely irregular schedule. And I usually see evening clients on Wednesdays.

Basically, what I'm saying is that for me, as it is with a lot of people, it's a lot easier for me to do the counselling/advocacy part of my job then it is to do all the paperwork that comes with it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

busy bee

I interacted with 14 client files today. I cannot tell you how much I hate that expression.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

mindlessness perhaps the opposite of mindfullness

I had an awesome day today.

Starbucks, pick up people for church.

I lead the service a church this morning (sermon and all) and I didn't die during the children's story. Children's stories are NOT my forte.

After church I drove people home and then began watching Grey's Anatomy.

Lunch with bestest bud at Olive Garden (Soup, Salad, and Bread sticks).

The a quick bit of shopping with bestest bud including a pair of yoga pants to wear during movie watching marathons while on vacation, which coincidently, commences in 11 days.

The home to watch the rest of Grey's, hug the cats, check out this new NCIS: Los Angelos thing and start to get caught up on my CSI:NY watching. I haven't finished last season on that one yet.

And so, now I'm heading to be early. all in all. a wonderful day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

learning contract

So I haven't given you guys an update on my social work student since my panic earlier this month. I had NO idea having a student would be this much work. Or well, I sort of did, but really, it's A LOT of work! I think I'm settling into a routine with her now though, which is really helpful. There was one week when I came into work an hour early on the days she was there as well as leaving late so that I could get all my work done while still spending time with her. Of course, I also had to work on training our new counsellor, so I was trying to do a crazy amount of work...

So, things I've learned so far (some of which I was warned about, some of which I'm figuring out on my own).

1. Having a student makes you hyper aware of what you are doing. I haven't had someone observe one of my counselling session since I did a video session in third year university. Now I have someone observing and critiquing my counselling. I also have to pay a lot more attention to how I spend my time because two days a week, there's someone watching everything I do.

2. I need to slow down. I always need to slow down, so this isn't actually new, however, having a student forces me to take the time to slow down and really think about what I am doing and why.

3. Shoes are an important thing. I have a habit of not wearing shoes while at work. I wear them when I see clients, but other then that... It drives my boss crazy, and if she "made" me wear them, I would make more of an effort, but mostly she just shakes her head. However, now that I have a student, I've started thinking about what kind of an example I'm setting as a professional, and realizing... hmmm shoes... probably a good thing.

4. Having a student makes me go back to basics. I found her my "basic counselling responses" text book and took a good look at it myself. It made me think about some of those basic things which have in a way become second nature to me.

5. Having a student also brings me back to some of that "impostor syndrome" I've felt in the past. That whole, I can't do this, who am I to be calling me a social worker type thing. Only in this case, it's all about not screwing the poor girl up or having her expose me as a fake.

On the whole, I really like having a student. I think she's going to bring a lot to our organization. Having a student means we all act a little "sharper", but it also means we get a new perspective, someone who is right now reading the most current up to the date stuff and learning lots of great things in school. I enjoy helping some one else learn about their passions, about social work and about being a professional. I love reading her reflections and trying to challenge her thinking and get her to explore some of her own strengths and weaknesses. I hopefully will get to keep doing this, because I think it is such a wonderful thing.


Volunteering tonight was exhausting. We had a great youth group in from out of town to help us, but they of course needed direction. One semi good conversation with a guest though.

Also, Olay Daily Facials Express are great for "sponge" baths.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So get this. I fell down my apartment stairs this morning on my way to work. I've complained on here before about feeling like I have ear problems, well, this doesn't make me feel any better. Thankfully, I caught myself, and my coffee mug fell much further then I did. I have a sore ankle and shin, but other then that, I seem to be okay. I was able to shake it off, put on different (safer) shoes and go to work a few minutes late. I am WAY to young to feel this old though. At 23 I should not be worrying about falling down the stairs, constant ear aches, sinus pain and well, feeling completely crappy all the time. I see my doctor next week though and I plan on be very assertive.

Work was okay today. Nothing all that exciting, well, one of my clients got a job, that was exciting. I'm so happy for her! However, as I mentioned previously, it's a lot easier for our job developers to know that they did a good intervention then it is to evaluate all the work the two of us did in counselling, the advocacy pieces I did with her and the community referrals, all of which helped get her to the point where she was confident enough to interview well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

decisions, decisions.

My thought for today is that I either need to go back to Yoga or back to therapy. Maybe both. I'm not making a decision till after my holiday though.

stay tuned tomorrow for why I'm pissed off about the material I learned in my food handlers course and how it relates to societies treatment of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I had a super intense session with someone today. We had a really intense one last week too. I don't know if the client finds things as intense as I do, but I feel like we're really hitting the root of some incredibly deep pain.

I've been thinking about how to assess the effectiveness of what I do. For our job developers it's a lot easier. Either people get jobs, or they don't. Plain and simple. They can count the number of people they help find employment each month. It's A LOT harder for the counsellors. I mean, I can count the time I spend in sessions with people, and in fact, I'm required to. But how do I judge whether what I do has a positive affect on people?

One thing that helps is when clients volunteer that feedback, but it doesn't always happen. For example, I wonder if I'm actually helping the client I saw today. They're dealing with some very intense stuff, and I have no idea whether our work together is helping, but there doesn't seem to be an appropriate way to ask... Counselling is a very abstract thing to measure.

In other thoughts, I wonder if an empty chair exercise would be helpful or hurtful to someone with schizophrenia. I mean, of course it depends on the person, but in general... There's a client I think it would really benifit, but I don't want to play into anything they may have going on for them... I need to do some research on Gestalt Therapy and Psychotic Disorders...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I love popcorn. Seriously. I love it. I'm eating some right now and it makes me incredibly satisfied. It can't fix all my problems, but it makes things temporarily right in my world.

Hmmm what else can I say. This trying to blog every day thing is interesting, but I feel like I'm just putting crap up on my blog.

My day was fairly good. Church, then lunch with friends, then a hair cut. One of my friends cuts my hair, and this time we traded a hair cut for me trimming her cats claws. The cat is 18 years old but I have 3 bites, multiple scratches and my finger was actually bleeding. Still, my friend does an AMAZING job and I have a super cute hair cut that I didn't have to pay money for.

Then I did some stupid chores like repotting some plants, changing the cat litter and taking out the garbage. After which I went to my parents for supper. I brought Oliver Lockhart with me. He makes a great escape tool. He lay down in front of the door and then I just said "well, Ollie wants to go home!"

Then this evening, I talked to my friend (who I am visiting in just 18 days!) for quite a while, trimmed Oliver's claws and made a meal plan for the rest of the week...oh, and a grocery list. And now, I'm hoping to get to bed a bit early, we'll see if it actually happens though :P

Watch this time tomorrow for a post about assessing the effectiveness of counselling if I manage to find the words to write what I want to say! Either that or I'll post pictures of my plants...perhaps both.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blue sky

Today was a gorgeous day. I ignored all the calls from the shelter asking me to do a shift and enjoyed the sunshine. Our church put on a free family fun day for the neighbourhood and so I hung out at that, playing with the kids, cooking up some hotdogs and just being outside.

Volunteering last night was hard. We were so short on volunteers that we couldn't open our dining room. We had to pass out bag lunches through the door. It sucked. We've got to think of some new strategies to get volunteers or something. It's really sad for the community that lack of volunteers is what holds us back.

Also, I made this awesome Chickpea Masala for dinner tonight and installed new full spectrum bulbs in my kitchen, so I'm feeling quite good about myself. A cat just walked across me on his way to start combing my hair with his claws, so I'm thinking that's about all I'm writing today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

so blessed

I recieved a letter from my sponsor child today. They (she and her family) thanked me for the picture of Sophie and I and said my cat looked very healthy. Then they said that they prayed for me each day and night. I almost cried. I am sure that they do, and it touched me so much that this family, living in Malawi, was praying for me, who has so much.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Life goes on and on

So, inspired by the Anti Social Social Worker, who was inspired by someone or another, I'm going to try and write at least a sentance everyday. In all truth, I've been too anhedonic/apathetic to write. Having depression sucks, and September is definitely a trigger time for me.

Work is good though. We finally have a full team as of yesterday, and after three days of practicum, I haven't scared away my student yet! That is ALWAYS a good thing. I'm taking her to a wholesale discount candy store tomorrow, everyone working in non-profits needs to know about resources like that...

Oliver Lockhart just climbed up and is combing my hair with his claws... he seems to find this relaxing. I don't.

and...that's all I got today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So, I have a social work student...

This is Sophie Cat. See her stare? She is saying "help my girl" (Oliver Lockhart just keeps walking across the keyboard erasing things). So, why do I need help? Well, my social work student arrived yesterday. My very first one. I had done lots of thinking, reflection, and preparation, gone to workshops, done all the paperwork, but now she's here. Now I'm panicking. I am so worried I am going to screw this poor girl up. My biggest problem though, especially this week and next, is figuring out how to balance taking care of my case load and my documentation (which as you know, I'm constantly behind in) and still finding time to do a good job with her. I don't want her to be as bored as I was the first month at my first practicum.

So, for those of you who've been there, cause all us social workers have, what was good about your field instructor? What was bad about your field instructor? If you are still in practicum, what's good, what's bad? If you've had a student, how did you find the balance? Any advice for a first time supervisor?

So yeah. That's what's going in my life. More later though.

The Dreamer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I don't know if I've ever mentioned on here just how hard it is for me to sit still. I'm pretty sure I have, but in any case, I'll say it again... I CAN'T SIT STILL! I mean, I do fine in counselling session, but I limit those to an hour, and when I lead groups I'm up at the whiteboard a lot. I can fidgit all I want when I'm just doing paperwork and no one cares if I walk up and down the hall or take a trip to the photocopy room. Why does this matter? Well, today I have to sit kind of still...

Today I am going to the first of four workshops about how not to screw up my social work student. This is a good thing. I really don't want to screw her up! BUT, I also can't say I'm all that excited about having to go to school all day. Especially because it's at the other university in town, not the one I went to. So it's unfamiliar, I don't know the presenters etc... My hope is that someone from my school will be taking it. See all first year practicum supervisors from that university have to take it, so there should be someone from my class there, you would think. I'm sure it will be fine.

During the workshop today we get all sorts of information about how to get things set up, their learning contracts and deadlines and stuff. We also have to do things about our supervision styles, learning styles and stuff like that. That's the part I'm not excited about. Although I'm an extrovert, I'm not a huge fan of meeting large groups of new people and having small group discussions with them. Oh well.

In anycase, I gotta get out of here. It's wonderful to be able to sleep in, but I suppose I do have to leave eventually. I was planning to take the bus, so I wouldn't have to park, but I finally decided I'm just going to drive afterall. It's funny, becaues last year at this time I didn't have a car yet and I took the bus EVERYWHERE or rode my bike, and now I'm so used to the car.

and, in other news, the cats are fight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Health Day

So, today I took a "health day" not a "sick" day, but a health day. In other words, I took a day off before I got sick, hopefully to prevent said sickness. Working a job by myself which is supposed to have to people has been wearing on me, and so a couple weeks ago I decided I would plan a day to call in sick. Then after last weeks craziness it became even more necessary. The beauty of planning a sick day, is you can plan to have no appointments that day. That way it doesn't screw up things for your clients or your team members and there's no catch up when you get back.

So what did I do for said "health day"? Well it wasn't maybe the most relaxing day ever or anything, but I did get some things accomplished that needed doing, which make me feel like my life is more under control. I got the oil changed on my car, got groceries, did laundry, washed dishes, had a nap (wonderfulness), saw best friend, snuggled with the cats and read an entire book. It was great. Now I'm just hoping I can sleep tonight despite the napping.

I wish workplaces could me more accepting of the need for such "health days". My supervisor was awesome about it. I actually told her what I was doing, so she knew ahead of time we'd be down staff. She's always saying we don't do enough self care, so it seemed like a safe bet she'd be okay with it. At my old job however, at the shelter, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this. They were a lot stricter about needing doctor's notes and such. Then again, it's a lot easier for my program to run with less staff then it is for the shelter.

So, what's your workplace policy on taking a mental health day or a personal day. Is it an unofficial policy? Or is it totally frowned upon when employees take time off when they're not physically sick to the point of being completely unable to work?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

taking a vacation

WestJet is by far my favourite airline, and in just 45 short days I will be taking a plane, just like the one pictured, to go see one of my very best friends. I can't tell you how excited I am. The catch? I've never met her before. So, how are we such good friends? Well it all started five years ago when I was young and angsty... (And now it's time for story time with Still Dreaming).

Back in first year university, my life was pretty screwed up. I was living in residence and spending much of my time with two pretty disfunctional older woman at the non-profit I was involved in. Of course, being at Bible College, things got pretty touchy feely one night and I was all like "i cut myself" and yada, yada, yada... No alcohol involved in my "confession" either. So then we made this convenant to tell people and blah, blah, blah, I told these two women (okay, this is turning into a horrible story). The point is, that since we couldn't find a face to face support group they suggested I look online. And I found this awesome support forum.

This forum was my "everything" for a really long time. I couldn't go for very long without looking at it. And as I spent more time on it, I began to make friends. Good friends. Of course then came holidays and birthdays and we would even exchange letters and cards. And some of the friendships I developed way back then I still have today. Including the friendship I have with the person I'm going to see. I seriously can't imagine my life without her. She knows just about everything there is to know about me.

What I found interesting, while reading the message boards, was the number of teenagers on it who reported that their therapists didn't want them being a part of the community. Now, I understand a therapists hesitation. The internet can be WAY out there, and I think we more commonly think of websites encouraging disordered behaviour such as "pro-ana" websites. It's important however not to put things in boxes and label them as good or bad. Some websites are good for some people and some aren't. Whatever helps the person, and finds them support should be encouraged, not restricted.

Another common assumption is that "online" relationships aren't as meaningful or valuable as "real life" relationships. This is something I both agree and disagree with. I love my "real life" friends, or perhaps I should say, the friends in my city, but I also have great relationships with friends who've moved away or I've met in other places. And very honestly, my online relationships are just as "real" to me. Maybe it's a generation thing, but it doesn't bother me that I haven't met them.

So in anycase, I'm super excited to be taking some holidays to spend with an amazing friend! I'm counting down the days :D

Saturday, August 22, 2009

blogger's block

I have bloggers block. Bad. I've just got nothing to write about. Except I do, oh how I do! Even though I make lists, and put things aside to write about later, I still can't manage to actually have an inspiration when I sit down at the computer.

Things I could blog about if I wasn't so blocked...

- How the cats are getting along
- Suicide
- Toolboxes of recovery and coping tools
- Teaching assertiveness
- Explaining to a client with slight cognitive impairment what child sexual abuse was
- Quitting smoking as a therapy goal
- Housing for people with mental illness
- Getting into the psych ward
- Suicide intervention during psychosis
- Sexual Assault
- Lack of staff at work
- Setting therapy goals
- My nutritionist
- Spiritual Direction
- Church
- Youth Retreat that's coming up
- Oil Changes
- What I've been reading/what I haven't been reading
- My roof
- Wheelchair poem guy
- Getting a social work student
- My best friend returning to my city (possibly why I haven't been blogging as much come to think of it)

And the list goes on, and on. Unfortunately, when I sit down to write, the words just don't come. I'm planning on trying harder, because blogging is SUCH a release for me and such a good self care tool.

So, to all my friends out their in the blogisphere. I love you <3

Friday, August 21, 2009

craaaaaay week

It is amazing to me, that one of my clients could ingest more than 200 pills, wind up at the hospital in an ambulance, be treated in emergency and be released with no admission, not even a follow up. The day before that they refused to admit her to psych. Who knows what the weekend will bring. Apparently she is safe because she swallowed her plan.

For the record, my whole week's been like this. I spent all of Thursday in tears. It's a long story. But every six months or so, I cry for an entire day. Unfortunately, that day, was Thursday. It sucked. But, it turned out really well. My supervisor and I had a great talk (after she freaked out at me in the hallway earlier that day). I'm calling in sick Monday for a planned mental health/self care day.

Also, Oliver Lockhart seems to think the litter box will attack him. It's a closed box, (with a lid) and he does his business with his head sticking out. After he burys it, he BOLTS down the hall to the living room like there's something chasing him. It is hilarious! Just thought I'd share :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Workplace Conflict

I teach/lead a class/group on conflict as part of our pre-employment workshops. It always seems so cut and dry when I'm doing that. I give them this easy to use and fairly simple conflict resolution process that I actually believe works. Unfortunately, nothing is that simple.

I wish more than anything that I could tell you guys about what's been happening at my work place. I do so much better when I'm able to write things out and get them out there. I am SO sick of stupid conflict though, unfortunately, in this situation some "stupid conflict" has had some very serious consequences for some people.

Today, we found out that there have been some very negative and nasty rumours going around about our program. These rumours have been both verbal, and perhaps most challenging to deal with, spread over Facebook. Obviously, I can't get into it, as the internet is not a safe place...but I think we all knew that. The last thing I need though is for things like this blog to come back and haunt me. It sucks, but I think for awhile I'm going to have to post mostly about the shelter and general life and social work stuff until this passes. And possibly edit some posts. Sigh.

I'm so frustrated. I actually cried at work today. Because one of the rumours really hurts. I love having an office where I can shut the door and do that. I really love my job. I don't want stupid things to affect that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

rant around the clock

I'm having an issue at work that I'm kind of getting sick of. My clients seem to have a VERY difficult time keeping their appointments. Now, I don't mind the occasional missed appointment that was forgotten about, and I of course don't mind rescheduling with notice, but this is getting ridiculous. It bothers me on a number of levels, and I'm not really sure what the reason behind things is.

Now it is true that my client population is dealing with mental heath concerns, this can definitely affect memory and sense of time. However, everyone who gets into my program has to be fairly stable. We're not usually working with people who are actively psychotic (although of course it happens every now and again). So this could be one reason.

Now the other reason that my coworkers and I have discussed is that we are a free center and there is no consequence for missed appointments. If a client misses an appointment, nothing bad happens. We reschedule. That's it. It's not something they're paying for, and maybe that gives it less value? Perhaps because there are no consequences when something else comes up or they don't feel like coming in, they don't.

My program still uses the Psychosocial Recovery Model (PSR Model) which, although old, has some value. There is a huge emphasis on client responsibility and client decision making and empowerment (which are great) but it also means that we don't chase after our clients as a general rule. We don't require them to come to appointments, it's their choice.

I think what frustrates me, is that I put aside time in my day for a client, that I could give to another client or use for my never ending pile of documentation. Instead, I'm left wondering whether they'll come in or not. For many clients, I do prep work and it's frustrating when they're a no show. It also bugs me on a personal level (as opposed to professional) that I managed to show up for all my therapy session when I was in therapy, why can't they, but that's not something that's all that relevant really.

So that's my rant for the day. I'm SICK of it. But, life will go on, mine, and theirs.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hearing Voices - Workshop

Last week I went to a fascinating workshop called "Hearing Voices that are Distressing". It's based on the idea that a person can experience hearing voices, as someone with schizophrenia might, the same way a person can experience a physical disability by being in a wheelchair for a day.

The first part of the workshop was general discussion/information about schizophrenia/psychosis and the organization which held the workshop. Next though, was the really interesting part.

Each person put on a pair of headphones and pressed play on a tape. The tape mimiced the voices that the workshop creator has experienced in her life. Then we were put through a mock psych assessment at a contrived psychiatric hospital. We had to do a mini mental status exam, a cognitive assessment and a reading comprehension test. The "staff" (workshop leadership) behaved in a very cold and clinical (old school clinical) way. We also had to go on a "errand" out in the community and write down some information, all while wearing the headphones and hearing the voices. I was definitely a one of a kind experience.

I found that all I wanted to do was sit down and listen to the voices. I didn't want to do any of the other stuff at all, for me, it really opened my eyes to why someone hearing voices might isolate themselves. Other people found themselves listening to the directions of the voices (stop it, put your hands down etc...) while others found themselves very frightened and frustrated. And we all knew that the voices were a tape!

Afterwards there was a debrief time, and even though I'm normally a very talkative person all I wanted to do was go home and rest. I felt soooooo over stimulated. Of course I had to work though, and go to a goodbye party...

Overall, it was a great workshop, and if you ever have the chance to do something similar I would highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Social Worker...

Here we have a picture of me giving Oliver Lockhart a bath. He looks sort of like I've been feeling.

I finally feel like a social worker, for all the wrong reasons. I feel like a social worker because my case load suddenly doubled because the other counsellor is leaving. I feel like a social worker because our 8 person team only has 6 people, one of whom just got fired. I feel like a social worker because I have tension in my back. I feel like a social worker because I sometimes take at least a full day to respond to my clients phone calls, and I'm often a day behind on my documentation.

Fortuntately, the good stuff keeps me going.

I feel like a social worker because I can see that there are clients whose lives I am making a difference in. I feel like a social worker because people respect my opinion, even though I rarely give it. I feel like a social worker because I can write letters of support for people to other professionals and believe that they'll mean something. I feel like a social worker because I finally have work to do all day instead of reading "Stuff Christians Like" all morning. I feel like a social worker because I'm finally starting to understand the ins and outs of the multiple systems that make up "the system" even though I thought I knew them before. I feel like a social worker because I KNOW that I'll never learn it all.

Tomorrow I'm headed to a workshop for the morning, then a goodbye lunch for the other counsellor, and then we'll see. I have a counselling session booked and I have to fix a letter I'm writing for my supervisor/team.

My spiritual director taught me a very neat prayer that dates back over 1000 years. It is a simple reflection on that which you are most grateful for and that which you are least grateful for. Today it is as follows:

I am most grateful for an evening spent with the cats, tea and a mystery novel (as well as a couple episodes of The Simpsons). I am least grateful for the stress at work which causes me tension and for the stomach ache I've had on and off today.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

don't give up on me yet!

Hello faithful readers of this blog. this is a message to say. Don't give up on me yet! One of these days there will be more awesome social work blogging! I'm enjoying my new job a lot, but it's not as exciting as working at the shelter, that's for sure, and I find I don't have as many things to write about. Besides that, I sometimes feel like I spend all day at the computer, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is more typing. But, it will come. I love to write, I'm just not in a writing season it seems.

Things are going well. The cats are very slowly getting used to each other. And by that I mean Sophie Cat is slowly getting used to having Oliver Lockhart around. She still hisses if he gets to close, and all he wants to do is be friends! Thankfully Oliver still is put in a different room at night, and Sophie and I get some peace. Having a young cat is "exciting", he gets into EVERYTHING! But I love him!

I went and donated blood today. If you're eligible to donate blood I highly recommend doing. It's an hour out of your day every eight weeks (or more of course) and you can save up to three lives. It means so much to someone, and it doesn't hurt you at all. Well, the initial needle poke hurts a bit, but other then that. Of course, not everyone is eligible because there are a million and one things that disqualify you, but apparently only 3% of those eligible donate. Summer is a time when they need more blood and have less donors, so seriously, consider donating. If you ever wondered how you could give more to charity with no money, well remember, donating blood is free! (So that's today's plug for that)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meet Oliver Lockhart

So I went to the Pet Store where I bought Sophie Cat the other day. I hadn't been there since I brought her home...

someone new came home with me...

This is Oliver Lockhart (Oliver from Oliver and Company, Lockhart from Gildoroy Lockhart from Harry Potter 2).

He is a year and a half old. The Pet Store rescued him from the Humane Society which was going to euthanize him because it was cheaper to kill him than to neuter him. Oliver is basically the complete opposite of Sophie Cat. You can do anything to him and he'll just purr away. Sophie on the other hand has been hissing and growling at him from the other side of the baby gate. This is going to take some time.

Oh, and for good measure, here's a picture of Sophie Cat trying to stuff herself into her cat condo.

Poor Sophie. SO not impressed with the new addition to our family. I'm really hoping she gets used to him. Otherwise bestest bud will take him, but I really want to keep him too. I really think Sophie needs a friend, she just needs to get over her anger/fear.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A typical day (week) at the office

This is my office... or well, my desk. The picture is taken standing in between my two chairs. My sister asked me today what a typical day at my job was like. I had a hard time answering because all my days are different, I can definitely talk about a typical week though! So here it goes.

My day always starts by checking the news online. Our secretary always manages to get the paper copy of the newspaper first, so I read the internet version. I do this while absorbing my coffee and getting caffienne into my blood stream. Ideally I do this before I'm forced to talk to people. I also go over my calendar and my client chart to see if there's anything that needs doing right away. I might highlight things that need to be accomplished that day.

Next, I'll probably go and visit my coworkers for a little bit, especially my "buddy" the other counsellor. We generally check in about what our days are like and if there's anything the other person should know about.

After that I generally go back to my office and work on paper work for a while. Maybe I'm typing up an intake summary, a discharge summary, an employment placement plan etc... maybe I'm reading a new client chart doing preparation for an intake, or writing out progress notes.

I generally don't schedule any intakes or counselling sessions until 10AM. This is better for all involved. I'm far more empathetic and perceptive after this time. So after 10AM I may have an intake or a counselling session. If I don't, I work on things like curriculum development and spend time doing general research or reading books for book reviews I post here. I figure, it's all related.

Then comes lunch. Lunch is a good thing. I generally eat with my coworkers. They're pretty awesome for the most part. We often go for a walk during lunch time.

Then I hurry back because I might have a classroom check in before class time. Basically, I have 2-3 students in the class who are "mine" for the duration. I check in with them each week, see how things are going, help them if they're having problems, work with them on any assignments they're struggling with etc...

Then comes class. If I'm teaching class, then I spent the next three hours facilitating a group. This past month I taught a class on Career Exploration, one on Criticism/Self Criticism and one about Personal Growth. There are classes about resumes and all that stuff too, but I don't do them. We have job people that do that.

If I'm not teaching class then I spend the afternoon much like I spent my morning. Counselling session, setting up appointments, reading and updating files, paper work, preparing documents etc...

Once a week we have a staff meeting, once a month we have a class review meeting, we have supervision probably once a month as well.

And that's generally what I do!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Sophie Cat's day as a Social Work Cat

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? Well, it turns out that Sophie Cat doesn't mind it either. I brought her to work today, this is a picture of the last time she came to work, but I didn't think to take any today. My workplace is super great about pets. My boss has brought her puppy a couple times, and as long as no one on the floor minds, we're free to do whatever. I mean, within reason.

I only brought Soph's because they're were cleaning the ducts in my apartment and I did not think she would like to be home for strange men trapsing through here. She HATED the day they tested the smoke detectors. I swear she didn't come out from under the couch all day!

Anyway, Sophie got along quite well. She came out of her carrier right when we got there and settled in on a blanket under the desk. I left her off the leash this time and she was very well behaved. At first she stayed in the office, but as she got braver, she came with me to the file room and we went to visit a couple other staff. I took her to meet the students in the employment class, because I talk about her pretty much every time I teach, but that was just too many people for her. And being a cat, she hid under the chair of the one person in the class who doesn't like cats.

I'm thinking about bringing her more often. Some of the clients just lit up. It's times like this I wish I had a dog, dogs are such good therapy animals, or well, some dogs/owners are. One of my friends online and her dog just became a therapy team. Anyway though, Sophie Cat would be horrible at it, as she's still very shy, and she is NOT a lap cat. But, I just think she adds something to my office. On the other hand, SO many people are allergic to cats, that it would just be a bad idea all around.

The cutest moment of the day, was when at almost exactly 4PM she hoped in her carrier and looked at me like "okay, time to go!" I had to break it to her that I don't get off until 4:30 and she still had some time to kill!

Monday, June 29, 2009

it's a lot easier

Lesson of the week: Sometimes it is WAY easier to be a social worker than a friend.

One of dearest and most beloved friends is currently dealing with extremely debilitating anxiety. If she was a client, I would know what to do, but it's so much harder to be a friend. That comes across sounding wrong somehow. I'm not sure it expresses what I'm truly trying to say. Let me try again.

I'm not trying to say that I want to be my friend's social worker, because I very much do not. What I am trying to say is that as a social worker, I have techniques and boundaries, and coworkers to debrief with, and time limited situations etc... Very rarely, does the emotional pain of my clients deeply hurt my heart. This is a good thing. It's what keeps me sane, and what enables me to be good at my job.

When my bestest bud is hurting, it breaks my heart. I hurt with her, and I hurt for her. I want to make all her pain go away. I certainly don't want to throw the responsibility back on her, I just want to fix the situation, so she doesn't have to deal with it. And I know she feels the same way, when I'm in the depths of depression (we've talked about it). Friendship is so deep on such a mutual level.

As social workers, we are able to make amazing differences in people's lives, we connect with people on a deep emotional level, but it's their emotional level, most of the time. We still have that inner running social worker dialogue going on in our heads. When it's our friends that are hurting, there's something else there.

This seems to be one of my more rambling posts, I haven't slept the greatest the past two nights, and I'm trying to express so much in this, and it's just not working.

On a positive note, because I like to end on a positive note, I got a BIKE! My last two were stolen, but hopefully this years bike, complete with even BIGGER lock, will last longer. That's the goal at least... In anycase, I'm riding to work tomorrow, and I'm very happy about that. SO glad to leave the car behind! Oh, and I made a pasta salad for lunch tomorrow, I'm very proud of myself.

and that folks, is a rare picture of the mess inside the dreamers house.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Something that was drilled into us during school was the idea that you can't take a client further than you've gone yourself. In otherwords, deal with your own crap before you try and help people deal with there's. If you can't bear to face your childhood, how can you help your clients do so etc... Well, that teaching has been in my mind a lot lately, and here's why.

Working in employment we talk a lot about "disclosure". For my clients, this would mean choosing to disclose to their bosses, supervisors, human resources (whoever) that they have a mental illness. I find that some of our staff, one in particular, really look down on the clients who refuse to disclose, even when they're having problems. In some cases, they'd rather look for a new job. And some of our staff just can't comprehend why a client would feel this way. I totally get it.

See something I've been thinking about a lot since this topic started coming up at work is disclosing my own mental illness, and if I did, who would I "disclose" to, and what would that look like. Actually, I'm not a fan of the word disclose as it really implys something hidden. I kind of prefer to see anxiety as a part of me, and just as I wouldn't share intimate experiences at the work place, I don't share about my experiences of anxiety. Lately though, things have been sucking. They had been going quite well for a while, but then the seasons changed again, from spring to summer, and things haven't been going so well (i'd love to know what it is about the change in seasons that sets me off).

When in comes to the idea of talking to my supervisor about my anxiety, I'm not actually that nervous, I'm just not sure I see a point. One of the objectives of disclosure is to make accomidations, and right now I certainly don't need accomadations. On the other hand, if I was my supervisor, I might like some advanced warning in case things came up and I did need some accomadations. So I can see both sides. I think I'd also feel better around my coworkers if I could say something like, "my anxiety is really bad right now, so I'm going to shut my door and take it easy for half an hour and see how I'm doing". It would be reassuring and less isolating. On the other hand, on our team of 8 there is 1 person I would NOT want to know, and that makes disclosing to the team quite hard.

So in terms of clients. I'm realizing that this is an issue that will be close to my heart if it comes up in counselling. I fully believe I am capable of helping a client through it, I'm not giving the client advice or an opinion afterwards, but even in the questions I ask, and the direction I choose to go with the client, I'll have to be quite careful.

Any thoughts on disclosing mental illness in the workplace? Is it good? Bad? Neither?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's SUMMER (almost)

You know, it's a big stereotype that Canada is cold all year round. However, my city has certainly lived up to that this spring. It has been so, so, so cold. Snow in May! So not fair. Anyway though, today was gorgeous. It was our church picnic and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day.

The picnic was great fun. Worship and communion and barbecue and games and games and candy and friends and FUN! Unfortunately however despite my sunscreen efforts I "missed" a couple places and now have a rather wierd "stripy" burn. Not cool. I pride myself on not getting sun burns and the use of appropriate sun protection. I had to go out and by some after sun lotion to try and calm things down a bit where I am burnt.

In other news, the dreamer is doing okay. Worked at the shelter last evening; another detox shift. This one was MUCH better than the last one. I quite enjoyed myself in fact! I really like seeing the clients. I miss them. I popped into the shelter today to bring the leftovers from our church picnic and some of them were quite disappointed that I wasn't staying to work a shift (I actually got offered one, but there is NO way I could ahve worked tonight).

My sister is working on my house. She's done some odd things, but overall, progressing. Actually, right now my house looks worse then it did before. There is stuff everywhere which boggles my mind seeing as I feel like I've thrown out SO much stuff! But, she organized my kitchen today and is working on the linen closet now so I really have nothing to complain about.

And now, I'm going to get some ice cream :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What I'm reading this week: Confidentiality in mental health

Cordless, C. (Ed.). (2001). Confidentiality in mental health. London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

One thing of note when reviewing an edited volume is that each article is not equally good or equally relevant to one’s interests.  This book for example had some articles which related more to psychiatry or hospital based care than to the community based work I’m involved in. 

An ongoing theme throughout the book is the shift from a psychiatry/hospital oriented model of mental health care to a community based one and it’s implications confidentiality.  While in the past, patients may have engaged in individual psychoanalysis with one professional, many clients today are involved with interdisciplinary or interagency teams and their personal information may be shared with all members of the team.  Also, in the modern context we place emphasis on supervision, debriefing and consultation with colleagues.  While most of us as professionals would not perceive this as a breach of confidentiality, clients might. 

Another theme in the book is client expectations of confidentiality, informed consent, and whether clients really know what they are getting into.  While a client may be informed that their social worker works as part of a team, do they understand that this may mean common record keeping, or in the case of Assertive Community Treatment, a daily review of their file by the entire team. 

Finally, the book discusses the legal aspects of confidentiality and what constitutes a breach.  When does the threat of harm to others outweigh a clinician’s responsibility to keep confidentiality?  For many, it can be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario as they face threat of litigation from both sides. 

I actually liked this book.  I didn’t read all of the legal chapters, but the chapter about social work was particularly good (or perhaps particularly relevant). The only draw back to the book was that it was British not Canadian and so all laws sighted were British.  I’d love to see Canadian authors pull together something similar.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Workshop Tomorrow: Mental Health First Aid

So tomorrow and Thursday I am taking a Mental Health First Aid workshop.  At first I wasn't all the interested in it, but it's got a really great reputation and I'm really looking forward to it.  

Basically, the idea is that just as we provide first aid for physical injuries we need to be able to provide first aid for mental health emergencies.  At first glance, the course looked like it was very much for people not already involved in the mental health field, but it looks like it will be a lot of professionals, which I'm excited about.  I love meeting other people working in the field, hearing their experiences and being able to network.  

I'm also excited because I feel like it's going to be a great refresher.  I took crisis intervention my last semester in school and ASIST (applied suicide intervention skills training) last april, but it's been quite awhile since I've had any official training.  Put simply, I'm excited to go back to "school".  

Other things I'm looking forward to include the break from the office and being able to walk to the course instead of having to drive.  Also, the fact that I get to leave 20mins later then I usually do!  

I'll post a review of it once it's over!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

cleaning (gulp)

So, things you may not know about the dreamer.  I am VERY messy.  Very, very, very messy.  My apartment was definitely turning into a fire hazard (although some claim it was turning into a bio hazard).  So, naturally, instead of cleaning it myself, I exercised me right to pay someone to do the things I don't want to do... my little sister.  I can't say my mother was too happy about the arrangement, but my sister is currently unemployed, and I'm paying her a very fair wage, more then she'd make working in retail or something.  She spent five hours today.  She did things like take all my plants down and wash my window sill... incredible.  

The Sophie Cat does NOT like the cleaning thing.  The cat doesn't even like it when I clean, but having someone else there while it was happening, was seriously not working for her.  I find is sooo funny that she doesn't like cleaning any more then I do.  She hides generally.  I think she doesn't like the changes that happen.  Things get moved, things get removed etc... Plus there is of coures the noisy vacuum.  

Currently, the cat is lying on top of my arm.  It makes it hard to type, but I think she is incredibely relived that I am no longer cleaning and trying frantically to make sure it doesn't start again... and it won't, till tomorrow.  My sister is coming back when I'm at work to continue tackling the disaster zone.  

Interestingly, my mom looks at this as exploitation.  I look at this as humbling myself enough to admit that things are out of control and I need help to get things back... 

just a bit frustrated

I'm not sure where this post is going to go, so I apologize in advance if I offend anyone.  I'm tired.  I'm a bit grumpy.  And a bit pissed off.  

So, I worked at the shelter today, in the detox unit.  I haven't worked there in ages, so it was kind of nice.  

We had a client in the office tonight who was ready to discharge because I would let her break the rules.  Apparently other staff let her break this rule and she couldn't believe I wouldn't.  I tell my coworker, that with the letter already on my file, I really can't afford to break any rules and that I'm documenting this all SUPER well so that it doesn't come back and haunt me later if the client reports me.  So then, I go do some laundry, and when I come back, the staff member tells me that she explained to the client that I was in trouble over something else and couldn't risk it.  I was NOT impressed.  That's my business and the client does NOT need to know that.  Hardly professional.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm wearing a dress...

I'm off to a fundraiser for work right away.  Label me not impressed but going to make the best of it (rant to follow).  At least there's decent silent auction prizes.  

(rant begins now).  See the thing of it is, I had to buy a ticket to the stupid thing.  I mean, I totally support fundraising, we're none profit after all.  But I didn't want to shell out money when I could ahve bought at least 5 meals for the same amount... like seriously, a weeks groceries (granted I don't eat all my meals at home, but still).  I could have gone to Starbucks soooo many times on that amount of money.  I'm kinda pissed at my coworkers too.  I told them (the 3 I talk to most) that I'd go if they went.  As far as I knew, they weren't going, and then 2 days ago, I find out they are, and they're like "oh" we thought you were.  Okay, fine, misunderstanding.  Then I found out everyone on our team is going but me.  That's just great.  So then, I go and shell out the dollars.  I'm even wearing a freaking dress.  It's the first dress I've bought since my high school graduation.  I don't do dresses.  But this is a nice affair after all.  Bah.  

So anyway, what's your organizations policy on attending fundraisers, if you're the kind of place that does fundraisers...  Do you have to volunteer a certain number of hours, buy tickets, provide prizes for silent auctions?  Some places here actually have it written into contracts, and our agency may eventually.  But seriously, is it even appropriate to expect your staff to pay back their wages in fundraising?  

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I'm reading this week: Understanding Personality Disorders: An introduction

Dobbert, D. L. (2007).  Understanding personality disorders: An introduction. Westport, CT.: Praeger.  

The stated intent of Duane L. Dobbert when writing this book was to provide a non-clinical explanation and exploration of personality disorders, and he does.  Dobbert approaches the subject from an “us verses them” mentality.  In contrast to much psychological literature of the time, Dobbert sees the individuals affected by other people’s disorders as being “victims” and the personal with a personality disorder as being the antagonist.  The preface states “if nothing else, this book will help you realize that you are the victim, not the person with the problem”. 

Dobbert starts his book with case studies illustrating his position that people are victims of those with personality disorders.  The introduction goes through the DSM-IV-TR definition of Personality Disorders and their associated criteria and characteristics.  Dobbert’s definitions are clear and his explanations straight forwards.  However, Dobbert uses a lot of black and white language and gives a very negative outlook using statements like “they [those with a personality disorder] are not capable of viewing the world from the perspective of another…consequently, it is an egocentric view, albeit inaccurate.” (page 3). 

Chapters two through twelve of Dobbert’s book go through the DSM criteria for each of the ten personality disorders (Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive Compulsive and Conduct Disorder).  For each, he provides at least one case study.  He then discusses expected outcomes and therapies.  An appendix at the end of the book outlines major theoretic perspectives of personality disorder. 

I’ll be honest, and say that I didn’t like the book.  For starters, I found Dobbert to be arrogant, and I can’t stand arrogant authors.  Secondly, I found it boring.  He literally takes the DSM and explains each sentence.  However, I can see that this book could be useful for family and friends of someone with a personality disorder.  I still wouldn’t recommend it though except as a last resort, because I think it has a very negative perspective.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a great experience with any books I’ve read about personality disorders, so I’m not sure what I would recommend instead (suggestions are always welcome). 


Friday, May 29, 2009

dreamer takes a sick day

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll have noticed a trend, for a relatively healthy 22 year old, I'm really not all that healthy.  I'd given up posting about my sinuses, but in the past eight weeks, I've been to urgent care twice and my family doctor twice, taken three rounds of anti biotics, used nasal irigation, had decogestants react with my effexor, taken decogestants anyway and hoped for the best, and spent WAY too much time whining about my sinuses.  

My second urgent care visit was today.  It took six hours, but I think it was worth it.  I saw this awesome nurse practitioner student (I love nurse practitioners by the way).  He took the time to really figure out what was going on with me.  I got poked and proded, x-rayed and stuck for blood.  And this nurse practioner student figured out what the doctors didn't.  I don't have a bacterial infection.  That would be why the drugs didn't work!  Now I have some nasal steroids and the joyous diagnosis of "chronic sinusitis".  Colour me not impressed.  

Anyway, I think that's all I have to say about my sinuses, other then THEY HURT!  Last night I dreamed about having a whole drilled in my forehead to drain them.  I was sad when I woke up and it wasn't real.  

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Housing Part Four: Barriers to Safe Housing

So now that I’ve written about kinds of housing, reason people need housing, and what safe housing looks like, it’s only fitting to consider some of the barriers to safe housing.  Why, in an industrialized nation such as Canada doesn’t everyone have safe housing?? 


The fact is, where I live, there number of people in need of safe housing simply outweigh the number of units available.  I live in a city with an extremely low vacancy rate, and that rate is spread through all levels of housing.  If we were to measure the number of people living in substandard, crowded and unsafe housing and compare it to the current vacancy rate the difference would be staggering.  There just isn’t enough housing. 


When you rent an apartment, there is more to think about then just the cost of rent.  There’s also the damage deposit, and this is a big one.  Almost always, no damage deposit means no rental, and in some cases you are expected to put down first and last month’s rent as well.  This can be simply unreachable for people living on fixed incomes, and since you don’t get your last damage deposit back till you move out… Oh, and did I mention that it is impossible to rent an apartment one what our social assistance system pays for a single persons rent, let alone a safe one? 

Poor Rental History/Bad References

Once you develop a spotty rental history, it’s really hard to get away from it.  I actually had a client turned down as soon as the caretaker saw his name, he’d heard rumors about him in the area and wasn’t willing to risk it.  For someone trying to turn their life around, it can be really frustrating to get shot down for this reason.  Of course, looking at the landlord’s perspective, why risk it! 


When you have a disability, including mental health concerns, finding housing becomes even harder.  How do you find a place, which meets your unique needs, often on a fixed income?  With such a low vacancy rate, even less are assessable, and even less of those are affordable. 


Another barrier to finding safe housing is literacy and language.  What if you can’t read or speak English.  How do you go through ads, answer and ask questions etc… if you can’t follow the language.  Immigrants often have a very difficult time finding housing and often have little money, which adds to the problem. 


I’d love to say that I live in a country where no one cares about the colour of a person’s skin, or the fact that two men are renting a one-bedroom apartment.  But I don’t.  And the truth is, there are some groups of people who are going to be able to find housing a lot more easily then others.  For example, it took me a total of two apartment visits to find one I wanted this time.  And I got it.  Actually, I got both; it’s just that I only needed one, so I chose the one that best suited my needs.  Of course, I’m a white professional, and that does matter, even though it shouldn’t.