Mental Health Series: Let’s kick it off during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health is important to me. I have learned through volunteering for SANE: Changing Mental Health for Good that Mental Health Awareness week is celebrated May 13 through May 19th. I feel passionate about mental health, and I decided to start a series on my blog and YouTube channel dedicated to mental health. I want to share some of my mental health journey with you. I hope that opening up about my health will get more people talking about their own mental health and about the resources that are available to help in healing and to sustain wellness. I have had a range of mental health issues such as low-grade depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I learned through therapy that my self-esteem and wellbeing could improve through the use of different coping techniques and positive self-talk. It took a lot of hard work and time, however I am now a happier and much healthier person because of it.

I hope that you enjoy this series. I feel ready to be open on each topic I discuss.   Together we can talk about these topics down in the comments and I hope that this helps others in their own journey.

I am no longer afraid or ashamed to talk about my mental health journey. I find it very beneficial and healing.  Here’s to a new series and to Mental Health Awareness Week!

 

Section Five: Taxis and Drivers-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This is the last section of “Going Places.” This section talked about taxis and hiring drivers. To be honest I have rarely used these modes of transportation.

When it comes to taking a taxi, I usually use them as part of paratransit. Just like the course said there are many advantages and disadvantages to using a taxi. When I think of the disadvantages several come to mine. Such as the smell and the cleanliness of the taxi, and the cost. When I use paratransit my fair is $3.50 each way.  Once when I had to take a taxi to work I had to pay around $40.00. Truly, the cost of using a cab can be costly.

There are some advantages to taking a taxi. Like actually being able to go somewhere. I have known of some people who live in cities that do not have taxi services. I feel lucky to have this service.

When it comes to hiring a driver, I have never done this before. I am glad the course mentioned it.

The second section the course talked about was about how to gather information about taxis. This information is pretty easy to find. When I have to look up a phone number I either find it using the internet or the old-fashioned phone book. When it comes to hiring a driver it is up to the person who is visually impaired. You have to decide on several different things such as how many hours you need the driver, amount of pay, how many places you need to go, and the type of driving record and car you are looking for. The course offered tips on how to write an advertisement and where you can post the advertisement to find a driver. Of course, safety is always important.

The third section talked about hiring the driver and what to do if you have to terminate the contract that you have between you and your driver. The course recommended that you keep a list of what you are looking for when you are interviewing different candidates. Once you have hired someone be sure to keep a record of their performance.  That way if you do have to terminate someone you have a clear record of why you are terminating their services. The course recommended to always stay professional even if you end up hiring a friend or family member to be your hired driver.

The fourth section taught me a lot about what the course called the Bartering system. This is basically exchanging goods or services for rides instead of money. I already use the bartering system somewhat. When a friend takes me out for a day of shopping, I often offer to buy them lunch in return for the rides around town.  Of course, you can offer other things such as house cleaning and pet sitting.  😊

The fifth and final section was on trip planning. Again, this felt like a review to me. Some tips that I learned was to study your route in advance, so that way if you are paying cash you are not cheated on mileage, carry a cell phone with you, make sure a friend or family member knows about your trip,  and lastly never be a chatter box and give out  your personal information to someone  you just hired or if you decide to take a taxi.

Section four: Public Transit and Paratransit-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This lesson was on public transit and paratransit and it gave me feelings of anger. That is because I know how limited paratransit can be in my local area. Using my local paratransit makes me feel trapped.

There were four sections in this lesson. The first one was about the advantages and disadvantages of both public transit, which can include buses, subways, trains, etc. and Paratransit. When it comes to public transit, I have only taken the bus twice.  The first time was for Orientation and Mobility training. I was really nervous when I took the bus that day. It was nice to have a lesson on it though. The second time I took it was when I took it with my best friend to get back to her dorm when we had a sleep over. I felt that the second time was much better because my friend knew the bus route very well. I felt confident in her travel skills. Because the nearest bus stop is too far away from my home, I have to use paratransit. I really wish our public bus system was closer. I would travel more and I think I would feel more confident with my travel skills.

For most of my travel I use paratransit or I get rides from family and friends. When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages the disadvantages of using my local paratransit outweigh the advantages. One of the main disadvantages is the paratransit is either very late, up to 30 minutes to an hour or more or sometimes they forget you all together. I have lost count of how many times I have missed events or appointments due to the lack of quality of service in my area.  I agree with the course that sometimes you can get bad feedback because you use a service that is for those who have disabilities. I personally have had feedback both positive and negative from people in our community.

Even though this is a problem there are some advantages of paratransit I like. For example, I only have to pay $7.00 for a trip. I like the fact that they come right to your door and drop you off at your location. I agree with the course when it says that some of the paratransit companies have trained their drivers to help people who have disabilities. I have had some very helpful drivers.

The second section was on finding sources of information. I felt that this section was more like a review for me. I found out more information about the bus and paratransit system when my family and I attended a local community fair. I also heard about the bus and paratransit from my Division of Blind Services Caseworker. There are many resources such as websites, and community organizations that can possibly help you with information when it comes to learning about your local public transit or paratransit in your area.  Be sure to check it out.

The third section also felt like a review. It covered a basic knowledge of how to plan your trip. One thing that I did not know before this lesson was when taking the bus, plan your route backwards to achieve being at your destination on time.

The last section was on travel tips and this section helped me immensely. I learned there are a variety of ways that you can file a complaint. I personally would like to start using these tips and I want our paratransit system to improve it’s service.

2019: More Movement, Patience and Positivity April Edition

April was a really tough month for me for personal reasons; however, I am proud of my achievements and for pushing through it.

When it came to movement I had to remind myself that the more I move and walk the better I would feel. My weight has been going up and down. Thankfully it is in the right direction again. I am proud of my achievements as I have been volunteering by writing for SANE: Changing mental Health for Good for one year.  I accomplished an even bigger achievement by getting my first paycheck for an article I wrote. I never thought that I would be paid for my writing. My perseverance has paid off.

When it comes to my education, I just finished my second Hadley course. I cannot wait for my final grade and to be able to sign up for my next course. In addition to this, I finished my training at the local center for the blind and visually impaired; and I have earned my certificates.

When it comes to patience, I am waiting for a few things to come in the mail. I will be using these items for my blog and YouTube videos. I have been working on a #Secret project, and it is slowly coming along. I learned that I must be very patient with this.

Lastly, I am still learning that being positive has a big impact on what I can achieve. If I think positive thoughts and I set goals I can achieve just about anything. I truly am getting closer to my dreams and goals one day at a time.

Remember that you can achieve your goals and dreams too. 😊

 

Interview with Luke (Guest Blog Post #10)

Hi Everyone, this month I got the pleasure  of interviewing my friend Luke. Luke has his own blog. He is an amazing blogger.  Please be sure to check out his blog and other social media links. Many thanks to Luke for featuring me on his website.

  1. What is your name?

Luke

  1. Age?

I’m 28, although I feel much older.

  1. Who has inspired you the most in life and blogging?

I would probably have to say my Mum. She always supports me whatever I do, but my biggest blogging inspirations would have to be Mikhela and Caroline Hirons.

  1. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I really like to read, mainly Autobiographies, and also love to watch as much TV as I can.

  1. Name a bad habit that you have?

I occasionally pick my Nails, but I can often go months without doing it.

  1. Name your best quality?

I would probably have to say my willingness to help anyone.

  1. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

I would have to say either Joan Rivers or Sarah Millican, as I think that they would have some great stories about their lives and the people that they’ve worked with to tell.

  1. What is your college major/Minor?

I don’t have one.

  1. What school (college or university) did you go to?

Queensbury School in Bradford. It was a decent School at the time but it’s gone very downhill since I left and at one point ended up in special measures, which is kind of OFSTED’s, the governing body of Schools, naughty step.

  1. What is the title of your blog?

Luke Sam Sowden.

  1. When and why did you start your blog?

I started on the 1st of October 2014, and I started because it took quite a lot of work. to film, edit and promote the YouTube videos that I was uploading at the time.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully still writing my Blog but to a bigger audience, and maybe even the owner of some kind of small business.

  1. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is a hereditary Eye condition, which unfortunately means that I have Tunnel Vision, which is more like looking through a Funnel rather than a Tunnel, Night Vision, which means that I can’t see at Night and floaters, which are like little pieces of White Fluff that float around my Eyes every so often.

  1. How does your visual impairment or other disability that you may have effect you on a daily basis?

My visual impairment makes it difficult to read text like my mail and misjudge where things are.

  1. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

Most of the people including my Family and Friends, are perfectly fine with my condition as they know that I can’t change anything about it, but there are some people that aren’t and somehow take the fact that I can’t see properly as an insult towards them but I don’t give them a second thought.

  1. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) what would it be?

Just that the best thing is to get on with your life and don’t take any notice of what other people might think.

Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

My Blog |http://www.lukesamsowden.com

YouTube |http://www.youtube.com/user/lukesamsowden

Facebook |https://www.facebook.com/lukesamuelsowden

Twitter | https://www.twitter.com/lukesamsowden

Instagram |https://www.instagram.com/lukesamsowden

If you are a disability writer, blogger, or YouTuber and would like to be a guest on my blog feel free to contact me by email at: amanda@amandagene.com

Section three: Walking and Biking-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

In this section of “Going Places” from my Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Review I want to talk about what I learned about walking and biking.

This lesson brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to ride my bike. I found that riding my bike was fast and fun! I did some walking to and from school when I was in middle school; however, my mother was always worried about my safety. She was so worried about my safety because one day I did not return home on time. I walked home with a friend a different way and it took us longer to get home. After that, my mother had me tested for Orientation and Mobility. In the report, it basically said that my mother needed to let me be more independent. She hardly let me walk home on my own and as a result I felt less independent than my peers. This leads me to the first section of the lesson: Advantages and disadvantages of walking and biking. I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Both walking and biking can be low cost and good for someone’s health. I learned that with correct planning both of these can be enjoyed.

During sixth grade my mom and other adults started talking to me about safety issues, such as coming home from school on time, having phone numbers to call in case I were to get lost, etc. Reflecting back on this, as an adult, these are basic common-sense issues that should be taught to any child early. I feel that if a child wishes to walk or bike somewhere, as long as it’s safe, let the child do it. I feel that If I was exposed to walking and biking earlier, I would have been more confident with my travel skills.

When it comes to trip planning the more you do it the easier it becomes. Start teaching these travel skills early! For example, you can teach landmarks. My mother started teaching me this from a young age. She also taught me compass directions and map reading. Remember you are your child’s best advocate! You may want to request support from an Orientation and Mobility specialist to get help in white cane training and with the examples I mentioned.

 

Section two:Practical Implications-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review.

The second section of my Hadley “Going Places,” review really gave me some strong emotions. Feelings of sadness, anger, jealousy, among other emotions surfaced because in the second section we talked about how our family and friends feel about the effects of us not being able to drive.

Let me give you an example, last year, I had a really bad tooth ache, and my grandpa had to take me to an emergency dental appointment. If my grandpa would have not been able to take me then I would have either continued to be in pain or I would have had to take a taxi which can be expensive. I am thankful that I was able to go and he was able to take me; however, on the other hand, he had to drop his plans. He could have been doing other things instead of taking me. He helps me because he cares for me. I was able to say thank you for taking me by doing a little extra around the house. This is a good example of what the course called balancing and bartering. Not only did this case speak of balancing and bartering but this example shows how it allows others, including myself, to talk about the impact of your inability to drive.

Another example I can give, was from 2015, when I had a part-time job. I had to use the paratransit to get to work. The paratransit is usually very late picking me up. While waiting for my ride that day, my eyes began to fill with tears; I felt embarrassed because I knew I would be getting to work late, and I worried about getting fired. My grandpa felt frustrated with the situation. I wanted to be a good employee, and I knew I needed to be on time. That day we both vented about how it would be better if the van was on time and if I had the same driver every day. I learned in the course that it is important to communicate your feelings with family and friends. It is also important to be fair and to give back to those who help you. One thing that bothers me is how some of  my family does not understand how wide-spread my city is. It takes me an hour or more, using paratransit, to get somewhere. When they suggest walking somewhere, they do not realize that walking is a limited option for me.

The section continued to talk about how to explain to family members and friends about what you can see, how well you can see, and how it can impact your life. This caused me to have strong emotions.  One thing that bothers me is some of my family refuses to learn and understand how bad my vision is.  Sometimes I wish I could give them a mock situation of what my vision is like. One thing that I learned from my best friend is. At the end of the day, they get to have their sight back. I do not. Having a visual impairment is challenging, but it is manageable when you have the right tools in place to succeed. I wear glasses, and I have had independent living training, and this has helped me feel confident. Despite this some of  my family still refuses to understand. I believe in trying and not giving up. One thing the course recommended, that I am already doing, is to exchange goods for rides. When my friend takes me out shopping, I usually buy her lunch. The course has taught me other things about being fair and having a “transportation tool kit”

The third section was on how to deal with community interactions. This section helped me in many ways. It taught me how to have a basic statement so others can understand my visual impairment and what I can see. It also explained about how to talk about accommodations. Like being sure the driver knows to come to the door when they arrive.  Sitting close by the driver helps me feel at ease. I like to look out the window when I am traveling. I feel better when I can see where I am going.

The next section was on relocating, and once again I felt strong feelings. Personally, relocating is something I can not do right now. However, I can see the advantages of being close by things such as shops, a pet grooming salon, and gas stations etc. Maybe one day this will be an option for me.  Another thing that was covered was reasonable adjustments. For me this means online shopping. 😊 It helped reinforce the fact that online, catalog, and TV shopping can be helpful. The more independent I can be the better.

The next section was safety. For me, personally this section talked about a lot of things I already knew. Such as having a backup plan in case your ride forgets you, to carry a separate wallet for your fare money, and carry a cell phone. However, there was two things I had never thought of before. The first thing was to carry a whistle with you. This makes sense in case you need to get someone’s attention. The second thing I learned was to carry a camping chair with you in case you have to sit and wait for a while. The course also talked about having an emergency plan. Have extra cash on you for a cab, extra charging cords, etc.

The last section was on how to plan a budget which you would only use for traveling. I felt like this section was helpful because it offered a simple example of what a budget could look like. Since I have never fully planned out a budget just for travel, I decided to start using one. This section pointed out the highs and lows of not being able to drive, and the importance of having reliable transportation.  I know that once I start living on my own transportation will be costly. The course offered a tip that we should use around 75 percent of our budget on travel.

In the next blog post I will be talking about walking and biking.