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Showing posts with label resource. Show all posts
Showing posts with label resource. Show all posts

Friday, July 21, 2023

All In The Mind-Mackenzie Abbot reporting…

Occasionally, the boss will put a story idea on the assignment log that strikes a chord with me and I must take it.  Not through necessity, but through sheer curiosity.

When I was given the job of discovering more about Fearless Nation PTSD Centre and what it does, I jumped at the chance.  As a sufferer of PTSD myself, I was curious to find out more about what goes on at Fearless Nation and what, exactly, PTSD is.

I spoke with Dr Colleen Crary at the meeting point after she gave a lecture.

Mack:So, the first question is as part of Fearless Nation, you deal with PTSD sufferers, what is PTSD?

Dr Colleen: What is PTSD? Well, It's a complicated condition. I like to call it a condition, not an illness. It is the only mental health challenge or condition that people get that is caused by external means. For example, things like bipolar, schizophrenia. Those might be genetic. I mean, we don't know. There's so much we don't know in science. PTSD, however, can be directly linked to things like combat, being a crime victim, being abused in childhood and so on and so forth. Whereas where the abuse, or the event is external. Now people always ask me what about natural disasters, you know? Whether it's a volcano or a hurricane or a flood or something like that. What was heavily studied and observed during Hurricane Katrina down in the south part of the United States, and further studies have been done since then, is that the natural disaster is very shocking. It's horrible. You lose your house., it's terrible. It's hard, but it's what happens when there's an absence of the law. There's lawlessness and a lot of crime goes on person to person, and that tends to be what causes the PTSD.  Two things happen. First of all, the brain changes shape.  The brain completely alters its shape, six months after the traumatic event. And what happens is that a person when you are being traumatised or, you know, bullied or a crime is being committed upon you or you're in combat, what happens is your brain goes into the fight or flight mode. It's a very primitive thing. It's what protected us from Sabre tooth tigers, so to speak. And what happens is it goes into fight or flight and the memory of the trauma divides into parts of the brain that are nonverbal and verbal and because that happens after the trauma is over, trauma patients can't remember the whole thing in sequential order. You know what memories of, say, a birthday party or going to work or a work project or something like that. When one is in the fight or flight mode, that memory is spliced up and goes to different areas of the brain. And then unfortunately afterwards, that's why we have the nightmares, the hypervigilance, the startle effect, and going involuntarily into shock because the nonverbal memories have not been united with the verbal memories. But there are many, many wonderful diverse ways to reunite those memories and then process the entire trauma and grieve it. There's a lot of grief work involved. There's a lot of anger work involved, et cetera. And just one sequential memory being processed and understood, and then you come to terms with it, and you can move on with your life. But it’s easier said than done. When these memories are divided, what happens is people manifest physical ailments, the nightmares, the night terrors, panic attacks, for seemingly no reason. Or there might be a trigger that reminds them of the trauma event. And, on the other side of it, is we go numb, we go and voluntarily into shock and we find it hard to maintain intimacy. We find it hard to stay with people. You know when they're talking to us it's like sometimes, we go numb, or we dissociate. Dissociate is the clinical term. We will somebody will be talking to us and it's like I can't understand a word the person is saying because we go into shock and sometimes it cycles at the same time in our brains you can understand just how difficult it is, but there are many, many, many ways to bring these memories together. But it's not easy for the PTSD patient to do these things. It's extremely hard and it's very unfair and they're incredibly angry about it because I didn't cause this trauma. I didn't ask to be hurt or bullied or have a crime committed against me or to be in a firefight in in war, in the war theatre. Now I must do all the work, so I get a lot of that, but you must go through it to get processed and over it.

Mack: You've answered the three questions I had written down in one sentence. So that kind of threw me off a little bit.

Dr Colleen: What were questions two and three, please. I may have something to add

Mack: Well, question one was what is PTSD, what is the effect and what I was actually going to ask you is that as a PTSD sufferer myself, my psychiatrist has said on more than one occasion that PTSD is basically a filing error in the  brain, where you take an event that's happened to you and you either try and build a wall around it or you file it away somewhere. And it just reappears. You know, at random time, like you say, would you agree that is that the case?

Dr Colleen: Absolutely. As I was saying. During the traumatic event, we go into shock. It's fight or flight. And the memory of the trauma is divided into non-verbal parts of the brain like your psychiatrist was talking about, you know, a filing error. It is a filing error. That's a great term. I'm going to use that. I'm going to steal that from you! Nonverbal areas of the brain and the verbal areas of the brain. This is why, here's an example. This is why for many years police did not believe rape victims or some crime victims because the part of the trauma was in the nonverbal areas of their brain where that information is stored, and they only could see bits and pieces. I mean, imagine if you're being assaulted or raped, where is your attention when you are in fight or flight when your brain kind of shuts down. I mean, it's like oxygen doesn't reach certain parts of the brain so that you can get away from, as I said, the primitive Sabre tooth tiger analogy. You're looking at the gun, the knife, or the weapon. And you're trying to figure out how to get out of this. You might play dead and just let it happen because you just freeze, like a deer in the headlights. So that's very much true. But the going one of the more popular theories is exactly what your psychiatrist said. It's a filing error in the brain between the verbal and nonverbal areas of the brain because after the trauma is over and you're safe, then you start having all these weird symptoms. Like you know, sudden panic attacks or just going numb and winking out for a few minutes or a while. Depression, anger, grief, because it' very frustrating, very frustrating illness. Or uh condition. 

Mack: So how does your organisation help avatars who come along and say, look, I need help.

Dr Colleen: Well, the reason I think that a virtual world like second life is so great. And I thought so when I first came in in 2008 and then I left because I was freaked out and overwhelmed by it all. And then I came back in 2009, just a couple months later. January because I started thinking, wait a minute. It's got built in anonymity. You know, you can come in with an avatar name and a personhood presence and. You don't have to use voice. We're using voice right now, but there are a lot of people that their bodies have been compromised by war. My best friend here in second life was a 9/11 Ground Zero EMT or emergency medical technician and stayed at Ground Zero for a long time and prefers not to speak, so she uses everything in the chat box. This is a perfect place because people can come, and they can present the bodies that they... they're like my avatar. It looks like my best day at age 27, OK. In real life I look the same, but a little older and more tired also. We have, you know, a lot of veterans or people that have survived car crashes, you know, vehicular accidents. That were traumatic, et cetera, and they may have bodies that are compromised, or they may be ill. You may fit surprising, but people who have gotten cancer or had to have limbs amputated for one reason or another, they experienced PTSD. I mean, think about it like for a cancer patient or, you know, a deadly diagnosis. Just you're told. “Hey, you know you you're not going to make it.”  Yeah, this is it. And you go and you get your will drawn up and you get your house in order, and you make sure everything's right and you're all OK. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to die and go to heaven. And then it's like, ohh well, we got the test back and, and you're going to make it. You're fine. You're still alive. And people like flip out. I mean, because it's very traumatic to go through and especially children who get cancer or long-term degenerative illnesses. They developed PTSD as well, so I think second life is a wonderful place because you can look your best self and you can be your best self. Some people come in here and they're not their best self. They're their worst self and we've we know all about that griefers and people like that. But what a wonderful place for people to come and talk about very painful truths in their lives, abuses that they've suffered, and they can do so as they please. They don't have to battle traffic to get to a psychiatrist's office or be face to face on a screen. I guess we do more virtual stuff now with therapy, but they can come in and discuss these things and we have peer support meetings. We stopped them for the summer, but we're going to be having them again in the fall, so feel free to join us, anyone. We're open to everyone who has PTSD. But the virtual. World is perfect for PTSD treatment. I See it as a Real therapeutic edge.

Mack: Is there a procedure for helping various PTSD victims, not victims of PTSD sufferers? Is there a certain stage by stage process, or is each individual different?

Dr Colleen: Everyone is different. I mean I think with any mental health condition, you know, each of us is a unique set of variables. Nature variables and nurture variables. That's why it's so hard to get medications right for people with any sort of mental condition, and why what works for one person doesn't work for another. And one of the big problems in healthcare or mental health care is that there tends to be this one-size-fits-all sort of you know plan and, even just diagnosing things, it's with one-size-fits-all, and that's not how people are, and that's not how human beings' work

Mack: So, you're also a real-life non-profit organisation for PTSD sufferers. How would someone find you if they didn't fancy doing it in world? How would they find you?

Dr Colleen: We've had better luck in world than we have in real life. There's, like, a million nonprofits or charity organisations for mental health and for PTSD, and particularly with the pandemic. But even pre pandemic getting people to.... there's still a lot of stigma attached to having. PTSD. So, getting people to step up and come to meetings in person. I mean, I can't tell you how many gyms or uh YMCA you know rooms or community centres where I've. I've sat on a folding chair with a big circle of empty chairs around me. We get much better results in in world and that may sound strange, it seems like this PTSD meetings like Veterans groups will have them. But people don't want it to be known that they have PTSD because there's all this stigma that people with PTSD were ticking time bombs. We're going to climb the clock tower. And this is simply not true. I mean, someone might have PTSD who you know, of course, you know, here in America, we have, like, a mass shooting three times a day. But they might have PTSD. PTSD can certainly exacerbate existing homicidal tendencies. But people who kill are... they already have a form of paranoid schizophrenia. Homicidal tendencies are really the best term for it. But it's people with PTSD. The leading cause of death for us is suicide. We are far more likely to top ourselves or self-harm or commit suicide than to harm someone else. In fact, the reason why we have PTSD is because we have a conscience, and we have we feel the weight of responsibility. To those we love and to the community in general. And I don't think the public understands that. So, in real life I just I like stopped it.  Now that PTSD is being a little more accepted after the pandemic, especially with medical workers and such, I want to restart it here in my community in southern Washington state, the Pacific Northwest. But it's extremely hard to get butts on seats. Whereas here people will come because nobody knows who they really are in real life, because there's still so much stigma.

I thanked her for her time and we parted ways.  I felt I had gained an insight into my own version of PTSD and the condition in general.  We only scraped the surface of PTSD and we could have continued the conversation for a few more hours.

Maybe, it’s time YOU had that conversation?

Fearless Nation can be found here

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Autism Resource Center plans to change how neurodivergence is viewed. Moonite1687 Reporting...

Throughout April, the Autism Society invited Autistic individuals, their families, and friends to honor their wide range of experiences by taking time to share stories on social media through the #CelebrateDifferences hashtag. No family or individual's story is the same as any other, and the Autism Society believes the world should recognize the infinite ways the Autism community experiences life.

However, Existential Conundrum feels that Autism deserves more than a month to recognize and share the experiences of "individuals living with Autism" (Autistic people). So, she started the Autist(ic) Resource Center (ARC), formerly known as the Autis(tic) Information Center, in 2019 to minimize the lack of information and support in Second Life for the Autism Spectrum Disorder or Condition. To date, there are only one or two other sources of information in SL, and they are parent-created groups that do not support Autistic adults or listen when [they] speak. To bridge this gap, the ARC has partnered with the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), an organization that started off helping those with brain injuries and is now moving forward to help build up services centered on neurodivergent adults, a community that is very often overlooked.

For those unaware, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, as a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. ASD includes a range of linked conditions that sometimes include singular symptoms and traits. People with ASD often have social communication and interaction problems with non-Autistic people and restricted or repetitive behaviors often caused by overwhelming emotion or sensitivity. The behaviors often exhibited are repetitive movements such as wringing hands, tapping or flapping, and many others. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or focusing.

Albeit different in managing self, many people on the Spectrum could function more easily if the world would change to accommodate Autistic individuals rather than the other way around. Therefore, the ARC has made its mission one that shifts the treatment of individuals who are disabled--a term accepted by the Autistic community--by ASD and other neurodivergent disorders from pity and juvenile treatment to one of acceptance and understanding.

One of the several action plans that Exi is using to begin this shift is to work on producing a peer support group in collaboration with BEST to specifically provide a coaching service to help all neurodivergent adults make and pursue life goals that are entirely individual driven. "It's working with people where they are and making it possible to live their BEST lives," declares Exi. This program is geared toward adults and young adults aging out of programming that panders to children on the Spectrum. 

Another action plan is to sponsor more events that close the gap. In April, Exi stated that she hosted the Common Ground collaboration party to answer pending questions and educate individuals on the double empathy problem and the communication issues to be aware of when interacting with Autistic people. Next year, Exi plans to hold an event that discusses cultural expressions and the intersectionality with neurodivergence. 

ARC also works with other groups to enhance their services and reach. Currently, Exi is working on creating a hub featuring a series of blogs and websites from the black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities living with Autism to create a space for intersectional voices to be heard when traditionally they are overlooked. 

The ARC inworld is open to all Autistic SecondLife residents or SecondLife residents supporting an Autistic individual to drop in and connect with Exi and her spouse for support and resources. The ARC does have an online presence on Facebook and Twitter for soft engagement and digital interaction. The ARC is also open to suggestions and assistance with bringing more content to the grid to make sure the effort to keep Autistic individuals and their struggles in the light. 

Consider using the helpful links provided below for more information on managing Autism or interacting with someone with Autism and other neurodivergent disorders. And remember that being different is a beautiful and positive thing.

Friday, February 7, 2020

WBH: Nutritional Resource Center @ Inspiration Island February 7th at 6 am SLT

Nutrition Resource Center, built and maintained by Jasmine Lordenwych, provides integrative holistic health information for every taste and dietary design. Recipes, menus and guidance on our quest to thrive!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

GeekSpeak – Resource Wars! Saturday, July 30th at Noon SLT

There are some resources on the planet, such as coltan or neodymium, that are very important to us but are only found in a few places.  For instance, neodymium is found only in China.  What will happen if we run out of these resources?  Will the countries where they are mined always be willing to share?  Will we go to war?

Or will the lack of resources lead to new inventions?  For example, if there is no copper will we be forced to start developing carbon circuits in a big way?

What about material that cannot be found anywhere on earth, like He-3, or material that gets lost in space, like helium?  We cannot go to war for that so how do we get new stockpiles of it?

What would a future without all these resources look like? Are we heading for a low technology future?  Stone tools again?  Or will it not go quite that far?  Bring your thinking hats to GeekSpeak.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Project Hope Island- Debby Sharma Reporting...

“Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
-          Bruce Lee

It is failure, loss, loneliness and grief that we all have faced at some time or the other. At some point of our life, we have wanted to end this life, however short the moment might be. Loss of a loved one, loss of self-respect, failure in an examination, failure to provide for family, failure to be someone respectable in society and so on. With so many challenges and obstacles that life presents us, there are numerous man made challenges like abuse, trafficking, murders and other criminal activities. The trail doesn’t end here, there are incurable diseases like Cancer to natural disasters; there are wars to droughts to hunger and poverty. Every day we wake up to face a new challenge in order to survive another day. In a perfect world, a father works hard to support his family, a mother works hard to feed her family, a child works hard to assure the future of the family. The daily life starts with posing outright obstacles and ends with a relief of living another day.
Photography Credits: Google Search
Suicide is said to be a cowardice act, a crime in eyes of law, an evil deed in Lord’s eyes. We often hear it is easy to end a life; it is difficult to live one. But how often have we taken the initiative to learn the reasons where a victim is forced to take his/her life? How often have we looked over our shoulder to provide support to the one who has lost the battle? How often have we offered a hand of support without expecting anything in return? We often say something like we are so busy in our lives; we have so many problems to deal with; I have given a donation to a charity; the company that I work for has charitable branch and I donate monthly. But, have we ever given a thought to whose life are we making a difference to in such a support? Have we ever wanted to listen to part of the story of the victim?
Project Hope Island is a place of serenity created by Arwen Mannonen for individuals who need help; people who are distressed and want to commit suicide. It is a peer to peer support group, functioning to give resources and encouragement for the one who have none. Resources like Help-line numbers, Support groups, Domestic Violence resources and Books to prevent suicide.
Photography Credits: Leela Qissinger

A few of the resources are listed below.
Self-Injury Resources:
·         Cut  by Patricia McCormick
·         Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation by Steven Levenkron
·         A Bright Red Scream by Marilee Strong
Groups for Help with Self Injury
·         Safe Haven:  Online
·         Daily Strength:  online
·         S.A.F.E Alternatives:  

Visiting the resource office would enable one to open the doors to hot line numbers to national and domestic violence in U.K., U.S.A. among others. The National Domestic Violence Hotline answers more than 21,000 calls per month from victims, survivors, friends and family members, law enforcement personnel, domestic violence advocates and the general public. Hotline advocates provide support and assistance to anyone involved in a domestic violence situation, including those in same-sex relationships, male survivors, those with disabilities and immigrant victims of domestic violence. All calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are anonymous and confidential.
How does the Hotline Services work? According to the Project Hope Island Resources, these are the following pointers.

·         Crisis intervention, safety planning, information about domestic violence and referrals to local service providers
·         A direct connection to domestic violence resources available in the caller’s area provided by a Hotline advocate

·         Assistance in both English and Spanish with Hotline advocates having access to more than 170 different languages through interpreter services
·         Assistance through e-mail on the contact page
·         Informational materials on such topics as domestic violence, sexual assault, battering intervention and prevention programs, working through the criminal justice system and related issues

The list doesn’t exhaust here, Terminal Illness Resources, Suicide prevention and survivor resources, Internet Resources like and other books like “Step Back from the Exit: 45 Reasons to Say No to Suicide by Jillayne Arena” among others are available. Books are peer support for trans-person and their family are also available like the book written by R. Nick Gorton, MD; Jamie Buth, MD & Dean Spade (2005) on "Medical Therapy and Health Maintenance for Transgender Men: A Guide For Health Care Providers", attempts to provide the knowledge necessary to care for transmen before, during and after transition.

Domestic Violence is seen in almost any households today. Stress, peer pressure, money and power, societal norms and sometimes religions too among other stimuli pose a threat to an individual. Irrespective of a developed or a developing country, domestic violence not only includes abuse to women but also child abuse, child sexual abuse, elder abuse, rape or sexual assault to both women and men among others. This leads us to the bravest step of asking ourselves, “Am I being abused?” in the name of love and care. If yes, please don’t hesitate to ask for help from a family member, friend, relative you trust or call the help line number of your locality. There are numerous organisations fighting to stop abuse. However, the first step and the bravest one are in your hand. Project Hope Island is a community within a virtual world to offer help and support.

Photography Credits: Leela Qissinger

When you are writing your story about your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen for you. Take the first step to fight back. Your step would end the tyranny and would help and others you love to face a new day with a new hope.