ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Bad things can cause the brain to start looping, endlessly repeating the same thought or memory. This is fundamentally a failure of the sorting-filing function of the memory processes. When it gets stuck long term, that's post-traumatic stress. So the way to fix that problem is to get the memory filed properly. Some things that people have found useful include...

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was talking with someone about hair as gender expression, and I happened to list a bunch of ways to explore this. I thought other folks might find this useful.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
There's a new Molly Beans strip, called "Mollyworld." What this really is: a discussion of who should pay the spoon for that conversation. Greg finds vocalization easier and more rewarding, while Molly prefers typing.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Someone asked me how to help an online friend through a difficult time. All the advice, of course, is aimed at helping friends in meatspace. Considering how many of us have online intimates, this is not helpful. Here is my effort to fill that gap.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
One of the most famous psychological tests is the Rorschach or inkblot test.  It's very controversial, with some people arguing it's pseudoscience and others saying it gives valuable insights.  Actually, they're both right.  It has no objective basis in that different people will score the same response in different ways, and that's before  accounting for cultural differences. However, any kind of symbolic material can serve as inspiration for useful conversations.  The problem comes when someone makes binding decisions based on these test results -- that  is the pseudoscience.  It penalizes people for not doing what someone else wanted.

I've been watching this for a long time, and finally found where someone scanned the images online.  Previously you could only find vague replicas.  This page has the full-color cards along with instructions on what the tester wants to hear.  Some of its observations (sexual imagery will get you in trouble, positive interpretations score better than negative ones) apply across many psychological tests.  By memorizing these, you now have two options: tell a tester you're already familiar with the test, which invalidates this and most other psych tests; or cheat on it by telling them what the handbook says everyone should see (or whatever other image you may wish to project).  That's very useful if, as is often the case, the test is being used against you and against your will.  (It's commonly used in contentious legal cases such as divorce or abuse, and sometimes in employment.)  In particular, note that this article highlights the type of lying ubiquitous throughout psych tests: falsely telling someone they can "do anything" or "it doesn't matter" when in fact everything is being scored and difference from the center of the bell curve is heavily penalized.  You really can't rely on anything they say unless you have read the instructions and scoring rubric (if there even is one) for yourself.

However, if you have a psychotherapist you like -- and you really need someone with a high level of experience for this, most counselors won't be able to follow it -- then you can get into awesomely deep territory by discussing symbolism back and forth.  Rorschach cards are great for this kind of exercise.  But so are most types of abstract art, and any kind of symbolic art such as Tarot cards.  If you study the symbolism of colors, shapes, etc. across cultures then it becomes even more illuminating.  Dream dictionaries are great for this because they give you a ton of ideas what things could  mean. You just have to account for the fact that symbolism always includes both a universal and an individual aspect.  Butterflies always have an element of transformation due to their metamorphic biology, but to an individual they might be very sad due to seeing butterflies at a grandparent's funeral.  Plus when you look at the different possible meanings, you can gain insights into how other people think, or spot parallels among several related symbols.  One Tarot card may have 12 possible meanings, but if three other cards all have one overlapping interpretation, that's the one active in this reading. Some branches of psychotherapy are really into this symbolic stuff, and it's ideal for handling some types of problem that don't lend themselves well to logic.  Or just for fun.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
While talking with one of my readers, I got to wondering if there are any cookbooks for the blind. Ideally I'd want something with unique skills to overcome vision handicaps, not just a transliteration of a regular cookbook into Braille.  Turns out, there are both.

Regular Cookbooks in Braille
http://www.braillebookstore.com/Cookbooks

Stir It Up! Recipes for Young Blind Cooks -- probably a great place to start
http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/STIRITUP.html

In Touch -- a cookbook of easy-make foods with tips on cooking while blind
http://articles.latimes.com/1988-03-17/food/fo-2126_1_blind-people

Good Smells from the Kitchen -- Turkish cuisine with blind-aware descriptions
https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-project-creates-cookbook-visually-impaired
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Someone asked me about emotional first aid for adults, so here are some ideas about increasing access to that ...

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Occupational therapy is one of the very few branches of health care that I have frequently seen putting out fantastic material. Here is an example of things occupational therapists have thought of for conserving energy in self-care.  The whole point to this field is enabling people to do things, by finding new ways to do stuff when the old way doesn't work anymore.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I posted this to Dreamwidth, but it's not talking to LiveJournal again.  Have a big Bucket'O'Cope.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Some friends of mine have asked about resources for self-care, so here are some of my favorites in a big Bucket'O'Cope:

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I've been seeing "Remember: Resist" in a lot of places lately.  Okay, let's work with that.  Resistance is all about obstructing the flow of energy.  What is the purpose of resistance in activism?  It makes the opponent exert maximum effort for minimum return.  It wrecks his EROEI.  Being in a racist (classist, sexist, etc.) society doesn't make you racist, anymore than standing in a pigpen makes you a pig.  Sometimes you can stop bullying by being an upstander.  Even if you can't stop the problem, by providing resistance, you can slow it down.

I propose making jewelry out of resistors.

This lineart version would work on a button, a t-shirt, a patch, any craft that could be made with a grid chart, etc.

Now get out there and chant Ohm.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] rix_scaedu tipped me to this page about coping with traumatic news.  It's an illustrated guide, but they get bonus points for inclusivity because the written instructions appear in text below the pictures.  \o/  This ties into the excellent advice from Mr. Rogers, "Look for the helpers."

Newspaper and news broadcast sites in Terramagne-America customarily have some kind of EFA section like this, and video instructions are often tacked onto the end of reports about a major tragedy.  They have more materials though -- theirs is usually broken down into subsections like "I am upset by a tragedy," "I don't like the politics," "I am offended by a scandal," "I am scared of a soup incident," etc. with a general "I am unhappy about the news" for everything else.  Under the symptoms and basic coping skills is a set of tips on how you can help.  For instance, the tragedy section would have information on aid organizations, fundraisers, volunteering, etc. while the scandal one would have stuff about virtues and gossip.  This modular format makes it easy to add individual pages for current events, like folks did with the Berettaflies in Easy City, which is how they managed to raise money and acquire butterfly-indifferent plants so quickly.  Then all they have to do is link the individual pages at the bottom of the topical pages under "Current Events." Citizens always know where they can go for help on these issues; it stays in the same place and format so it's easy to find.

This concept is replicable here for anyone who works with a vulnerable population easily upset by distressing news, any large organization that has a public relations office, any kind of emergency response organization, etc.  If you deal in things that upset people or people who get upset, then it helps to have a resource for healthy coping.  This can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend repeating the same information and the amount of stress caused by people freaking out.  It also engages one of the most important resilience factors: restoring a sense of control.  Helplessness causes traumatic stress.  Giving people a gentle nudge toward self-help and citizen response materials will get most of them moving forward again.  The ones who don't budge are the ones you really need to worry about, and you'll have more resources to handle the one or two people who flip into acute stress disorder if you've successfully routed the others into solving their own problems.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] technoshaman reports that it is possible to vote in LiveJournal polls using the Open ID function.  \o/  So you-all can do that now, and I won't have to hand-count as many backchannel votes on polls.  I knew you could comment that way, but few people bother, and it's not as big a deal.

In related news, the free epic poll is open if you wish to vote.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A friend is going through a rough patch, so I put together some resources for what to do when your life blows up in your face.  You can also use these for supporting someone else.

Here are the most basic steps of self-care in the form of question prompts.

Know how to deliver Emotional First Aid for yourself and for others.  Make an EFA kit stocked with things you find soothing. You can even make a portable, pocket-sized EFA kit that fits into an Altoids tin.

Soothe yourself with stress relief activities for the 5 senses.

Explore the categories of coping skills with their pros and cons.  Here is a list of 99 coping skills.

Grounding techniques can relieve anxiety and other unpleasant emotions.

Try some relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

Many herbs can ease anxiety and promote calm.  Consider aromatherapy or dreampillows if you're not into herbal tea. Note: if you have issues with intrusive memories or a fresh trauma, do NOT use rosemary, which enhances memory.  Save that to study for tests or address lost/fading memories.

Stressful experiences often interfere with sleep.  Take extra care with your sleep.

Acute stress reaction is a normal response to an abnormal event.  Most people will freak out or freeze up for a few days, then gradually recover.  Treatment typically consists of common sense comforts.  The most important point is to listen if someone wants to talk about what happened, but don't pressure  them to do so.

Preventing PTSD is important, but caregivers are just beginning to identify things that help.  First, understand that PTSD is fundamentally a sorting error: the brain can't file traumatic memories properly, so they replay over and over again.  Playing a stacking-and-sorting game such as Tetris can activate the brain's sorting function.  Making a care diary, timeline, or trauma scrapbook can help place memories in context as part of the life story.

Bad stuff happens to everyone sometimes.  You can cope with it.  You can help other people cope with it.  Learn the skills to be a hero.  The world needs more of those.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
While researching for poetry today, I found this amazing page that explains how to measure trauma. It gives a bunch of scales to indicate how much or how long things affected a trauma survivor.  It covers the event, internal experience, and support.  Some factors are static, while others could change over time.  If you don't know why you (or someone else) feel terrible about something, this might help.

EDIT: A later, expanded version is here.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A friend had a disturbing, mostly emotional bit of farmemory crop up recently and asked me how to handle that. Farmemory is a recollection of something from another life, usually described as a past life, but can reflect the future or even a different world/race altogther. What sticks the most are two broad categories: repetition and intensity. You remember the things you did all the time, or the highs and lows. If you hit a low, that tends to suck. Even positive ones sometimes pose more distraction than is desirable. You may need to do some extra work to make that memory lie back down and stop bugging you.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Put them in housing alongside natives.  Facilitate the formation of a community by encouraging people to spend time together and identify common interests.  I think that choosing young singles is especially apt because these folks tend not to have strong ties or obligations elsewhere, which means they're open to forming bonds with each other.  Given a little luck, this community should see a lot of cross-cultural friendships and romances that will last.  \o/  Go thou and do likewise.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is spillover from the October 4, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] gingicat and other readers under "Through Infirmity of the Flesh" regarding changes in CPR practice; and folks with whom I've discussed how to modify first aid training for people with disabilities. Note that it takes serious digging to unearth solid references for the latest practices: I have now done this for you, with help from those recently-trained readers. This poem also fills the "successes" square in my 8-1-16 card in Group Dynamics and Character-Building. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] daisiesrockalot, and [livejournal.com profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Extra perk: Anyone with a current CPR card, or now in training, speak up and you can reveal a verse of any open linkback poem.

Warning: This poem contains graphic descriptions of CPR training, and other intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features messy medical discussions and demonstrations, disability issues including the awkward process of adapting to a new one, poor self-esteem, educational challenges, struggling with learning modes, frustration, self-recrimination, body dysphoria, flashbacks, reference to previously losing someone to a drug overdose, discussion of sensitive issues about skin tone and first aid, challenges of soup care, minor physical overstrain, and other issues. For the most part, though, it's an upbeat poem and it takes a close look at how an adept teacher modifies a class to accommodate the learning needs of a diverse student body. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a thoughtful exploration about the right to friendship, why everyone needs friends, and the challenges that disabled people face in forming and maintaining connections with friends or family. 

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