Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Let Me Speak - Paul

Hi everyone. I am going on a long internal journey & won’t be active on social media indefinitely. Not that I have been very active recently. But I won’t be on at all for awhile. I was going to cancel my account, but didn’t want to alarm anyone. Figured this simple post will suffice for now. Thanks for all the support these last couple of years. Much appreciated. I know i didn’t post or interact as much as I used to. Sorry about that. But I hope some of my posts helped you tho. I did try to be positive. Even about sad topics. I will be back. I just don’t know when. Until then sending out good vibes & a big hug to all those who need it. You are loved. Remember to always be kind to yourself & others. Love is the answer. Namaste.

Monday, November 18, 2019


Buffalo News:

Physical Health
Trump's Disease

Harmful myths trail those seeking a better life here

Mental Health, Caregivers:

Buffalo Healthy Living
Caring for a Child with a Serious Illness

Buffalo Healthy Living
It's Always the Same Story: My search as a person with bipolar illness to find a better ending


Buffalo Healthy Living
Love Doesn't Come in a Color

Adoption STAR Newsletter
Post-adoption Depression


It’s Always the Same Story: My search as a person with bipolar illness to find a better ending

Published in Buffalo Healthy Living

It was 1998. I pulled back the top sheet and pink bed cover. As I sat up, I saw a window. I had no idea where I was. Had I attempted suicide? I looked at my wrists. There were no bandages. I rolled over and saw the stash of quarters on my night table. I was in a mental hospital. But why was the cover pink? All the other times the blankets had been white.

The first thing I did was try to get out of there. As I walked down the hall, I saw the nurses’ station. Across from it was an elevator. I pushed the down button. I was wearing my hospital gown. Three nurses appeared. Two held me as the third pressed an injection needle into my thigh. It worked quickly. I remembered the quarters and walked back to get them. When I called my husband, he patiently explained I was receiving ECT treatments which can cause short-term memory loss. I remember counting out loud until succumbing to the anesthetic which makes shocks are painless. My loss of short-term memory had one benefit: I didn’t remember my entire depression.

Upon returning home and unpacking, I saw a blue wraparound skirt with small flowers and a peach suit jacket to match. I walked into the living room where my husband was. “My mother was here,” I declared. I would have only purchased that suit to make my mother happy. I hated blue. The jacket wasn’t tailored enough. He told me my parents had driven from Long Island to Buffalo. I didn’t blame them for wanting to be there, but knew they hadn’t helped. I also realized my mind missed things because of the ECT treatments. Princess Diana had died. I had watched the movie Titanic. I haven’t watched it again, fearing it will spark the memories of that depression. I don’t want to get PTSD on top of bipolar disorder. Some of this is funny. But, mostly it’s the same story.

Now in 2019, I want to advocate against the stigma of mental illness. I remember reading an article about a bipolar woman’s experience. It was eerily similar to mine and made me feel nauseous. Calming down, I realized bipolar illness is a diagnosis like any other. People who have it display the same symptoms. Realizing I was determined to become healthy, and healthier than the woman in the article, I began my quest for a better ending. I am finding it as I begin to tell own my story.

I have been married for 29 years, have two great kids, and two advanced degrees. I realize now that woman’s story is not my story, and, with effective medication and therapy, it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s.

Harmful myths trail those seeking a better life here

As published in the Buffalo News

Immigration is a hot topic now. Not only is it important to understand the various policies, knowing someone’s story is a window into the myths being perpetrated. Through teaching a class to prepare green card holders to pass their U.S. citizenship test, I understand the struggles of immigrants.

Immigration is not solely about illegal immigrants crossing our southern border. The first thing to understand is that many are crossing our borders legally. For example, some are asylum-seekers. They can claim asylum status at a border checkpoint or even when they are in the country undocumented. This is in accordance with United States law and U.N. policies.

Once here, asylum-seekers have due process and equal protection rights under our Constitution. They are entitled to an asylum hearing. Generally, political refugees – those facing persecution in their home countries – are allowed to stay. Economic refugees – those in this country simply to earn more money – are generally deported.

One problem is how long the hearing process takes. Alternatives to detention, such as ankle bracelets, were common during the Obama administration. This ensured that asylum-seekers showed up for their hearing dates and were more than 90% effective. By prosecuting them for the offense of entering illegally and immediately detaining them, the Trump administration has caused the crisis at the border. Families are separated because children cannot be detained as long as adults and facilities are overcrowded.

The immigrants I teach have been pre-cleared in their home country before coming here. They are considered refugees, not asylum-seekers, and can obtain a green card. Still, there is more to their immigration stories. Often coming from war-torn nations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, they may be in refugee camps for years before being allowed to come here. The camps themselves can come under fire.

It is a myth that Muslim immigrants are terrorists. Most come as a family unit. Another myth is they overuse social services. While they can receive money to come here, their ability to receive government resources is restricted over time.

Imagine coming here from an African nation speaking only Swahili. Imagine having to learn a new alphabet after knowing only Arabic, which has different characters from English and is read right to left. Imagine seeing a supermarket for the first time and having to learn how to shop.

I am fortunate to teach an immigrant community here in Buffalo. I’ve also created a website, www.JanesPlace.org, where you can learn more about stigma against refugees, religious groups and the disabled.

Helaine Sanders teaches refugees to pass their U.S. citizenship test. She co-chairs the Town of Amherst Committee in Disabilities.