Concerned Bloggers Association – The Arts in Education

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I’m very nearly late in posting about this month’s topic and I apologise: real life has been a little crazy. I’d have hated to have missed the deadline, however, as this is a very important topic to me: I can’t imagine a life untouched by drama, art, poetry and music and, thankfully, I don’t have to. I went to a standard Secondary School in Wales but the curriculum was filled with all of these things, perhaps more so as Wales truly treasures the arts – there were inter-school ‘Eisteddfods’ filled with song and recitation. Along the way, I learned to love poetry, especially when spoken aloud and so I’d like to share with you one of my favourite poems by Dylan Thomas who captured my heart with the line ‘a girl mad as birds’ – I hope you enjoy!

Love in the Asylum

A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
A girl mad as birds

Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.
Strait in the mazed bed
She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds

Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room,
At large as the dead,
Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.

She has come possessed
Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall,
Possessed by the skies

She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust
Yet raves at her will
On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.

And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last
I may without fail
Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.

(Dylan Thomas)

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This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association.  If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.

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Concerned Bloggers Association – Suicide

Your Tears

SUICIDE HOTLINE:
08457 90 90 90* (UK)
1850 60 90 90* (ROI)

When I was just a small child my uncle jumped off a building. Even being so young the act had a massive impact on me – I obsessed about why such a lovely man I was only just beginning to know would want to kill himself and in such a violent way. My uncle had schizophrenia but there are many more reasons why people kill themselves and some of the statistics are astonishing.

Let me give you some facts:

Suicide is a leading cause of death, particularly in young people, both in England and worldwide. It is estimated that around 1 million people will die by suicide worldwide each year. During 2008, there were 4,282 suicides in England.

Attempted suicides are much more common than actual suicides. There are at least 140,000 attempted suicides each year in England and Wales.

Women are more likely to attempt suicide or engage in other types of self-harming behaviour. However, men are more likely to succeed and die by suicide. Suicide rates are three times higher in men than in women.

Men under the age of 35 are particularly at risk of dying by suicide. Suicide is the second most common cause of death in England and Wales in this age group, after accidental death.

Cases of suicide have been reported in people of all ages, including children, but suicide or attempted suicide are more common in certain age groups.

In men, suicide is more common in people who are 15-44 years of age, and particularly in men who are 15-24 years old. Men who are 45 years of age or over have a lower risk of committing suicide.

In women, suicide is more common between the ages of 45 and 74. Younger women between the ages of 15 and 24 are thought to have a low risk of suicide.

SOURCE: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Facts.aspx

Coming up to the holidays, I believe it’s even more important to talk about these matters as they are often a difficult time for many people. If you are contemplating suicide or are in distress of any kind, there are many fabulous organisations you can contact, including the hotline at the top of this page. There are also groups in Second Life that you can turn to in times of despair, if you need help reaching out to someone or just want more info:

Mental Health Awareness Retreat – “A safe haven that provides both RL and SL resources for various mental health issues such as PTSD, Depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Anxiety, Autism, while raising awareness and breaking stigma.” These guys are running a fab hunt until Dec 15th to raise awareness on this issue.

Survivors of Suicide Group – “This is a group for those whose life has been impacted by depression, suicide, attempted suicide themselves or have lost someone to suicide. We must break the silence on this epidemic. We offer support, education and info. Please join to get involved. Lets make suicide extinct by speaking up.”

And please, always know that you can contact me if you need someone to talk to.. I am Chiana0 Resident in-world (that’s a zero at the end)/Chiana Oh – I won’t go into too much detail in this post but I have personal experience of mental health issues, self-harm and suicide ideation so I would never laugh at you or turn you away if you need a friend. Friends are awesome – I know mine have helped me through many a dark day ❤

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This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association.  If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.

Concerned Bloggers Association – Literacy

Despite spending nearly all my time on the computer, reading is definitely my favourite hobby. Books have shaped my life from as far back as I can remember; they have informed the person that I am today. I honestly cannot imagine my home without its bookshelves filled with teetering piles of loved and much-revisited books and others, too many others, still yet to be read.

Perhaps contrary to expectation, my passion for second-hand bookshops and libraries has not dwindled with the release of online bookstores and e-readers – indeed I find libraries have become more vibrant and interesting than ever before and my first date with my now husband was at the epic Barter Books – but I embrace the access to an even wider range of reading material that new technology has afforded with projects such as the fantastic Project Gutenberg which makes old texts available for free, or the fun book-release site BookCrossing where you can find and track books from all over the world!

There are even social networks (such as LibraryThing and goodreads) dedicated to being places where book-lovers can gather together, and Second Life has not been left out of this equation; there are many wonderful places to visit that embrace the wonderful world of books, here are just a few of them:

Albatross Coffee House – home to the LED Book Club and a free bookworm avatar!
Bookstacks – ‘where booklovers meet’ – there are always events being arranged here including a poetry open mic.
Open Books – at the exemplary Four Bridges Project.
Book Island – publishing island for book-lovers and writers.

I hope the above places, or one of the many others out there, inspire you as much as they do me.. one of the first places I ever visited in Second Life was Shakespeare & Co., based on the real-life place in Paris: the sim is gone now, but never forgotten ❤

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This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association.  If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.

Concerned? You Should Be!

So if you’ve been following my blog for a little while you may have noticed that once a month I throw in something different to the usual fashion posts. As much as I love all things Second Life, I sometimes want the opportunity to sound off about other things that are occupying my thoughts – and that’s why I love the Concerned Bloggers Association!

The group is fab and friendly and made me feel instantly welcome – I love it! I think you’ll love it, too, so why not come join us? We have a HQ, coffee, cookies and lots of hugs and laughter.

Every month an information pack on the chosen subject gets sent out full of facts and figures to support your statements; how you write about the topic is totally up to you. Last month, for Mental Health Awareness, I wrote quite a personal story; this month I shared some video footage on the subject of Puppy Farms – it’s really down to your interpretation and opinions: we want to hear your voice!

Contact Marleen Vaughan in-world for more information – or leave a comment here and we’ll get in touch – I look forward to seeing you in the group! ❤

(recruitment poster by the totally awesome Marls, featuring yours truly)

Concerned Bloggers Association – Puppy Farms

Parent dogs at puppy farms are the doggy equivalent of battery hens: forced to produce as many pups as they can whilst living in terrible conditions purely so their owners can make as much profit as possible. I know a great many people now buy free-range eggs and I would encourage everyone to put at least the same thought into choosing where your pet comes from.

This brilliant video from The Kennel Club shows just how harmful puppy farms are, what warning signs to look out for when buying, and how to choose your pet responsibly:

DO – insist on seeing a puppy in it’s home enviroment
DON’T – buy from pet shops or online

Better yet – why not adopt a rescue dog?

Sources:
The Guardian
The Kennel Club

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This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association.  If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.

Concerned Bloggers Association – Mental Health Awareness

Something a little different from me today: I’ve joined the fantastic Concerned Bloggers Association whose mission is “to provide direct and accurate information through social media.” Each month we’ll be talking about a different topic of concern – this month happens to be a subject very close to my heart: Mental Health Awareness. What follows is my personal experience and it’s been a little hard to be so frank on here about it so I hope you’ll read with an open mind and heart ❤

Alone.

Everybody’s experience of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder differs, of course, but I bet amongst the forefront of how you’re feeling is alone. Well, you’re not: about 1 in 5 of all people over the age of 18 has a diagnosable mental disorder; 4 of 10 causes for disability in developed countries are due to mental health issues*. And you don’t have to suffer from a disorder to be affected by one: friends, family, colleagues – you’re not alone, either.

I spent many years denying that there could be anything ‘wrong’ with me. I’d seen family be touched by mental illness and was determined that it would never ‘get’ me; at the same time as being shit-scared that it already had. I was too frightened to talk to a doctor for fear of being carted off to an asylum that it wasn’t until a bereavement sparked a major depressive episode that I knew I had to get some help – in the midst of being counseled about my loss it all came out. And I’m so glad it did.

It’s been four years since then and I’ve worked on and off with mental health professionals to really reach an understanding of myself and my condition. I’ve been diagnosed with ‘Cyclothymia’ which most people have never heard of – even spell-check doesn’t recognise it – so I call it ‘bipolar-lite’ as it’s categorised as a milder form of that disorder. Basically, my mood can swing dramatically in the space of a day.. hours.. minutes.. and it’s something I have very little control over. I can be dancing with excitement one moment and primed to hurl myself out of the window the next. It’s an experience.. but one which a concoction of drugs and lots of love and support from family and friends is helping to stabilise.

I have an illness and that’s something, sadly, a lot of people don’t understand – I can no more help it than if I had been born with diabetes. My anti-depressants, mood-stabilisers and therapy are my insulin. I forget that sometimes, too, so it’s hard to be critical of those people who say (and they have, and will) ‘just pull yourself together’ – this is a reminder to those people and myself that it doesn’t work that way. In fact, I tried that way and it nearly ended very, very badly.

If there is someone in your life with a mental health issue – a spouse, parent, child, friend – try to educate yourself about what it is that’s affecting them and what they need from you. What they probably need most from you is patient understanding and a sympathetic ear rather than advice and clichés. Don’t be frightened to talk to someone with mental health issues; don’t pointedly avoid the subject: they are still human beings. And remember to look after yourself, too.. caring for someone with a mental disorder can be exhausting – if you are very close to them get your own support network and make time to recharge.

If you are that person with a mental health issue try to treat yourself with kindness and remember this is not your fault. With the proper care and treatment 70-90% of people with a mental disorder experience a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life*. Above all remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

*Statistics source: Basic Facts About Mental Health.

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This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association.  If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.