Therapy, The Deaf Way.

therapythedeafway

By SignHealth.

Over the past few weeks I have seen a campaign by SignHealth and their supporters from within the deaf community, steadily grow.

I wanted to share with you, my personal experience.

At one point last year, a deaf friend was concerned enough to put me into contact with someone offering their professional help except, how could I talk to them when their sibling was one of the bullies? The deaf world was much too small, typical and predictable for my liking. I felt extremely claustrophobic.

Eventually, my GP referred me for counselling to help lift me out of my depression and certain trains of thought. Members of the deaf community had brought all of my life altering experiences on so it was only natural for me to want to stick with a local counsellor, who was hearing and had very little (if no) experience with deaf clients.

My counsellor began the first of our many intensive sessions, asking if an interpreter should be present to help us communicate with ease. This was enough reason to make me clam up. I refused their offer politely and asked if we could continue without one, as I was confident it would work.

I did not at the time trust anyone that had any connections to the deaf community; enough to be anywhere near me. Not even an interpreter bound by confidence because they too, I could not trust.

In time, my counsellor’s deaf awareness grew with each session and once they took me by surprise by saying, “I am glad we didn’t use an interpreter because you would not have told me everything. You would have been extremely cautious. I did not think our sessions would work without one and you proved me wrong. You have taught me that not every deaf person needs an interpreter present and not every deaf person relies solely on sign language.”

Their acknowledgement and increased deaf awareness made my heart smile. I suddenly felt freer than I had ever been and that feeling of being finally understood, not just me but the deaf community too, how diverse it actually is and how our needs and abilities differ, was priceless. This was therapy, albeit my way.

Each to the their own for reasons that should be known to themselves, only.

It is vital that we fight to retain our choice to be counselled however we wish, be it the deaf way or the hearing way in order to be at our most comfortable, for our therapy to succeed. And for that, we should be grateful such a service like SignHealth exists because they do work, for those who choose them. For those who need them. For those who solely rely on sign language, for they do exist.

No one deserves to be ignored.

I wish SignHealth all the best with their latest campaign, to continue providing “a national psychological therapy service where all the therapists are fluent in British Sign Language (BSL)”.

#TherapyTheDeafWay

Finally yet just as importantly, I would like to applaud SignHealth for adding captions to their videos, making it more inclusive and accessible to all. Thank you, for doing so. 🙂

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Positivity Rules!

Life in itself is one big challenge, testing us daily to see how we fare. The results of which moulds us over time into whom we are and for some who we do not want to become.

It is up to us, as and when to introspect, seeing the errors of our ways if any, to tackle and improve on these traits. It is also up to us how we deal with these daily challenges. Do we react instinctively or take a step back and contemplate? The latter is not so hard to do.

More often than not, reacting instinctively leads to destruction, sending one into a negative state of despair. Almost certainly sending you on a downwards spiral towards a quagmire, which can be a very dark place to be? Once that point of “trying to stay afloat” is reached, be it by another’s hand or words, it is time to review the situation why, who or what got you there in the first place and nip it in the bud. Find the negativity and turn it a positive because even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

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“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

― Abraham Lincoln.

In order to get the best that we deserve, we need to give and do our best otherwise; one will get what they give. To react constructively comes, positivity in the knowledge and confidence that we have tried our best whilst remaining dignified in the face of justice. Only then, can we reflect and feel positively rewarded.

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I always say, “Keep on smiling – it is free and does wonders” so take the first step in being positive by smiling. To strangers, to your friends and families – in smiling, you are instinctively changing your outlook, your moods and the glow on your face. By smiling, you could be helping someone else – without even realising it. It takes an extremely special someone to rise above giving what he or she got, in order to be kinder on themselves and others. You too can be this person. Carpe diem.

Onwards and upwards – Positivity rules! Because it rocks.

Wishing each and every one of you best wishes for the new year – wherever you may be.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

 

Stop Online Abuse.

Being in the public eye for the past two years has subjected me to many forms of online abuse be it indirectly or directly. I have witnessed the “mob mentality” escalate appallingly fast when someone may have a different school of thought, or by simply being different. Take the time for example when I was attacked for choosing to speak instead of sign in my BBC interview. I naturally speak when I am with hearing people as I am more comfortable doing so yet my choice to speak was not respected by those who demanded that I signed just because I come from a deaf family. I was put between a rock and a hard place and I was damned if I did sign and damned if I didn’t. The sheer number of sheep flocking was astonishing – thank God I am not a sheep! These days, too many people take advantage of peer pressure to manipulate and dictate others what to do.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou.

There will always be someone who can put forwards different perspectives on issues and situations due to their experiences in life and knowledge, making the impact for change greater – surely everyone deserves to be respected with kindness just as much as the next person regardless? It is extremely healthy to have variations of viewpoints so one can be educated and decide – especially for themselves.

When having a different opinion one tends to be singled out as a “Troll” yet to single that person out as a troll must be another form of abuse in itself.

The World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web.

However I have recently experienced a new form of online abuse and I have been left saddened by it. This experience has made me want to retreat, have nothing at all to do with the world wide web to distance myself from all the negativity and to restrain myself from reacting. Life is far too short.

To go onto social media and post potentially libellous material which names a person, persons and so on when they cannot defend themselves surely must be another form of online abuse? Especially when there is no evidence that the named party has attacked or done anything wrong yet people feel the urge to personally attack the named party? And what’s worse, people adopting the “mob mentality” by joining in and adding fuel to the fire. No one is born with hatred – it is instilled and mimicked. If only respect worked in the same sense.

Seeing that occur from a distance opened my eyes and I soon realised I had been in the very same position numerous times now. Unfortunately I know I am not alone in this experience for a friend of mine was personally attacked recently by someone posting a video onto social media publically naming him and criticising him. If only he had sorted his dispute out privately with the named person – he would not be now known as a bully within our circle of mutual friends.

I will not tolerate or condone any form of online abuse around me especially bullying. I made it clear that I would not stand for this within the Tree House in the form of personal attacks (or when we are named outside the safety perimeters of the Tree House which subsequently is inviting us to take action) or be associated with those seen to be contributing to the very public online form of abuse. Yet making it clear, I was inevitably set upon. My position as founder in trying to protect the Tree House from any potential damage was questioned, undermined. oppressed and criticised. Being unbiased and diplomatic sets myself apart from others and this helps me to look outside the box – as always I will do as I deem just, adapting to each situation based on my experience. Was my being criticised and slated another form of online abuse? Maybe not in their eyes but it certainly felt like it to me.

To have thick skin is very important and deaf people are extremely vulnerable to the various forms of abuse, be it online, within society, at school, at work and unfortunately at home. In all walks of life, there will always be that someone who will try to drag others down no matter who they may be, for being different. My scars have healed over many times now hence why my skin has grown thicker and if I can refuse to be manipulated, so can you. Positivity rules!

Do not encourage any form of online abuse because these emotions which are associated with being bullied will exhibit themselves within the victim(s).

◾Depression

◾Shame

◾Low self-esteem

◾Sadness

◾Difficulty trusting others

◾Anger

◾Anxiety

◾Frustration

◾Fear

The offenders’ hatred should not dictate your time and you would only be lowering yourself to their level if you join in or encourage it. Rise above it because people who show their true colours in this manner deserve to be reported to the police so keep a record of all the evidence and present it in order to take action. I have done this in the past being a victim and they have listened – they issued warnings to the offending parties. With actions comes consequences – if they can dish it out, they can certainly take it.

Please, don’t have one rule for yourself and another for others – put yourself in the victim’s shoes and walk hundreds of miles in it first, taking a look in the mirror before passing any judgement or criticism.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.

It is about time online abuse in its various forms is stopped. Help by being a part of that change in stopping personal attacks, cyber bullying and all forms of online harassment. Fight back – especially for justice.

Thank you, for your time and patience.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Some useful links for your reference:

Internet Safety

Bully Online

Crown Prosecution Service

Taking action about Harassment.

Harassment Act 1997

and last but not least,

I would like to applaud Dr Taylor.

Update: Defamatory gossip is now being spread about The Tree House and myself which is once again another form of abuse – Please keep evidence of this as we have built up a case which we have taken action on with positive results.

I Long To Be….

There are barriers that our deafness prevents us from fulfilling certain aspects of life so I set dwellers a task to finish this sentence according to our own interpretations and dreams for in dreams are seeds planted of reality.

“I long to be….”

For in dreams are seeds planted of reality.

“For in dreams are seeds planted of reality.”

 I long to be free as a bird.

I long to be confident.

I long to be loved for being me.

I long to have stress free conversations, access to services where everyone is aware of our needs.

I long to be a performer on the stage where I warm people’s hearts and put a smile on their faces for days weeks and even years later.

I long to be able to give my daughter the best possible future without having to constantly chase education and medical professionals.

I long to work for education authorities who understand that a deaf child is not going to “get better” next year, and yes, they will need continued support.

I long to be someone who can make a difference and inspire others too.

I long to be given more access to services without having to constantly struggle with basic things like shopping, ordering food in a restaurant, or travelling.

I long to work somewhere I feel I belong, where I don’t feel socially isolated, and where colleagues are deaf aware, or willing to learn deaf awareness.

I long for access but the crafty part of me would like to continue crafty conversations where not everyone understands!

I long to be understood.

I long for a world where web live chat is a common alternative to phone calls!

I long for the day when hearing people no longer frown at me and say ‘I telephoned “Joe Bloggs” [whose deaf] yesterday but they didn’t answer the phone??!’

I long to see the technology we REALLY need to communicate (as deaf people) SPEED UP …and coming up to speed!

I long to see society take responsibility for excluding us in developments, new services, buildings etc.

I long for people to understand that Hearing Aids are great, but do not “solve” my “problem”.

I long to know if I’m meant to feel complimented or insulted when people say to me ”you’re deaf, really? Wow don’t you do well’

I long for hearing people to simply accept us as one of them.

I long to see an approved national independent governing body for all deaf issues.

I long to see people no longer dictating and undermining others.

I long to be a classroom teacher still, a job I have done for 30 years.

I long to be understood by the hearing community (of which I am part) and not have them say when I say I work with deaf people stupid things like ‘oh, you must know Braille’.

I long to read people’s minds… so I don’t have to make attempts at listening to them.

I long to be awarded a life-long exemption certificate from the hassles of having to prove I have not miraculously become hearing due to the inefficiency of the government and their services.

I long to be able to sing along with everyone else as I can hear the words of a song or even just be able to know what the song is and who the artist is.

I long for people to stop hanging up on type talk calls!!

I long to be taken seriously by all. Too often are my views brushed aside or disregarded simply because I won’t always be as confident in voicing my views as a deaf person in a mass of hearing people, and also some disregard because I am still young.

I long for labels to be dropped – at the end of the day we are all human, we all live on one planet and we all have the right to be ourselves – throw the labels away.

I long to able to occasionally be able to take back everything I’ve said, when I’ve answered a question only to find out I misheard and nothing I said makes sense in the conversation.

I long to be able to go about living my life the way I want to without having to adapt to what society insists we do!

I long to be always a Spring Chicken.

I long to open up narrow minded people to the wonderful and diverse world we are a part of as it is they who create barriers and divisions!

I long to see access rights for all the various communication needs and abilities.

I long to be accepted for the intelligent person I am.

I long to be considered as an equal and included as an equal based on justice.

I long to be listened to…..

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Stronger Than Words by Al Jazeera

A part of me has always been with the people in war torn countries as well as those in the developing countries. I have seen with my own eyes just how their corrupt governments have neglected them, my heart tears with despair, seeing them all alone at the roadside having to strive just to stay alive. Those who are physically disabled were left with no or very little equipment to support them. I am not one to be easily fooled or manipulated yet these were no frauds. For several years now we have donated clothes that will help the poor, cutting out the middle man by sending several extra-large laundry bags full to relatives who would distribute them out fairly. During my last visit there, it became so much that I started to ask my husband to donate some money to them. He obliged – after all how could he say no to me?! 😉

This week is the International Week of the Deaf and Al Jazeera has made a very special film about the deaf community in Gaza. Please follow the original link to their page to watch their video about such strong and inspirational people who happen to be deaf and just happened to live in Gaza.

Stronger than words by Al Jazeera.

Alternatively for the deaf audience, here is their captioned version:

In the past I have written about the dirty war that is being waged in case you wished to read up more on the issues and history between Palestine and Israel.

Please, let us be extremely grateful for what we have today and remember those less fortunate than us.

 ~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Cyberbullies & Trolls.

A member of the Tree House shared a link with us as she knew some of us had been having difficulties in the past and at present. This video left her speechless and it certainly stopped me in my tracks. I wanted to share with you, the very same video in the hope that you too, will appreciate Shane Koyczan’s work as a spoken poet.

This video also has captions (Yay!) making it accessible to deaf people.

Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

I will never forget how people have made me feel over the past few years with their words, assumptions and insults. I have on occasion gone to the police who gave the other bully a warning, who as a result had me looking over my shoulder for quite a long time. That has now passed but new ones inevitably came along. One broke my heart terribly and subsequently others have broken my trust in people. Several openly bullied me online (I hope they are ashamed of themselves) while several tried behind closed doors then searching me out with fake profiles to continue their trail of bitterness.

Nowadays I do not know who I can trust but I do know my conscience is clear having done my best to do right by everyone whilst being true to myself except it is now time for me to stop being at the forefront of it all because people are once again minding what I do or say.

Dr Seuss’ quote “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind do not matter and those who matter, do not mind” is one of my all time favourites as one should never change for anyone else.

I contemplated giving up, simply because I had enough of all the ill feelings being inflicted upon and how people seemed to keep coming back for more. A friend once told me that I was a fighter not a quitter and I know once he reads this he will smile., knowing he is being remembered.

Apologies but you will not take another ounce of my strength, my positivity and my spirit which planted the seed of this wondrous Tree House. The dwellers from within will continue to nurture it regardless, helping it to bloom and grow with all its goodness while the bad apples left are outside, to rot.

A bad apple

A bad apple.

Thank you to all of those who have supported and kept me going lately. I know some of you will continue to do so, come what may. Love you all – so much. You are not getting rid of me just yet! 😛

Positivity rules! Onwards and upwards…..

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Giving & Gratitude

When it comes to kindness, there is absolutely no need to discriminate against any identifiable means because it is about humanity in general and acts of giving without any expectations of receiving in return.

For so long there has been a frustration of sorts building within me seeing the simplest things in life being taken for granted. Be it the roof over your heads, certain (branded) clothes being worn, the hot meals and comfy mattresses you lay upon, the NHS and free medicine being provided for us – the list is endless. The extremely close shave I experienced a couple of years ago taught me to take nothing for granted, now cherishing every little thing and being all around me.

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Plato

For this reason, I am now trying my very best to spare a moment to remember those who may have been left outdoors, especially during those cold winter nights. Recently I, via the Tree House, have been able to appease that frustration of helplessness. In true spirit of the Tree House, this has meant this is now starting to catch on with other dwellers through their acts of kindness. So far, we have saved numerous left over meals and received donations of various kinds of cakes with which we approached homeless people and gave.

“Thank you” they gratefully say. And if they have a pet with them, they are more than happy to share with their “best friend” – Without a question.

Nigel and his best friend who enjoyed the leftovers from our Chinese meal.

There are those who had everything and lost it all and there are those who dedicate every minute of their remaining lives to make sure the homeless has a hot drink at least. They are among the unsung heroes of today’s societies. They are trying their very best in being the change they wish to see in the world.

So let us organise café meet ups with CAKE(!) donating to a charity of your choice, perhaps asking cafés to participate in “Suspended Coffee” schemes too. When you have a meal, please save your leftovers and seek out the homeless in order to make their day. Maybe even nominate/challenge your friends to pay it forwards too. Please?

One can only hope this act of compassion and kindness will help to keep them going, to keep the faith and to have hope. That not everyone has a stone cold heart, that they are not oblivious to everyday people. They are still someone’s child who were brought into this world for a reason.

A drop of kindness goes a very long way, much more than you realise.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia

 Carpe Diem – every day by being true to yourselves. x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)