Continue the Conversation: Anderson Cooper

In this addition of Continue the Conversation, we are taking a look at news report of Anderson Cooper, a CNN news reporter, who goes through a normal day using a schizophrenia simulator.

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My Autistic Experience: Seeking Personal Perfection

This time around I’ll begin with my request for aid. I am looking for ideas of things that I can talk about. A few ideas remain in my head along a certain train of thought, but once that is done I will not have much to say. I ask you the reader: Is there anything that you are interested in reading about that I could discuss? Let me know in the comments below and I will consider them in the future.

When I was particularly little, I was very sensitive. To my understanding it is a common trait among those with my condition. I was particularly distressed by physical pain, to the point where even today I feel phantom pains when I see another with a physical injury.

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Depression Support Group: Not Alone in Your Battle

Please note: this post was written by a UOIT student who wished to be anonymous

I have been asked to share my experiences with mental health illness. I feel a little funny about doing that as a lot of the time I don’t feel like I have any issues pertaining to my mental health. It is only when it is pointed out to me that the way I am feeling or thinking is not common (whereas I usually assume that this is how everyone feels and I am no different) that I see how unhealthy it can be.

While I have been diagnosed with more than one mental health disorder, I find that most of the time I am only ‘hit’ one at a time by them, with one being at the forefront and causing all the problems at once. That generally makes it easier to deal with. But then once I find a way to cope with (temporarily or otherwise) one, the other jumps to the front eager to take centre stage and bask in the spotlight. So it becomes an endless circle of dealing with one illness only to have the other jump in and take the empty spot in my brain. In highly stressful situations/times (like exams) I am not even given that – all go to the front smooshing together at the forefront demanding to be heard and have attention paid to them. I am still uncertain how I manage to get over these episodes/incidents but I know that a huge part of it is my support network – whether they be friends or the people here at school like the SAS advisors or mental health counsellors. All have been an immense help to me. Even just venting my frustrations & problems to them has been helpful. Just someone to listen without judging and sometimes offer methods of coping. It matters in the end.

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My Autistic Experience: Let Us Try To Connect, Let Us Try To Create

In the school year of 2015/2016, I will be working on a thesis project. I’m really excited about this because it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for me to practice the lab skills I hope to apply in the future. I knew that I wanted to do a thesis project for a while, so I met with professors in my faculty early so that I could make a good decision. The professor I picked has a tough reputation, but that is just what I want in a thesis supervisor.

When my grandmother asked if I felt some sort of emotional connection with this professor, I was quite confused. I mean I suppose it’s possible that I felt the sort of connection that a student feels towards a teacher, but other than that I didn’t really feel an emotional connection. I selected the professor because I felt that this professor’s tough reputation would help me get the most out of my lab experience.

This helped me to realize something. When it comes to connecting with people on an emotional level, I particularly struggle. In all of my dealings with people, I have always felt a small measure of distance between myself and whoever I am dealing with. I don’t know how other people feel in this regard, but I have felt this way with almost everyone I have ever dealt with.

Maybe I am able to connect with people on an emotional level but simply do not recognize it. I mean I suppose there is always at least some level of emotional connection going on. Can I connect with someone on an emotional level while still feeling distance? Or is the distance I feel between those I deal with a sign that I am struggling in this regard?

Maybe it is what happens with people who enjoy solitude? I can only speak for myself, but I have always liked being alone. I love solitude because I like to think about things that most people don’t much care to talk about. I ponder the universe and everything about it, from the largest celestial structure to the tiniest particle. I ponder the actions of humans, consider them and compare them with what I think would have been the best course.

When that upsets or annoys me too much, I create my own worlds, filled with people, places, nations, and factions. Fantasy worlds come with their own gods, their own systems of how magic work. Science fiction worlds come with their own futuristic technology, and their own planets. I am the god of gods in worlds that live only in my head, and each day that I spend in these worlds I discover the details as I go. I take fascinating features of the real world and incorporate them in the worlds that reside in my head.

When I am not interested in either at the moment, I play video games and talk with my Skype friends. Of course, when school comes around I prioritize school work, but in my head I am always pondering, always creating, always thinking, several thoughts per moment.

But other people are not always interested in all of that. I know few people who have the same interest in ideas that I do. Most people I know are only interested in small talk. My Grandmother calls it schmoozing, and she says that everyone has to do it once in a while, but I hate it. It’s so boring and pointless, and I’d rather people just get to the point.

Maybe that is where the distance lies, and with this the feeling that I have trouble connecting emotionally. When people schmooze, I notice my isolation. I listen to those around me in the hopes they will say something interesting so that I feel like I can contribute. The longer I wait, the less interested I get, until I give up and stop paying attention. When this happens, there is a feeling of being defeated and isolated, but I know that my friends are not trying to do this. It is just an unfortunate occurrence and I don’t blame them for it.

I do have a few friends who like to talk about ideas, and I cherish them beyond measure. Nothing engages me more than a discussion about science, or the nature of the universe, or a Socratic exercise, or a chance to ponder a political event with another willing to listen to me and consider my ideas while providing me the chance to listen to and consider their ideas. It is during these sorts of discussions that I feel more connected with the person I’m talking with. Sadly I only know so many people like this, but I will always be on the lookout.

On a side note, I am stretching for ideas of things to post on this blog. I have enough ideas for a few more posts on this forum, but I have fewer ideas than I would like. I ask you, the reader: Is there a subject that you would like me to discuss? Is there a feature of my condition that interests you, or a prior story that you believe I have not completed? Let me know in the comments and I will consider them for future posts.

Extra Sensitivity

When someone in my life goes through something hard, I tend to live it in my mind and think about that person, how he or she is feeling or how he or she is going to get over the situation. This behavior or personality trait affects my life negatively, it’s time consuming and depressing. Another issue with being sensitive is the tendency to argue with people who constantly criticize me or people around me.

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Continue the Conversation: Queen’s University

Just a couple of months ago on March 10th of this year,  student-athlete volunteers on Queen’s Mental Health Awareness Committee (QMHAC) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario put together a video about starting the conversation about mental health.

The video, which consisted of student athletes and the principal of Queens’s university Daniel Woolf, focused on the message that mental illness doesn’t care about a student’s GPA, friends, sports stats, grades, or  how hard you work in school and sports. Mental illness can, and will, affect students. The videos message tells viewers that even if you are the best at school and sports, mental illness can still affect you.

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My Autistic Experience: Conway

I have come to learn recently that there is some remaining curiosity about a friend/bully I mentioned in one of my previous posts.

“I remember one friend in particular that I had who was also my bully. It was a rather unconventional friendship, maintained by the fact that this ‘friend’ was the only one who gave me the attention I expected from a friend. We would play card games together, and do projects together. He would also make up exercises that often involved tripping me, annoying me, sometimes even ignoring me altogether. I was the only one who was friends with this kid, and the others knew it to.”

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