To Shake Violently.

The word “concussion” derives from the Latin concussus, which means to shake violently.


To live with a history of 7-8 Concussions, all gathered like easter eggs in one wonderful, but very fragile basket (a.k.a my skull cavity) all accumulated during the ages of 13-19, leaves one to wonder just what the heck is really going on up there.

At this point in time, I prefer not to go to the hospital when I happen to have sport/life related head injuries. Because frankly- Is there anything that they do besides shine a flashlight in my eyes, look at my chart, see that I’m a “chronic offender” and simply treat me like a hypo-chrondriac? That seemed to be the case last night. And when the doctor pulled the mental illness card. Saying, “I could be experiencing other symptoms due to my other problems” I knew I had to leave. I was not going to receive any help from this Doctor.

Yes anti-depressants can cause symptoms similar to concussions, but the severity of head pain due to pressure and the overwhelming memory loss and slow functioning, I know this is not just some  “side effects” – those side effects are something that I deal with everyday. What I am experiencing is getting worse, not better, and is limiting what I am able to do. After having an antique wooden door fall, and crack me on the back of the head on May 1st, then 2-3 weeks later, having a soccer ball almost knock my lights out, the month of May has been full of concussion symptom observation. What I am finding a little uneasy is that I am finding it harder to “bounce back”. Trust me. I think I know myself after all the mental health shenaneghans I’ve had to deal with before the age of 20. It seems that unless you see a brain surgeon, or a neuroscientist, post-concussion symptoms are not recognized to be much of a big deal. And since I did not come in unconscious, puking, or in a vegetable-like state, I was pretty much told “we can’t help you” and sent on my way.

It’s true, they can’t help me. Unfortunately medical care has not ventured into the treatment of brain injuries, and the problems one may experience afterwards. Help like that doesn’t seem to be implemented in an everyday hospital. After being told that they “cannot prescribe magic” I literally begged for a cat-scan. But was told “it would not change anything”.

Thanks for thinking I am a 6 year old, I know it won’t change anything. I want to be aware if there is anything that is being ignored, or that could explain any of my problems that lately, I am finding very hard to cope with. And the treatment and unprofessional remarks I received from this doctor? – not impressed at all.

It seems I have hit many a wall in regards to trying to find a better quality of mental health. Is it really so hard? More often than not I come home and begin to doubt myself, thinking that yes, I do complain too much. But then again, all I am looking for is to be able to actually enjoy living. And having the fear that yes, there may be something happening in my head unawares, does affect my ability to achieve a day without worry.

So even though it frightens me, and causes me to worry,  I’ll keep reading articles, papers, whatever I can to find help, since I have yet to find a doctor that will acknowledge my worries about permanent damage.

The only “advice” I received last night was “to avoid getting hit in the head again”.

Thanks, like I didn’t know that already…


Community Project: Dawson City Hospital

Think about it.

When admitted to hospital, having doctors and nurses keeping watch over you, providing a calm and safe place for you to heal… Do you stop to say how truly grateful you are for them?

Do you acknowledge that these people, in the health and helping sector also have lives, their own people to take care of, and also have themselves to nurture?

All the countless hours of helping strangers, in all sorts of stages of life and health, at any time of day or night- being ready to not only provide medical care, but also a kind and thoughtful approach to you and your health.

Yes, I know, it is their job. But still- shouldn’t we still voice our gratitude once in a while?

IMG_6993I really like this photo of my Doctor’s Office. I sneaked a photo when I was waiting for her to come back from checking on some paperwork.

Recently spending time in the hospital, I spent two nights in the new Dawson City Hospital- and I must say, what a beautiful centre as a brand new building, but also as a community of doctors, therapists, nurses, and pharmacist.

IMG_6841Late night trip to the ER- I really do hate hospital gowns.

Gone were the fears of strange hospitals, with cracking paint and scuffed floors, and that awful lysol/sickly smell of unwell people. What I found were beautiful murals, spacious rooms, and wonderful staff. Because of my situation- I had to have an eye kept on me, so I got to know some of the nurses quite well- (on a patient/nurse kind of terms I guess) 

IMG_7112My nurse let me pick out some tea once I got settled in- David’s Tea at that! How special- 🙂 

IMG_7109Yes, I was painting the closet. After they gave me a dose of my anti-anxiety meds. I just felt so chill and all I could really focus on was the closet- Soon fell asleep after the third closet.

The genuine humour, laughter, and interest they had shown in both myself and my artwork was so wonderful. I immediately felt safe, calm, and content in my room. It is amazing how your environment and mental state can affect your quality of sleep. – even sleeping on a hospital bed- (a.k.a. – a bit like sleeping on a block of wood)  I slept like a rock, and woke up in a calm, almost meditative manner. What a wonderful change to the not-so-good nights I had been having previously.

So- To thank all these wonderful people. I decided to create my Community Project into something that would acknowledge all the special people at the Dawson City Hospital. (At least- the ones that I was lucky enough to have as providers of care for me) 

How I did this was I began to knit.

I love knitting- and have always found it very therapeutic. Lately, I have been making these little pouches, “Marsupial-satchels” I call them. To carry special things that one may find dear to their heart.

IMG_7046                     Here is one I made for a dear friend of mine for her little mouse named Candlelight.

Using beautiful yarn my mother had sent me in a care-package, I began to knit and crochet thinking of all the caring people who I had met when I was at the hospital. With every stitch, I silently said thank you, with every little detail, I silently reminded myself how grateful I was to have crossed paths with them. It was a very healing and meditative experience to create these little pouches. I knitted eleven pouches. And then included a little letter within each one. Here is a quote from the letter:

“Just wanted to say thank you for all of your help and patience over these past few weeks. To be able to have a safe place to go to when on cannot provide that for herself is a blessing. Therefore ~ Thank you, for being YOU! As part of my Community project for SOVA, I would very much appreciate any comments, feedback, etc. on what you think of your homemade marsupial-satchels. I wanted to give a token of appreciation, ~ you may keep, give away, switch, as you like with these little pouches. Just wanted to show in my own little way, how thankful I am for crossing paths with you ~ as you have made it a more positive one to walk.”

IMG_7224A photo showing all the little pouches with letters inside~ ready to be dropped off at the hospital! 

IMG_7225A close up- I hand wrote the letter, and made photocopies, providing my email and blog address for people to check out this article, and maybe even leave some feedback about what they thought about it all! 

IMG_7226Here I am wearing one – to show size and where they would approx. rest on the body. – This pouch was made for one of the amazing doctors I am lucky enough to see once a week to help me through this all. 

So far, I have not heard back from any of the medical staff on what they thought about their little marsupial-satchels. I hope to hear via email, or face to face, what they thought about it. Even if I don’t hear a peep from anyone- I know that I myself felt love and joy making and giving these away to those that had helped me, so hopefully, that loving energy will be passed along with these pouches to the 11 gentle souls who made my life a little easier to cope with this past month.

And that is my Community Project.


Fire Engine Red

Somehow while in the midst of a storm- the sun breaks through the clouds to remind me that there is hope.

And by hope, I mean knowing that come summer, I will have:

  1. A cabin of my very own – With a PINK outhouse! – Not to mention fabulous studio space
  2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (I am so thankful for Yukon Healthcare)
  3. Mountain Bike as transportation, and fingers crossed- maybe my darling of a Chevy, Ol’ Blue-  will make the trip up the Alaska Highway from B.C. with me behind the wheel (Spring road trip in the making? Possibly)
  4. AND – As of tonight- I have a job lined up for the summer being the Museum Manager for the Dawson City Firefighters Museum

Now to just survive the final days of school, holding on tight to the last bits of sanity that I have.

Here is one of the vehicles I saw in the museum today!




1897 Clapp and Jones Fire Steam Pumper

– Put into service with the Dawson Fire Department in 1900, this was the second engine to be purchased by the city. Capable of pumping 500 gallons a minute, the double engine meant that one pump was always running, thus resulting in a near constant stream of water. The steamer had two suction and discharge openings, allowing either side to be connected for use. The frame of the steamer rests on springs, which would have helped it to run smoothly on the rough roads of early Dawson.

For more information on Firefighting and it’s history in Dawson City : Click here



My Experience: A Photo Essay about Depression

For this photo essay project, I photographed a series of objects that connect directly to terms and experiences I encounter on a daily basis while coping with a mental illness. My photographs will talk about the process of accepting depression and learning how to live and move forward while making the best of my life.  Depression is a common affliction in society today for many reasons, may it be environmental, internal or inherited. How people acknowledge their mental illness is unique in its own way as everybody has different coping strategies. I want to challenge myself to find new avenues toward healing, coping, and renewal through art and the creative process. Mental health issues cannot be shelved or put on the back burner, so I want to take the opportunity to explore my world in a true holistic sense. In this photo essay, I capture my experience with depression, and the symbols and meanings I connect to. This series of photographs  provide a sense of release and awareness, not just for myself, but for others who may connect to what I have to say, whilst finding a beauty in the deep and dark mundane aspects of my life.

trigger shot Sally

Trigger – Anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.


Stress – A reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.

pills pills sally

Anti-Depressants – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

paranoia  copy Sally

Paranoia– An unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, sometimes reaching delusional proportions. Paranoid individuals constantly suspect the motives of those around them, and believe that certain individuals, or people in general, are “out to get them.”

self depricating Sally

Self-Depricating Thoughts – the act of belittling or undervaluing oneself

This is my experience.



“No pressure” she says; *cocks pistol to the back of my skull*

you could say that the pistol, with its cool metallic tip resting against the back of my skull is my Writing 12 assignment. Fully loaded, cold, unforgiving, and oh so threatening. My Ebus teacher, an educated well achieving stranger is unknowingly pressing this pistol further deeper into the back of my head. Not because she enjoys it, it is simply my imagination having a hay day in the horror movie department and decided that yes, she is would make a good  assassin. my eyebrows knit together as I try not to think of the pain flooding all  my senses; yes I can smell the pain. It smells like a cold sweat, shortness of breath, fingers  losing their warmth, blood pounding in my ears. Yes THAT’s what I taste.  Pretty soon that delicate finger, who takes part in writing helpful emails with smiley faces, will pull the trigger back, releasing my greatest fear.

“Not meeting expectations”.

That is what pressure feels like for me. A lethal weapon, just waiting to go off.

being a perfectionist, is well, a daunting daily routine. I am not your average teenager or maybe I am?, most of my friends don’t understand this undying need for everything to be ‘perfect’, sometimes its freakishly compulsive. I have anxiety issues over whether “my homework is good enough”, “have I studied the right things?”, “I am writing this essay correct?”, “Do you think  my boyfriend would still like me if he knew of my anxious habits of perfectionism?” Hah. got to smirk there, there is no boyfriend to worry about, but i thought might as well mention it for future anxiety attacks. (You never know right?) Some guy might actually be fooled by my face and weird charm. Is there such a thing as weird charm? or is that just awkwardness?

this lack of concentration and confidence could also be a side effect from the concussion i got last week.

which seriously freaked the honey out of the freaking vending machine.

Brain injuries kind of throw you off ‘your game’. They give you this insecure feeling inside your own head. You don’t know whats happening to your precious brain cells up there.

So trying to force myself to come up with brilliant poetry that ‘exceeds expectations’ seems quite difficult for me at the moment.


Im not as bad as I used to be, thank god for that. But there is still this element, that sometimes, I must say I am grateful for, for when I’m shredding, hell the work is impressive. But other times, it gets in the way of completing the tasks at hand. Its like an illusion. the work you thought was decent now looks like well.. some three year old barfed cheerios and crinkled the Monday newspaper and handed that in.

I wouldn’t call it a ‘writer’s block’, more like a ‘writer’s insecurity’. Confidence is lacking in my poetry department, nobody usually sees my work and now I am all of the sudden being marked on it.


I think yes.

Can I blame my procrastination on my insecurity?

not entirely, because sometimes… I really just don’t want to do it.

But the frustrating thing is when you DO want to complete it, but you just, you can’t, you can’t fathom handing in this “dirt” because you’re teacher is expecting a live iguana. Something that croaks- “I’ve got personality”

Dirt does not croak. nor does it speak.

it might hum,

like when your walking through a farmers field and its windy, you hear the dry crackling grain and you can feel the grit cover your eyelashes, cover your mouth. You can taste dirt.

You can taste success,

but unlike dirt, it is not so easily found.







Abnormal Psychology Research Project ~ Schizophrenia


The category of disorders I am presenting is Schizophrenia. In my two text books, information can be found on pages: 220, 239-242 in Adjustment and Growth The Challenges of Life sixth edition by Spencer A. Rathus and Jeffrey S. Nevid and pages 101, 557-563 in Psychology: Frontiers and Applications Second Canadian Edition by Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, and Muir.


                                                   ~GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA~

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of control of thought processes and inappropriate emotional responses. Of all the psychological disorders, schizophrenia is the most serious and, in many ways the most puzzling and difficult to treat ( Hogarty, 2003). Despite the thousands of research studies and many theories of schizophrenia, a complete understanding of this disorder has not been successfully obtained. The term schizophrenia was introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911. Literally the term means “split  mind”, which is often confusing for people. Many would confuse schizophrenia with a dissociative identity disorder or with a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde phenomenon. The term “split mind” is intended to suggest that certain psychological functions, such as thought, language, and emotion, which are joined together in normal people, are somehow split apart or disconnected in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects equal numbers of males and females, but it appears earlier in males, frequently between the ages of 15 and 30 ( Jeste & Heaton, 1994).



Schizophrenia has behavioural, emotional, and cognitive facets that can very widely from case to case. In my research I have found four major subtypes of schizophrenia in my research.

  •  Paranoid type: A type of schizophrenia characterized primarily by delusions commonly of persecution, and delusions of grandeur in which they believe they are enormously important.suspicion, anxiety, or anger may accompany the delusions, and hallucinations.

  • Disorganized type:  Disorganized schizophrenics show disorganized delusions and vivid hallucinations. The central features are confusion and incoherence, together with severe deterioration of adaptive behaviour. Their behaviour often appears silly and childlike, and their emotional responses are highly inappropriate. Thought disorganization is often so extreme that is it very difficult to communicate with them. These people usually cannot function on their own.

  • Catatonic type: Catatonic schizophrenics show striking impairment in motor activity ranging from muscular rigidity to random or repetitive movements. Catatonics sometimes alternate between stuporous states in which they seem oblivious to reality and agitated excitement during which they can be dangerous to others. Something I found quite interesting was that while in a stuporous state they may exhibit a ” wavy flexibility” in which their limbs can be moulded by another person into grotesque positions that they will then maintain for hours. The following picture below is an example of wavy flexibility.


  •  Undifferentiated type: Undifferentiated type schizophrenics are people who exhibit some of the symptoms and thought disorders of the above categories but not enough of the specific criteria to be diagnosed in those categories.

In addition to these formal categories, many mental health  workers and researchers categorize schizophrenic reactions into two main categories on the basis of two classes of symptoms.Type I schizophrenia is characterized by a  predominance of positive symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, and disordered speech and thinking. These symptoms are refered to as “positive” because they represent pathological extremes of normal process. Type II schizophrenia  features negative symptoms which is an absence of normal reactions such as lack of emotional expression, loss of motivation, and an absence of normal speech. ( Herz & Marder, 2002)

Why are these subtypes important?

  • Researchers have found differences in brain function between schizophrenics having positive symptoms and those with mainly negative symptoms (Gur et al., 1998; Zakzanis, 1998)
  • Subtypes also show difference in life history and prognosis
  •  Negative symptoms are likely to be associated with a long history of poor functioning prior to hospitalization and with a poor outcome following treatment (McGlashan & Fenton, 1992)
  • Positive symptoms especially those associated with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia are associated with good functioning prior to breakdown anda better prognosis for eventual recovery, particularly is the symptoms came on suddenly and were preceded by a history of relatively good adjustment ( Fenton & McGlashan, 1991a,1991b)


Pyschologists have investigated various factors that may contribute to schizophrenia.

I will give a brief description of each for the class to use as a resource.

  •  The thalamus plays such an important role in routing sensory information to higher brain regions, disrupted thamalic functioning can produce a highly confusing world for its victims. In research at the National Institute of Mental Health carried out by Nancy Andreason and her co-workers (1994), MRIs from 39 schizophrenic were compared to 47 normal male volunteers. Brain images showed specific abnormalities  in the thalamus of the “schizophrenic” brains. Researchers suggested that malfunctioning in this structure could help to account for the confused thinking and disordered attention that characterize schizophrenic behaviour.
  • Psychodynamic views – The psychodynamic model views schizophrenia as the overwhelming of the ego by sexual or aggressive impulses from the id. The impulse threaten the ego and cause intense intrapsycic conflict.under this threat the person regresses to an early phase of the oral stage in which the infant has not yet learned that it and the world are separate. fantasies become confused with reality giving birth to hallucinations and delusions. primitive impulses may carry more weight than social norms.

Diagram of Freud’s psyche theory

  • Behavioral views: Behaviorists explain schizophrenia through conditioning and observational learning. From this perspective people show schizophrenic behaviour when it is more likely than normal behaviour to be reinforced. this may occur when the person is reared in a  socially unrewarding or punitive situation. Inner fantasies then become more reinforcing than social realities. *Remember we learned about conditioning and observational learning earlier with Albert who was the baby scared of everything fuzzy*
  • Genetic factors:Schizophrenia, like many other psychological disorders runs in families ( Grove and others, 1991). Schizophrenic persons constitute about 1% of the population. But children with one schizophrenic parent have a 10-15% chance of becoming a schizophrenic ad children with two schizophrenic parents have about a 35% chance of developing the disorder ( Gottesman, 1991).Twin studies also find about a 45% concordance rate for the diagnosis among pairs of identical twins, whose genetic codes are the same, as compared to a 13% rate among pairs of fraternal twins who are no more closely related genetically than other siblings (Gottesman, 1991; Murray & Reveley, 1986) heredity cannot be the sole factor, most investigators today favor a multifactorial model in which genetic factors create a predisposition toward schizophrenia. The predisposition interacts with other factors, such as the quality of parenting, viral infections, birth complications, and stress to produce schizophrenia. ( Gottesman, 1991; Michels & Marzuk, 1993a)
  • The Dopamine Theory of schizophrenia  -THe dopamine theory of schizophrenia evolved from observation of the effects of amphetamines, a group of stimulants. researchers are confident that amphetamines act by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. High doses of amphetamines lead to behaviour that mimics paranoid schizophrenia in normal people, and even low doses exacerbate the behaviours of schizophrenics. ( Synder, 1980) A second source of evidence for the dopamine theory lies in the effects of a class of drugs called phenothiazines. It does not appear that schizophrenic persons produce more dopamine than others but that their brains are more sensitive to dopamine ( Snyder, 1984)
While doing further research, I have found that fairly recent studies have concluded that there may be a link between use of cannabis and schizophrenia. I have included a paper by Filip Smit, Linda Bolier & Pim Cuijpers from Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, the Netherlands. You will be able to view this if you scroll down to bottom of my blog and click “Cannabis use and the risk of later schizophrenia: a review ” in my blogroll. Might make you think twice about making plans to get baked anytime soon.
  •  Schizophrenic patients are likely to be treated with Antipsychotic drugs ( also called major tranquilizers). In most cases, these drugs reduce agitation, delusions, and hallucinations (Michels & Marzuk, 1993)
  • Phenothiazines is a family of drugs that are effective in treatment of many cases of schizophrenia.THe phenothiazines, work by blocking the action of dopamine receptors ( Michels & Marzuk, 1993a). Some examples of phenothiazines are : chlorpromazine (brand name: Thorazine), fluphenazine (Duraclon), mesoridazine (Serentil), perphenazine (Etrafon and Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), promazine (Robinul and Anectine), thioridazine (Mellaril), trifluoperazine (Stelazine) and triflupromazine (Robinul).
  • Clozapine is effective in treating many seriously disturbed schizophrenics who are unresponsive to other antipsychotic drugs ( Baldessarini & Frankeburg, 1991 ; Green & Salsman, 1990; Naber & Hippius, 1990; Pickar and others, 1992)
Schizophrenia afflicts only one to two percent of the population, yet schizophrenic patients occupy about half of all psychiatric hospital beds ( Satcher, 1999) Many others, barely function as “homeless people” in large cities ( Herman et al., 1998). About 10% of people with schizophrenia remain permanently impaired, and 65% show intermittent periods of normal function. The other 25% recover from the disorder ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994)

I tried to find some famous people with schizophrenia, I didn’t find much because schizophrenia is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young – age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college. I was quite impressed that many of these people who had been diagnosed or had been suspected of suffering from schizophrenia had quite normal jobs.

Many “historical diagnoses” are frequently not entirely certain — a “good guess” for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Following is a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.

  • Tom Harrell, Jazz Musician
  • Meera Popkin, Broadway Star
  • John Nash, Mathematician/Nobel Prize Winner
  • Albert Einstein’s son: Eduard Einstein
  • Dr. James Watson’s son ( Dr. Watson is co-discover of DNA and Nobel Prize winner)
  • Alan Alda’s Mother ( Alan Alda is the famous TV actor from the series MASH)
  • Andy Goram – Scottish Soccer Player/ Goal Keeper
  • Syd Barrett of the band Pink Floyd
  • James Beck Gordon (JIm Gordon) – had been one of the greatest drummers of his time
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln ( past-PResident of the United States)
I hope you guys found this somewhat interesting, and can use it as a study tool for the Mental Illness test coming up.

Quiet before the storm (via bang | Photography) *A Window Into My Thoughts*

This is how my mind felt today. As if all the answers got up and walked out of my brain leaving me… well empty and useless. Frustrating? Of course it is. I usually feel like a failure. But also dosn’t not having the answer give you and interestingly satisfying feeling? This is where my mother would sigh and look at me making a joke about a past concussion or something witty. She has a knack for dissing I would not lie about this. My old english teacher would throw a pen at someone and make us do an essay on procrastination ( which yes, I have had to do…) and where fellow students would agree with me. An excuse to sit in class and think about things that are not on the top of your priority list is a wonderful thing.Or maybe they are on top of your priority list. Just they are not exactly rational. But to be able to separate yourself from the daunting task in front of you and stare into oblivion is quite a welcomed gift in my mind. To think about things that are much more I don’t know, theorectical then Stoicheometry? Maybe theorectical isnt the right word, maybe… more colorful more tactile more, well more letting your mind wander and not forcing it to do something. ( Can you tell that I’d do anything to get myself out of my Chemistry 11 class??) Some call it procrastinating, day dreaming, being lazy. What ever. This photograph illustrates this perfectly. Double block of chemistry, and all I wanted to do was to join my answers and every other educated thought… and walk out the door.

Quiet before the storm Quiet before the storm, originally uploaded by bang*. 146 / 365 A little moment of calm and quiet, pools of warming sunlight break the cold darkness of shadow while we await the noise & colour of the crowd. Fuji X100 … Read More

via bang | Photography