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Podcast With A Blindness Perspective.

Jun 27, 2018

Job Insights #6: What Does Humor, Self-Advocacy and Feeling Got to Do with Mental Health Strategies? Meet Beth Gustin, licensed Professional Counselor

 

Full Transcript Below

On Job Insights Episode #6, Serina Gilbert and Jeff Thompson are joined by Beth Gustin, LPC. Beth has years of experience in which she shares with us in this discussion on Mental Health and offers us some strategies in dealing with the anxieties and stresses during the job search.

 

Beth talks about the necessity of having humor to make the journey less stressful. Having the skill of self-advocacy because no one knows what you’ll need, more than you do. And if you don’t feel, you don’t heal. And that’s where self-care comes into play.

 

This is just a brief look at Mental Health and addressing just a few topics and we are excited to say that Beth will be back to share some of her insights in our upcoming episodes. Beth has also suggested a web site where you can find out about looking into therapy or finding some help and services in your area if you ever want to check it out. Here is a link to the psychology Today website.

 

Beth Gustin can be reached by email. and she can help you find the resources that you may be looking for.

 

Thank you for listening!
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On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com
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Full Transcript:

Job Insights #6: What Does Humor, Self-Advocacy and Feeling Got to Do with Mental Health Strategies? Meet Beth Gustin, licensed Professional Counselor

 

Beth G.:

Knowing what comforts you. So do you like hot tea? Do you like a warm bath? Do you like walking outside and getting some fresh air? Knowing what works, and being able to have that readily available to you can help with depression.

Jeff Thompson:

Job Insights, a podcast to help you carve out your career pathway and enhance the opportunities for gainful employment.

Beth G.:

If you don't feel, you don't heal. It just basically means if you don't have an outlet for your emotions, whatever they may be, I'm going to tell you right now that every emotion you have is normal and valid and it's okay.

Jeff Thompson:

To help you navigate the employment world and give you job insights and enhance the opportunities to choose the career you want. So there's not one out there called, pull up your boot straps, is there?

Beth G.:

Nope.

Serena Gilbert:

You can Google that, Jeff. See what you come up with.

Jeff Thompson:

You can find the Job Insights podcast on blindabilities.com, part of the Blind Abilities network with hosts Serena Gilbert and myself, Jeff Thompson. And you can contact us by email at jobinsights@blindabilities.com. Leave us some feedback or suggest some topics that we cover, on Twitter @jobinsightsvip. And check out the Job Insights support group on Facebook, where you can learn, share, advise and interact with the Job Insights community.

Beth G.:

If you have the right support system, which is a crucial key when it comes to self care and adjusting. If you have a good support system and you have some professionals involved to help, such as rehabilitation counselors or low vision specialists, things like that. That definitely helps remove some of those emotional or mental barriers that might come up when we're working towards adjusting.

Jeff Thompson:

Learn about resources for training, education and employment opportunities.

Beth G.:

It's also good practice, like you just said, to work with someone that we may not mesh with very well because it teaches us, it's a learning experience.

Serena Gilbert:

Exactly, right Jeff?

Jeff Thompson:

Huh. And now please welcome Serena Gilbert and Jeff Thompson, with Job Insights.

Jeff Thompson:

How you doing, Serena?

Serena Gilbert:

I'm doing great  Jeff, how are you?

Jeff Thompson:

I'm doing good. I'm getting this feeling that people want me to get older.

Serena Gilbert:

I wonder what special day is coming up for you?

Jeff Thompson:

I don't know, but I think I'll be eating cake soon.

Serena Gilbert:

Your present's in the mail, it's coming via dot Amazon net.

Jeff Thompson:

Blind matter, too right?

Serena Gilbert:

Yes, blind matter.

Jeff Thompson:

It's be here on my next birthday. Perfect, perfect.

Serena Gilbert:

If you don't get it this week, you know, don't worry.

Jeff Thompson:

Well, this week?

Serena Gilbert:

This week.

Jeff Thompson:

Yeah, this week, right?

Serena Gilbert:

This week.

Jeff Thompson:

We do have a guest on the show and we're going to be talking to Beth Gustin

and she's a national certified counselor and she's from Colorado and so is
Serena, and I'm from Minnesota. How you all doing?

Serena Gilbert:

I'm great. Welcome Beth, we are super excited to have you on the podcast today.

Beth G.:

Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Serena Gilbert:

So today we are taking a break from our traditional topics with the Job Insights podcast. To touch a little on self care and how to take care of yourself, [inaudible]

the job search and also in coping with blindness or visual impairment. One thing that many people that aren't really, really close to me don't realize is that I too, sometimes have some not so fun feelings about being visually impaired, and not being able to drive and things like that. And I think it's important for all of us to learn a little bit of techniques and to get some tips for working through that.

Jeff Thompson:

Beth, do you want to tell a little bit about your occupation and what you do?

Beth G.:

Sure. So I am a licensed professional counselor, mental health therapist, and I work in the community mental health field. I currently work with ages eight and up, prior to that I worked at another mental health agency, working with just adults. Before that I worked at the center for People with Disabilities, and I facilitated their low vision support groups and was the manager of their senior low vision program. I've also done Hospice volunteer work for about eight years, I no longer do that at this point in time, but I have done that. I've done some volunteer work at a homeless shelter and an adult day care as well. I have my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education, which you have to have your master's degree in order to become a licensed professional counselor. Yeah. What else would you like to know?

Serena Gilbert:

That's a lot of stuff, Beth. So as you guys can tell, Beth has a lot of experience not only working with individual's disabilities but it sounds like young adults and adolescents as well, because you said you work with eight and up?

Beth G.:

I do, I've had this current job for about six months. That's a newer population to me.

Serena Gilbert:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), tell me a little bit more about your experience working with the Center for People with Disabilities?

Beth G.:

It's an independent living center, we had a multitude of different programs but I happened to work with the Senior Low Vision program. So we worked with individuals, oh gosh, I believe it was ages 55 and up, and the average age when I was there was around 85 years of age. And so we would help them, individuals who were losing their sight, we would help them adjust to losing their sight, help them relearn or learn new ways of doing the same things they'd always done. Because as we lose our sight, as some of us know, we have to adapt and find new ways to do the same things we've always done. So, whether it was showing them how to mark their appliances so they could still do the laundry and cook and things like that, whether it was teaching them technology so they could learn to use iPhones or computers. Anything and everything to help them either individually or in a group setting to stay independent and maintain their quality of life.

Serena Gilbert:

So many of those individuals you're working with ... Was it a lot of individuals that acquired their low vision or blindness, a little bit later in life?

Beth G.:

Yes, the majority had macular degeneration or something along those lines.

Serena Gilbert:

So what were some of the common things that you saw working with that population, in regards to transitioning into losing their sight?

Beth G.:

Most of them had extremely positive attitudes, given if they had macular degeneration, they would never totally lose their sight. I think that helped some of them regain some of the confidence that can sometimes be lost, when we first lose our sight. I saw a lot of anxiety mainly, when I worked with them, just as far as learning how to, like I said before, continue to do the things they've always done, just learning how to do them differently. And so a lot of the work was just helping them regain their confidence, or maintain their confidence and work with the anxiety.

Beth G.:

There were some symptoms of depression initially when we first hear that we are diagnosed with vision loss of any kind, I think there's a little bit of, oh my gosh, what's this mean for me? How's my life going to look? And so people might tend to isolate at first, people might tend to have a sense of initial hopelessness or helplessness, but if you have the right support system which is a crucial key when it comes to self care and adjusting. If you have a good support system and you have some professionals involved to help such as rehabilitation counselors or low vision specialists, things like that. That definitely helps remove some of those emotional or mental barriers that might come up, that we're working towards adjusting.

Jeff Thompson:

Beth, do you feel that you being blind yourself acts as some sort of role model to the clients?

Beth G.:

They said it did, I think it definitely helped, because I could relate on a different level. I've been blind since birth and I've had light perception although I've lost almost all of that over the past three to five years. But I think still having been born blind gave me an understanding. It's very different being born blind versus losing your sight later in life, but we still have to adapt and find different ways of doing things. And so having those different ways of doing things already working for me it I think helped all of us relate on a similar level and gave us a common thread with which to work from.

Serena Gilbert:

I noticed that you had said that a lot of anxiety comes, more so stemming from, how am I going to do this now, something that I've always done visually and
Jeff and I have talked about this a lot on our previous episodes in regards to making sure to taking advantage of those training opportunities, and partnerships and support systems like you mentioned, to be able to help support you. And being able to develop those new skills just doing the same thing you've always done differently. The only thing you might not be able to still do is actually physically drive a car until you get that self driving car going. But other than that I think you can do almost anything, just differently.

Beth G.:

Right. And you can drive, just not legally. But I wouldn't ...

Serena Gilbert:

We're not going there.

Beth G.:

You're right though, I mean I think it's just that fear of how am I going to do this, and one of the things I was told, working with the seniors back then, was your brain remembers. So if you can close your eyes and kind of let your hands and your brain sort of guide you through the motions it takes a lot of the pressure off yourself.

Jeff Thompson:

Now Beth, you mentioned three major points, and the first one was advocacy, self advocacy, I believe it was. Can you talk about that?

Beth G.:

Sure and I definitely think about this when we're talking about students transitioning from high school to college, or transitioning into the work force. Knowing what you need and knowing how to ask for it, so it's a hard skill to learn, I think especially for not outgoing by nature, or don't feel like we got a lot of confidence, to say, hey Mr Smith I'm going to be in your level 101 History class and it would be very helpful if you could read what you're saying as you write it on the board, because I cannot see the board. To kind of take that lead, I guess in your life.

Beth G.:

For me, I personally found it helpful to go down to the college campus and happened to go to grad school and under grad in the same campus which helped, but going early and trying to meet the professors and introducing myself and meeting with the Disability Student Services Center, letting them know who I was and what I would need ahead of time, before class started so that I would have a smoother transition into class. Similarly, when we're looking at employment opportunities being able to help an employer understand what accommodations you might need and explain to them, you know getting to my job is my problem, so transportation is my worry not yours, because some employers will ask about that. Helping them understand that, hey can we maybe throw some clear braille markers on the microwave if braille is something that we utilize so that we can heat up our lunch and not have to ask someone for that.

Beth G.:

Asking though specifically if you orient me to my surroundings can you please describe either with a clock face where things are located or letting me go touch items so that I can learn where things are. But just being very specific in asking for what you need.

Serena Gilbert:

And I think that you'll find if you're super specific and just ask, almost everyone is super willing to help you out especially in an employment site. I've never had anyone say like, no I don't have time for that, because the reality is that little bit of time that's invested at the beginning allows you to have that independence, for however long you chose to stay with that employer.

Beth G.:

I agree.

Jeff Thompson:

You know as I was listening here, I actually remember that the first thing you mentioned was keeping a sense of humor.

Beth G.:

Yes.

Jeff Thompson:

Can you talk about that one?

Beth G.:

I think it's extremely important to be able to laugh, whether it's at yourself, at the situations.

Serena Gilbert:

Well how many things have we tripped over or walls have we ran into, and just laugh it off and keep going, right?

Beth G.:

We have to go out to the lobby area to get our clients, and at my last job and this job, I've done it twice now, I go out and I call a client and they sound similar to my client, and they've got the same first names, so I'm walking back and I'm realizing, this is not my client. You both kind of go like, you're not my therapist, you're not my client, and we just apologize and laugh it off and go get your client.

Serena Gilbert:

Yes.

Beth G.:

But, you know, things like that can be really funny if you let them. Running into walls, I mean, it took me a little while to learn, well both buildings that I was in, I went to the wrong office a couple of times, that's embarrassing.

Serena Gilbert:

Did you sit down at the computer and everything?

Jeff Thompson:

It's harder to log in that way.

Beth G.:

Look, why isn't this talking to me, what's going on?

Serena Gilbert:

I have almost ... you guys will laugh at this, so our building has like a main lobby in the downstairs area because we're in a building that has a lot of different suites and there's chairs and tables down there. I have on multiple occasions almost sat on somebody, and they're like, oh hi and I'm like, thank God you said something because I would have sat on you.

Beth G.:

And that is something that I wish that we could help the public feel comfortable in doing. Speak up, you know, we don't know you're there necessarily if we can't see you.

Serena Gilbert:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Beth G.:

It's much more helpful for everyone involved if you speak to us before we sit on your lap.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes. Unless it's santa clause, I mean that's about it.

Beth G.:

Right.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes, there's so many different times that there's ... even when you're alone or at a table setting and you stab into the mash potatoes, put it in your mouth and it's totally something else and it's like, you know there's a facial expression you give but you can't give it away sometimes, you've just got to swallow it.

Serena Gilbert:

Oh, I've had that happen before, I'm like, I though I'm about to eat a piece of corn and that is not corn, it's a whole piece of bread on my fork.

Jeff Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) yes, but I like what you say about the public being aware of that, if they speak up just a little bit and not be afraid or shy away from an impending thing happening, especially like on the bus when you're ready to sit down, they wait until you almost make contact with them, you know, yes, so it does help. So if there's any sighted people out there, or councilors listening right now, just speak up sometimes and it really helps out the situation.

Beth G.:

And the same is true for if you're walking somewhere, and don't watch us run into the wall, I mean we have dogs and canes so hopefully we'll find it, but we're human and we don't always pay attention and we think about something else and it's okay to speak up and maybe say something, don't grab us or anything like that because that's not helpful. But definitely don't be afraid to speak up and ask, do you need some assistance or can I help you? Please don't say, over there or here or that way, those are not helpful phrases for us, the more verbal a person can be, the usually better off it is going to be for all of us.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes and that third item that you mentioned was ...

Beth G.:

It was, if you don't feel you don't heal. Which is a therapy phrase and it just basically means if you don't have an outlet for your emotions whatever they may be, I'm going to tell you right now that every emotion you have is normal and valid and it's okay. Where it becomes a challenge is if we don't have a way to express them. If we don't have someone we can talk to. If we don't have maybe physical ways to express our anger that are healthy, like punching pillows or mattresses or going to the gym. If we don't have way to express our sadness, maybe we don't have the words or we don't have the ability to speak at the moment but if we can do it through art or music or journaling, something like that. Again, you have to feel it before you can heal from it.

Serena Gilbert:

And I wanted to talk a little bit about that, so every one's super afraid of, you know the 'D' word, depression, but it happens. You know, we all experience it whether it's for an extended period of time and it's at a clinical level or, it's situational because you've got some not so fun things going on in your life, but I did want to touch upon that because I think that, that's more common in the blindness community than we all like to admit, because I see some posts in Facebook groups where we're not real happy about our situation right now and I want our listeners to understand that, that is a perfectly normal emotion, but it's also about, okay so you're depressed because you're not able to get where you want to when you want to get there. But there's some solutions we can do to that, how can we work through that and I think it'd be helpful to have a talk about a depression piece of things as well.

Beth G.:

Sure, and I also want to add to that a couple of things, I think anxiety, depression and anger are the three top emotions that I have observed in my work with clients, especially those with visual loss and employment challenges, and I also think it's important to allow yourself time to grieve and re-grieve. So, by re-grieving I mean, we may be very well adjusted to the fact that we are walking through the world with a visual disability, but it doesn't mean that myself or Serena or Jeff doesn't re-grieve, like oh, I wish I could drive, oh if only I could see my computer screen and not have to wait for somebody to come help me because my technology isn't co-operating, or whatever it is. We grieve and that can trigger depression or anger or anxiety, by anger, anxiety or depression, I'm not saying actual disorders, like not an actual anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder, I'm talking about symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, but experiences like that can definitely lead to symptoms of depression or possibly depressive episode.

Beth G.:

I think the first thing is acknowledging, this is how I feel you know, are you finding yourself isolating more? Are you finding yourself crying more? Are you finding yourself more irritable? Do you find yourself sleeping more, are you not eating as much? I mean what are your symptoms, what are you doing differently that might make you stop and think, wow this is depression, and we don't have to like it, but that is what it is and so then how do we work with that and I'm a therapist, of course I'm going to say, go talk to your therapist if you have one, because I think that's one of the first things you can do to help yourself. Definitely rule out anything physical, any physical causes first because some vitamin imbalances, or hormone imbalances or heart conditions can mimic a lot of these symptoms of mental health, and so for sure rule out anything physical, but then definitely find someone you can talk to. Find a support group you can join, find an on-line support group you can join if you can't find one in person.

Beth G.:

Like I said, write it out, journaling is extremely helpful, I don't care if somebody writes, I've got not a thing to say, for five pages, that's okay you're still writing and something will come. Most times you're going to think you have nothing to say and you'll end up writing a lot of pages, because you have a lot to say. Music is a huge help with depression. You can find something uplifting that will change your mood, that can be helpful. Knowing what comforts you. So, do you like hot tea, do you like a warm bath, do you like walking outside and getting some fresh air? Knowing what works and being able to have that readily available to you can help with depression. And then lastly, I always encourage clients to keep, what I call a coping toolbox. So literally you get a box of any size that works for you and you put things in there that no matter what you pull out, it'll help you.

Beth G.:

And you can keep this by your bed, you can keep this in your living room. If you are someone who is [inaudible] you can keep one in your car, but anywhere that's easily accessible to you and you can put things in there like a scent or an aroma that is pleasing to you and makes you feel more calm and relaxed. You can put a CD if those even still exist for most of us, or some kind of MP3 player where you can listen to music and songs that you know are going to make you feel better. You can put in there, maybe a bag of your favorite coffee, or a couple of tea bags or whatever it's going to be. Anything that's going to help you feel better so there's no question asked, so it'll help.

Jeff Thompson:

Those are some really good points and I think one of the things that
Serena struck on was that the 'D' word, society's expectations when you feel that they're looking upon you to admit that you have depression or to admit you have anxiety or it's just always expected that, I'm okay so I'm glad that you had all these suggestions for people to ... you know, I'm not going to carry around a Halloween trick or treat bag, that's not going to help me cope all the time. But, that makes sense because I find myself, I like, like a hot bath or a walk or something, or working out a little bit and it always helps. It always feels like I got an extra skip in my step, I guess.

Serena Gilbert:

And I was going to say for me, when I get like depressed about, I can't just get in the car and go do what I want to do, you know? For me it's singing in the shower, like it's, I can't sing in my car you know, and that always, always, always helps me out.

Beth G.:

And yes, depending on the severity of the depression, some people might be in this place where, those all sound nice but I just don't have motivation to do that, I don't have the energy, and so I think about things, such as, okay instead of looking at your to do list, can you make a list of things you accomplished that day and it may just say I got out of bed and had breakfast, that may be it for the day, but that's still better than just laying in bed and so it's finding baby steps that you can take to help yourself start to shift from that depression.

Jeff Thompson:

Beth, how important it is to recognize that you might be having anxiety or depression happening.

Beth G.:

To me it's extremely important because if we don't know what a person's experiencing, what their symptoms are, what they're feeling, what their thoughts are, what their emotions are, we aren't able to help as well and so if the person can recognize, you know, I don't know what's going on but here's what I'm experiencing, it allows us as the professionals to step in and say, okay well let's talk about what you've tried, or what used to work or let's try something new, or it allows loved ones, or those of us in support systems to say, hey, I've been there too here's what worked for me.

Serena Gilbert:

And I think it's great that you mentioned loved ones and support systems because I definitely want to touch a little bit on, what are some good self care tips for our family members or our loved ones, especially in a family where maybe it's a husband and wife, or even a mother and daughter where it's a sudden loss of vision, not something that's been dealt with over, you know, quite a few years or born with and things like that.

Beth G.:

My first suggestion would be to educate. Educate, educate, educate and learn as much as you can on both sides, whether you are the one with vision loss or you're the person living with someone with vision loss, but educate yourself on their cause of vision loss and what it might mean for them and keep the conversations open and it's important to open dialogue, roles might change temporarily or roles might change permanently, depending on how one's experience is with vision loss. So, definitely have good communication skills, be able to talk about the hard things, be able to talk about the fears that both of you have, from a husband and wife team, because the sighted individual is going to have some fears and anxieties as well and being able to just calmly openly talk about those things is, I think, one of the first steps to being, to successfully transitioning, for living with vision loss.

Beth G.:

I think it's also important to again, seek support. There's a lot of different support groups out there for a variety of things and just finding one that fits for you. Get to know other people who are in similar situations because maybe they're further ahead from where you are, you can learn from them, or maybe you can help someone else, because you're further ahead than they are in the process.

Jeff Thompson:

Wow.

Serena Gilbert:

I really like that you acknowledge that it's, it's perfectly normal for a family member to have those fears and anxieties as well, because I think sometimes when a family member gets diagnosed with a vision impairment or even just a life changing diagnosis of any kind, the person that has not had that diagnosis feels that they have to be the rock and the strong one, and not really show any of that emotion and just be there for the person that's going through it. So I love that, that's something that you brought to light here for us.

Beth G.:

Absolutely, I think it's crucial that both individual or how many individuals, even it's, you know, adult children or younger children but everyone needs to able to have a place to express their emotions and I think it's also helpful depending on type of vision loss and you know what the cause is, but if you know you're going to lose your sight more progressively, start to implement some non-visual strategies early on, so that when you do have less sight, your transition's easier and there's less anxiety. Definitely reach out to any professionals you can that can provide support and in a sense just so you can learn the skills that everyone is going to need. It can be very common that the sighted persons wants to begin doing everything for the person with vision loss and we don't want that, we still want to be independent, we still want to be productive and active members of the household and society so allowing us to struggle, allowing us to learn to do things differently and that could be painful to watch us struggle, but we don't learn if we don't do it.

Serena Gilbert:

Very well said.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes. That's true, when you said being the rock, when I taught woodworking the men would come and, oh yes they've done it, but they hadn't and they would just say it because that's expected of them and in my situation I had to be the strong guy, but I come from a family of rocks and it makes it tough to open up because everyone is very independent and everything so as the years go by, it's like an education process that just kind of evolves, and I think my friends catch on faster than my family did, if that makes sense.

Serena Gilbert:

At the risk of upsetting some people, it's interesting that you said that
Jeff because you said like, you come from a family like, where the males are the rocks and I do think that there are differences between how males and females might cope with that, especially if it's later in life, like if you're from a really traditionally roled married and you always do the driving and you always do this and you always do that and that's taken away from you, I feel like that's, that's going to be a little bit different for a male versus a female.

Beth G.:

I want to speak to that as well, in regards to if anyone ever experienced this, but if you are traveling with a sighted person and you have brought along your mobility aid of choice, be it a cane or guide dog. We're not trying to minimize your role in helping us as a sighted person, but we need those aids to learn about our environment, to be more independent and to, as I've put it, rely on a sighted person more for the things we need help with versus the things we still can do on our own. So it's a balancing act I think, of letting somebody be a rock and at the same time keeping independence.

Jeff Thompson:

That's well put. So,
Beth if someone may think that they, I don't know how to phrase this, but if someone's out there that may think that they're ... you know, you've mentioned what, I know it said ADA, Anxiety, Depression and Anger?

Beth G.:

Yes.

Jeff Thompson:

If someone may be questioning about those three things, what would you suggest for them to do, I mean or contact?

Beth G.:

Well, I mean I'm a firm believer in, it's okay to seek some professional help if need be, just to get through some of the tougher times. Now that can be a Mental Health Therapist, that could be your local Chapter for Blindness Organization, that could be an on-line support group, definitely seeking support in whatever way's comfortable for you in multiple ways, that are comfortable. But definitely seek support.

Serena Gilbert:

Do you have like, I know there's not a link that fits all, is there like a resource guide of some sort that maybe you can direct us in that, I just want something for our listeners, where if they do feel like they need help maybe there's like a National Organization they can reach out to that can help them locate a therapist somehow?

Beth G.:

There's a number of those.

Serena Gilbert:

Okay.

Beth G.:

So I'm thinking of like, the American Counseling Association I believe has a therapist directory.

Serena Gilbert:

Okay.

Beth G.:

Psychologytoday.com has a therapist directory.

Serena Gilbert:

I'm definitely using the Psychology Today one, I didn't even think about that, that one's great because it narrowed by insurance and things.

Beth G.:

And what you're looking for, for grief, for anxiety you can narrow it down by what you're experiencing. I can definitely put my email address [inaudible] if anyone wants to contact me directly, I can try to help link them to resources or answer any questions they might have.

Serena Gilbert:

Okay.

Beth G.:

I am willing to be a resource in that respect.

Serena Gilbert:

Well, that's awesome
Beth, you might get a lot of emails. I think the most useful one would probably be that Psychology Today, because it's very accessible, not that the ACA one wouldn't be, but it also, just the way it let's you narrow your search down, I think that would be helpful.

Beth G.:

I agree with that.

Jeff Thompson:

So there's not one out there called, 'Pull Up Your Boot Straps', is there?

Beth G.:

Nope.

Serena Gilbert:

Google that
Jeff, see what you come up with.

Jeff Thompson:

No, I had a father and a father-in-law that was their motto, tough it up you know, pull up your bootstraps, get on with it.

Beth G.:

Well sometimes it's not possible, I mean no matter how much the person would like to do that, that's where mental illness and your severe depression or severe anxiety can really keep us stuck, and so we'd love to pull ourselves up by the boot straps, but we need a little extra help to do that initially.

Serena Gilbert:

And I was going to say, that is really where you can see generational differences and their approach to mental health.  And I'm not trying to knock one generation or another but there are certain generations that don't really believe that counseling is something that's necessary or mental health or even medications for mental health in that regard, and that might be something that if you know that you do really want to move forward and have that independence that you'll have to kind of work through as well.

Beth G.:

Sure, and different cultures have different beliefs around the mental illness and things like that as well.

Serena Gilbert:

Yes.

Beth G.:

So, again you know it's finding what works for you, you don't have to go see a therapist but could you go to the gym and you know, work it out literally, because that can make you feel better. Can you find a friend you can talk to and what about religious involvement, like temple or a church or something? A synagogue, can you go there and find someone to talk to or if you're not religious but you have some spiritual practices, can you go locate someone that fits your beliefs spiritually, because that can be just as helpful.

Serena Gilbert:

The next thing that I wanted to chat about is something all three of us have gone through already, is the super fun job search and how sometimes it's not so fun because of the types of rejections and things that come through and I wanted to chat with you a little bit about how normal those rejections are unfortunately and maybe some coping mechanisms for that as well.

Beth G.:

Yelling and screaming works very well.

Jeff Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Serena Gilbert:

I like it.

Beth G.:

Yes, it's a tough one and I will share, it took me, this is why I volunteered so much at those three places I mentioned earlier, it took me three years after grad school to get a job and it was a long stressful, semi sometimes depression filled three years, because it was just hard and so for me I threw myself into volunteer work. I had a couple of reasons for that, one is if you don't receive your 2 000 hours, and this may have changed I've been licensed since 2010, this may have changed, but back then if you didn't receive your 2 000 hours within five years, you retook the exam. And I was not going to do that and volunteer work counted.

Beth G.:

So for me I volunteered my behind off, because it gave me a purpose, it gave me something to do, it gave me a foot in the door, it gave me experience in the field, it gave me material for the resume. I found that to be helpful for me because volunteering in the fields that I wanted to work in as much as I could, to gain experience and get known, because it does also depend a lot on who we know not also just what we know, for doing the job.

Jeff Thompson:

Serena, as a councilor do you recommend providers or do you suggest a list or something of that nature coming from a state agency point of view?

Serena Gilbert:

What we usually look at is what type of health insurance the individual that we're working with has, many of our individuals don't have traditional insurance, like through an employer and I work with a lot of young adults so sometimes they have it through their parents, but many of my young adults have Medicaid, so we do have the ability to search the Medicaid providers and make recommendations. We do typically partner with our community mental health organization that's here, because they're really easy for our clients to get into because they have so many locations throughout this city, and then they have supplemental programs that they do with them that work alongside the therapy and medication.

Serena Gilbert:

Things like, they have a training program in culinary arts or in construction. They also do yoga and talk about nutrition and dietary needs, so they take a really holistic approach so it tends to work really well for the clients that I work with, but I don't typically make specific recommendations to you, you should go see this specific person, I usually give them a list.

Jeff Thompson:

That's good.

Serena Gilbert:

Let them kind of make their informed choice.

Beth G.:

Which I think is a much better way to handle that, because from a therapy stand point and for any professional that you're working with, it has to be a good fit and I tell my clients it's okay if you don't gel with me, it's okay if you don't like me or think I'm helpful to you, you know I ask to give me three sessions before you make that choice, but please speak up and ask for someone different if you're not comfortable this isn't going to help you, and so I think it's important to remember looking for professionals whether it's of vocational services, whether it's a specialist therapist, whomever it's going to be. Make sure it's a good fit.

Serena Gilbert:

That's a very, very good point because I think that a lot of our clients think well, especially with vocational rehabilitation and this may be the case sometimes, I'm going to put a disclaimer out there, sometimes you do have to work with somebody that maybe isn't your favorite person because that's the real world sometimes. Sometimes we don't get to make those choices but sometimes if there is a choice and it truly is impeding your ability to move forward, then it's okay to speak up, just like
Beth said. I do agree with that.

Beth G.:

It's also good practice, like you just said to work with someone that you may not mesh with very well because it teaches us. It's a learning experience.

Serena Gilbert:

Exactly. Right Jeff?

Jeff Thompson:

Yes, experiences are good. I mean I actually went and saw a therapist years ago and some of that stuff sticks with me as coping mechanisms, as we talked about, and it's just a reminder to yourself that you know, we don't all have to be perfect and when you accept that you're not perfect and you accept the things you can change and the things you can't change, well it makes it a lot easier. A lot less stressful, the expectations you think others have of you and all that type of stuff. So, I like it and I like this conversation as I'm sitting here listening, I'm sitting back further and further in the chair just listening and it's really good stuff.

Serena Gilbert:

You were really processing, because when you listen back to this, when you edit you're going to notice that like I totally like dissed you there, and you didn't even notice because you were so deep in thought.

Jeff Thompson:

I'm focusing. So yes, I'm focusing.

Beth G.:

You're listening.

Serena Gilbert:

I think
Beth caught it.

Jeff Thompson:

It is good information, it's good that it soaks in. I guess I must be really wanting it too, but like when you talked about writing and journaling I had a thought like, Stephen King, must really need some self help because he writes a lot.

Serena Gilbert:

Oh man. I don't even want to know what's going on in his brain right now. Those are the long books.

Jeff Thompson:

But I find myself doing that once in a while, is starting to write and also I write like three pages and I'm like, what's going on here? It's just spilling out and like you said to release that, to have someone to talk to, share stuff with, otherwise it's like a canister, it could just build up and build up and where's it going to go?

Beth G.:

We don't want the canister to explode so it's similar to having a medical, if you broke your leg, I hope to the powers that be, that you would go get help for that and it's the same with mental health. We all need a little help sometimes, whether it's the common cold or a sinus infection and you have to get antibiotics for that or it's, you know, a single defensive episode we actually get some help for that, if it's a life long illness go get some help for that, and I guess I'm going off on like the stigma around mental illness sometimes and the stigma around disability, but there's no shame in asking for help to get you through, and journaling is wonderful because if we can get it on paper it gets it out of our head. So we quit thinking about it.

Serena Gilbert:

You're making us just reflect so much,
Beth.

Jeff Thompson:

I know.

Serena Gilbert:

Because I was just thinking like personally, things that,
Jeff's going to laugh at this, but like hobbies help me a lot and it's hard for me, at least it was for me, to find a hobby that I can stick with consistently enough, and that was like helpful and accessible and all that great stuff and this podcast thing has really helped me. It's like something I look forward to every week and it's fun. Like I really look forward to it, I have fun sharing and I have fun helping people on it, certainly I think it's helped my mood, I don't know, I guess I'll just have to ask my husband. I think hobbies can play a big role in that mental health.

Beth G.:

There's a lot to be said around that, I'm glad you brought that up
Serena because it makes me think of, your podcast helps others and so something I thought about I'd like to do my own podcast at some point as well because for me helping others makes me feel good, and does lift my mood and so if I have something hopefully worthy of others hearing that might help them move forward or help them see things differently or help them get a different perspective, I want to be able to do that. That makes me feel good when someone says, I never thought of it that way, or, that makes sense, or something like that.

Serena Gilbert:

Jeff, you have a new podcast perhaps.

Jeff Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Serena Gilbert:

Let's add more.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes, this will be podcast 396, I believe it is, you'd think I'd be cured by now right, but you're absolutely right it does feel good when you capture moments and you can share it out there so other people can hear those moments and they're archived and you never know, like we'll get a message that someone listened to a podcast that was done a hundred ago, but it connected with them and that's what it's ... I just wish ... I don't know ... it's just interesting about podcasting. What it does for me and helping others. How you use it to teach and so tapping into all these people, and you yourself
Beth, tapping into these people a little bit and hearing their stories and having them talk and all that, it's all ways of getting it out there and you know, you don't have to be on National News to get a story out. You can do it on podcasting and that's what I think we really like about that, even us, the little people we can get out there and make a difference.

Beth G.:

Absolutely.

Jeff Thompson:

I didn't say you were little, Serena.

Serena Gilbert:

Are you ... see that went right over my head if you were ...

Jeff Thompson:

Earlier, you mentioned you had the small Apple watch.

Serena Gilbert:

Ha ha ha. That was on a previous podcast, Beth.

Jeff Thompson:

Yes.

Beth G.:

I missed that one.

Jeff Thompson:

So Beth, I have a question for you.

Beth G.:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff Thompson:

What suggestion would you have for someone who is in that transitioning age, whether it's from high school to college to the work place, because you mentioned that earlier, what suggestions would you have for that person, just headed down that journey?

Beth G.:

I think no matter how frustrated you get, don't give up. As far as applying for jobs, that becomes your full time job, whether you're sighted or have a disability. It's still going to be your full time job and I think when we have a vision loss, it may take us a little longer. There's some great resources out there, if you need some support with making sure your resume is formatted, whatever you need to help yourself be ready for the interview process but don't give up. Keep applying. The rejection's going to happen and it's going to hurt but don't stop because eventually you'll get there. I wish I had a better suggestion than that one, and it goes back to your coping skills, what are your coping tools, what's going to help you most when you do get down? When you lose your self confidence, when you lose your self-esteem temporarily because you're getting rejected so many times.

Serena Gilbert:

So Jeff edit this part out. So Jeff edit this part out. So Jeff edit this part out. Beth, I swear you must be bugging Jeff and I because you are ... I cannot tell you how much you are mirroring the things that we've said on the last, maybe two or three episodes we've recorded but not actually released yet. I mean, I don't know the right word, but it's kind of nice to hear that we're at least somewhat on the right page with the things that we are are putting out there.

Beth G.:

I mean those of us who live it, get it. That sounds very cheesy, but it's true.

Jeff Thompson:

Hey, we like cheesy. We didn't know that before, but now we do.

Beth G.:

I think there's a common thread or a common bond with any individual who experiences life differently if you will, than the rest of the population. Whether it's vision loss, whether it's hearing loss, whether it's mental disability, whatever it is, when we have people who are similar to us or have experienced similar situations, there's a common bond.

Serena Gilbert:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff Thompson:

Yes, and I think that bond is when someone sits down across the desk from you and realizes that you are blind, visually impaired, that commonality right there make a connection, just like when I had teachers, sighted teachers, but then when I found someone else that was visually impaired, or blind, you know, I didn't know anybody at the time, so it really helped bridge that connection, I could relate and I could listen and not that I gave more value to it, but it just drew me in fast.

Serena Gilbert:

And it's almost like the, well if they can do it, I can do it, kind of mentality. Not that there's, not to like demean anyone or anything, but it's someone who's done this pathway they've been successful at it, so surely I can do the same thing?

Beth G.:

Sure, and I've had clients tell me that, well if you can do it, I can do it. It's like, well my disability is different than yours, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.

Serena Gilbert:

Yes.

Beth G.:

I think everybody can do it if they're given the right tools and the right support. It may take some longer and some may have some different goals they wish to achieve. I'm a firm believer, if it's not your goal you're not going to achieve it. So, make sure your goals are your goals, not your parent's goals, not your spouse's goals, they're your goals and if you have the right tools and support, you can get there.

Jeff Thompson:

I have a friend, Jessica Cox said, it's not can I do it, it's how can I do it?

Beth G.:

Exactly.

Jeff Thompson:

So when you get to that point where you realize you have worth, you have value and all that other good stuff going, when the ball's rolling in the right direction then you can start thinking of the positives, like how can I do that?

Beth G.:

And you can start talking about, when I do this, not if I can do this? Because if and when are two very powerful different words with very different meanings.

Serena Gilbert:

Stop making us think,
Beth.

Jeff Thompson:

You're focusing, aren't you
Serena?

Serena Gilbert:

I am.

Jeff Thompson:

I just love the focus of this podcast, you know, this is really one of those ones that is kind of, hidden, it's not one of the obvious ones, like a resume, it's wrong, it's right. Mental health, your ability to cope and to deal with things is very important but we all don't wear it on our sleeves all the time.

Beth G.:

No, it's also as unique as each of us is because we all present differently. Our symptoms present differently. Our coping skills are different from one of us to the other.

Serena Gilbert:

And I don't feel like I looked at every blindness podcast that's out there, but I've yet to see anyone really write about this topic or cover it, and I'd like to have it be out there more so there's not so much stigma with it.

Beth G.:

Which is exactly why I want to start my own podcast, honestly. I'd love to get something off the ground, and there are a lot of directions to go with this as we talked about in previous conversations, but I really think it's a ... I've looked as well and I thought I found something, because it's untapped niche that needs to be heard.

Serena Gilbert:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff Thompson:

Well I would definitely listen, because I figure I just got my free session already, today.

Serena Gilbert:

We've got like three sessions, like we owe her so much money right now, Jeff.

Jeff Thompson:

Shh, shh. That's why I said one session, Serena.

Beth G.:

Once I can find some office space and then get the private practice going.

Jeff Thompson:

There you go.

Serena Gilbert:

We'll just Skype you, you know.

Beth G.:

This was a little challenging in the sense there's just so much content and I feel like I've just touched the surface on some of this.

Jeff Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Beth G.:

But, I think that's a lot of podcasts that you can look at the surface and if they want to go deeper, they can.

Serena Gilbert:

So Beth, do you have any tips that you'd like to give some of our sighted listeners?

Beth G.:

Absolutely, one of them being, please believe us if we tell you we cannot see something, it's very difficult oftentimes, to explain what we can or cannot see, but if we cannot see it, we truly cannot see it and please accept that and move forward. And another one I think is helpful, if you're going to rearrange the office or the house, please tell us you've rearranged the furniture. Our shins really hate it when we come home and hit the coffee table we thought used to be there. Or you're going to sit on the couch but you're on the floor because the couch has mysteriously moved while you've been gone. It's just super helpful if you could let us know that you rearranged in our absence.

Beth G.:

And then lastly I think it's helpful if someone can say their name, before they speak to us so we can learn and match the voice with name. I don't know about anyone else, but it's not super fun going, is that Britney, is that Monica, is that Jo-anne, who is ... I know that person but I cannot place their name with their voice. Instead, you can say, hi
Beth, it's John, then in time we can learn what your voice sounds like and lastly, it's a little embarrassing on our part if we end up talking to ourselves because we didn't see you walk out of it. So if you could sometimes announce that you're walking away, we don't talk to empty air that way.

Beth G.:

And those all may sound kind of silly or common sense but we don't always think in terms like that. So just a few things I wanted to add.

Jeff Thompson:

Well Beth, thank you so much for coming on The Job Insights, this has been a great podcast, great topics and can you give us some information if you want people to be able to contact you?

Beth G.:

Sure, it was my pleasure to be here and thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed talking about these topics as you can tell because I can talk all night. To contact me, I don't have a website up yet, it's coming soon so I'm working on a website, but until then, if anyone has any questions or would like to contact me, my email address is
Bethg, as in golf, lpc, as in licensed professional councilor, @gmail.com. So
Bethglpc@gmail.com is the best way to get a hold of me right now and hopefully the website will be coming soon. So that's me.

Jeff Thompson:

Well, Beth thank you so much.

Beth G.:

I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed being here and getting to know both of you more, and hopefully being able to help others in the process.

Serena Gilbert:

Thanks so much Beth.

Beth G.:

You're welcome. Thank you.

Serena Gilbert:

Bye Jeff.

Jeff Thompson:

And we'll see you next time Serena, on Job Insights, and you can follow Job Insights on twitter @jobinsightsvip send us an email jobinsights@blindabilities.com. We're part of the blind abilities network and you can find us on the web at www.blindabilities.com and thank you Chee Chau for the beautiful music, You can follow Chee Chau on Twitter @LCheeChau

 

Jeff Thompson:

And as always we want to thank you for listening, we hope you enjoyed and until next time. Bye bye.

 

[Music]  [Transition noise]

 

When we share what we see through each other's eyes...

 

[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]

 

...We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.

 

Jeff Thompson:

For more podcasts with a blindness perspective:

Check us out on the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

On Twitter @BlindAbilities

Download our app from the App store:
'Blind Abilities'; that's two words.

Or send us an e-mail at:

info@blindabilities.com

Thanks for listening.