The Jungle Lady

The balcony hosted twenty-eight plants, according to Najim, but Nellie disagreed. She never liked to agree with him. They were always squabbling like siblings, although they merely happened to live in the same gated apartment complex, a Destination Community, according to the sign. The apartment people had recently changed the name of a complex and added that ostentatious sign, in addition to jacking up the rent. People moved out. People moved in. It happened every month.

“Let’s count them together,” said a kindly voice from behind the plants. So, they did. Nellie was right and Najim began to pout.

“Where is your daughter?” asked Nellie.

“She’s with her father, she will be back this weekend,” answered the woman, twisting closed the top of a bag of potting soil.

No daughter, no real reason for the children to be there. They wafted away, towards the basketball hoop. The woman had finished tending to the plants, pushing her short, brown hair behind her ears and resettling a big woven gardening hat on her head. It was so hot, the heat wave hitting San Diego in October had really been messing with her plants. The marigolds were wilting but the peppers were thriving. She slid open the glass sliding door and disappeared inside. She’d barely had time to toss her hat onto a table when a soft tapping emerged, a timid hand knocking on the door.

“Is she here?” asked Mariana, who was seven.

“I’m afraid not. Who is this with you?”

“He’s my cousin. He’s going to live with us now.”

The girl smiled, he didn’t.

“Nice to meet you, como se llama?” asked the woman.


“His name is Roman. It was Favian but his daddy died choking, so now it’s Roman.”

‘Oh, I see…’ a pause, and then, ‘Well, Roman is a very nice name and so is Favian.’

“Bye now!”

The kids ran off, Mariana and Roman-once-Favian. Mariana’s dad was Jorge, who had moved to San Diego from Mexico and was now a contractor. Despite her best efforts, she had yet to see Jorge’s wife smile. Jorge was an outgoing person, who said Good Morning! Or Buenos Dias! He used to say Good Morning to the jungle lady, until he learned that she spoke Spanish.

“Solamente un poco!” she would exclaim, laughing, yet she never seemed to get lost in the midst of his wandering Spanglish stories. She nodded in the right places and laughed, or looked concerned. They were both morning people, and would often be on their balconies as soon as the light crested the building across the parking lot. Jorge would be tending to his equipment, loading tools into his truck. Janine would be out there with her coffee and watering can, humming quietly to the plants. The neighbor children all liked Janine, and her daughter.

They had lived in the complex an entire year when Jorge and Mariana had moved in. Mariana had reached out to her daughter, asked her to play. They became fast friends, hanging out in the laundry room or by the pool, and now it appeared there would be a third in their pack. While Mariana had been the catalyst, there were about half a dozen other adventurous children nearby. The rules were simple, nobody was allowed outside roaming around without a friend and nobody was allowed outside the gate. So, the kids would band together and roam the complex like wolf pups, tumbling and sounding off and laughing hysterically. It was gratifying to see such a change in her daughter, who had been sad and withdrawn, struggling with feelings from Janine’s divorce from her father and frustrations with math at school.

The cheese appeared a few days after their first trip to the pool together. Mariana knocked on the door and Jorge’s wife stood there, holding what must have been ten pounds of white queso. Amazingly, she was laughing. She wound up slicing the log of cheese into four equal parts and sharing it with us and the upstairs neighbors, too. Janine never understood exactly how she had acquired so much cheese, but it was delicious and ever since the Cheese Day, the wife had smiled at her.

Maybe this place can be home, after all. Janine was determined to learn her name, something beyond Jorge’s wife/Mariana’s mother. Perhaps, in time, it would come. Until then, she would continue to step outside in the morning, tend to her plants, and field questions from the neighborhood children. It was enough to see them smile, to be a centering and calming presence in their lives. Their parents were busy, working from home. Janine was making the best of acting as caretaker to her elderly mother, furloughed from county administration building where she normally worked at the front desk.

She also wondered when she would be called back to work, when the pandemic would be over, when the children could go into each other’s apartments once more. While most people seemed to be truly upended by the events of the last six months, Janine had begun to thrive. She had started the garden. Her mother was doing better. Her daughter was starting to open up again. How would things be different moving forward?

How can any of us know?

Cicada-Shell Boys

I could walk for miles and never run out of that barbed wire fence that my pawpaw strung. He’d roll out the wire, sink the holes. All along the farm roads surrounding Hempstead, Texas, it lies. Between the strands of wire, I can see cows grazing, horses frolicking, the bluebonnets and primroses stretching throughout the fields like swarms of butterflies, splashes of color swaying in the humid breeze.

Fragments of memory, pooled together, beginning to drip, each one painful and beautiful. I remember the way the neighborhood boys at our city house, in Spring Branch, would pry the abandoned cicada shells off the tree in our front yard. The cicadas would burrow underneath the window outside my mawmaw and pawpaw’s bedroom. My mother always had me keep my hair long, which I hated, and those boys would toss the shells into my hair. The little spiky not-legs would grab hold and the shell would crumble, leaving pieces of insect molt in my curls.

I went on to marry one of those cicada-shell types, in the end – a boy who would tease me and put me down, mock my things and interests. Never again will I put up with any form of disrespect.  He smelled of smoke and magnolias, tall, dark, and troubled. He was perfect. I cursed, not like a sailor but like a soldier frantically trying to undo the mess her unit had created, blustering and loud, these four-letter words and other, more creative, insults. We were terrible together.

Our marriage lasted barely two years and I’d been pregnant when I walked down the aisle. It didn’t bother me so much, that I’d been pregnant prior to the proposal, but I could hear the voices of my extended family in my head, telling me how bad and wrong I was, how I was a bad Baptist, how I’d never amount to anything, how I was a slut like my mother. She had moved in with my grandparents, pregnant with me, knocked up by a man who was not her husband, and then she had no man at all. No man was a horrible thing, and no man with children was somehow even worse. You were used and washed up and who would want to marry you now? Nobody.

In my family, everyone went to Baylor. The men became lawyers and the women married lawyers or politicians who doubled as deacons down at South Main. My mother, the perpetual black sheep, had dropped out of college and my uncle hadn’t gone, either. Neither of my grandparents could go to college. With the exclusionary nature of the snobs in my family, I was left with no family at all. My grandparents had passed away before I met my husband. My mother, I had limited contact with due to her obsessive meth use and rampaging borderline personality, neither of which she would seek treatment for.

Eloping at the courthouse was practically a family tradition in our little corner of the universe, seeing as how none of us ever wanted to invite the entire family. My grandparents eloped, my mother eloped, my uncle eloped, and so did my cousin. We eloped in Austin, me wearing purple and black and combat boots, pregnant. He wore a black button-up and black Dickies with Converse sneakers. But the weirdest thing had happened – my mother had reached out to me, and she finally revealed the identity of the man she had fled to after leaving her husband. His name was not on my birth certificate but I contacted him.

The DNA test came back 99.7% positive and I suddenly had a father. He agreed to meet me, and I was so excited that day. We met at a bar during SXSW, my husband’s band was playing that day and I had some free time and it was a pleasant spring that year. A singular memory of a day when I had a father. Later, he would ask me why I took a beaner last name. He would threaten and try to corral me, try to extort me over inheritance and access to his granddaughter. But for one day, things were perfect.

When my father began to disrespect me, I cut him out of my life without a second thought. It took a lot longer to let go of my cicada-shell boy, the man I had chosen to start a family with but eventually, I let go of him, too. It turns out, I can survive on my own. I can raise a daughter on my own. And the biggest prize of it all, a career change and an imminent college degree. I never thought I would finish college. My home life was always disruptive, not nurturing, and education was not a value that was prized.

Escaping has always been a primary objective, and first I found that escape in books. These volumes of slender pages, some with flowers carefully pressed in-between, fascinated me and took me away from that house with its loud music and stray animals and chaos. As I progressed in school, my love of books was reflected back to me by my teachers and they inspired me. Every step of the way, I would begin to stray from the straight and narrow and be brought back by some teacher. Some busybody. Some nosy person who actually cared. Knowing these people who had no obligation to care for me, but did, gave me the resilience to pursue my educational goals.

Now, when I walk along the farm roads in Hempstead, the sidewalks in Houston, the trails in Austin, I am reminded of how far I have come. Education made me a better person and gave me the freedom to be, to simply exist on my own without being defined by a man or my family. These days, I wear my hair short, the way I prefer it. I don’t expend my energy on people who are cruel. I think about my pawpaw and how hard he worked so that I could have a better life, and I am grateful. When the cicadas begin to shriek, I go inside and close the window.

* * *

PoV Exercise (3rd Person – Limited)

Jennifer sighed. Normally, she loved eating alone, but not like this. Not this garish sit-down Tex Mex place with its painted peppers and strange men in suits with cowboy hats. Take the hat on the dude sitting at the next table, for instance. It was white, with a colorful New Mexico Native American-style band, turquoise studding the leather and bright threads running through it. And was that a bolo tie? It was. Across from Bolo Man sat an equally outrageous-looking woman. She had a fountain of bleached blonde hair with frosted tips and big blue eyes the color of the stones in the heavy silver jewelry she wore. Currently, Hair Fountain and Bolo Man were maintaining a lively conversation. Jennifer sighed again and gripped her glass of water tightly, condensation leaving a large wet blob on the table next to her discarded lemon.
“I don’t know, honey, maybe we sell the RV?”“But I love the RV.”“We’ve used it exactly once and on that trip you complained the whole time that you kept hitting your head on the ceiling and you made me do all the parking!”“I’m not selling the goddamned RV!”“We have to do something. They’re gonna take our house, Lonnie.”“Maybe if you didn’t have to have diamond-studded purses we wouldn’t be so broke, GEORGIA!!”
The music pauses for moment as the song transitions to a new one, La Paloma, the one about the dove that goes coo-ca-roo-coo-coo. Her name rings out in the restaurant and for a moment, all conversation ceases. It was only a beat, and everything picked back up.
Another bright voice cuts through the tension, “Here’s your chile relleno, ma’am, and senor, your pollo chimichanga.”
“I didn’t order this,” claims Georgia in the most Karen of ways, shoving the plate back to the waiter, her hand hitting the sizzling skillet plate and sizzling, just like a piece of pollo asada. Her face drains of color.
“You’ll pay for that, you son of a bitch!” roars Lonnie, leaping from his seat and grabbing the waiter by his crisp, white button-up.
Did he even see what just happened? Is he assaulting that man because his wife is an idiot?! Where do these people get off, thinking they can push around everyone just because they have some belongings, some cash? Fuck this.
The restaurant manager is out on damage control duty, pacifying the Georgia/Karen and repeatedly asking Lonnie the Bolo Man to put down the poor waiter. Meanwhile, the waiter wiggles, dangling from Lonnie’s fist like a small insect trapped on a single line of web.
“Yes, hello, 911? A man is assaulting a waiter at Guadalajara Mexican Grille. Yeah, that’s the one. Please send someone immediately. Oh, and a woman burned her hand.” A quick click, the phone is back on the table. Jennifer sits back in her seat and continues to watch the show, the red in her wig perfectly offsetting the baby blue of her fingernail polish. Nearby, others have stopped eating, talking, drinking. Georgia/Karen, with her fountain hair is clutching her hand. Lonnie the Bolo Man is holding the waiter. Time moves at a slow pace, like a long pan in a Tarantino movie. Legs kicking, red-faced, the waiter flails, screaming ASSHOLE before rearing his head back and spitting directly into Lonnie’s face.Jennifer smirks and chomps on a tortilla chip laden with red salsa, the crunch a fatalistic cry, a dare. She continues to eat as the police arrive, a bustle of flashing lights and self-importance. They surround Lonnie and Georgia, EMTs rushing to tend to her hand. The waiter is talking to one, tears streaming down his face. Two cops are talking to Lonnie, one with his hand at his belt, Lonnie still steamed and ranting.
“I cannot BELIEVE someone called the police!” screamed Georgia/Karen. See how you like it.

Playing With Psychic Distance (3rd Person Limited)

The woman is queued up, the dividers arranged neatly into switchbacks, serpentine lines to organize the people standing there, holding deposit slips or debit cards. She’s clasping the latter, and her cell phone, and her purse, and her car keys.

It’s April 2020, and she has tied on a cloth mask over her nose and mouth, beneath her glasses, which fog up a bit with each exhalation. People follow taped Xs on the floor, reminding them to stay at least six feet apart.  Talia shifted her weight nervously from one leg to the other, swaying slightly. She tapped her fingers against the debit card, making a soft thwip thwip noise as the pads hit the plastic. Her fingernails that were short, torn, with jagged edges from biting.

Talia Quolle loathed doing anything official. It filled her with uneasy feelings, like the time she had volunteered to take role during homeroom her freshman year and the letters had started swimming around on the role sheet. Her throat had closed up, that time, and she couldn’t speak. Good job, girl. This is the best idea you’ve ever had. Way to stand in line like a dolt. That woman over there? She’s looking at you, noticing how fat you are, noticing your fingernails. See, she just looked away. Breathe. SHUT UP!!! Talia takes a shaky breath and glances up at the large black and white analog clock on the wall. 4:45pm. The bank will close in 15 minutes because it’s a Saturday. Because she had put off this trip all week. What if I forget my PIN? It’s my daughter’s birthday, how could I forget? Do I have my ID? It’s right here. Breathe.

Talia flipped her cell phone over and scrolled through her contact. THERAPY jumped out at her. She sighed and tapped the button to turn the screen black again. She could do this. I can do this, I can walk right up there. Buzz! Now serving the next guest at teller window #3! The teller smiled at Talia and Talia smiled back. “How can I help you?”

Loma Prieta

I’m sitting on the front porch. It’s our house on Hurst Avenue, in San Jose, California. We just moved in, really. It’s October but still warm outside, the breeze is only starting to turn a bit cold. Although, coming from Texas, everything about California feels cold. It’s cold here both in the mornings and the evenings. It’s even colder by the water. Everything is wrong. My grandparents are far away, back HOME, in Houston. I am here, in California, with my mother and my new stepdad. But I am on the porch.

I’m playing with a cat and Marshall, my stepdad, has the TV on. The World Series is about to start in San Francisco. It is 1989. He isn’t paying attention to me.

The porch is there and then it isn’t. I am sitting and then I am not. Pictures are falling off of the walls. Marshall is there. He grabs me and pulls me into the front doorway of the house. Mommy isn’t home but I wish she was. It seems to go on forever, the shaking.

It’s over. The TV is still on but the baseball game is not. There is shattered glass all over the floor. I look at the shards of glass. Where is my mommy? I remember, she is on her way home from work. I don’t know what is going on. It is both over and not over. The shaking has stopped. The cats are nowhere to be seen.

Marshall is saying something but I’m not listening. Maybe I don’t even hear him.

14 Genre Book List for Tweens (Mostly)

14 Genre Book List for Tweens (Mostly!) by Carly


Subject: Picture Books for Young Children (4-6 years, early readers)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Picture Books


Subject: Wordless Books for Toddlers (18 months-3 years)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Wordless Books



Subject: Poetry Books for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Poetry Books



Subject: Traditional Literature for Early Young Adulthood (Ages 12-15)

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  1. Award winner
  • Award: 1988 Newbery Award
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Traditional Literature



Subject: Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice
  • The Island Keeper by Harry Mazer –
  • This is one of my very favorite books. My daughter read it last year and really enjoyed it, too. It follows the solo adventure of a runaway young woman and her survival on an island through a harsh winter. Great story and very realistic and descriptive.

Post category: Contemporary Realistic Fiction



Subject: Historical Fiction for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Historical Fiction



Subject: Graphic Novels for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice
  • Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #1: The Dragonet Prophecy –
  • We love the Wings of Fire series, and I was processing the graphic novels at my job a few months ago. They are beautiful! I think they work great for reluctant readers or those who are just more visual in general. Who doesn’t love dragons?

Post category: Graphic Novels



Subject: Informational Books for Early Young Adults (Ages 12-15)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Informational Books




Subject: Diverse Books for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  • Award: 2020 Coretta Scott King
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Diverse Books



Subject: Many Languages Literature for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice



Subject: Fantasy Books for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

  1. Award winner
  • Award: 2017 Newbery Award
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Fantasy Books



Subject: Classics for Young Adults

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  1. Award winner
  1. Personal Choice

Post category: Classics for Young Adults



Subject: Books in a Series for Tweens (Ages 10-12)

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  1. Harry Potter series –
  • I chose Harry Potter because these books had a profound impact on me even though I read them as an adult. My daughter is 9 and is on book 3 now and loves them as much as I did! I think the story of Harry Potter rings universally with the imaginations of children and adults alike. I think the later books in the series are a little mature so would recommend being 10 before reading them or thereabouts.
  • Carnegie Medal 1998
  1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series –
  • The Percy Jackson books are very popular. While my daughter hasn’t read them yet, many of her friends have. I think they stand out as a great fantasy series for tweens and like Harry Potter, I think maybe 10 is a good age for some of the books.
  • 2008 Mark Twain Award

Post category: Books in a Series



Subject: Digital Resources for Intermediate Readers (Ages 7-9 years or 2nd through 4th grades)


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  1. Duolingo – – Duolingo is a free language application and website. We use it to learn Spanish! Duolingo offers podcasts, stories, daily lessons, quizzes, and a forum. If you get the paid version, you can take progress quizzes, download lessons for offline learning, and there are no ads. It’s very engaging and interactive and colorful and we highly recommend it.
  2. Prodigy – – Prodigy is a math game application and website. We first learned about it from my daughter’s school. Kids can play together, progressing by answering math problems that are presented in fun ways – it hardly feels like doing math at all. I appreciate the ways it tricks us into doing math and it is a lot of fun.

Post category: Digital Resources


Subject Guide: Bipolar Disorder




Subject Guide – Bipolar Disorder Resources

Palomar College Library


This guide is intended for patrons of the Palomar College Library in San Marcos, California. The resources listed here were selected for their relevance and usefulness.

Bipolar Disorder was previously referred to as manic depression. It is a brain disorder that affects daily life, causing unusual shifts in energy and mood and ability to complete everyday tasks.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder is lifelong as there is no cure. A combination of medication, therapy, rest, and stress reduction is vital to remaining stable.

Subject Headings/Keyword Search Terms

  • Mental Illness
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Brain Disorders
  • Emotional Disorders
  • Bipolar Type 1
  • Bipolar Type 2
  • Rapid Cycling
  • Mania
  • Hypomania
  • Manic Episode
  • Bipolar Depression
  • Mixed State
  • Bipolar
  • Cyclothymia
  • Psychosis
  • Manic-Depressive Illness
  • Manic Depression
  • Depression
  • Mood Disorders
  • Mental Health
  • Self-Help



In an Emergency

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Text 741741 to access trained crisis counselors at any time.
  • PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) pairs a psychiatrist with a police officer. Never call 911 on someone in crisis, use the non-emergency line and request PERT!


Annotated Bibliography


  • Research on Bipolar Disorder is constantly evolving and there have been some excellent books on the subject, however the most up-to-date information is typically found in journal articles and studies.


Cheney, Terri. The dark side of innocence: growing up bipolar. Atria Books, 2011.


I chose this autobiography because it resonated with me. It can be very dry reading about disorders and having a first-person narrative to describe experiences gives the reader something to identify with. This books goes into the darkness but provides a hopeful message.

Fountoulakis, Kostas N. Bipolar disorder: an evidence-based guide to manic depression. Springer, 2015.


I chose this clinical book for it’s wealth of information on the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, statistics, studies, and clinical approaches. It also goes into mixed states and rapid cycling and is simple to read.


Jamison, Kay R. An unquiet mind: a memoir of moods and madness. Vintage, 1996.


Dr. Jamison is both a clinician/researcher and a person with Bipolar Disorder. This memoir is engaging and informative. I really enjoy reading personal accounts of people with Bipolar Disorder because it is often difficult to relate to others and by finding stories similar to mine, it shows me tha

Marchand, William R. Depression and bipolar disorder: your guide to recovery. Bull Publishing Company, 2012.


This book is written by an MD and offers a hopeful outlook on living with Bipolar Disorder and Depression. Recovery is possible and this book makes that clear as well as offers a thorough guide to mood disorders written in plain language.


Miklowitz, David J. The bipolar disorder survival guide: what you and your family need to know. Third ed., The Guilford Press, 2019.


Dr. Miklowitz is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and has written this survival guide for people with Bipolar Disorder and their families. This 3rd edition was published in 2019 and has up-to-date information.




“Bipolar Disorder: Shifting Mood Swings.” Films Media Group, 2002, Accessed 21 Nov. 2019.


  • This video goes into some individual stories, including covering psychosis and delusions, which is very important. These stories demonstrate the extremes that Bipolar Disorder can bring to a person’s moods. Family members also go over their feelings. Toward the end of the video they go over suicide strategies.


“Bipolar: Life Between Two Extremes.” Films Media Group, 2010, Accessed 21 Nov. 2019.


  • This video goes over many topics relating to Bipolar Disorder, including mixed states, relationship to creativity, diagnosis, suicide, and more. I chose it because it presents the information in a well-organized and easy-to-understand way.


“Kay Redfield Jamison: Surviving Bipolar Disorder.” Films Media Group, 2002, Accessed 21 Nov. 2019.


  • Jamison delves into Bipolar Disorder. Not only does she have Bipolar Disorder herself, she is also a researcher and clinician and author. She has survived a suicide attempt and now is a professor of psychiatry. Her story is very inspiring, which is why I have included her book and her video both. Dr. Jamison also covers social aspects and disclosure.


Journal Articles


  • I only included two journal articles but the Palomar College databases have many. Some are more difficult to read than others and some information is repeated, but I found these two to be very helpful. Using the Keyword Search Terms included in this Subject Guide will bring you to more specific articles on different aspects of Bipolar Disorder.


Grande, Iria, et al. “Bipolar Disorder.” The Lancet, vol. 387, no. 10027, 2016, pp. 1561–1572., doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00241-X.


  • This comprehensive journal article from 2016 covers many aspects of Bipolar Disorder including diagnosis, pathology, and treatment including a list of potential medications without being overly filled with jargon.


Mazaheri M, et al. “Studying the Predictive Factors of Suicide Attempts in Patients with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 275, 2019, pp. 373–378., doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2019.04.012.


  • This article takes the suicide rate of Bipolar Disorder seriously and goes into great detail. It focuses on Bipolar Type 1, and they conducted a study of over 100 patients. I found their data to be very interesting.


Resources for people with Bipolar Disorder.

  • The Palomar College Disability Resource Center (DRC) can be found at or you can email them at or call 760.744.1150, ext. 2375.
  • The Palomar College student clinic offers Behavioral Health Counseling Services and can be found at or call one of these lines: San Marcos: (760) 891-7531, Escondido Center: (760) 891-7532.
  • Apps like Daylio, eMood, Moodscope are free and track your moods.
  • Project Semicolon provides education and suicide prevention information, as well as general information on a variety of mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder. You can also share your story and join their online community. It was founded by Amy Bleuel, who sadly died by suicide a few years ago.
  • The International Bipolar Foundation (IBF) (858) 598-5967 also offers a free book, hard copy or PDF, fill out this form to request Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder:
  • DBSA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, offers information on locating support groups either in person or online.



Resources for caregivers and family of people with Bipolar Disorder.

  • Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital is a psychiatric hospital for inpatient treatment. They are located at 9850 Vista Hill Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123. Call 858-836-8434.


  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers information and resources on many mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder. At their site you can find general information, clinical trials and studies, and recommendations for treatment. You can call them here (866) 615-6464.

Local community resources.

  • Up2SD is a campaign developed by the county Health & Human Services Agency:  Crisis Line (888) 724-7240 and they also have Live Chat available M-F 4pm-10pm:
  • North County Health Services offers Behavioral Health services Mon-Fri 8am-4pm. You can reach them at (760) 736-6767 and they are located at 150 Valpreda Road, San Marcos, CA 92069
  • Central Region Mental Health, located at 1250 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92110, can be reached at (619) 692-8750. While not as close as the NCHS clinic, this clinic has helped me personally by arranging for free psychiatric appointments and medication through Health & Human Services when I had no insurance. They also helped me sign up for Medi-Cal. I highly recommend them if you feel stuck.
  • Each Mind Matters offers resources and information for people living in California.
  • 2-1-1 San Diego: Dial 211 on your phone to be connected to county resources including providers and facilities.

User Group Profile: Accessibility, Libraries, and Unhoused People

An Annotated Bibliography: Accessibility, Libraries, and Unhoused People


Ayers, S. (2006). The poor and homeless: An opportunity for libraries to serve. The Southeastern Librarian, 54(1). Article 13. Retrieved October 23, 2019, from the Southeastern Library Association:

Ayers opens by stating that poverty and homelessness are the greatest challenges facing libraries today, gives statistics on the rising numbers of unhoused people, and states that librarians have a responsibility to serve knowledge to those stricken by poverty. Ayers covers a history of homelessness and tells stories of two homeless men in libraries and how they felt it was a safe space for them. She also points out that the homeless are not one group of people but rather a variety of individuals. Job search, career guidance, educational/vocational education information, reading books and newspapers, crisis literacy packages, ESL classes, and programs for children are all reasons people use the library that could benefit those experiencing homelessness. Ayers also covers the digital divide and computer user before concluding by noting that one of the homeless men highlighted in the article has since found a job and an apartment. This paper showed a great deal of heart and also gave practical advice on helping homeless populations.

Barrows, P. K. (2014). Serving the needs of homeless library patrons: Legal issues, ethical concerns, and practical approaches. SLIS Student Research Journal, 4(2). Retrieved October 23, 2019 from

Barrows opens by highlighting the challenges of serving the homeless in a library setting but maintains that it is the right thing to do in order to uphold the ideals of the American Library Association. Barrows covers ethics and values and the fact that freedom of access to information is upheld by the Constitution, not just freedom of speech. He then goes on to cover the information need of unhoused persons. Finances, relationships, childcare, housing, health and healthcare, employment, transportation, and public assistance are all listed as important informational needs. Primary needs include food and housing. Barrows touches on expected behavior from patrons before continuing with ways to create change in your community via programming. Barrows notes that it is important to examine our own beliefs and biases against people and to seek out additional education and experiences with social work to deepen our knowledge. Things a library can do include have a solid policy, include a homeless resource guide on the website, partner with community organizations that help the homeless, make experts like lawyers and social workers available in the library. By covering these informational needs and also having us examine our own bias, Barrows brings a lot to the conversation.

Extending our reach: Reducing homelessness through library engagement, American Library Association, October 8, 2012.  (Accessed October 23, 2019)

This PDF/pamphlet includes tips and tools from the ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table and Office for Literacy and Outreach Services. On page one, the brochure starts off with, “This Toolkit is designed to help librarians and library staff create meaningful library services for people who are experiencing homelessness.” On the left is a list of key terms including homeless, chronic homelessness, hidden homeless, throwaway youth, affordable housing, and continuum of care. There is an overview including statistics on the homeless population in the US. They cover equity of access and barriers to access that homeless patrons commonly experience such as address restrictions on library card access and limited access to the building due to limited hours or limited public transportation. More key terms include emergency housing, transitional housing, supportive housing, housing first, harm reduction, and case management. Essential library services for those who are homeless include programming (health, applying for government benefits), reference services providing information on shelter, food, showers, medical care, or other expertise. Partnerships with local organizations is recommended, with organizations like transitional housing, food banks, clinics, educational programs. Model programs all over the country are listed. This brochure closes with the ALA Policy Statement on library services to the poor. Overall, it is a great general resource to hand out that can act as a starting-off point.

Kelleher, A. (2013), “Not just a place to sleep: homeless perspectives on libraries in central Michigan”, Library Review, Vol. 62 No. 1/2, pp. 19-33.

This study by Kelleher aims to assess how homeless people in the USA use libraries. 100+ people were surveyed in Michigan in 2009. Positive responses were the norm, with entertainment, internet use, and access to information being the primary uses. Kelleher covers the fact that librarians often have a complicated relationship with regular homeless patrons who may be using drugs or suffering from untreated mental illness. These “problem patrons” have been covered in other studies and the purpose of this study is more to advocate for increased funding for libraries, social workers, or improved homeless services in general. Kelleher covers a variety of sources of information on statistics on homeless populations and their library use habits and preferences. Increased operating hours was the number one request, with internet access for both entertainment and correspondence the number one service. Kelleher includes some tables and the questionnaire. If more libraries could offer more all-encompassing hours, how many people would be kept safe? It is something to think about.

Muggleton, T. (2013), “Public libraries and difficulties with targeting the homeless”, Library Review, Vol. 62 No. 1/2, pp. 7-18.

This paper aims to suggest alternative approaches (besides policies that specifically target “the homeless”) to extend inclusion and ensure that all demographics are served equally. The paper was written for a satellite meeting of the 78th IFLA Congress entitled “The Homeless and the Libraries – the Right to Information and Knowledge For All”. To quote Muggleton, “Extant prejudices and the tendency to create a homeless “other” mean that policies specifically addressing the homeless have the potential to accentuate difference and patronise and alienate the intended beneficiaries of these policies… Grounding policymaking in the empirical experience of homeless library users is argued to be the most effective way to extend inclusion, and also avoid false dichotomies and the perpetuation of prejudice.” Muggleton highlights the difficulties in defining homeless people and examining our own bias and ways we perpetuate prejudice. The dangers of “othering” sections of people is covered. Libraries have a lot to offer people experiencing homelessness from being a safe, warm place to be, adopting relaxed attitudes about things like sleeping makes a more pleasant experience for everyone, providing practical information on obtaining services. The author concludes that socially marginalized people should be at the heart of a library’s access to information mission. I agree with the author’s sentiment and appreciate that they covered “othering.”

Provence, M. A. (2019, January 2). From nuisances to neighbors: Inclusion of patrons experiencing Homelessness through library and social work partnerships. Advances in Social Work, 18(4).

Provence gets right to the point in the abstract: “Public libraries have found themselves, often reluctantly, on the frontline of homelessness. By virtue of being temperature-controlled public spaces with free internet access, libraries provide daytime shelter for thousands of patrons experiencing homelessness. Sometimes considered “problem patrons,” persons experiencing homelessness are at times unfairly targeted by library policies. Violations create the potential for police involvement and arrest, and may contribute to the criminalization of homelessness.” It’s very important to consider the implications of our actions with all patrons in the library and to examine how we can be of service and Provence is the first author I see that mentions the criminalization of the homeless. We can be part of that cycle or we can work with social workers to provide more services and more access to information to vulnerable populations. Provence mentions the King Library in San Jose, where four days a week there are homeless outreach workers on staff. They also offer volunteer social workers. San Diego has the Social Workers in the Library group in Encinitas. While libraries are rising to the challenge, not many homeless people themselves are being asked about their needs. Provence goes into some definitions and key terms, and a historical examination of attitudes towards library patrons experiencing homelessness. Access to library services is key. Negative attitudes and stereotypes towards homeless patrons are unhelpful. Provence offers a new view of homeless patrons, seeing them as individuals or people.

Wood, N., Reid, T., & Harris, J. (2019, April). Connecting compassion with service: Opening doors for a neglected population in the academic library. Retrieved October 23, 2019, from Tennessee Libraries:

This paper focuses on techniques used by the Austin Peay Woodward Library to combat student poverty and homelessness on campus. Wood, Reid, and Harris note, “Primary issues that needed to be addressed were the transient nature of the student population and the reality that the nearest grocery store is two miles away. Library faculty and staff learned about initiatives that were taking place on campus, including the S.O.S. Food Pantry, which provides supplemental food to students; Victory Gardens, a student-led initiative to supply fresh eggs and produce for the food pantry; and S.O.S. Emergency Funds, which provides monetary assistance for unexpected financial hardship.” There were already a lot of resources in place but getting that information out to students proved difficult. The library stepped in. “The library developed a LibGuide to centralize resources that might benefit students based on the recommendations of campus organizations and in-class discussions with students during a semester-long course taught by a librarian. Campus resources include the food pantry, health and counseling services, resource centers for military-affiliated students, career services, and the financial aid department. Community resources include contact information for student-friendly shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens, and organizations that provide general assistance with monthly expenses, SNAP benefits, prescription medicine costs, etc. The LibGuide contains an interactive map to help students understand the location of community resources in relation to the university in case students need to walk or take public transportation.” I think this was an amazing move and I am sure the students of their institution appreciated it. In addition to the LibGuide, brochures were available in print form at all information desks.

Zhang, H. and Chawner, B. (2018), “Homeless (rough sleepers) perspectives on public libraries: a case study”, Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. 67 No. 4/5, pp. 276-296.

In this study from New Zealand, “Eight interviews have been conducted with rough sleepers and formerly homeless library patrons to examine their experiences, needs and expectations or the library. In addition, four library staff have been interviewed about their attitudes to services for members of the homeless community.” Little research has been done that highlights the homeless person’s point of view and this paper was intended to help bridge that gap. Zhang and Chawner spend some time talking about the fact that homeless are sometimes referred to as nuisances or problem patrons, and how misguided that is. They point out the major differences in different populations within the unhoused spectrum. They also go into many recent sources, citing information on programs that have worked or may work going forward. Although this study is based in Auckland, there are many correlations to homelessness in the United States and they cite many US sources in their article. Welcoming staff was listed as a primary plus from the homeless patrons’ point of view. They all viewed the library as “safe” and mentioned feeling “loved” and “respected” at the library.


Section 3 — My conclusions:


In conclusion, I would like to state that unhoused people are individuals. These individuals bring life experience to the library and stories of their own, and also they give library workers and patrons both an opportunity to exhibit kindness and empathy with those whose circumstances are less fortunate than their own. Lumping all unhoused people into one category is both inaccurate and unfair. It is an often-temporary situation that can be rectified, and even long-term chronic homelessness is a situation that should instill a sense of kindness rather than contempt. Children and others utilizing the library can see how we can all help each other, and by interacting with people on a truly human level, we can all learn something.

There are many things that libraries can do to help bridge the gap between social services and unhoused people. Innovative staffing decisions like hiring homeless outreach workers and social workers provide regular support for unhoused patrons. Reducing barriers to information by not requiring a permanent address to check out materials or use the computers help everyone and hurt no one. In general, an attitude of giving folks the benefit of the doubt is a great way to reach out to people. They can feel the warmth when they are truly welcome. Adopting friendly policies about sleeping, offering hygiene kits, referring unhoused people to transitional housing opportunities and food resources are little things that can be done that make a big difference.   I truly hope that more libraries continue this trend of providing services. In my mind, it should be a universal thing – libraries are safe, warm, welcoming spaces for everyone not just for some people.

Tribes of the Pacific Northwest: Makah & Chinook

While the Chinook and Makah are very different tribes, through potlatch ceremonies and sacred art, these tribes of the Pacific Northwest had much in common. These tribes expressed their status and whimsy through art, such as their carved wooden canoes, elegant boxes, woven baskets and blankets. These items were exchanged in elaborate potlatch ceremonies. Then, there was the mystical totem pole.

One of the most striking features of the Northwest Coast is the presence of totem poles. These totem poles are painstakingly crafted by skilled artisans using beaver-incisor tools. It is said that the poles are inhabited by spirits, and that these spirits may bless or curse you. As such, totem poles are always treated with respect. (Sutton, 131)

Both the Chinook and Makah inhabited a small coastal section of the Northwest Coast, which extends along the Pacific Coast of North America from southern Alaska over 1,500 miles south to far southern Oregon. The region is long and narrow, with little inland territory. (Sutton, 120) The Chinook tribe resided in the lower Columbia River region, around southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. (Wu, International Examiner) The Makah lived around Cape Flattery on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula. (Pritzker, 254) Looking at a map of the area, the Makah are just slightly north of the Chinook, with some small number of other tribal territories in between along the coast.

The main staples of the Chinook were fish (particularly salmon), roots, and berries. (Columbia Encyclopedia, Hutchinson Encyclopedia) “Fish, especially salmon, was the most important food for most Northwest Coast tribes. Since transportation for most of these groups was by canoe, they were great builders of canoes as well as other finely constructed and carved wooden objects. Trees, especially the red cedar, were the raw materials for everything from canoes to clothing to plank houses.” (Pritzker, 223-24) Through their art and their crafts, the Makah and Chinook both were able to trade, cultivate wealth and status, and decorate their homes and sacred spaces.

The Makah hunted whales. As the numbers of whales began to decrease in the early 1900s, the Makah ceased the tradition. Approximately 70 years later, they returned to the practice. Makah are the only tribe to hunt whales in recent history, winning the right to hunt them once again in the 1990s. (Pritzker, 255) This return to whale-hunting caused a division within the tribe and in their public relations as whales have become creatures to protect in the eyes of most people. Piatote wrote in Fighting for Native Rites: Renewal of the Makah Whale Hunt that the repercussions of those hunters’ actions had repercussions for the tribe all around the globe.

The Chinook were known to be good traders, and like the Makah they were skilled with canoes. (Columbia Encyclopedia) Both tribes were known trade furs, oils, shells, and other items with the Russians and others who came through. The sea and land both provided sustenance to these groups. Salmon and shellfish could be dried and traded further inland, or stored for winter.

Most of the year, the tribes lived in permanent winter villages, however they would move to seasonal villages or campsites as the warmer months began. They lived in large rectangular plank houses along the Northwest Coast. Several families would live in a house together. Temporary seasonal shelters were built of mats, planks, or bark. (Pritzker, 228) Their rectangular homes, made of cedar planks, were dug halfway into the ground. (Hutchinson Encyclopedia) These communal housing structures allowed for close-knit family groups.

In general, there was a predictable rhythm to the year in the lives of the tribes of the Northwest Coast. Northwest Coast Indian people fished for eulachon in late winter; gathered seaweed, cedar bark, and herring spawn and fished for halibut in early spring (May); moved to their summer camps around June, where they gathered sea bird eggs and caught salmon; fished and gathered berries, roots, and shoots throughout the summer; preserved the fish and hunted in the fall; and gathered shellfish, hunted sporadically, observed their ceremonies, gambled, told stories, wove, and carved in winter. (Pritzker, 226) In some ways, it was an idyllic life.

The village was the main social unit, and a rich chief may control several villages. (Columbia Encyclopedia) Typically, four groups existed: nobility, upper class free, lower class free, and slaves. (Pritzker, 226) Warfare was common, but generally small in scale and usually for revenge or slaves. (Sutton, 126) Social status was very important to the Northwest Coast groups, as were the potlatches. Rank even followed members of the tribe into the afterlife, and Chinook slaves were sometimes killed to serve as a servant in the afterlife. (Pritzker, 236) It was pretty good to be a Chinook noble, not so much a slave.

The women of the Northwest Coast tribes were skilled as well, creating art, gathering roots and shoots and berries, and raising the children. Chinook custom was to flatten the heads of nonslave infants for aesthetic reasons. (Pritzker, 236) Having a flattened head made one more attractive and helped with rank. “Most Northwest Coast families were ranked according to social status. Status was inherited and carried rights and obligations. Chiefs tended to be wealthy and of high birth. Marriage was a function more of social organization than of life cycle.” (Pritzker, 226) With their matter-of-fact approach to marriage and rank, the Chinook and Makah both seem to be a forthright and common sense sort of people, although perhaps their social structure was somewhat oppressive. The children of slaves were also slaves, for instance, reinforcing their low rank and status within the tribe.

The Makah and Chinook tribes were greatly skilled artists and creators. They decorated everything, their clothes, canoes, homes. Clothing and jewelry were decorated with tusk-like dentalium shells, harvested off the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. (Native American Almanac, 332) Makah typically created baskets and wooden carvings, including canoes. (Pritzker. 256) Meanwhile, notable arts of the Chinook people include carved wooden boxes, house framework, totem poles, baskets, sheep horn bowls, and canoes. (Pritzker, 237)

Art bled into religion. The Makah used carved wooden masks in a four-day Wolf ritual, during which members were initiated into the secret klukwalle society. (Pritzker, 255) The region’s classic ceremonial activity, the potlatch, was both a reflection of and a means to perpetuate this system of social inequality. (Pritzker, 224) As stated previously, the social constructs of the region were oppressive, and the potlatch, while a beautiful ceremony, was often a way to raise your rank or make up for previous grievances, but it did nothing to help the slaves. Potlatch ceremonies sometimes lasted for days, accompanied by feasting, singing, and dancing. The Chinook also celebrated the first salmon run, and adolescent males and females had to undertake a spirit quest by which they believed they would acquire skills in hunting and curing. (Hutchinson Encyclopedia)

Northwest Coast religion centered around guardian spirits. These spirits were in animate and inanimate objects and could be acquired or inherited or even uninvited. Shamans received special spirits that enabled them to cure or harm people. (Pritzker, 228) Somewhat typical of other tribes in other regions, the vision quests and guardian spirits were very important to the Chinook and the Makah. However, despite the totem poles and guardian spirits, these tribes did not have a supremely organized or oppressive form of religion. Shamans were treated with respect and held a high rank, but overall the tribes operated without a severe focus on religion.

There were several language families represented on the Northwest Coast. Chinook were of the Penutian linguistic stock. (Columbia Encyclopedia) The name “Chinook” comes from a Chehalis word for the inhabitants of a particular village on Baker Bay. (Pritzker, 235) Most pervasive was the “Chinook Jargon” as it was spoken all along the West Coast. Chinook Jargon was a mix of several languages, including elements of Chinookan, Nootkan, French, and English languages. (Native American Almanac)

The Makah, who have lived on the Northwest tip of Washington along the Pacific Ocean for thousands of years, call themselves “Kwih-dich-chuh-ahtx,” translated as “People who Live by the Rocks and Seagulls” or “People of the Cape.” (Piatote, Native Americas)

Today, the Chinook and Makah tribes are treated very differently and live very differently. While the Makah are a federally recognized tribe that has retained their own language, identity, and to an extent, their lands, the Chinook were moved onto reservations with their enemies and are no longer recognized federally as a tribe. “The BIA removed federal recognition in 1954, probably for reasons of government efficiency and to reduce bureaucracy according to Beckman. The Chinook applied for federal re-recognition in 1981. It would take another 22 years for the Chinook to be in official existence again. Today there are 2,050 members that live along a portion of the Columbia River that stretches and winds up the Washington coast.” (Craig, News from Indian Country)

The U.S. Department of the Interior again recognized the Chinook Tribe in 2001, then suddenly revoked that status in 2002. The Chinook became one of dozens of tribes which became “unrecognized” as a distinct people in the eyes of the U.S. government. That means that as far as the federal government is concerned, the Chinook people are not entitled to federal dollars to build a tribal center, health programs for seniors, and cultural programs for youngsters. These monies would be some compensation for the lands they lost. (Native American Almanac)

Many Chinookans live on the Chehalis Reservation in Washington or the Shoalwater Reservation, also in Washington. Chinook descendants also live on the Grand Ronde and Siletz Reservations. Chinookans have largely integrated into mainstream and the language is no longer spoken, although Chinook Jargon sometimes is. (Pritzker, 238)

There are an estimated 1,000 Makah citizens living today on the Makah Reservation, which is the most northwesterly point of the contiguous United States. (Harjo, Indian Country Today) The Makah Tribe ceded hundreds of thousands of acres of the Olympic Peninsula to the United States in the Treaty of 1855 in exchange for recognition of Makah whaling and ocean rights. It is the only treaty the United States made with an Indian nation that carries a whaling guarantee. (Harjo, Indian Country Today) The Makah live on the Makah Reservation in Clallam County, Washington, within their aboriginal lands. (Pritzker, 254)

The Chinook and Makah differ in current times in that the Makah have recognized sovereignty and the Chinook do not. Despite struggling for years to regain their rightful status, the Chinook have been officially “forgotten” by the US Government. Meanwhile, the Makah have faced challenges of their own. They regained the right to hunt whales, and faced a racist backlash when they proceeded to do so. Traditionally, both tribes existed in similar ways. They ate the same foods, they created art in parallel ways, they lived off the sea and land both. Both the Chinook and the Makah acquired guardian spirits and had shamans with powers.

In conclusion, while the Chinook and Makah are unique tribes in their own right, through potlatch ceremonies and sacred art, these Pacific Northwest tribes had many similarities. They excelled at carving and manning canoes using red cedar. Both the Chinook and Makah had potlatches and elaborate social and economic structures. Despite only living a few miles apart on the coast, the tribes also differed greatly. The Makah hunted whales and wove beautiful blankets were the Chinook traded and created totem poles. Overall, these tribes are far more alike than they are different, but it would be incorrect to assume that since they are both Northwest Coast tribes that they are the same, for they are distinctly unique and beautiful people.

Works Cited

Chinook, indigenous people of North America. (2018). In P. Lagasse, & Columbia University, The Columbia encyclopedia (8th ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Retrieved from

Chinook. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.), The Hutchinson unabridged encyclopedia with atlas and weather guide. Abington, UK: Helicon. Retrieved from

Chinook. (2017). In Encyclopaedia Britannica, Britannica concise encyclopedia. Chicago, IL: Britannica Digital Learning. Retrieved from

Craig, C. (2002, Jul 31). Feds flip-flop on decision: Chinook; extinct, recognized, sovereign? News from Indian Country Retrieved from

Dennis, Y. W., Hirschfelder, A., & Flynn, S. R. (2016). Native American almanac: more than 50,000 years of the cultures and histories of indigenous peoples. Canton, ME: Visible Ink Press.

Harjo, S. S. (2007, Sep 19). Whale-killing incident revives anti-Indian racism. Indian Country Today Retrieved from

Piatote, B. H. (1998). Fighting for native rites: Renewal of the Makah whale hunt. Native Americas, Xv(3), 39. Retrieved from

Pritzker, B. M. (1998). Native Americans: an encyclopedia of history, culture, and peoples (Vol. 1). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Sutton, M. Q. (2017). An introduction to native North America (5th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Wu, J. (2017, Jan). From standing rock to the pacific northwest: The national fight for indigenous rights. International Examiner Retrieved from


Persuasive Speech Outline (Pro-Mental Health Screenings)

Persuasive Speech – Pro-Mental Health Screenings


  1. [Attention Getter] In November 2013, I was reported missing. I had gotten into my truck and driven it until it broke down in San Leandro, in the Bay Area. There, I abandoned it and wandered the streets of San Francisco and the surrounding area for over a week. My daughter was 3 years old, and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was in the midst of a very severe episode of dysphoric mania. I almost died during that week. I was mugged, a man punched me and broke my nose. I was psychotic, hearing voices, and became extremely paranoid. I threw my cell phone away and had no way of contacting anyone that I knew. I had no idea what was happening, and it was terrifying.
  2. [Thesis Statement] We need more mental health screenings in the USA, and we need them today.
  3. [Relevance Statement] This topic is relevant to you because so many people go undiagnosed for so many years and suffer greatly from the symptoms of very treatable mental illnesses.
  4. [Credibility Statement] I am qualified to speak on this subject because I, too, am mentally ill. I received my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Type 1 in late 2013 and have been living with this illness my entire life. Since my diagnosis and subsequent treatment and medication, life has become so much better. I’ve become stronger and am filled with a great desire to share the information that I have gathered with you, so that you may consider seeking a mental health screening yourself.
  • [Preview of Main Points] Today I will discuss the problem, cause, and solution.

Connective:  I will begin by discussing the problem.


I  [Statement of the problem(s)] Not enough people in the United States are receiving the mental health care they need and are going undiagnosed and unmedicated.

  1. [Significance of the problem] This is a significant issue, because without proper therapy and medications, the mentally ill are suffering. Poverty, grades, holding down a job are all impacted by depression and other illnesses. Stigma plays a huge part in people being afraid to seek assistance. “A 2016 federal study found that nearly 45 million Americans had a mental illness of some sort” according to Edward D. Murphy’s article in the Portland Press Herald.
  2. [Harms] Suicide rates have been increasing, according to another Murphy article from the Sun Journal. “Mental health advocates say across the country suicide rates are up 24 percent since 1999.” Depression is a serious illness and should be treated as such. Suicidal ideation is something that I struggle with myself, and I have lost several friends personally to suicide. A woman named Amy Bleuel started a campaign called Project Semicolon. This project was simple, identify yourself as someone that has survived suicide or otherwise been impacted by suicide with a semicolon tattoo or jewelry. Amy died by suicide recently, at age 31. You know how they have those donation buttons on Facebook for your birthday to raise money for a charity? This year, I dedicated mine to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and raised over $500 for them. Not even the rich and famous are safe from the dangers of depression. We’ve lost Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and Chris Cornell in recent history.
  3. [Who the problem impacts] This problem impacts everyone. It impacts the mentally ill that are suffering, as well as their family, their friends, their coworkers, and their classmates.


Connective:  Now that you understand the problem I will explain the causes of this problem.

II  [Statement on the cause or causes of the problem] Several factors have led to this mental health care crisis.

  1. In the 1960s, Ronald Reagan began a process called “deinstitutionalization” in an attempt to curb government spending on mental health care, and in response to the creation of psychiatric medications for illnesses. Society had come to the conclusion that the mentally ill could be treated, and therefore would not need to be in an institution for the rest of their lives anymore. This sounds positive, right? I don’t want to live in an institution for the rest of my life. But the long-term effects of this deinstitutionalization have proved disastrous. “As a result, 2.2 million of the severely mentally ill do not receive any psychiatric treatment at all. About 200,000 of those who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are homeless. That’s one-third of the total homeless population. Ten percent are veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other war-related injuries.” Kimberly Amadeo writes in her article “Deinstitutionalization, Its Causes, Effects, Pros and Cons” published online in May 2018 by the Balance website. Basically, mental health treatment is underfunded, and often inaccessible or underutilized.
  2. In a study titled, “Psychiatric Disorders and Treatment in Low-Income Pregnant Women” published by the Journal of Women’s Health in 2010, Cook concluded, “With nearly one third of pregnant women meeting criteria for a 12-month psychiatric disorder and only one fourth receiving any type of mental health treatment, comprehensive psychiatric screening during pregnancy is needed along with appropriate treatment.” There is a distinct lack of screening that takes place in general, and one of the most critical populations is in pregnant women. When one goes through pregnancy, there are so many changes taking place in the body, the mind, one’s whole world changes. I know when I was pregnant, I was very moody. I didn’t have my diagnosis yet, so I was not yet taking medications that could affect fetal outcomes, but many can. If you are taking psychiatric medications and have plans to conceive, please talk to your doctor before proceeding. With a plan, it is possible to take good care of yourself and have a healthy pregnancy. It’s the period after my pregnancy that proved problematic for me. Many women experience postpartum depression, and I did, too. Mine spiraled out of control and wound up turning into a manic episode after many months of losing sleep. It turns out I am not alone in this. In her book, Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, published in 2017, Dyane Harwood details her experience with Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. I was lucky enough to meet Dyane on Twitter, and she emailed me a PDF of her book. It turns out we shared a lot of similar experiences, and she has proven to be a wonderful connection in the mental health world. We are both open about our diagnosis online, seeking to help fight stigma.
  3. A lot of people are scared to talk about their mental health diagnosis because they are afraid of being judged by people who do not understand. In a 2011 study, Abrams and Curran found “Stigma around recognizing mental health concerns and seeking mental health care continues to be a challenging barrier to formal mental health care in several populations.” This stigma is perpetuated when people choose words poorly. When we joke about someone being “crazy” or an experience being “totally insane” we are actually hurting people. It’s an ableist stance to take and should be avoided. This stigma that surrounds mental illness doesn’t need to be there, and together we can make sure that our peers feel safe confiding in us, and in seeking help.
  4. Another big reason people do not seek treatment is a lack of health insurance. I’ve been there myself. I went eight years without health insurance, going to the dentist, any of it because I work as an independent contractor and it wasn’t really available to me. Since my breakdown, I’ve made less money, which has allowed me to qualify for Medi-Cal. As I continue to add to my wealth, I will need to switch to Covered California. There really are options now, even for those of us who live in poverty.
  5. Poverty affects mental health, and impoverished areas often lack access to care. Here in San Diego, we are lucky to have a few different options that I will get to shortly. It’s a sad fact that there are simply not enough services available for low-income people and finding the information itself can be difficult.

Connective: Now that you understand the problem and its causes I will explain the solution.

III.  [State your solution(s)] The solution is to be proactive in getting yourself a mental health screening, especially if you are feeling off at all. The truth is, our country is in need of widespread healthcare reform, particularly mental health care reform. If you see a way to get involved and help out, please do so. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself first!

  1. [Explain what can be done and how can it be done] There are many resources available here in San Diego that can help with mental health screening. When I got back from Northern California, I immediately sought treatment for the severe symptoms I was experiencing. I’d like to share some of those resources with you.
    1. The Palomar Student Clinic offers Behavioral Health Counseling Services:
      1. or search “BHCS”
    2. is a useful website with information and resources local to San Diego.
      1. They have a Crisis Line (888) 724-7240.
    3. The Suicide Hotline is available 24/7.
      1. Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Suicide Hotline.
    4. Not comfortable with calling? Text 741741!
      1. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis.
    5. PERT – Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, pairs licensed mental health clinicians with uniformed law enforcement officers/deputies. DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS THERE IS IMMEDIATE DANGER! Call the non-emergency line and request a PERT team. This is safer for the mentally ill person in crisis.
      1. (760) 839-4722 is the Escondido Police Department, or use your local police or sheriff line.
    6. Regional mental health clinics are a great resource. They are free and helped me apply for Medi-Cal.
      1. Central Region Mental Health on Morena Blvd. is where I went initially, and they can be reached at (619) 692-8750.
    7. Dial 211 to be connected to services in San Diego.
    8. Mood tracking apps like Daylio, Moodscope, eMood can help keep an eye on patterns in your mood and help alert you when you are heading towards a crisis.
  2. [Explain why the solution is practical] These resources make up a practical solution, which is getting direct help and taking personal responsibility for our mental well-being. Shop for a therapist. Don’t be afraid to reject the first people you see. It’s important to have a good fit, someone that makes you feel heard and who will challenge you to get better.
  3. [Explain why the solution is desirable] It is desirable to receive a diagnosis as early as you can in order to work out a proper treatment plan with your psychiatrist or therapist. [In 2015, Hanson O’Haver phoned Johanna Jarcho, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health for an interview for Vice Magazine online. She said the vast majority of mental health disorders do emerge during one’s adolescence or early 20s] Even without an official diagnosis, therapy is a wonderful thing that can teach us emotional tools for interacting with the world at large. It’s nice to talk to an impartial adult, to gain clarity on our current situations and get to know ourselves. It’s much more desirable to know what you are dealing with than to experience a life-changing mental breakdown and have to learn the hard way, as I did.


Connective: In Conclusion, there are many resources available to help you. If you are considering harming yourself, please consider using one of these avenues to seek assistance. There is no shame in asking for help, and in fact, I only feel more empowered by sharing some of my story with you all here today.


  1. [Re-statement of the thesis] We need more mental health screenings in the USA, and we need them today.
  2. [Review Main points] Today I discussed the problem, the cause, and the solution.
  3. [Closing Remarks / Call to Action] Make the call, send the text, go to the student clinic, but do something. Get yourself a mental health screening today. It could save your life.





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Cook, C. L., Flick, L. H., Homan, S. M., Campbell, C., McSweeney, M., & Gallagher, M. E. (2010). Psychiatric disorders and treatment in low-income pregnant women. Journal Of Women’s Health (15409996), 19(7), 1251-1262. Doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1854

Harwood, D. (2017). Birth of a new brain: Healing from postpartum bipolar disorder (pp.1-212). New York, NY: Post Hill Press.

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O’Haver, Hanson. “Why Mental Health Disorders Emerge in Your Early 20s.” Vice, Vice, 29 Apr. 2015,