“The mind…can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” -Milton, Paradise Lost

I finally had the chance to talk to my pyschology teacher one on one. She really is a passionate teacher and psychologist…she talks with such excitement about the subject and I really admire that. The field of psychology has always been the most interesting and appealing thing to me. I have to say it comes pretty naturally to me as I study it because of my past experiences. Up until this past year in college I dreamed of being a Clinical Psychologist… and in most aspects I would still love to have that title in order to be put ahead and acknowledged in such a competitive area. This past year though I realized, though I love the subject (every little bit of it), I would never be able to stay in one place for an extended period of time or work in a little office every single day. I then explored other options – still putting psychology as my minor. Therapeutic Recreation stood out to me. I remember my Rec. Therapist in Arizona…I had a few. One taught us equine therapy, another did rock climbing and outdoor activities. I’ve been working on keeping my body physically fit and mentally stable which has been a problem in the past. This year has been a break through year in this area. My body is strong, the strongest it has ever been. Exercising nearly everyday has become a therapeutic thing for me where in the past it had been only for the sole purpose of losing drastic amounts of weight in a short period of time. The hard part was keeping the exercise as therapy and consistently reminding myself that I do it in order to stay healthy and fit so I can live a better, stronger life. Rec. Therapy is exactly what I was looking for. It’s using recreation as a form of therapy…as well as many other things. As I spoke with my psychology teacher (who travels ALL OVER THE WORLD doing research studies on global mental health and different treatments in different hospitals/settings) I asked her how I, as a rec. therapy major, could do that. She informed me that there is a need for what I want to do all over the place. Mental illness is not cured by psychotropic medication, nor therapy alone…people need to find methods of coping in everyday situations and settings. I explained to her my dream…

I want to create a program, similar to that of Outward Bounds if anyone is familiar with that organization, that is cost effective WITHOUT cutting the quality of care (which in many cases today happens, especially with insurance companies always bullshitting). I want to base this program in a setting that is peaceful, away from the areas that may have created (or helped to create) the problem in the first place. My idea would be nature. I would use a humanistic perspective…focusing on what the person CAN do rather then what they can not do. My ideas would stem from positive psychology – using optimism, genuiness, empathy, and unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers theory). I would resort to using only homeopathic medicine, which some may disagree with me on. The reason I do not want to use psychotropic drugs is because I believe your body wants to be in a state of homeostasis and will eventually go back to that when allowed. If you’re taking pills everyday you are just delaying your body’s natural instinct to go back to how it wants to be, how it was created to be. In some instances medication would be necessary, such as a long-term addiction to heroin, and those patients I would rather be stabilized enough in a hospital setting before coming to me. My program would be more of a step-down treatment center. I want to focus mainly on eating disorders and substance abuse (which most the time can go hand-in-hand). My dream program would incorporate activities like positive thinking, art, music, journaling, hiking, wilderness survival, yoga, fishing, meditation, and all types of things that I would encourage my clients to help create as well. I believe some people get so wrapped up in their “illness” that they forget who they are and the things they used to love doing. My idea is to re-introduce them to things they may have forgotten that they had loved. I know that happened to me in high school. Sometimes the label of a mental illness can really hurt the person rather then help them too… I don’t even like to call my future clients or patients by clients or patients. It brings stigmatism to them and I believe it hurts them in their quest for self-actualization.

My teacher seemed to love this idea, at least she seemed very interested in my idea and told me about the organizations that I can get involved with to maybe help fund this later on. If the local liqour store in my hometown can get a $200,000 grant from the government to create a BIGGER liqour store there is no doubt in my mind that I can receive a grant to do this kind of thing. I have big plans and I really have such good feelings about this.

I thank God everyday for the tribulations I’ve been through at such an early age. I know some people may have gone through a hell of a lot more but I believe my struggles have really helped define the person I am today and pave a path to where I am going in my future. When I read journals I have from high school and Arizona, I can finally look at them and learn from them in ways I never thought I would. So many of those pages talk about death, how beautiful and easy it seemed. Page after page has so much hatred and anger towards myself…things o one would imagine coming out of my mouth now. People that didn’t know me in high school think I’m a pretty positive person with a great outlook on life and when I look back I have made a complete turn around from that person. There were days I swallowed hand fulls of pills and went to sleep hoping I wouldn’t wake up. Other days where I ran miles after miles until my heart literally felt like it would stop any minute. I’m grateful to be alive and I know it’s only by the power and love of God that I am here. When people say they don’t believe in God I just tell them I know in my heart that I would be dead years ago if it wasn’t for Him.

I really am so anxious to see what the future holds. I know He has a great plan for me or else He would have let me die all those times I prayed that I would. I’ve been blessed with a life that I want to live now. Each day I remind myself of this. For twenty years old I feel like I have a mind that is filled with curiosity and determination that some may never reach. Sometimes I really think I might be a little crazy, but crazy can be a little fun and for me it’s better then being ordinary. It’s about positivity and consistently remembering the power of the mind.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dad
    Jun 23, 2010 @ 13:21:52

    its wonderful 2 see u have great goals and dreams !
    barcelona today !!! have a happy landfall and enjoy some of your ancestors homeland…


  2. Ally B
    Jun 23, 2010 @ 16:27:15

    Casey, I think this is great. I have always been able to relate to you on numerous levels, and I’m so happy for you to be in such a great place 🙂 This past year, 2 girls at my school had an idea for a program called ECM (Eating Concerns Mentoring). This program gave people the opportunity to sign up online (anonymously) to be hooked up with a mentor. I joined this group and that was a big mile stone for me. One of my dreams is to travel the country promoting the non-diet approach. Its a pretty hefty topic, but its something I have so much passion for (that diets don’t work). I’m currently reading a book called Women, Food, and God. It talks about how everything on your plate (food choices) relates to what you believe in and just about everything else in your life. The author has gained and lost over 1000 pounds in her lifetime and has been on both sides of the spectrum being dangerously under weight and dangerously over weight. She holds retreats and teaches this concept to women and I think that is so cool. It ties into the whole non-diet approach concept. I just kinda went on a little rant there but those are some future ideas of mine… I really like where your head is with the program you’ve thought of tho, thank you for sharing that. Anytime you wanna share more ideas about this, don’t be shy I love reading about it!


  3. Kathleen
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 02:01:17

    Casey can I just tell you how much I love this post? I recently came to a similar conclusion about my college plans- I know I won’t be happy sitting in a tiny office all day, even though I love interacting with people, so I’m still going to major in Psychology with a minor in physical education. I would love to develop/work in the kind of program you wrote about. I leave for NOLS for 30 days on July 19th and preparing for it has made me realize how healing nature can be (I’m up at my dad’s farm hiking), as well as how important physical awareness has been in acceptance and appreciation of my body. I can’t tell you what a wonderful role model you’ve been for me each time I’ve visited you or how proud I am of you. I’m not going to UNCW next year, I’m doing 2 years at TCC then transferring to UVA’s Psych program, but Olivia and I were talking about coming to greet you when you arrive back in Norfolk. All my love, hope tonight is amazing in Espana!!


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