Created by the Washington State Department of Health
What sign do you use for “quarantine”? Deaf returning citizen, Jason, discusses why a certain commonly used sign does not accurately describe what “quarantine” means, and how it can be triggering for people who have actually experienced being imprisoned.
During the coronavirus outbreak, I have noticed the semantics of some words and gestures, such as the sign for “quarantine” (shows sign using both hands in the 2-shape, facing the signer, while touching the back of the right 2-hand onto the left 2-hand). This sign means “jail” and (shows same sign using both hands in 4-hand shape) and this sign means “prison”.
Are “jail” and “quarantine” the same? No. Jail comes from an old French word, “jaiole”, which means “cage”, and an old Latin word, “gabiola”, which also means “cage”. Does “quarantine” mean “cage”? While you are in jail, can you go out grocery shopping, do your errands, and then go back to jail? Obviously not. While you are quarantined, you can. There’s no cage. There’s a difference.
I was once imprisoned 25 years ago for 4 ½ months. Now I’m a returning citizen. This means someone who should be regarded in a positive light, empowered, and given encouragement and support in seeing what potential they have in their second chance at life, all of which are important. Instead, returning citizens get an onslaught of negativity, verbal attacks, put-downs, contempt, judgement, and outright rejection. That is not a solution.
A better sign for “quarantine” is “stay home” (shows right hand signing “stay”, moving to position under left hand which is in 5-position facing down like a roof, and “home”; also shows both hands signing “stay” and “home”) These are better signs to use than “prison” (shows both hands using the 2-shape as described above), which can be triggering.
Hello from the Deaf Health Clinic!
You may have heard of counseling, or psychotherapy, which is just another fancy word that mean counseling. What is counseling? Is it just like “talking to someone?” No, it is not as simple as talking/signing to someone. Yes, we do talk/sign in counseling, but unloading all your thoughts is not always good. However, holding everything in all the time is also not always good. So we need to find some balance. Here are some examples of some things we may discuss,
Maybe if you have been holding on to something that you need to let out, and you allow it out, now you can look at it and the hope is it may fade. Maybe you have some problems that you need some assistance with problems solving so you can make a positive change in your life. Maybe something bad happened to you when you were growing up, or you developed low self-esteem – I can help support, remind you that you are good, and you are okay. If you struggle with poor relationships, like with a spouse or partner, or with a child, you and I can practice new behavior to help your relationship be more productive. If you have a chronic health condition, or experience ongoing life stressors, we can develop some home practices to improve your overall wellbeing. And yes, sometimes just talking/signing about it does help, for example, in some cases where the situation cannot be changed, like after a death, or when you have become an “empty nester”. This is not an exhaustive list of things we can address in therapy; we can talk about your needs.
It is often important to have clear goals in counseling. Because, the plan should not be that you come to therapy weekly for years on end. Most people are in counseling for about 6 months to a year, or maybe off and on for a few years. The goal is to help improve your condition, then you can take what you have learned and apply it independently in your daily life. But to be clear, I always leave my door open to anyone if something new happens in your life, or if you have a recurrence of symptoms. I do this myself; I have seen my own therapist intermittently throughout my life. Does this mean I go every week forever? No, just like I do not see a doctor weekly, but I go see her when there is something I need addressed.
In subsequent vlogs I will talk about specific types of therapy. For now, let us look at a short clip of what a counseling session may look like. This mock example was filmed with my colleague, Kelley. And yes, it was filmed before I got a haircut a bit ago, so I may look a bit different.
Leslie- Hello, that you for coming to see me. What brings you to come see me?
Kelley- I have been struggling with a lot of stress at home and at work. I am not sleeping well, and I am crying a lot. I just feel really stressed. It is hard for me to admit, something I do not tell people, but I have been feeling distraught in a lot of ways. I am not sure how to address it myself.
L- Yes, that’s a tough problem that a lot of people experience. I am glad that you came to talk with me about it. Let’s talk more about what has been going on for you, and we might talk more about your life history to see if there is anything from your past that might help us figure a plan to help you feel better. Also, I like to come up with some goals to let me know how I can best direct our therapy together. What are some things you would like to work on?
K- I would like to feel less stress, I would like to sleep better because I tend to have racing thoughts that seem to make it hard to sleep, and I have been feeling really empty inside lately and I want to go back to enjoying time with my family. I do not feel like I enjoy time with my family right now.
L- Good. Those are goals we can work on. We will come back to those later. Now let’s talk a little more about you, what it was like for you growing up, what your family was like, to help me get to know you a bit better.
L- We are coming close to the end of our time together today. Thank you for sharing so much with me. I know that can be hard. I want to give you some “homework” of some things to work on until we see each other again. I want you to keep a list of how much you sleep each night, either on paper, or find one of those sleep tracking apps to record how many hours you sleep each night. And I want you to practice calm breathing, which is counting inhale for 4 and exhale for 4- do that for 5 minutes every day. Can you try that now? Good. Just repeat that. It doesn’t matter if you have other thoughts that pop-up, or if you get distracted, just return to counting your inhale and exhale for 5 minutes.
K- Why do I do that calm breathing? What purpose does that serve?
L- Good question. When you start paying attention to your breathing like this, it sends a message to your body to relax, and often people feel relaxed afterward. So practice daily for 5 minutes, okay?
K- Sure, I can try that. I hope it helps!
L- Me too.
K- I look forward to seeing you next time!
L- We will check in next week, or in two weeks to see how you are doing. Sound good?
K- Yes, thanks.
If you have questions or if you would like to talk more about if counseling might be a good fit for you, please call us on VP or email. Thanks and have a nice day from the Deaf Health Clinic! Bye!
Video by Deaf Health Clinic advanced clinical social worker Leslie Pertz, LMSW, NIC. If you are in crisis or think you may hurt yourself or someone else, please seek help immediately. Call 911 or your doctor’s office immediately. For more information on Deaf Health Clinic services, go to: https://www.uofmhealth.org/our-locati... English transcript of vlog: When famous people like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain kill themselves, it can be very sad. But it also prompts people to talk more openly about death by suicide. There are a number of signs for “suicide” and I respect your preference. I tend to sign, “kill self.” I like this option because it is more broad about the many ways people may have had thoughts; suicide is not only slitting wrists, but could be taking pills and alcohol, using a gun, hanging, or using a car. Also, I want to be very clear about all the thoughts people may have, the thoughts are about killing yourself; and the thoughts sometimes happen for some people, so let’s talk about it! What are some of the reason why people may die by suicide? Sadly we do not know because we cannot ask. However, I have heard from many people who say that they felt so much emotional or physical pain that they thought it was the only option to make the overwhelming pain stop. Sometimes those thoughts happen, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, and you are not alone. If you have had thoughts about killing yourself, or you know someone who has had those thoughts, what should you do? I say let’s talk about it! It doesn’t mean that if you tell someone you are thinking about killing yourself that you will be taken to a hospital and locked up for 72 hours; actually that does not happen very often. What we want is to make sure that people who are hurting get the treatment they need, are not hurting anymore and can live a meaningful life. Remember that you are important. Some options for help are to tell your family, friends, or your doctor. You can think about getting counseling, and there are more and more counselors who are fluent (really fluent) in ASL every year. If you have overwhelming suicidal thoughts, please go to your local emergency room, you can call Michigan Medicine Psychiatric Emergency Services 27/7/365 at 734- 936-5900. You can also call through VRS the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255, or chat/tty 800-799-4899. Last, you can text the word DEAF to the number 741741 and someone will start a text chat with you. There is help. Possibly with medication, counseling, and support you can get to wellness. If you know of another person who is thinking about suicide, please do not tell them, “on no, you should not think like that or talk like that, I do not want to hear this!” No, please thank the person for being so open with you, then say, “I am here to support you, let’s find you some help.” If you live in Michigan and would like to talk more with the Deaf Health Clinic please call us on VP at 810-355-2743. We are available Monday-Thursday 8am- 5pm. There is help. You can get better and feel well. You are important.