21 Questions: Diana Pastora Carson

woman in front of building

Diana Pastora Carson is a kindergarten teacher and one of two lecturers for General Studies 420: Disability & Society.

“I suppose the question “Tell us about yourself” is overwhelming because there is not enough time to tell you about me which includes all that I am, do, have, love, and have experienced.”

So, tell me about yourself?

“I was made in Spain, born in Maryland, but grew up mostly in San Diego. My father was in the Navy and got permanently stationed here because, at the time, San Diego was the only place that had a school for children with autism. I have many roles: an educator, an author, a public speaker, a disability rights advocate, a mom, a sibling, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a middle-aged woman exploring what it actually means to be ‘herself.’ 

Recently, I have tried not to think so much about how people view me anymore. However, in all honesty, although my awareness of this has greatly evolved over the past few years, I’m not as secure as I want to be. It still does make me feel validated and proud when others think favorably of me. It is a journey toward full self-love. But I’m enjoying this journey and look forward to experiencing freedom from preoccupation with opinions of others. 

I have noticed that people usually think I’m sweet all the time. But in reality, I’m a pain in the ass to my family. I’m really picky about things at home and I’m not always very patient when family members don’t follow my ‘rules’ of cleanliness, order, etc. I do truly enjoy being with people though and learning about their lives. I appreciate people, their journeys, their identities, their struggles, their empowerment, and their victories.” 

Are you family-oriented?

“Yes, very family-oriented. I am especially close to my brother, Joaquin, who experiences significant autism. He is my next-door neighbor and I see him daily. He was institutionalized for a total of 15 years. But my family fought for his return to the community and after a 3-year legal battle, we won, and he is now home. My family’s life revolves around him and his wellness and peace within.”

Who are you listening to right now? 

I listen to Miguel Poveda, Sam Smith, and reggaeton on Pandora. I also listen to lots of podcasts on keto, women’s health, disability, inclusion, and business.

Do you have an idea of where you will be at the end of this year?

“I’ll be enjoying a break between semesters! Also, I’ll probably be excited over the release of a new book I’ve written for educators. It is about how to teach disability awareness from a perspective of dignity and empowerment. I’ll do some gardening in honor of my mother in her memorial garden at my home. I’ll get to sleep in more too.”

What’s on your mind today?

“I’m focusing on how to maximize my health, listening to podcasts on the ketogenic lifestyle. I’m also focusing a lot on how I can shift from teaching elementary school and focus more on a speaking/consulting business after my retirement. In general, I’m mentally planning for a future of health, wellness, and abundance.”

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

Don’t believe everything you think. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Enjoy each day. Breathe. Be who you are. Take care of your physical and mental and spiritual health. This life is a journey.
Written by: Jasmine Alexander
Photo by: Jasmine Alexander

Stirring the Pot: Psychedelic- Assisted Therapy – A ‘Trip’ for Treatment

A look into the use of psychedelic-assisted therapy for the treatment of people suffering from mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.

LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, and MDMA. When reading those words, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, those are just party drugs.” Or maybe something else comes to mind – you might think of barefoot hippies rolling at Woodstock while bearing buttons that read ‘End the War in Vietnam!’ But these drugs are so much more than just the stereotypes in which they are associated with.

Prior to the counterculture movement of the 1960s, psychedelic substances were used as healing tools in sacred ceremonies performed by indigenous tribes; one example of this is the use of peyote by the Native Americans of the Southern Plains. These substances are not just party drugs – they’re tools that can be used to help treat individuals with mental illnesses such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction.

Last summer, out of sheer curiosity rooted in some late-night YouTube conspiracy theory binge, I spent some time doing research on psychedelic substances and their effects on the brain. Fascinated by the plethora of information, I fell into a spiral of articles, TED Talks, and case studies detailing how these ‘college party drugs’ actually had tremendous benefits on the treatment of mental illness. Specifically, I came across an interesting article which entailed the history of psychedelic substances and specific results from a variety of treatment studies performed on patients. Prior to doing any research, I had very little knowledge of how these substances operated, let alone that there was even a world of benefits that they offered besides some sort of ‘trip.’

So let’s get into how these substances actually affect the brain on a chemical level. 

When the brain is on a psychedelic substance, think of it as being unhinged from incoming sensory information – it has the ability to conjure up images and feelings from deep within the subconscious. Think of it as opening a portal to the user’s mind, allowing them to come directly into contact with feelings that were unrecognizable before. When we sleep, our brain isn’t using incoming sensory information to produce the visuals we see in our dreams; rather, it uses information already held in the subconscious. This is why dreams are known as revealing the individual’s inner fears and desires they might have previously been unaware of. But as we’ve all faced the frustration of forgetting an interesting dream, we know that their contents are extremely difficult to track.

Psychedelic substances help with that – rather than waking up from a dream and forgetting everything but the largest details, you would have the ability to consciously access those same visuals and feelings, just awake rather than asleep. For this reason, hallucinogens (each serving a different, yet equally valuable purpose) are great tools for the treatment of mental illnesses, as they allow patients to get in touch with their deep-rooted issues. For example, MDA (an empathogen) helps facilitate the bond between the patient and their doctor by increasing empathy. MDMA, on the other hand, helps reduce fear in patients, allowing them to open up and trust their therapist; this makes treatment much more effective, especially for patients suffering from PTSD.

Then we have the classic psychedelics, substances such as LSD and mescaline which provide the “portal effect” which allows patients to look into themselves and experience a “trip.” When undergoing a session, the patient is monitored and is placed in a relaxed setting, where the therapist guides the patient through their psychedelic experience, helping them pick apart everything they see, hear, or feel. But it isn’t just the concept or process of the treatment that astounds me – it’s the results. For example, in one study performed on individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, “Outcomes included a significant and sustained reduction in PTSD symptoms…with 83% of participants…showing a reduction in symptom severity of more than 30%…some members of the experimental group no longer met criteria for PTSD as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder…” (Tupper). But the best part about psychedelic-assisted therapy is that there are few (if any) serious adverse effects. The main reason for this is because the substances are being used in a monitored, controlled manner – all harms come solely from associated behavior, something that only arises from a lack of supervision. This is why researchers prioritize setting, dosage, and safety when structuring treatment sessions.

Psychedelic substances simply make the process of treatment easier and smoother for both the patient and their therapist.

Even just one session can be enough to invoke intense personal reflection which has astounding effects on a patient. In one example brought up in a TED Talk I viewed during my research, the speaker explained how one patient suffering from PTSD was essentially healed after just one session of treatment – during his first psychedelic experience, he was able to get in touch with the root of his trauma; in doing so, he was able to discover (with the guidance of his therapist) how he could take that pain and flip it in a positive light, using it as inspiration to continue living.

While this form of treatment still contains laws and is far from a golden solution, it is still a beneficial form of treatment with proven results and little adverse effects. While I know my target audience isn’t necessarily old, cynical boomers against psychedelic substances, I still think we collectively need to open our minds (pun definitely intended) and look at hallucinogens from a more mature lens. While LSD may be trademarked for use at three-day raves, there is a whole other world of uses for these substances: uses with the power to transform troubled lives forever.

Sources:

Doblin, Rick. “The Future of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy.” TED, https://www.ted.com/talks/rick_doblin_the_future_of_psychedelic_assisted_psychotherapy?language=en#t-349702.

“Psychedelics: Past, Present and Future: Mark Haden: TEDxEastVan.” Amara, https://amara.org/en/videos/bFTI1ihsSaOU/info/psychedelics-past-present-and-future-mark-haden-tedxeastvan/.

Tupper, Kenneth W, et al. “Psychedelic Medicine: a Re-Emerging Therapeutic Paradigm.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L’Association Medicale Canadienne, 8872147 Canada Inc., 6 Oct. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592297/#b3-1871054.

Written by: Olivia Flores
Photos taken from: Vox

Peep This Joint: Top 3 Rap Albums From The 2000s

So for this week’s post, I figured I would write on what I personally consider three essential rap albums from the 2000s that y’all have to check out.

The 2000s marked an interesting time period for the genre, as the golden age of hip-hop tragically came to a close with the deaths of two G.O.A.T.s that forever changed the game. But, their deaths did not end in vain as their legacies paved the way for new artists to rise and take the throne. A lot of rappers coming up were hungry to take the mantle and the works they put out during this era reflected that ambition. These projects are not put in any order of importance so don’t mind that. Instead, just peep these albums because they are literally all great albums not just in this era but in general!

1. The Black Album – Jay-Z

Album cover from: Genius

First up, Jay-Z’s The Black Album! Released in 2003, This album was supposed to be his last project ever and revolves thematically around his impending retirement. If you’re a hip-hop head, you know that anytime a rapper says their retiring, chances are they’re lying. Jay-Z during this time definitely seemed serious though as he was laying down some of his hardest verses ever in this project. Take one of my favorite Jay songs ever, “What More Can I Say” where he jumps out the gate in his first verse: 

There’s never been a n‐‐a this good for this long/

This hood or this pop, this hot or this strong/

With so many different flows, this one’s for this song/

The next one I switch up, this one will get bit up/

Before this album came out, Jay already had seven projects under his belt and a few of them were blunders for a rapper of his caliber. Despite that, his last five albums debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts which speaks on the magnitude of his popularity and pen. With some of Kanye’s best beats during his soulful sample era, this project is filled with diverse flows and beats that elevated some of Jay’s best bars. 

2. The College Dropout – Kanye West

Album cover from: Genius

Next up is an album very near and dear to my heart as it is an introduction to one of the biggest enigmas in music today as well as my favorite artist of all time, The College Dropout by Kanye West. His massive impact on the sound and direction of the genre will never go unrecognized. The album that started it all is an exceptional introduction to the polarizing figure that many love and hate today. The College Dropout also marks a monumental shift to a more conscious yet accessible, “suburban” sound compared to traditional gangster records that was dominant at the time. Songs such as “All Falls Down,” “Spaceship,” “Jesus Walks,” and “Through the Wire” all focus more on conscious and substantive lyrics instead of the typical gritty street bars. Nonetheless, this project is a classic 2000s album that inspired and influenced many popular artists today and forever changed the game.

3. Madvillainy – Madvillain

Album cover from: Genius

Speaking of game-changing projects, Madvillainy by the duo Madvillain consisting of artists MF DOOM and Madlib shook the underground rap scene. Madvillainy is every backpacker’s quintessential rap album of all time, and with good reason too. A collaboration album between underground legends MF DOOM and Madlib is every backpacker’s dream and the critical reception of Madvillainy proved just how dynamic and successful the duo could be. The entire project has Madlib on the production boards while DOOM spits at top form. Songs like “All Caps,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Fancy Clown” demonstrate his unique flow that makes him a one-of-a-kind artist.

You already know these projects are all 10/10…go peep them!

Written By: Johann Oribello

21 Questions: Lizzy Havey

Inspired by Humans of New York, this is 21 Questions; a fun way of getting to know the students, faculty, and staff of SDSU. This week is Lizzy Havey.

“My name is Elizabeth Rose Havey. But I usually go by Lizzy. I was named after my grandma, who ironically changed her name to Eleanor because she didn’t like to be called ‘Lizzy’. She is still my favorite person to this day. Oh, and I am from Sacramento, California (916).”

How do you feel about the question, “Tell us about yourself?”

“Unwell. I tend to babble when I hear this question. I think of every interview I ever had and how I have probably changed my answer to best fit the interview scenario. A smart move on my part, but is it noble? Eh, probably not… however, get that money right.”

So, tell me about yourself?

“Ah, just a small-town girl living in a lonely world. No, but I am 22 years old and a fifth-year student at SDSU. I came to SDSU because I really wanted to experience living in both Northern and Southern California. In my free time, I like to read poetry, sweat via biking/cycling, dancing, or a boxing class. If I had more open weekends, I would probably plan more camping trips. I’m passionate about environmental justice, policy, travel, unpopular opinions, satisfying videos on Snapchat, and frozen yogurt. I’m a Pisces if you couldn’t tell.”

“I was once told that I am a ‘charismatic leader’ I appreciated that, so I like to mention it sometimes. At my job as a waitress and in the field of customer service people view me as pleasant, “smiley”, and friendly. But in other settings, people tend to think I am unapproachable. I want people to know that I am approachable, and I do care about others, even from the slightest interaction.”

“I am always happy when I dance. Playing my favorite song over and over makes me happy. Live music whether at a karaoke bar, a restaurant, a music festival, or anywhere in between also makes me really happy. Right now, I am listening to Summer WalkerLana Del Rey’s new albumPrince (all the time),  and Paulo Londra.”

What’s on your mind today?

“Today, I’m thinking about pain, loss, the number of tasks I need to do for my student organization, and I’m thinking of a friend who is struggling right now as well as personal boundaries. Aside from those thoughts, my day is good. My day is very good actually. I am winding down after a day of work and 2 canceled classes. I feel surrounded by friends and I am really looking forward to going to my internship tomorrow.

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

Nothing is ever just black or white. Also, eat the whole row of Oreos and have a second bowl of ice cream if you want it.