Category Archives: Me

Art of Leadership

So, I am several weeks into a program offered by my school called the Art of Leadership. It is the second half of the HELP program, which is short for Helping Emerging Leaders Progress. Every time I walk out of this program, I am stunned with hope for the future. I realize that if there are fifteen people on my campus who will make a change in this world as we grow up and get into the workplace, these are them. Then I realize, I am one of them. I can make a difference. And I think I will.

I’d like to leave you with my new mantra I made up on the first day of this program:

From the beginning I’ve been shy
But I know that someday I’ll learn to fly
As days go on and events unfold
I know I’ll someday

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PPAL Conference… yet again

Today, my father Bob Larsted and I went to PPAL’s third annual conference. I had a blast with the youth track, and we managed to get our word out there to some exciting and interesting people. I have also announced that I have begun working on my second book.

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Karma… inside my head.

So, for any of you who don’t know, I live in Central Massachusetts. Not particularly near Boston, not particularly near Newtown, CT, but close enough. Also if you didn’t know, I’m in a play being put on by my school about children in war as soldiers. So, in light of the tragedies in Boston yesterday, I’d like to put you in my head, just for a minute.

I’m in class, and someone drops a book outside the door. What was that? Could it have been a gun shot? Should I hide under my desk, lock the door, protect my friends?

A flash goes off in the hallway. Is it the fire alarm? Should I prepare to vacate the premises? What of my belongings can I grab without being a hindrance to myself or others? Is it raining outside? Which stairwell is closest to where I am and the outside of the building?

Airplane overhead. Is it dropping a bomb?

Got a text. Is it a warning from the school about a bomb threat in the building I’m in?

The play doesn’t help. Guns of all shapes and sizes. Machetes. Pocket knives.

With my issues, I see patterns. Ones that aren’t there. But, my best friend lives near Newtown. Not really near, but not far. Another friend lives near Boston. How long before I hear about Michigan? Texas? Miami? And, the thing that’s freaking me out, my town. You can tell me it’s not going to happen here, that these things aren’t connected, but there will always be a part of me who won’t listen. A part of me that sees patterns that the rest of me knows is not there.

But, if more people were like me, could we possibly stop this?

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What’s with the pleasantries?

So. I’ve been having a hard day today, and have been pondering something. Why do when you see a friend you ask how they’re doing, when you really don’t care? I’ve run into countless people today, and have noticed some things:

-When they ask how you are doing and you say “good” the person in question nods and walks away.
-When you say “OK” they say “just ok?” and then go on with their lives.
-I never say anything else in response.

So, why do we feel we have to ask how people are doing? I propose we come up with better, more witty small talk and not ask rhetorical questions.

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NAMI MASS’s Annual Conference

I went to Massachusetts’ annual NAMI conference, and hopefully some people will find their way onto this website from the cards I gave out. I’d be flattered if you left a comment so I can see how many of you guys actually checked this out.

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Anyone here due to the PPAL conference?

I went to a conference today, and had a blast. I met a lot of people, some who bought my book and some who took a card that should have gotten them to this site. Anyone here from PPAL? I’d love it if you’d leave a message.

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They quoted me!

I was sitting at a table today, and spouted off a quote about DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) that everyone promptly wrote down, so I decided it should go here. Here goes:
DBT keeps you alive in the moment. CBT keeps you alive in the next.
~Patricia Larsted

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Hoping to be a guest blogger

PPAL is a program in my state, and is short for Parent/Professional Advocacy League. They have a website with a blog that occasionally has guest bloggers. I wrote this, hoping to be the next guest blogger. Hope you like it!

Identifying with Disability

I went to a therapeutic high school. I was surrounded with people identifying as having a mental illness. There were others who heard voices. There were students on the asperser’s spectrum. There were bipolar kids, depressed kids, and kids with all kinds of other mental illnesses. We didn’t really talk about them. We all knew everyone’s name. We all knew at least something about everyone. We were all sort of friends.

The most important thing about a therapeutic high school is the milieu. Once a day we have group, which is a class in which you get together with eight other students and a clinician and talk about issues in the community. We also had access to a clinician any time necessary. I was in with mine once or twice a day, and always found myself in the nurse’s office with a headache. I was okay with missing school, even several days in a row. I cared about class and getting all my work done, but I was fine with being in the nurse’s office or my clinician’s.

I knew college was going to be different. I couldn’t have fathomed, however, just how different. My first college experience was going on campus at the local community college and talking to the disability department. I hadn’t promised that I would go to this school, but they wanted me to make an accommodations list anyway, because my IEP (Individualized Education Plan) would not follow me into college. They asked me to come into a conference room to talk about the different accommodations they can grant. Okay. I can do this. “Come on, Dad!”

“We just want you. You’re eighteen and soon to be a college student. An adult.” Wait. An adult? This was my second time being an adult, not counting all the forms I had to sign telling my supports that they could legally talk to my parents once I turned eighteen. The other time was when I got sent to the adult ward of the hospital at age sixteen. I wasn’t ready to be an adult at that point. Was I now?

My IEP said that I would be in a therapeutic school, have excused absences due to hospitalizations and appointments, have contact with a clinician as needed, and have extra time to complete assignments. These aren’t things that colleges offer. Wait… what? How will I get through the day without a clinician? What if I need to be in the hospital? What if? How?

I decided not to go to that college. My next stop was at the local state university. I loved the atmosphere. I talked to disability there. They also didn’t have the milieu of my therapeutic school, but they were nice. They told me I could ask my professor to sit in the front row. I could take my tests in a different place. If it was okay with my professor, I could listen to music while taking an exam. Also, they would help me figure out which classes to take, with the right professor and the right level for me.

So, I don’t have excused absences. I’ve been in college for two years, and only missed three days due to illnesses. I haven’t had to go to the hospital. I can’t leave class for a clinician. I still can go to disability or the counseling office between classes, and that’s enough for me. I don’t have extra time on projects. I usually finish my homework and term projects far before the rest of my classmates.

Through identifying with disability I have empowered myself to live my life as a college student. If I can do it, anyone can. I suggest that students from therapeutic schools identify with the disability department on their campus, and with their help and support realize that you can excel.

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My Book Has Arrived!

After many smiles, tears, sighs, and giggles, my first book, Of Meadows and Flowers — and Crying and Hope, is now for sale.


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Author Bio

I’ve been working on my bio for my book. Here’s what I’ve got:

Patricia Larsted lives with her family, fish, and dog in central Massachusetts. Now in college, she is still writing.


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