Cheryl Hughes Musick
Math, Addiction, Grief, Therapy, and Spirit - A Way Forward
Math from way back. I'm Cheryl Musick, 58, and I've struggled with math my entire life without knowing why. I couldn’t seem to memorize multiplication tables and felt completely lost when it came to fractions. I distinctly remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting at a picnic table after school with my 3rd-grade teacher and my mother, as the teacher forced me to repeat the words, "Fractions are EASY for Cheryl." I sobbed as I choked out the lie over and over again, feeling angry and defeated. The teacher was wrong! I've spent a lifetime asking others to help me calculate measurements in recipes when cooking for my large family, counting on my fingers when trying to assist my children with math homework, and feeling too inadequate to properly manage the family finances.
Accomplished, even though. I'm in the behavioral health field, and for the past 21 years, I've worked as a gifted equine therapy professional, group facilitator, and manager of Animal Assisted Therapy Programs. I took charge of a therapy practice for a Ph.D., and ran group therapy sessions and programs.
I wrote programs for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, which are still used today. Upon special invitation, I presented my EAP programs at a professional conference in Kilmarnock, Scotland in 2008. That was a highlight of my career.
I'm also a leader in the field of eating disorders and have had the privilege of presenting to professionals from around the country, both live and in webinars.
Blows and more blows. Life soon served up many changes. New management dictated that my position required a bachelor degree, so I had to find employment with another treatment center. It was a difficult time, compounded by the loss of my adult daughter, Misty, to meth and heroin addiction, and only five months later, by the loss of Lincoln, another daughter's healthy newborn during a difficult birth.
Before leaving my job of 8 years, I wrote an award-winning book, The Day the Musick Died. The cathartic experience allowed me to jot my pain and grief on paper. The book helps those suffering from addiction and griefand shares the mistakes I made with Misty.See http://www.houseofmusick.com/.
In spite of my impressive resume, I had little options without a degree. I settled on a job as a behavioral health tech, making a fraction of my former salary. With my husband disabled by an autoimmune disease, the lower income forced me to reassess. I decided to try college again and enrolled in a local university, dreading the fact that math would be required.
Nine years ago, I quit college after failing Basic Math in my senior year, in spite of having a 3.88 GPA.
I loved Psychology class, but am failing Math 144, College Mathematics, at Grand Canyon University. Two tutors try to assist me. They stand over my shoulder as I work at the computer, yet the numbers don't make sense and I feel completely defeated. Worse yet, my professor is unsympathetic; she only offers to answer questions and refers me to the ‘learning center’ for free tutoring.
This time, I am angry and outspoken. I am still tempted to quit because my difficulties are traumatic. The stress and anxiety prevent me from sleeping, and my shoulders and neck become knotted in pain. I jumble numbers; learn, quickly forget, and relearn; and complete all homework, but flunk the tests. I am failing, in spite of spending tons of time with tutors, with my math mentor, in the learning lounge, and in the class forum. Math is always a disaster, regardless of effort.
A math solution. Unbeknownst to the professor or me, I recently discovered that I have a learning disability that prevents me from progressing in math and from completing the math required for a college degree.
This time, rather than give up and drop out, I researched people who struggle with math. I stumbled upon Dyscalculia.org, and after a lengthy discussion with dyscalculia expert, Renee Newman, I am on the road to official diagnosis, treatment, and solutions. There is a scientific explanation for my functional limitations and a practical treatment plan. I will get my degree! There's a team pulling for me!
I'll be keeping you posted on my journey, so check back often!
The university allowed me to withdraw from Math 144. I am searching for a local psychologist who can assess me for learning disabilities.