FB

It is interesting watching FB explode with comments about the Colorado shooting. It seems people are very much in the, get in line to lynch this guy mode. He is EVIL, BAD, etc etc… All we know is that he walked into a theater and opened fire. The why is not something we know yet. Does his action make him an evil person? I guess I need more information before I cast that judgement. There are others that say he is schizophrenic. I just wrote last week about media portrayal of the illness, and the fact that most people think schizophrenics are violent. If he was in fact psychotic at the time, the public will never think about mental illness the same again. While I wish there was some answer, I find myself hoping that isn’t it. It will fit the stereotype people already have locked in their heads. It will further push the stigma of metal illness into the recesses of the public psyche. That is an awful thought. Many rant that he will “get off” on an insanity defense. I don’t see that the same way. If he is ill, and had decompensated to the point of mass murder there is no “getting off”. It is a life of torment and pain, there is no getting off from there. It’s not like he will ever see the outside of an institution in this lifetime. It is just a question of whether that is a prison, or a psych hospital for violent offenders.

Don’t get me wrong. I think what happened out there is a horror. It is incomprehensible. If this guy was in fact sane, and cognizant of walking into that theater with the express purpose of death and mayhem, then sure I think he should be tried and imprisoned for what he did. I do not agree with the death penalty, so I can’t put that on the table. Though there are many calling for his execution already. It will be a long time before we have the whole story. In this world of wanting everything instantly, the public is left looking for reasons. For now it is just speculation. I do find myself hoping he is just evil, and sane. If for no other reason, than to not drive the stigma of mental illness into stratosphere. That may be selfish, but that is how I feel.

 

more thoughts…

As I sit here talking to my partner about this senseless tragedy, we both can’t get over the fact that there is no system in place to flag multiple gun purchases. But you can’t walk into a pharmacy and buy claritin D more than once a month. Really? What is wrong with this system. So we maybe decrease the ability to people to cook meth, but a person can buy multiple guns at will. I know a lot of people who own guns, who love guns and who collect them. None I know have ever bought a gun a month or more! They are expensive, nevermind it just isn’t how people who collect buy guns. Most people I know may average 1 to 2 a year! That is a far cry from two a month. Not to get too much into a 1984 type world, but seriously, a computer system that does background checks should be able to flag multiple purchases.

I know the reality of it is he would have got the guns somehow, even if illegally. But, I do think some safeguards should be in place. Do I think assault rifles should be banned? no. For the most part a long rifle is difficult to conceal,  they are not the guns that cause so much violence on city streets. That honor belongs to the handgun. Assault rifles, the AR-15 and her sisters are a dependable, easy to use firearms. In most states they are regulated, and here where I live you cannot possess a large capacity magazine. Nor can you have a collapsible stock, or a flash suppressor. That is not the case in all states. Some are very relaxed about their gun laws, and regulations regarding ARs. Would I like to be able to shoot 40 rounds? probably would be fun in target shooting, but not necessary. All I care about is I still have the constitutional right to own one. My government is not telling me I cannot own it. If someone comes thru my door unwelcome, I don’t need a 40 round clip to make my point. Those are my thoughts regarding guns and gun ownership. I know many people who disagree, and I know a great many that are on the flip side as card toting NRA supporters. Regardless of where you stand, there is a glitch in the system when someone can buy that many guns and not have some alert go up.

 

Colorado

From the moment I woke up this morning I have been inundated by the non stop media coverage from the Colorado shooting. How does one even process this? As more information comes in, the more the media mayhem continues. I think it is fairly clear this suspect was well prepared, and had this thought out. The guns were purchased legally. Colorado actually has a couple tiers in place to keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal records. After Columbine they amped up their laws. Sadly, this didn’t help any of the victims last night.

I know many people speculate this guy is nuts. It is possible. Can someone be completely sane, and take three guns into a theater and open fire? By law, yes. If he knew the difference between right and wrong in that moment, yes he is sane. But it is far more than that. Why did this man do this? I think there needs to be a serious disconnect in order to shoot people. In order to plan so carefully and to execute that plan. We know he is extremely intelligent. That is obvious, but the question still remains, what drove him to act in such a manner? In the coming days and weeks, we will learn far more about this guy. But it is too late now. Any help, or any intervention is too late. Was he withdrawn? Was he behaving erratically? Was it evident he was planning something? I think three guns purchased in just a few months should have raised a red flag. Even those of us who love guns, we don’t normally buy them one after the other. On average these firearms are costly, from $500 on up to $1800. That is quite an expenditure for a student. Add to that full tactical gear and tear gas. But there are no systems in place to flag these types of purchases. It is so very sad.

I think the culture of violence has to play into this. Back when I was a bullied kid, I never once thought of picking up a gun and killing anyone. Why then has everything changed? Why do we have shootings with frequency? Everything from Columbine, to the Toronto mall shooting? or Virginia Tech? Has this been going on, and we just didn’t know about it before the internet era. Now it is instant. We hear about all of this, all the time. Does that add to this? Is that the seed that gets planted in the brains of these shooters? Is it where it starts, and then festers? Does it form the basis of the delusions and the plans of violence? If the reports are accurate, the shooter calls himself “the joker” and has his hair dyed red, it may be this man identified with that character. He may be lost in the midst of a psychotic episode, and truly feels he is in a movie. Was he suffering and people did not help him? Was the school aware, and just let him withdraw and disappear? The Virgina Tech shooter is a good example of a school failing a very disturbed (hate that term, but can’t think of a better one)  individual. I know hindsight is 20-20, but that kid had a serious illness and it was not addressed. Will that be the case with this shooter?

I think this type of violence will continue. It is a part of our society. I do hope it doesn’t get worse, but my gut tells me this will become all too common. Our time is precious, as is made all too clear by this incident. My prayers go out to all those affected by this senseless violence.

Finding solid

As the anxiety ratchets up a notch, I try to find some solid ground. Anxiety is such a tough adversary. I find myself grappling with it. so I think it is best to write everything out.

I knew the moment I laid eyes on the mare she was sick. But she was already here. Despite having done 5 weeks of quarantine at an offsite facility. We quarantine offsite because it actually saves us time, effort and expense. Horses coming from auction are almost all exposed to various diseases. The most common among them is a bacteria called Strep. Equi, also know by its common name strangles. It is called strangles because it almost always affects the lymph nodes of the neck and throat area. Kind of like a really nasty version of strep throat. Unlike people, who just get the sore throat, the horse’s nymph nodes swell, abscess and eventually open to drain. What makes the disease so problematic is that it is extremely contagious. For me to work with the mare, I need to be gowned, gloved and booted. Within the quarantine stall, from there it is a change of clothes, hand sanitizing and a shower before coming in contact with any other horses. On average, I need to see this mare 3 x a day, to take her temp and monitor her condition. That is a serious amount of time, not to mention stress. The QT protocol isn’t difficult. But it is rigorous. All my mind can think of is the one freakin breach it takes to break quarantine. One bird going from the QT barn to the main barn. One person not reading a sign, and going from one barn to the other. All these things go over and over in my mind. The ritual of dressing and undressing. The obsessive cleaning, and scrubbing, and keeping everything straight. Even down to using a separate entrance in the house, and undressing there. The over and over and over. My nerves are fried and we just started. On average the horse spikes a temp within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure to the bacteria. Each horse presents a little different. The older horses that may have some immunity have a milder course of illness. Youngsters tend to get really sick and present with all the classic symptoms including lymph node abscesses. With this horse she has no temp, no swollen nodes. My head worries, is she at the front end of this thing? is she at the tail end? Can I trust what the QT provider is telling us? What do we make of the neurologic symptoms? Strep Equi can find anywhere in the body to create an abscess, including their brain. When it moves from the traditional neck, throat nodes and ends up elsewhere it is known as bastard strangles. So of course I worry for her, and what is going to happen. So, now I have daily qt maintenance , worry about the mare herself and then the ticking time bomb. It is the ever-present worry will another horse get sick. We have 30 horses on site, of those 15 might be considered at higher risk due to proximity of one barn to the other. They have had no exposure to the mare directly, though I still can’t stop worrying about possible ways. I take full responsibility for making the choice to bring the mare here. It was an error. One I can’t go back and undo now. I can only grapple with my anxiety.

Each day I wake up dreading what I’ll find when I go out to the barn. Will she be worse? will she be dead? will she be fine? Will someone else on the property get sick? If it gets running, strep can run thru a herd normally causing 80% or more of the horses to get sick. It is a disease that pushes a facility to its breaking point financially and physically. It all sits on my shoulders. I have to maintain extreme measures to keep this property and its residents safe. We are already at our breaking point financially. This mare can become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

In order to move forward we need to figure out what is going on with the mare and get her better. In order to do that we need to spend money we don’t really have. Just the basic nasal swab to run PCR and culture is about $200, not including the vet call. That test needs to be repeated at intervals to see where she is at. Once she tests clean, we need to repeat 3 of these one week apart to finally release her from QT. In order to get her clean, we need to scope her and flush the gutteral pouches with antibiotics. It is an intensive process, and it takes weeks. Until this is done, the property is in essence on lock down. No animals can come or go. That means, no adoptions can leave, no horses can come in.

We have clients here that will need to be made aware. I am waiting for the culture to come back before approaching that task. There is nothing worse than Strangles in the industry. The stigma attached is extreme. Many barn owners will try to keep an outbreak secret, and it ends up a disaster. I am an ethical person, and would never consider that approach. If we get a positive culture, I have to explain what is going on. Often times people have an absolute fit, and demand to move the horses. This isn’t possible because the facility is in lock down. It makes for a very unpleasant experience for all parties. Many get angry because of the vet expense, and the possibility their horse might get sick. Rarely are their clients who are ok with it. We really need the income from these clients and the idea of pissing them off is rattling my brain.

So at the end of the day, it isn’t so far-fetched my anxiety is off the charts. So much is riding on the next few weeks. What may happen…..it could all come down to this, and it could be a disaster. How do I keep my mind from going down that path, thinking about the worst possible probabilities. I hate being in this position. I have to try and keep my shit together, and get thru this.
Too much is at stake.

Stress

 

It been one of those days. A day when stress comes calling and it tries even the best of coping mechanisms. Sometimes I wonder how I deal with it. As the days get better and my mood starts to improve and level out, a day like this comes along. I instinctively want to duck and run for cover. I question my ability and immediately become overwhelmed. I don’t mean overwhelmed by thoughts, I mean overwhelmed with an anxiety that literally takes my breath away. I really thought I had my shit together again. So I battle my anxiety, and try to convince myself it will be okay. Most times I am not successful. Tonight I find myself lingering on the edge of the anxiety. Keeping it at bay, but barely. It is an awful feeling. Knowing it takes just a blink of an eye for it to wash over me again. I stop and try to convince myself that I have been this road before. I have the skills to get the job done, and can handle it. Why do I doubt myself so much? Even in the face of such evidence that I can indeed handle it. Somehow it all just pales in the face of the anxiety.

So I sit here, working hard to stay present and not let my emotions get the best of me. It is taking everything I have. But, I just need to be still and tomorrow is another day. I can get past this day. I need to keep in mind just how strong I can be.

Writing

 

I’ve found the past few months of writing to be quite helpful. I like the daily task of putting thoughts into words. It has really shifted how I explore what is going on in my head. I loved the above quote, since I often think about what I want and don’t want to write about. Some things just feel so close to home, and far too easy to cast people in a negative light. But at the end of the day, it was their actions. It was their behaviors. If I chose to share my life, for all its twists and turns, both good and bad, it is my prerogative. I don’t have to write everything “warmly”. It wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. I am finding a way to make peace with that. Writing may be the tool I need. I think I am at a place in my life that it is okay to explore it, write it, and own it.

I think eventually I will find a way to write about it all, and that it will really help me come to terms with everything. I choose to do it here, in an anonymous blog, for now. I don’t wish to harm. Enough harm was done. Here is not the place, and now is not the time for that.

 

Weight

I actually do remember us briefly touching on this in the last session. I guess it is probably a good time to just write it all out. For as long as I can remember my family has always had this unspoken thing about fat. They each stayed active, and in good shape. It was somewhat seared in my head that fat = lazy. I learned that right quick. There was an environment of judgement and harsh criticism of people who were over weight. By the time I got to high school I was very unhappy with my body. Though nobody would consider me fat, I was convinced I was. I hindsight, yes, I was heavier at that point in time. My mother cooked endlessly. The more miserable we were, the more she fed us. It was a vicious cycle. Thankfully I was active and played sports and ran. Had I not, it would have been a big problem.

College was good for lots of alcohol, and carbs. Living that life, made the whole body image troubles worse. But, it was easy to fall into the drinking every night, and eating cold pizza in the am, while nursing a hangover. I hated my body. It was in that period that my cousin pretty much stopped eating. When she came to visit me, I was so alarmed I called my aunt. It was as if nobody even noticed what was going on in their own home. She was really thin. Scary thin. But the crazy thing was, she didn’t see it. There was this disconnect. What she saw v. what the world saw. Two entirely different views. One completely skewed. Now, years later, I know what that disconnect is like. During the period of that old journal I keep writing about, I was really thin. I think it was a combination of meds, depression, and stress. But I could not even look at food, let alone eat it. I was miserable about a lot of things, but my weight wasn’t one of them. I would happily go jump on the scale every morning. The closer I got to 100lbs the happier I was. I really wasn’t hungry. My body was feeding off itself. Everyone around me seemed alarmed, and I couldn’t grasp why. I was finally almost in the body of my dreams. I’d yank off my shirt and look at myself in the mirror. I was pleased. Never seemed to note all my ribs were hanging out, or my hip bones protruded. It was all good. My mother came up to visit. She took me aside and mumbled something about whether I was sick. As in physically sick. They thought I had cancer, or something equally as awful. Nope, I wasn’t physically sick. Well, beyond starving. I guess you could consider that a physical illness. Virgil was all over me about it. In one of our sessions she asked if I was anorexic. From there I got weighed at session, and had to start feeding myself Insure by the gallon. As the meds shifted, and the hospital visits, my weight slowly shifted back to my normal. But I don’t ever forget that body, and how much I loved it. When I look at myself now, I usually call myself fat. I get angry that I can’t get back to where I was. When my weight climbed on the Saphris/Trileptal combo I was pissed. I changed my diet, and I weighed myself religiously. On my bathroom mirror I marked my weight in red. It was there staring me in the face, ever morning and evening. When considering what to eat, I saw those red numbers in my mind’s eye. Over time, and with a bout of lyme, my weight again came back into the normal. I’m back, a bit below normal. Happy about it. Fighting myself and my impulses to be less.

I have to somehow alter how my brain thinks about weight, and what is normal for me. Where I am now is okay, yeah my head doesn’t agree. The constant media coverage of bikini bodies just further drives home that insecurity. At the end of the day, the reality is, most of us are not meant to be running around half-dressed. God didn’t make us 5’10 and exceptional. It is just a fact. It is also a fact, that most of those stars and models we see, have to engaged in a very strict diet and exercise regimen to look like that. Some go to very unhealthy extremes to look like that. It isn’t NORMAL. They are the exception. The 1% that have the looks and the body to be able to look like that.

So, how then do I leave behind the judgements? How do I somehow erase the upbringing and how it created this all out fear of being fat? I don’t like to feel this was. I don’t like to be repulsed by fat, to the point where I won’t be able to eat, if I see it. I think that is somehow cruel. I don’t like to judge people. Yet, there is my brain doing just that. Living here in the US, you don’t have to go far. Obesity is all around us. I find myself watching Biggest Loser and thinking, if I ever get fat just shoot me. I think I have been blessed with some good genes, and a lifestyle that keeps me active, but it is an ever constant fear. I am always vigilant. A pound on the scale is enough to create much anxiety.

I don’t know how I got such a screwed up sense of self, and such a distorted sense of self-image. I remember my aunt talking about her work with an anorexic patient. One who eventually did starve herself to death. My aunt would open her door just a foot and a half, and would ask her client if she though she could fit through the doorway. The answer was no. She had the client get up and walk thru the door. She proceeded to make the gap smaller, and repeated the process. Trying desperately to get the woman to see just how tiny she had become. But the woman didn’t “see” it. Obviously that is a very extreme case I am using, but it is that complete disconnect that is so scary. In your minds eye you see something so very different. In that illusive pursuit of thin, all else gets lost….

Recall

One of the things that really stood out when reading the old journal was how different my brain was working. I was actually recalling sessions after the fact. These days, unless I write a specific note, as I am walking out the door, I won’t remember much of anything. I can remember the main gist of what we talked about, or if something was upsetting. But beyond that, nada. No exact details. In the journal it is such a precise entry for each session. What she said, what I said etc. How have things changed so much? I feel like an idiot. And I know I’m not an idiot. I think I’ll have to keep a note book and write myself more detailed notes on each session, so I can think about them and process them. It seems so ridiculous to spend 45 minutes and have it be a complete haze when I get done. I know getting upset about it, won’t help anything. I’m just noting the huge difference I see. I wonder is any of that change is visible to anyone else? Do I come across as a little dense? Where as before I was pretty sharp. I don’t know. Or am I the only one that notices this stuff, because it is in my head. It is so frustrating. I don’t want to be dense. It took me a long time to convince myself I wasn’t stupid. This stuff sometimes has me questioning myself again.

 

 

Exhausted

Still dealing with this lingering exhaustion. Hoping it is just some bug, and not the depression fighting back. The provigil has been great, and I am thrilled with the change in energy level, and decrease in the depression symptoms. It is one of the hardest things to deal with when having mental illness, what is physical v. mental? Is that pain I am feeling part of the depression? Is it something else entirely? Seems like most psychiatrists blame it on a physical problem, and most GP’s blame the mental illness. It is enough to make a person truly nuts. I just throw my hands up and say fuck it. Unless I am really sick, I’m not going to the doctor. Yeah, I know, I’m stubborn. I don’t think many doctors look beyond the list of psych meds on the chart. Not saying all, I have a couple good doctors that are excellent, and have always treated me well. I have seen others that want to get the heck out of the room when you give them a medication list.

It is still hard though, even I second guess myself. There are times I just chalk anything up to my head. Doesn’t matter what the symptoms are, I just get myself convinced it must be because I am depressed. That isn’t always the case. Depression does seem to come along with its own host of issues, some of which manifest themselves in physical ways. I don’t think it is a good idea to fall into the trap of just saying it is my head. Since we all deal with various physical issues at one time or another. From the usual cold/ flu to sports injuries. It isn’t always just in my head. I have to keep telling myself that. To trust what my body is telling me, and have some faith in that. I work so hard to keep my head healthy, it is equally as important to keep my body healthy. I think my working out daily helps both my body and my mind. I have settled into the routine now, and am at the gym 6 days a week. It definitely helps my mood and gives me a sense of accomplishment, especially when I am dragging and don’t want to do anything. I always leave the gym pleased with myself. I think exercise is critical to overall health. I still struggle with diet, though I have worked to carefully shift my diet into more protein, less carbs. Fresh fruits, and a daily protein shake. I don’t think I have been this health conscious in a long time. Feels good to work toward something as important as my health and well being. Both emotional and physical.

Domesticated

 

Somehow the domestic genes in my family didn’t make it down to me. When it comes to my barn and the horses, you could eat of the floor, literally. My house, nope, the CDC might find fun things to swab for in some of the corners. I wonder why I didn’t get my mother’s vacuum twice a day cleaning ethic, or my grandma’s dust free habit. Nope, I am nothing like either. Never got that habit. I’m not sure why not.

I normally let it go to a point and then can’t stand it anymore. I then clean everything and the house looks terrific. I think to myself, this is awesome. I need to keep the house like this. But it never stays. Much more of the fuck it type of approach. Maybe with age I’ll change. Doubt I’ll ever be like my mom, who we jokingly refer to as Martha Stewart. You know you are supposed to vacuum backwards out a room, so as not to leave foot prints, right? yeah, thought so.