Oils, Spoils…Are They Really Essential?

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My old friend and college roomate taught me a lot about essential oils a few years back.  I have gone through periods of diffusing them and using them daily, as well as periods of not using them much at all.  They are expensive, and I like to reserve my supply, and only use them when I really need them.  I have found these oils to be useful for many mental, emotional and physical ailments.

What a “Commune” in Alaska Looks Like.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to a well known commune in Alaska, 90 minutes from our house.    It felt like heaven to me from the minute I stepped onto its grounds.

A thirty year old man toured us around and and shared how they got started in the eighties with the orignial families.  A little about why they wanted to live this way, and where many of the “launched” second generation children are now (traveling the world, at prestigious universities…or somewhere a bit warmer than Alaska.

Cutting the Apron Strings, Flying the Coop, or Going Nuclear

He talked about his own “launch” expereince, although he didn’t call it that, they don’t use such labels.

They do however, help any young adult to launch if they want to, giving them airfare for a plane ticket anywhere in the world and one thousand dollars if they do in fact want to leave.

I adored the land, the wild parts, the parts cleared for gardens, the hand built smaller log cabins and teepees used in the summer (they still have the original teepees they lived in in the 80’s…through spring, summer, fall and through the first deep dark winter before the cabin building started.)

They have a gigantic log house that they built later, as they realized the families enjoyed being together in the winter, rather than in the isolated cabins.  It was also a much more effecient use of energy in the Alaskan Winters.

Medicaid

This successful “village” continues to thrive and grow.  It has been turned into a legal business.  Part of this business’s budget comes from medicaid government dollars.  They provide mental health services to people with mental health symptoms.

With the government money they are now receiving (among other revenue streams) they are almost done building the most gorgeous “barn” I’ve ever seen.

In door basket ball court? Check!  Gorgeous yoga studio/dojo? Absolutely.  A small, meditative room at the top with a breathtaking view? If you clime the beautifully designed spiral staircase to the top, it’s there.

As we were walking through the building an overwhelmingly strong, but beautiful scent suddenly overwhelmed my senses.  It smelled earthy, but with a strong citris-y smell I didn’t recognize.

“What is that smell?” I asked?  Essessential oil?  It’s amazing?

Barn Dance

I had recently accidently spilled a half bottle of essential oil on myself, and the scent was obviously overwhelming.  I really assumed they had recently spilled a bottle, it smelled so similar to me.  I felt a little silly when he pointed to the fresh cut wood on the right of me and told me it was a local tree, freshly cut.

I joked,

“Us people from LA don’t know what fresh cut wood is.”

The barn is for the families that live on the grounds to use, as well as for the surrounding community at large.

Since they started out, these families knew they wouldn’t survive in isolation,  They had to rely on the people around them.  It was always a risk, because they had been chased out of several other states they had tried to inhabit before finally being able to truly set down roots in their Alaskan home, called Ionia.

Part of the Ionia business is being a for profit mental health agency.

As such, they don’t set any sort of mandatory structure for those who live there except for meal prep and meal time.  They have what we in the mental health world call “treatment groups”, “social activities”, “nutrition” and “exercise classes”, but they don’t use these type words to language it.  They do not require any one of any age to come to come to any of the “groups.”  They let each person follow their own spirit to where it feels most inspired.  Some end up doing much more work than others, but the work gets done and done quite well.

They do have a psychiatrist they fly in regularly from the closest larger town, as well as other mental health and medical professionals.  They pay out of their small budget.  They, of course, also follow all state and federal regulations, as required.

There are now close to 50 original family members (if you include all children and grandchildren). And a few handfuls of non-family that come for small amounts of time to longer stays.  “Groups” are provided for those who live there, as well as the community at large, all summer long, as part of their government contract.

With an obvious slowing down of the community visitors when the cold kicks in.

I joked with my husband that if I ended up missing, he’d know where to find me.

All Kinds of Effective Treatment

As both a sufferer of mental health issues, and a provider to those with them,  I am always interested in the healthiest of ways to receive and provide treatment.

As the executive director of a mental health agency trying to use scarce but desperatley needed tax dollars as efficiently as possible, my husband is amazed at how far Ionia stretches a dollar, how up to date, efficient and beautiful all their systems are and the very original and unique living arrangements of the “staff” and the “clients”.

Treatment outcomes were of a curiosity to both of us, as the government only provides money to programs that are carefully tracked by them, and proven effective by reliable research standards.

And there are research scientists who have been studying the effectiveness of Ionia, on every level.

Just another Manic Monday

That night (as well as several nights previous) I couldn’t sleep.  I’m in the slights of hypomania right now.  I know when it’s happening becausee I feel the tiniest of buzzing in my brain, most similiar to a little too much caffeine…but not exactly.  I didn’t want to take medication to force sleep. (I have been trying to heal several physical health problems I am struggling with which you can read about here).

But two nights in a row without a good night’s sleep is the moderately held limit I have placed on myself to be most effective in my life.  The two nights before, I tried to fight the symptoms with my laptop…hoping it’ll make me tired  But when my brain is buzzing, that’s not always the best idea.  The night of the visit to Ionia, I knew I needed to sleep, but still couldn’t.

Then “LAVENDAR!!!!” screamed inside my head.

I have a small wood trunk I keep in the main room of the house.  It houses all my essential oils  I stumbled from the bedroom to the the trunk.  As I stuck my head  down close to the box to find the oil I wanted, the combination of smells coming from it was spectacular.  I leaned in closer to breath in the scents, as my eyes adjusted to the light.  When my eyes came in to focus, I realized my nose and eyes were directly focused on and two inches below my nose.

For a second I felt like a trained,hunting dog.  My nose, mind, and body found exactly what it needed without using the more human parts of my body it normally does, my hands and human eyes.

That was some Merlin magic I was not aware I had.  I don’t organize the bottles, and had just quickly thrown 8 or 9 of them (not including lavendar)hapharzardly in the box the day before. I don’t really use lavendar at all when when my brains not buzzing.  I have historically been a much more depressed bipolar person and use more stimulating oils far more often.

After pouring a few drops into my hands, rubbing them together, and inhaling deeply for a moment, I went and laid back down.  I was asleep in minutes.

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Like Merlin,

may we put the spoils of our journey to good use.

 

 

 

 

I Am A Sentinel Species

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A canary in a coal mine is the quintessential sentinel species. Canaries were used up until the 1980’s to detect toxic gases in the mines before they effected the humans working there.

The miners had mixed feelings about ceasing the tradition of using their sweet little “pets” and changing to electronic detectors.

Canaries had become a part of mining culture.

Scientists have designated several animals as sentinels to warn us of threats to human health.

To find sentinels they look to more susceptible species, those most sensitive to certain environmental contaminants and poisons.

These animals show early effects of being exposed to harms before illness shows up in the health of humans.

Bottlenose dolphins serve us as a sentinel species.

Researchers at UC San Diego have been studying the blubber of the bottlenose dolphins in Southern California, an area well known for its waste water being contaminated with many toxins. DDT, a once commonly used pesticide that has been banned for its cancer causing, is found in these waters.

Over 300 chemicals, including DDT, have been found in these dophins’ blubber. Scientists are particularly interested in how these chemicals have accumulated in their bodies over time transerring from the fish they ingest…the same fish we humans also eat.

Minks are used to detect hormone distruptors, cats are used to detect mercury poisoning, and otters are used to detect a deadly toxin called microcystin.

Sentinel species, by definition, stand as soldiers…on guard to keep watch and warn about health threats that endanger the human race.

I started learning about sentinel species after reading Dr. Steven Gundry’s book, The Plant Paradox.  He is a Yale trained neurosurgeon who now specializes in healing autoimmune disorders and other tricky health problems through his “Plant Paradox” eating protocol.

Having struggled with chronic autoimmune disorders for years, (you can read about some of my journey with that here) I found myself pondering him calling those of us with these issues

“canaries in a coal mine.”

We are a susceptible group, the most sensitive to certain contaminants and toxins in our environment.

The essential message of his book is that lectins naturally found in our produce, as well as toxic ingredients included in packaged foods and conventionally grown meats and produce are making us chronically ill.

The “canaries in the coal mine” are showing the effects first, but everyone is at risk.

Lectins are part of a plant’s defense mechanism. Plants have lectins in them so that they won’t be eaten by animals or insects.  Essentially, lectins are poison.

Up until the last 50 or so years, these “poisonous” foods were harvested and prepared in traditional ways that neutralized their toxic nature. Fruits and vegetables were picked and eaten in season and only from locally grown plants.

Breads were naturally leavened. Grains and many vegetables were fermented before being eaten.

 Up until the 1950’s ninety percent of meals were eaten at home, the foods prepared with only the most basic, essential ingredients.

Now fruit (even organic) is picked while unripe and sprayed with ethylene gas to instantly induce the fruits’ green skin to turn a ripe, warm color.  While ethylene itself may not be toxic,

the super, speedy “ripened” fruit still is.

Lectins decrease as fruit ripens naturally while still growing on the branch. But they are no longer given that chance.

Over tens of thousands of years, humans have developed lectin fighting defense mechanisms…strong acids and microbes in our mouth, our stomach and intestines.

But these acids have rapidly been weakening due to depleted soil, resulting in vitamin and mineral poor produce. The healthy microbes and helpful bacteria in our gut are being killed off by medications, chemicals and food additives.

While our defense mechanisms’ effectiveness has been diminishing, the assaults on our inner bodily systems have been increasing.

The list of sentinel species is growing. The symptoms we display are increasing.

Like the poisoned otter dying on the shore from liver failure, the state of my weakened and damaged body is not my fault.

But as a sentinel, it is my responsibility to use my body as a warning.

Like a dolphin I have many toxic chemicals that have accumulated in my body…from the BPA lined bottle that fed me lecithin filled formula as an infant, to all the toxic ingredients in every packaged food I have ever eaten.

My body is not functioning properly as a result.

I am a sentinel species.

But I am not a canary in a cage.

Unlike other animals on this earth, I have a conscience.

I have the awareness to question “What is happening to me?”

I have fingers to research the cause.

I have a voice to loudly respond,

“No!  I refuse to live this way anymore!”

Unlike a dolphin,

I have a choice in what foods I eat.

I choose to live a different way.

I am a sentinel.

Please heed my warning!

Please retreat from this path that is leading us to destruction.

Together, let’s  gather at the round table

and find a road that leads us, our children, and our descendants

to a healthy place.

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Let us all gather at the round table

to strategize finding a new path

that will lead us

all

to a healthy, joyous life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Homer

20170320_120952-1-1-1My husband got a job in Homer AK, and left with my younger daughter in January. My older daughter and I stayed in Los Angeles to pack up, rent the house, and tie up all the loose ends before moving.

I felt ready for the change.  Excited for the move. I had been commuting over an hour each way to work for the last couple years. And my life at work had recently gone through some unwanted changes.

These changes made the commute and the long work day unbearable. I was burnt out. I was exhausted.

Alaska sounded amazing. Homer is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. And small town life seemed appealing, somehow. Simple. Refreshing.

I didn’t think twice when my husband and daughter left. I wanted to follow as soon as possible.

My older daughter and I flew up a couple of days ago during her spring break for a much needed reunion with our family. It was a long, two day trek to get there. With dogs and lots of luggage, after three different flights and a long layover, we finally made it.

And I let out a sigh of relief.

But that sigh of relief lasted exactly one second.

My husband picked us up at the airport. We were excited to see each other. It had been a while since we had all been together. We gathered our things and packed ourselves into the car for the ride to our new home.

Mu husband was excited to give us the tour of the town. He pointed out the bank and the government building…the high school and the restaurants…the bookstore and library.

In a matter of minutes the tour was over.   We covered a couple of miles…and then we were done. That was it. There was no more.

This was a very…small…town.

As the reality of that set in I had a minor panic attack. My heart muscle constricted. I felt short of breath. I felt unable to breath, but forced myself to take a long, slow inhale.

“This is a really small town, “ I said. My husband heard the uncertainty in my voice and nodded.

“Yes. It is.” He replied.

Thoughts of LA ran through my mind. Wine tasting in Santa Barbara, to beach days in Laguna. Dive bars in Silver Lake to concerts at the Staples Center.

You could drive 30 minutes in any direction from where I lived and be in a completely different world.

I grew up in LA. Over the years I felt like I had learned to take advantage of every aspect of it. I loved going to the Korean Spa in Korea town as much as I loved having a drink in the rotating view bar at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown.

I loved the fashion district where you could get amazing, wholesale fabrics by the yard, and I loved the west side, where you could see fantastic museum exhibits and eat at top notch restaurants.

There was always somewhere to go. There was always something to do.   What was I going to do I a town of 5000 people? A town that took just 5 minutes to drive through?

My younger daughter was headed back to school the next day after her spring break. And my husband was headed back to work. My older daughter and I planned out what we would do the next morning. Breakfast at the local bakery. A walk on the beach, the bookstore, the local art gallery. But the next morning after the bakery, she ended up going to school with her sister.

I was left alone.

“What should I do?” I thought. “I have the whole day to myself.” I decided to head to the bookstore.

Bookstores in LA had been closing left and right., so I was excited that Homer had one. I walked in, and took a look around, and as I did, I started sobbing. I tried to hold it in. Which made it even worse.

In LA, you could break down crying and no one would remember it. There are millions of people in LA. But I couldn’t be caught crying in Homer. I ran to the car as fast as I could.

I sat in the car with tears running down my face. “This is ridiculous!” I thought. “What is wrong with you? Knock it off!”.

But my emotions overwhelmed me. What had I gotten myself into. I was leaving, my home, my friends, my job.

For what? I knew no one here. There were no job prospects. My husband was the director for all the mental health programs for miles around. And they were quite clear with him that I wasn’t allowed to work there.

How was I going to spend my time from day to day in this new place. In this teeny, tiny town?

I sat in my car crying for a while. And then decided to drive up to one of the Russian Churches in the area. I had read about several Russian villages located near Homer. These Russian groups are called “Old Believers”. They had left their native Russia for a new home many years ago. They sought religious freedom in a foreign land.

I wanted to see the traditional Russian onion dome on top of the church. The fact that they had built something so traditional, so familiar to them in their new home brought me comfort.   I wanted to go see their attempt to bring home to Homer.

I wiped away my tears and headed the few miles out of downtown Homer to where the church was located. I turned on my GPS and just drove.   I was reaching for some spiritual comfort and drove off without a second thought.

Homer is down on the shore of the Kachemak Bay. The Russian church was on the top of the bluff above, off of a small one way road.

I was driving a 10-year-old Toyota Prius in 20 degree weather, with several feet of snow on each side of the road.

Before I knew it, I was stuck on some ice. I tried to drive up the hill…and rolled back down. I tried to drive up again, went a foot or two, and rolled back down. This time backing into a bank of snow piled up on the side of the road. I floored the gas again, but my wheels just spun.

“Great! There’s one interesting place in Homer to go…and I can’t even get there. And I can’t get home now either.

I’m fucking stuck! I’m fucking stuck in this damn place!”

I texted my husband at work. “You’re going to kill me. But I’m stuck at the Russian Church…wheels spinning going no where.”

He immediately called, and while we talked for a few minutes, I swore I heard laughing in the background. And not just laughing. Cackling. Deep, mocking, loud laughter.

I had left Jay without a car, making it difficult for him to come rescue me. At the end of our conversation, I told him I ‘d try to get to the snow chains on the tires myself.

Feeling sad and angry, overwhelmed and deflated…and completely incapable of dealing with snow chains…I headed to the back of the car to find them. And as I did, I heard the laughing again.

I looked up and saw a man on the balcony of house 100 yards away. He had a huge beard and was leaning over his balcony…laughing at me. He was laughing at me spinning my wheels, stuck in the snow, unable to move forward to where I wanted to go. Unable to reverse back to where I had come from.

I was stuck in a snow bank, on a hill in Alaska, in a Prius with California plates. Of course he was laughing at me.

I slipped on the ice as I tried to walk around to the trunk.  My fingers were freezing as I grabbed the chains and tried to figure out how they worked.

But in a matter of minutes I found my traction. I found the way to overcome my obstacle. I pulled out of the snow bank and I drove home.

As I drove away, I looked at the laughing man in my rear view mirror and I smiled.

My fingers were frozen, and I was covered in mud, but I continued to smile as I drove down the hill.

I took in the view of Kachemak Bay. Glaciers to the left. Volcanos to the right. Home straight ahead. Homer may be a small town, but there are adventures to be had. And I got this.

I am ready.

Hello Homer.

My new home sweet home.933991_10201703131647582_1720615566_n

Cheers!  To being home.

I bet on “Acceptance”…and I won!

It’s been a shitty week, in the middle of of shitty month, that’s come along in this incredibly shitty year.  Sometimes you just think you’re so done with being a human toilet, that you let out a giant refusal from the bottom of your being.

And in response to your refusal, the universe releases another huge, stinky mess on your soul.

My husband lost his job a year ago.  He lost it a year after losing his other job.  He lost it right after we started to feel good.  Right after we finished setting up all our retirement accounts, and our daughter’s college funds.

It felt like he lost it, just when I started to feel financially secure for the first time in my life.  Just about the time I thought we might actually be able to retire one day…just about the time I felt some joy in the fact that we may actually be able to help out our kids with college.

Just when I let out a sigh of relief over finances for the first time in my life, the rug got pulled out from under us.

Then my husband applied for a job, and got a rejection.  And he applied for another job, and got another rejection…until a year of rejections went by.

Savings went down (’til there was none), bills went up, and things in our home that needed attention went unattended to.

Then I broke my leg, and was out of work for six weeks…on a reduced income.

Then with the relief that I had healed well, I went back to work…only to find that I wasn’t quite ready to go back to work.

My foot was in worse shape than I had expected, swollen and still painful.  After being at home in bed or on the couch for six weeks, my system wasn’t ready to return to a stressful ten hour day (eight plus the one hour commute each way.)

I knew I wasn’t doing well. I mentioned it to my boss.  I tried to get a hold of my doctor (never an easy task with my HMO).  Two weeks after returning to work, I got a letter from my doctor stating I needed a reduced schedule for a few weeks.  Five hours a day.

It was a Friday, and I was ending my last full day.  I knew I could handle skipping the morning and afternoon commute and work 10 to 3.  I was glad to be done with my last full day for a while.

I was exhausted, and anxious to get home, and in my hurry I backed into another car on my way out of the parking lot.  I almost let out a little laugh, because I thought the universe was done with it’s diarrhea for a while.  But then this little drip dropped on top of me.

I got out of my car, found the owner, apologized, exchanged information.  The usual stuff you do in that kind of situation.  Except that apparently someone didn’t think it was usual.

The next week I was sitting with the big boss and HR and being asked if I was ok.  I responded that I hadn’t been doing great, but that I was hopeful about the more limited schedule making a difference.  I was then told my behavior was “erratic.”  I asked if they could explain the behavior so I could understand and address it.

“Well someone saw you pulling out of the parking lot in a hurry.  It was just…erratic.”

That’s all I got, which wasn’t much to go on.

Other difficult things were going on that week at work, and my judgement was called into question.  Not by my boss, who I adore and respect.  And who knows me and would tell me if my judgement was off.  But by others who don’t know me, but know my “label” because I’ve been out with it at work.

It’s been a devastating week.  Because my work place, which used to feel safe and purposeful, doesn’t feel the same way that it used to anymore.

My mom and I had plans today to go to the Santa Anita Race track for a fancy event.  I wanted to go to distract myself, but didn’t feel like being fancy.  I had a fancy dress…a fancy hat.  But I didn’t put them on.

I wanted to put on tattoos.  Not like the pretty artistic ones that young people wear today.  But like faded, old anchors and an ugly mermaid.  I wanted to put on thick, wrinkled, leathery skin…a raspy worn voice.

I wanted to walk with a cane and look haggered and old.  Because I was.

So haggard.

So ancient.

So tired.

So done.

I cried in the car on the way to the race track.

I don’t want to work anymore.

I want to go on disability for my illness.  I want to stay home and wear muumuus and make jewelry.  I want to swim with the slow, old group at the gym in the mornings.

I want something different than what I have right now.

My mom listened, and cried with me.  Nurtured and loved me.  I may want something different right now, but I got what I needed.

And when I got to the race track, I did what I always do when I’m having a bad day.  I seek out other people’s stories.

I talked to the jockey walking the room.  She wasn’t racing because she had broken her collar bone riding.  She had to have surgery.  She was on “event” duty, just waiting to be able to ride again.

I talked to the elevator operator who had worked there for thirty one years.  She said she’d seen it all in that time.  “Tons of celebrities”, she said as she winked, “…but I’ll never tell.”

She told me to try to see if I could get into The Director’s Room.  It was one of the last things left over from the original track.  And it was worth seeing.

It took me a while, but I finally found The Director’s room, and wandered around a bit.  Then I stumbled into a smaller room where two men were sitting.

“Is this the break room?”  I asked.

“Sure…come take a break with us.”

And I sat with them and heard their stories.

Both of their dads worked there after World War II.  They told me they hung around there a lot when they were kids, and that they both have worked there their whole adult lives…and were both about to retire.

“Come here…let me show you this,”  one of them said.  He pulled down a wood panel from the wall and showed me the old elevator shaft of the private elevator of the original owner.

“You could only fit one person in it.  This was his office.  It came from downstairs straight up to here.”

“You should see the Eddie Logan Suite,” the other man said.  There’s about a $25,000 minimum bet to get in.  Celebrities hang out there all the time.  Dr. Strub, the orignial owner, hired Eddie Logan as the shoe shine guy.  He had a huge, fancy shoeshine station, and Dr. Strub would get his shoes shined every day before he rode the elevator up to his office.”

“Yeah…Eddie out lived three wives.  He worked here through his eighties and died in his nineties.”

“Everybody wants to get into the Eddie Logan room.  But nobody knows who Eddie Logan is.  They should really put a picture or something up about him on the wall.”

Then they reminded me that the race track had been an internment camp for Japanese Americans.  The people who were gathered up and held there slept in the horse stalls.

After our break was up, I thanked them and walked back to the fancy event in The Chandelier Room.  I looked at my program.  Horse number six was named “Acceptance.”

I made a bet.

And I won.

I won on Acceptance.

I ran into one of my break room friends one more time, and he pointed out the balcony of the Eddie Logan room.  I walked over to get a closer look.  I took my phone and snapped a picture.

I’m not in the exclusive Eddie Logan Suite making $25,000 bets.  And I’m not in an internment camp.

I simply am.

And I accept that.  Acceptance is always a good bet.

It was an amazing day.  Sometimes the universe does have a movement on your mind.  But only because you need to be well fertilized in order to grow.

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I’m a resilient, damn it all to hell Dame!

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My mom watching the races.

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Me with my broken bone buddie.

(Imagine grey hair and an ugly mermaid on my shoulder.)

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The original fireplace in The Director’s room.  It was empty while I wandered around,

with left over flowers from an event the night before.

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My break room friend told me this was original wallpaper from the 40’s.

You can see how old it is when you look up close.

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The elevator shaft.

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My bet on “Acceptance.”

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My winnings…6 to 1 odds.

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My beautiful day.

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9/11, 9/12, 9/13, 9/14…

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Hatred of Personal Labels

I hate using labels to describe myself, but sometimes they really are just easier…and I am, in fact, bipolar. (read more about that here).

I am always very aware of my moods and work to remain as close to my center as possible. I don’t pay attention to news much, because it makes me feel depressed. When I feel overly excited about things, I take a breath, really breath it in and enjoy, but I don’t let myself get hyper or racing heartbeat about it.

Avoiding the 9/11 News

When 9/11 passed a few days ago, I avoided the news. I avoided the stuff on social media. I avoided talking about it. I knew I would eventually have my own inner memorial, but it would have to be when I had the  space and the time to reflect, pray and process it…and it’s hard to find that time when you’re a working mom with a two hour commute every day.

I finally found that space early this morning.

My daughter, Chloe, had barely turned one when 9/11 happened. And I was 8 months pregnant with daughter number two. My husband worked as a manager at a large group home for severely emotionally disturbed kids.  I worked as a therapist at a similar group home.

Jay oversaw a program with the kids for the whole residential facility. He had responsibility for the 60+ kids that lived on campus. As a therapist, I was assigned to one cottage with 10 boys, ages 9 to 11.

The Early Morning 9/11 Call

The morning of 9/11 my mom called to let us know what was happening. We were trying to get baby ready, get ready ourselves, and get to work on time. I remember kind of blowing my mom off, thinking a plane had just accidently crashed. I remember her begging me to take the time to go and turn on the TV because she really thought America was under attack.

My mom watches the news and reads the entire paper everyday. She’s very aware of everything going on with the world. I purposely try to avoid the goings on in the world because I’m so sensitive to it, and I was not about to start my day with my own baby, and with my 9 to 11 year old emotionally disturbed boys, by watching something disturbing on TV and feeling depressed as a result. But the fear in her voice was alarming, so I agreed to flip on the TV.

The Second Plane

Jay and I watched as the second plane crashed into The World Trade Center. At the time we lived quite close to the center of downtown Los Angeles. And Jay worked even closer to it. My initial reaction was to not go to work and stay home with my baby, my husband, and my one on the way.

My husband’s initial reaction was to go to work and be there to supervise both the staff and the children in case some terrorist attack occurred here in Los Angeles.

I didn’t want him to go. I wanted him to stay home with me and the family. I didn’t want him to be who he was…the loyal, hardworking, caring, group home manager he knew he needed to be, especially since he was sure other employees wouldn’t show up that day.

The Plan

I swallowed my inner coward, my inner whiner…and nodded. And together we decided that I would drop my young baby off at day care and go to work myself.

We made our plans for the day. If Los Angeles was attacked, at the end of my work day, I would somehow find my way to the day care to get Chloe, and then find my way to the group home where my husband worked. We would shelter there.

Jay and I had met at this group home. We knew the staff, the kids and the atmosphere there. It made the most sense to shelter, and make ourselves useful together, there.

Los Angeles never did fall under attack. I was able to pick up my baby after my work day. I was able to meet my husband at home. I was able to return to my house, my husband, my family, when many others that day weren’t.

Lynn and David Angell

Two people who weren’t able to do this were Lynn and David Angell. They died on American Airlines Fllight 11, an airplane hijacked by members of Al Queda and flown into the North Tower of The World Trade Center.

Lynn and David were long time donors of Hillsides Home for Children in Pasadena, CA., the group home where my husband worked. David Angell was an Emmy Award winning creator and producer of sitcoms in Hollywood. His wife, Lynn, spent lots of time at Hillsides, volunteering and creating a library for these group home children. They both donated time, resources, money, clout and talent to these children in need.

They didn’t return to their house that night…or ever.

My husband and I did. And I don’t know why.

I don’t know why some people died that day, and some people didn’t.

But I know as someone who didn’t die that day, I have an obligation.

An obligation to show up.

To show up for people who don’t have many…or even any people that show up for them. If we don’t show up for them, who will?

I was so inspired by the many people that showed up that day…that week…that month of 9/11.

They may have been like me. They may not have wanted to show up. They may have been pushed by another to show up. But they did. They did show up.

America showed up when 9/11 happened.

And that showing made me proud.

Status

You, Me…We?

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Rain, Rain…Go Away!

I had a pretty bad day yesterday.  It started out with rain, which I usually love, but haven’t been able to enjoy since noticing a leak in our ceiling. Followed by a rough day at work and a couple of pretty bad mommy moments.

I left one daughter at home to order pizza with her own money, while I attended my other daughter’s water polo banquet.

My phone died right before she received an award and a trophy, so I couldn’t take a picture of her accepting it.

When You’re Raining Tears

I woke up in the middle of the night crying.  I’m usually not much of a crier, and I hate missing out on sleep, but every once in while things are just too much and you’ve got to let it out.

I could tell my husband was awake while I was crying, but he didn’t make a move to comfort me or say anything.

He’s unemployed right now, and I wondered if he thought I was crying about that, and if he just couldn’t face that possiblity.

In response I attempted to hold my crying in, which just made things worse.  I evenutally ended up curled up in a ball trembling and shaking, with tears pouring down my face.

He eventually put his arm around me and asked what was wrong.

I opened up with him about my insecurities, my shortfalls, my being ever so flawed and human, and  hating that fact.  After a rough start, we had a great conversation.

Sex?  Really?

He then mentioned his desire to have sex…and I mentioned my continued feelings of unattractiveness.

I try not to dwell on it too often, but the hair loss (you can read more about that here) and the fact that I’ve gained 50 pounds over the last year from medications I’m on gets to me when I’m feeling down.

He then said, “I’m attracted to YOU.  Not the package you come in.”

“I mean, I enjoy that package.

“I’m having a hard on right on just talking to you.”

“But YOU…YOU are what’s attractive to me.”

  “After your awful day you still took time to talk to your daughter, and I walked in on you guys talking about sexting.  Your daughter wants to talk to you about sexting, and how many 15 year old girls feel that way?”

“YOU are attractive to me.  Always have been.  Always will be.”

“What can I say?”

“You’re a really great fuck!”

I giggled as I wiped snot off my chin with the back of my hand.  There’s been many rocky moments in our 20 years of marriage, but 20 years has brought us to this place, and I can’t complain.

I’ve been thinking about ME all day.  That ME that is greater than this body and my human flaws.  That ME that is attractive, even if I’m not in the physical way I once was.

Seeing Through Christ’s Eyes

Years ago when I was living on an Indian reservation, working as a Mormon missionary (you can read more about that experience here), I used to pray to see people through Christ’s eyes.

To have the unconditional love for people that Christ had.  No matter how different they were from me, no matter what their problems or flaws were.

Although I’m not as Mormon as I once was, and see Christ differently than I used to, I still pray to see things with His sight.  To love others unconditionally, where ever they happen to be in their life.

And as I think about Me, My Sight, and I,

I am happy.

Happy to spend time with who I am and how I show up in life.  Happy to spend time with others who appreciate how I show up.  Flawed, but filled with love unconditional (at least most of the time).

My YOU and My ME is Becoming my WE

My circle has gotten smaller as I have gotten older.  I rarely spend time with anyone I cannot trust my whole Me, Myself and I with anymore.  My “We” happens to be my “YOU” and my “ME” more and more of the time.

I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather spend time with myself than with most other people in the world.

But when I’m spending time with my husband, I’m more than grateful he has that kind of sight that sees my “YOU” and “ME” in their entirety, and loves them wholeheartedly and  unconditionally.

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A toast to my YOU and my ME, and my very special WEs.

Cheers!

The Mother of a Model


I have two high school girls, 14 and 15.  I used to love reading People and fashion magazines, but when my girls were young I stopped buying them. I just didn’t want them exposed to those type of images while they were growing up.

I’ve ended up with a few magazines over the years (my husband always puts them in my stocking at Christmas time), but I hadn’t spent any money on them, until recently.  Now, one of my favorite things is going through one with my family, which I did just this morning.

My older daughter got a modeling contract a year ago, when she was just 14.  She was approached by a fashion photographer at a grocery store, sitting outside with her sister and our dogs while I was inside shopping.  We live in LA and she had been scouted several other times throughout her childhood, but my husband and I had always said no.

Not only did we feel there is no reason for a child to have to work at such a young age, especially in the modeling industry, but we also both have full time careers without an ounce of stage parenting in us.

When Chloe got scouted on this day, however, it was the first time she had a full understanding of what was happening, and she wanted to do it.

Images From Chloe’s Very First Photo Shoot

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Out of that chance meeting, and after much debate between her, myself and my husband, she ended up with two contract offers; one with a big, well known agency in New York, and one with a small boutique agency in Los Angeles.  After much research, we decided to accept the offer from the small agency in LA called Nous.  We signed the contract, and although we have run into a mishap or two, we have had no regrets.

On her very first test shoot for her portfolio, the young female photographer came to our house and ended up running around with her in the neighborhood taking pictures.  I was at work, and my husband was supervising.  When he saw that there wasn’t really any inappropriate clothing and they were mostly using Chloe’s wardrobe, he stopped paying attention.

A few days later Chloe’s portfolio showed up on Nous’ website.  One picture had her wearing a t-shirt with huge boldface writing that said “Harlot” across it.  I didn’t like it and Chloe and I talked about the meaning of the word.   She decided she didn’t like it either.

So we called the agency to tell them and they said that was a brand they worked with, which is why the photographer had brought it.  They said if we preferred it not be used, they would take care of it.  Five minutes later we looked at Chloe’s portfolio again, and the word harlot had been photoshopped out.

The photographer had also photoshopped several pictures of Chloe’s face.  They were photoshopped to the point she was almost unrecognizable. But Chloe’s agency, thankfully, didn’t post any of these images to Chloe’s portfolio on their website.

Heavily Photoshopped Pictures

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When you go on an unpaid test shoot for your portfolio, on a casting call, or on a paid job for a client, you always get what’s called a call sheet. The call sheet has all the details of the shoot, a contact name and number, the name of the client you are shooting for, the amount you will be paid, and sometimes what’s called a “mood board” that’s sort of like a digital collage of what they want the final photos to feel like.

In the beginning, Chloe and I researched this information together in depth.  We’ve said no to shoots based on the mood board, and no to a magazine editorial after flipping through the magazine on line and realizing the whole tone of the magazine was too mature for Chloe’s image.

Now Chloe does this research on her own.  She communicates with her bookers directly and says yes or no to shoots depending on her school and social schedule, as well as on whether or not the shoot or the brand is appropriate for her.

What’s appropriate for her always feels like a moving target to me, because she is a growing girl, and there is a big difference in my mind between what is appropriate and 14 and what is appropriate at 16…and eventually what may be appropriate at 18.

My husband, Chloe and I have an agreement that there are no bikini or underwear pictures.  As a psychotherapist, I in no way want to contribute to the child porn industry, and I have a huge problem with young girls used in the modeling world as sexual objects.

But One of Chloe’s Early Shoots, Which Ended Up Being Published,

Was This Image.

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The call sheet just said bring nude or white bras, including strapless bras, and there was no mood board.  Call sheets often include requests regarding underwear, as they don’t want bra straps hanging out of from underneath clothing, so we didn’t think much of it.

When we got there the photographer showed us a slew of other photos she had already taken for the series, all the females in only bras.  I told the photographer Chloe was too young at 14 for this look.  She pulled up a photo of a girl in bra and said, “This girl is only 14, but look how beautiful the photo is.  It’s a raw beauty shot…it doesn’t have a sexual tone to it.”

I said we weren’t comfortable with that, and we went back and forth on what to do.  Chloe really wanted to do the shoot, so we finally agreed Chloe could be photographed from the top of her bandeau up, and the photographer agreed to crop the photos that way.  When we saw the final photo, we were partly excited, because we thought it was a beautiful shot, but we were also partly angry because the photographer hadn’t followed through on her part of the agreement.

This photo definitely looked like a young girl posing in her underwear.

Once a photo is taken, it is owned by everyone but the model.  The photographer or brand owns the picture.  For test shoots, the photos usually go to the agency directly, not to the model.  Chloe has taken thousands of photos she has never seen.

Sometimes the photographer sends her a few shots, or they post them on their social media sites.  Or, if the photographer has a laptop set up, they’ll let her take some pictures of the computer screen of the best shots.

Early on we asked the agency for the photos from a test shoot, and they said they don’t release them.  They don’t want bad pictures of the model circulating about on line.  They only release the absolute best of the photos to protect the models image. Even to the model herself.

We learned quite early on to be careful about what pictures are taken.  When we flip through magazines, we discuss how an outfit could look modest, but the way the model moves or poses can make it look much more risque.

You don’t own any of the pictures or have control over them once the picture is taken, but we have learned that you do own your image, and can work with the agency to craft it.

We called the agency regarding this nude bra shot and they were great. (They should be great over issues like this.  They work for you, not vice versa.)  They explained that any time Chloe is uncomfortable, just call the agency immediately.  “Chloe is a minor and we’ll take care of it.  You don’t even have to talk to them about it if you don’t want to.  We’ll do it for you.”

My mom was on a paid shoot with Chloe once for the brand Vera Bradley while I was at work.  I started getting texts from my mom in a bit of a panic, as they wanted Chloe in a white bikini.  Chloe quickly asked, however, if that was all she would be wearing, or was there some kind of cover up.  They handed her a rash guard to wear.

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My mom texted me this photo and I said that was fine.  Discussions had already taken place with both Chloe and the agency regarding the fact that bikini’s aren’t allowed, but that photos of her being active in a one piece were fine.

The agency had also informed us that on paid shoots like this, the wardrobe department always has several options.  Chloe knew it was OK to mention that a look wouldn’t work for her, and to call the agency if there was a problem.

Chloe had been a swimmer on the Rose Bowl swim team for years, and now swims and plays water polo for her high school team.  To me, this was a very age appropriate outfit, and she and I both had no problem with it.  (I actually adore how comfortable she is with her body.  I never was at her age, and I had the exact same body).

Chloe just recently did her favorite photo shoot ever, an unpaid test shoot for her portfolio.  The first photo shoot she ever ended up at all by herself.

Photos She Took With Her Phone From the Photographer’s Laptop.

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She absolutely loved the photos.   She harnessed the feeling of a fairy…a mermaid.  She had a great time with the female team; a photographer, a nail artist, a hair stylist and a makeup artist.  She felt beautiful and loved the results. I loved the photos as well, but had some hesitancy about the last two.

They seemed more adult to me than the others.  I talked with my husband about them, whether or not we should talk with the agency if they decided to use them in her portfolio.

We don’t want to draw certain clients to her with the photos in her portfolio.  Ultimately we decided to leave it alone, however. Although these two photos could be interpreted as somewhat more sexual than others, they had absolutely nothing to do with sex.  They were about girls having fun playing with makeup, and sparkles and hair.  About feeling beautiful and letting that beauty exude out of you.  It would be really sad to send Chloe a message other than that.

The moving target keeps moving, and my husband and I keep finding ways to move with it.

I have religious friends, feminist friends, and male friends, many of whom have voiced their disagreement with my choice to let my daughter pursue this career.    I absolutely understand why.  There have been awful outcomes for some that have pursued it.  Even some of the most famous models out there, including Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss, have voiced terrible regrets they have.  And I don’t want my daughter to ever end up in a situation at work that causes her regret.

But as the mother of a unique individual named Chloe, and as a psychotherapist who has worked with many people who have lived a life full of regrets because they didn’t pursue what they loved due to pressure from others, I felt I had no other choice but to let her pursue it.

And pursue it while she was still young and in our home, so we could help her navigate through the difficulty of it.

It has been enlightening to find out that in today’s world you can create whatever type of career you want in this field.  Each shoot and experience is entirely different.  In the shoot mentioned above, we naively felt tricked into a photo of Chloe wearing a bra by a young, pregnant, female photographer.

But in this shoot, the team was incredibly respectful of Chloe, and female models in general.  They said they don’t like to do shoots with sparse clothing on young girls.  “Totally inappropriate,” the male photographer and young male stylist told me. They were so excited to tell me and Chloe they had brought a pop up tent for her to change in.  “We hate it when models are treated poorly.  They should always have somewhere proper to change.”

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That tent got dragged all over downtown Los Angeles.  And faster than a speeding bullet, Chloe was able to change into the many different outfits.

I Love The Badass Attitude That Ended Up In Her Pictures As A Result

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In another shoot there was no place to change.  The other model just whipped off her clothes on the street down to her G-string in front of the team of 8 males.  Chloe, however, walked over to company’s van and climbed in to change.  (I’ve got to buy her one of the popup tents to bring with her on shoots.)

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I loved talking with this other model.  She had been modeling for a while, but had recently moved to Los Angeles to attend a university here. She talked at length to Chloe about the importance of going to college.

There are actually many good role models in the modeling industry.  Coco Rocha is one.  She is very particular about her image and the kinds of photos she will do.  She was outraged over a photo where she was fully covered that the magazine photo shopped to look like she was almost nude.  You can read more about her and how she has worked to craft her career here.

Karlie Kloss is another one of the biggest models out there right now, and I admire her tremendously.  She is attending NYU to get a degree in computer coding and has started a scholarship fund for girls called Kode with Karlie.  

My daughter follows her on Instagram, and she is always doing amazing things.  You can find out more about Kode with Karlie here.

It fills me with joy to know that the three photos Chloe has gotten the most response from on social media…on her own, her agency’s and the photographers’ sites, are photos where she looks most like herself, a natural, strong, confident, young woman doing what she loves.

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I don’t know what the future has in store for her.  Only time will tell.  This morning while flipping through the Vogue I got for Christmas with my family, we all looked through the magazine and talked about brands whose campaigns we loved…and brands whose campaigns we didn’t and why.

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I asked Chloe if she thought she would ever do a campaign like this.  She looked at it and thought about it for a while.  She responded, “I don’t have the body of a lingerie model…and I really don’t like these stripy things.  Too sexy.”  I responded, “Even though she is pretty covered, that is a really sexy shot.  I would personally never take a shot like this if I were a model.  But I won’t judge you at all if you ever decide to.”

My husband and Chloe’s sister both yelled out at the same time, “I will!”  And we all laughed.

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A true dame lives out her bliss to it’s fullest,

and honors others who are doing the same. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Touch of a Toe

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I’ve had back problems for more than half my life.  I injured my back over 20 years ago in a skiing accident (you can read more about it here).  And as a result I deal with chronic, dull pain most of the time.  And it’s not getting any better with age.

I can’t load a dishwasher or bend over to do laundry without it freezing up on me and going into spasms, but I’m able to keep it pretty loose most of the time through long walks and regular massages.

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One of my favorite places to get a massage is in Korea Town in Los Angeles at the Korean spa (you can read more about my experience at the Korean Spa here).

The women doing massages there don’t speak much English, but they have magic fingers…and I recently came to find out they also have magic toes.

I went with my close friend yesterday for her birthday.  The massages here are inexpensive and I usually spring for 90 minutes, or sometimes even two hours.  But I’m on a tight budget right now and made an appointment for 50 minutes.

After walking on the treadmill and sitting in the saunas and jacuzzi’s for an hour or two, my back is warmed up and ready for the hard core treatment performed by these ladies.  My small, young Korean massage therapist came and got me and we got started.

These women are always good.  Their ability to get the knots out that accumulate in my back and buttocks always astounds me.  My husband is twice their size and when he gives me a massage he doesn’t seem nearly has strong as they do.

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Thai Massage

I get massages all over LA.  I’m always excited to try out new places and experience new magic fingers.  When I’ve gotten stuck in awful traffic jams, rather than sitting there with an aching back I’ll look up the nearest massage place and pull off the freeway and head over.

I had an amazing experience at a Thai place across LA from where I live.  In the middle of the massage, the therapist placed her index finders into the sides of my neck (where Frakenstein wears his little neck nubs) and pressed with all her strength.

My whole entire body cramped up into one giant charlie horse and stayed cramped for what seemed like a full minute.  Then it released into a complete and total relaxation.

No…Thank You!

In my early 20’s when I first started getting massages, I remember thanking a particularly good massage therapist at the end of the massage for being so good.  And she said, “No…thank you for being such a good teacher.”

I didn’t really understand her statement for several years.  I thought I must have misunderstood her.  How could I have been a teacher, when all I was doing was lying there?

But after years of massages with many different therapists, I now know, that just as a psychotherapist one quickly learns how to improve in their craft when they are working with someone trusting and open.

I have a feeling that the Frankenstein Finger move doesn’t get used on every client that walks through the door.  Only on the ones that really need it, and only on the ones this woman senses are open to receiving it.

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Yesterday at the Korean Spa, the women held onto the bars they have hanging from the ceiling and dug her big toe into my left calf for at least 10 minutes with the weight of her whole body.

I’m always focused on my back problems and want those worked out  I don’t want the therapist to spend as much time on other body parts.   I was surprised, however, that with her toe she had been able to find a knot in my body that I was not even aware of.

And as she dug in with her big toe, I felt the tension and tightness all the way up through the back of my left leg, into my back, and then into a part of my head behind my left eye.  As she loosened up the knot in my calf, the whole left side of my body relaxed.

All of a sudden the therapists energy changed.  She was genuinely scared  and motioned for me to turn over.  As I did I got a glance at the clock and saw that there were only two minutes left in our 50 minutes and she hadn’t done the face up part yet.

I tried to ask her if she could ask the front desk if we could add another half hour into her schedule.  It took a few different ways of asking before she understood and went and asked.   When she came back her fear (of me getting mad at not doing my front side?  Of her boss getting mad at her for going over in time?) was gone.

This young women, perhaps new to the job, had been so in tune with my body, she had lost rack of time.  She had lost herself in her art, and when you do that, there is no such thing as time.

She is a true healer.

At the end of the massage, as she helped me back into my robe, she let out a huge giggle.  She turned me around to help tie the front and bowed over and over to me with a large grin, and I bowed back. We hugged as I left the room.

I knew in that moment, that while i was laying there I had taught her a great deal. I had taught her that she was good…that she was great at what she does.  Without words, she understood my body speaking to her.  Without words, my body showed her where to focus and what to do.

I taught her that there is no reason to fear.  That the ability to get lost in your art is a gift.  That her and her gift are worth more time, and more money.

Gratitude and Growth

In therapy, you know a client has reached true healing when they find a sense of gratitude for their problem.  When they transcend the emotional injury.  When they have grown and learned from it, and are grateful for that growth and knowledge.

My back doesn’t get better.  With age, it continues to get worse.  But I have have found ways to be grateful for this injury.  It has taught me so much about my body, how each and every fiber in it is connected, and that that connection is a miraculous thing.

It has taught me to trust my gut with strangers, to relax into healers’ hands.

And in it’s own way, it has helped me know I am a great teacher, a teacher for whom many are grateful.  Whether or not they say it with their words.

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We can tame our inner dragons, learn from their spiritual fire,

and in the process make some lovely new friends. 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I the Problem?

 

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I am the clinical director of a mental health program for youth ages 15 to 25 who are at risk of developing serious mental illnesses. It’s a prevention program funded through the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Telecare Corporation, the company I work for, sent me to the Yale School of Psychiatry to be trained on the treatment modality we use, called CAPPS (Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States).

There, I was trained in this modality, and over the following six months was trained, through conference calls, on how to train others to use the treatment.

I now oversee staff providing therapy services to at risk youth in the South and East parts of LA county. We have an office in Compton, arguably one of the most violent cities in the country.

I was led to a career in mental health, perhaps, by my own bouts with mental illness. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was seventeen. Impacted by extremely high levels of stress at the time, I became quite ill and disorganized in my thinking. Although that initial diagnosis hasn’t proven to be accurate, I have continued to struggle with mental illness throughout my life.

I have had three manic episodes in my 44 years of life, all requiring hospitalizations, all sprinkled with psychotic thoughts. I don’t rapid cycle like some with this disorder do. Between these manic episodes (which have been spaced roughly 10 years apart; one in my early 20’s, one in my early 30’s and one in my early 40’s) I have dealt with a lot of depression.

Depression is very hard to treat in people with bipolar disorder. They are not usually put on traditional anti depressants, as these trigger mania in people diagnosed with bipolar. I have suffered from depressive bouts so severe, that suicidal ideation seemed to reign over all my thought processes.

I am not allowed to own a gun in this country. I am not allowed to shoot a gun at a shooting range. Being told that during my last hospitalization didn’t impact me that much, however. I’ve never had any interest in guns. Even while working in very dangerous places, and, at times, working with very dangerous people, a gun is not something I’ve ever wished I’d had. I’ve been more than grateful I wasn’t near a gun when thoughts of suicide were on my mind.

Although legally I can’t use a gun, I’m surprised at how often I’ve run across them in my lifetime. My first experience with guns was as a child when my grandfather, a deer hunter, taught my brothers and I how to use BB guns. He taught us how to clean and load them. How to use the sights to hit our target. We practiced shooting targets for hours on his small farm in central California. My grandfather also owned a rifle, which my younger brother remembers wishing he would one day be allowed to use.

While a senior in high school, I was driving with a friend down the crowded Rose Parade route in Pasadena, CA on New Year’s Eve. Some people on the side of the road threw eggs at my friend’s car. She pulled a pistol out from underneath her seat. She said her dad had given it to her when she got her car, and had taught her how to use it to protect herself. She told me that if they egged her car again, she’d threaten them with it.

In college I dated a guy who owned several rifles he used for hunting. He bought an old, used deep freezer and kept it in the driveway of the house he rented with several roommates. The deep freezer remained stocked all year with deer and elk he’d hunted, and we spent time cooking meals together with the meat.

I also had a female roommate in college who owned several guns. Her father was a police officer and she had grown up learning how to use many different types of weapons. She kept both pistols and rifles, with the appropriate ammunition, underneath her bed in our apartment.

When I first got married, nearly 20 years ago, my in laws lived an hour away from my husband and I. My father in law had a collection of guns, which he kept on display in a glass case. My in laws also own a large boat they keep in Florida. They spend lots of time traveling throughout the Bahamas and keep guns, hidden, but not locked up, on their boat for protection. We have visited them several times on their boat, that’s armed with these guns.

Quite recently I was visiting Las Vegas and went with my kids to pick up a pizza at a pizza place a few blocks off the strip. Ahead of us in line was a man with a pistol, the grip hanging out of his sweatpants. I could have grabbed it from where I was standing behind him in line.

More than a handful of times I have come across guns, within my reach, without ever having sought them out. Both as a minor, and as a mentally ill adult there have been several instances where I could have reached over and used a gun, had I wanted to. I never disclosed to any of these people about my mental illness. Disclosure to others is something I’ve only recently started to engage in.

It has been said that mental illness is the problem with gun violence, yet studies show that the mentally ill are not more violent than the general public. Stories of violence caused by the mentally ill just become more sensationalized in the media than stories of violence caused by those without mental illness. I have published research regarding this phenomenon, called “Myths of the Crazy Client”.

It is disheartening to be told in the media that I am the problem. When you have a mental illness, you often believe you are the problem, no matter what the problem is. You feel helpless to the belief that you are the problem. You don’t want people to know that you are a problem, so you hide it. You hide it from others. You hide it from yourself. Your hiding stands in the way of you getting the help you need.  Stigma is a vast obstacle, stigma from others toward the mentally, ill and stigma from the mentally ill toward themselves.

If I am the problem, which so many seem to believe…Please!  Help me find a solution. I am doing everything I can to identify and treat those at risk of serious mental illness. I follow the law. I don’t attempt to buy or use guns. Yet they continue to show up within my reach.   Studies show that where there are more guns, there is more violence. I have seen far more guns than I care to.

I am willing to admit…I am the problem. I live in this nation, the body where this problem exists. A false sense of safety is created when blame is placed on the “other”, and we are all in danger because of this problem. Let us all take responsibility for mass shooting after mass shooting. Because there steps we can take to curb it. Other countries have successfully taken those steps.

So no more lives have to be lost.  No more parents have to suffer.  No more communities devastated.

I am the problem.

And so are you.

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Let us sit together at the round table,

and take steps toward solving this horrific problem. 

 

 

 

Diamonds Are Whatever