Sunday, August 24, 2014

Life With OCD, GAD, and PMDD

I have OCD, GAD, PMDD, and sometimes Depression. All have been diagnosed by my Psychologist.

I find when I tell people I have OCD I get the following responses:

1. EVERYONE has that.
2. I have that too.
3. No, you don't.

When I tell people I have GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) I get the following responses:

1. Get over it.
2. You're not anxious and scared; you're just lazy.
3. Everyone is scared of something

I don't tell people I have PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). If I did, I suspect there would be a lot of comments along the lines of:

No, you don't you're just using that as an excuse for your mood swings.

As I have mentioned before, I get Depression sometimes. It's not feeling sad and calling it Depression. It's actual Depression. This goes back to that one comment "Everyone has that". Yes, a lot of people have each of these four things. But not everyone. For those of us that actually have these disorders, it's offensive when someone who clearly doesn't have that disorder either says they do or that you don't. Actual Psychologists and Psychiatrists don't say these things. Actual Psychologists and Psychiatrists say:

1. We'll work together to make it easier to manage.
2. Do you have a strong support system?
3. How does it effect your life?

With OCD most people think two things:

1. If you like things really clean, you must have OCD
2. OCD is turning the lights off and on 50 times before entering and leaving a room

The second one is closer to reality but the actions involved vary for everyone with the actual problem. In my case, there are a lot of things that have to be a certain way or it gets me too frazzled to do a lot of things the right way. Routine keeps me sane. I can't function properly if the routine is thrown off too much. These compulsions are too important to my life. My biggest obsessions include: Gardening, Season Themes, Month Themes, Decorations, Zach, and Cooking. If a decoration is even an inch out of place, I literally can't think of anything else until it's been moved back to a nice and neat pattern. I physically shake until it's fixed. That is OCD.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

The frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. People with OCD can't control these obsessions and compulsions. Most of the time, the rituals end up controlling them.
For example, if people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doors many times before going to bed. Being afraid of social embarrassment may prompt people with OCD to comb their hair compulsively in front of a mirror-sometimes they get “caught” in the mirror and can’t move away from it. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts.

Other common rituals are a need to repeatedly check things, touch things (especially in a particular sequence), or count things. Some common obsessions include having frequent thoughts of violence and harming loved ones, persistently thinking about performing sexual acts the person dislikes, or having thoughts that are prohibited by religious beliefs. People with OCD may also be preoccupied with order and symmetry, have difficulty throwing things out (so they accumulate), or hoard unneeded items.

Healthy people also have rituals, such as checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house. The difference is that people with OCD perform their rituals even though doing so interferes with daily life and they find the repetition distressing. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing is senseless, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

Signs & Symptoms

People with OCD generally:
  • Have repeated thoughts or images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt, or intruders; acts of violence; hurting loved ones; sexual acts; conflicts with religious beliefs; or being overly tidy
  • Do the same rituals over and over such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again
  • Can't control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors
  • Don't get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but get brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause. Actually, for most of my obsessions I DO get pleasure when performing them or thinking about my obsessions. But that's because of what my obsessions are mostly about. The obsessions that are about violence I file under "GAD"
  • Spend at least 1 hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

As for my GAD, I'm not just scared of one or two things. I'm scared of many things. It becomes severe enough to be General Anxiety Disorder if you have a lot of fears and they interfere with your life. My biggest fear is a fear of heights. I can't get to most second floors. It prevents me from doing a lot of things. At one point, during my first episode of Depression, I couldn't even leave the house because of my fear of dogs.

I have a lot of fears. I worked on that fear of heights for 21 years. Zach was born on the 3rd floor. But I had limitations there too. Like I couldn't have the bed by the window and the windows always had to be closed. The hospital was very accommodating with that. After Zach was born, I told my fantastic Psychologist that I give up on that one. I'm mostly not scared of dogs anymore but at a certain point some fears are not going away.

I wake up every night at least twice. My mind never shuts off. There are times I have panic attacks even if I'm not doing anything. I mean that literally. Once, I took a walk and then laid down. I didn't encounter anything unusual or scary on the walk. Yet a panic attack hit.

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

“I always thought I was just a worrier. I’d feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I’d worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn’t let something go.”
“I’d have terrible sleeping problems. There were times I’d wake up wired in the middle of the night. I had trouble concentrating, even reading the newspaper or a novel. Sometimes I’d feel a little lightheaded. My heart would race or pound. And that would make me worry more. I was always imagining things were worse than they really were. When I got a stomachache, I’d think it was an ulcer.”
“I was worried all the time about everything. It didn't matter that there were no signs of problems, I just got upset. I was having trouble falling asleep at night, and I couldn't keep my mind focused at work. I felt angry at my family all the time.”

All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.

Signs & Symptoms

People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.

GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress.

When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don’t avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, people with GAD can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.

And there it is "people with GAD can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe." People don't believe me when I say I am a Stay At Home Mom to control my anxiety. Because it's not visible, they think I'm just too lazy to work. But it's very real that this anxiety is severe. I am home for a medical reason. Keeping stress low means I can function properly. THAT'S why I'm a SAHM. I'm tired of telling people I am home to control my anxiety and having them ask when I will be going back to work. I won't be. I have a lot of reasons why I won't be. But the biggest reason why I won't be is because of my health. They need to start listening to me and taking me seriously. Because this is very real. I know the people who actually love me based on how they act about my being a SAHM to manage my anxiety. Fears and worries need to be taken more seriously. It makes things worse for the person with it when it's not.

There's PMS and then there's PMDD. How do you know which one you have? Take this quiz:

I got 99 out of 100. But my PMDD was diagnosed by my OBGYN and Psychologist.

It's basically ultra PMS. I suspect it's like menopause for most women in severity. Oddly, my mood swings mostly calmed down when I was pregnant. Usually, it gets worse during pregnancy. Josh knows that I mean what I am saying just not as strongly as I am saying it. It's easier to manage on a regular month but when I have an unusual week it's very severe.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

PMDD; Severe PMS
Last reviewed: November 8, 2012.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman has severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
PMS refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur about 5-11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually stop when, or shortly after, her period begins.


The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. However, they are generally more severe and debilitating and include a least one mood-related symptom. Symptoms occur during the week just before menstrual bleeding and usually improve within a few days after the period starts.
Five or more of the following symptoms must be present to diagnose PMDD, including one mood-related symptom:
  • No interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Feeling of sadness or hopelessness, possible suicidal thoughts
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Feeling out of control
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Mood swings with periods of crying
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability or anger that affects other people
  • Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
  • Problems sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating

These are all related to hormonal imbalances. Basically, my mental hormones aren't balanced and that means a lot of things. I'm not a danger to myself or others. Most people with one of these four things have at least one more.

I have had severe enough problems when life seemed too difficult to manage. My Mom had considered taking me for emergency care but never has. But my parents and Josh do provide the support I need.

I had a rough week last week and couldn't handle the stress. With Friday's breakdown, that meant my parents took Zach overnight even though I never asked for help. I heavily expressed my gratitude for that. That's the support I really needed. Josh was able to take care of me and help me through my rough patch. I'm still recovering, but because I had the right support, I am recovering quickly from the worst of it.

But it will always be there. It's just a matter of severity level at any given time. My parents and Josh don't say those things I listed in the beginning. They talk like the Psychologists. They understand what I am experiencing and love me enough to help me where I need it. It's rare that I need that kind of care. Most of the time, I can manage my needs on my own. But there are times when I need help. That's true for anyone with these disorders.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


"Are you having a party?"
"No some friends and I at work decided to do the Ice Bucket Challenge"

Last night, Saturday night, this conversation took place in the checkout line at Shop Rite. They guy ahead of us who was about our age was buying a bag of ice.  I knew right away what he was referring to. I don't know where it started, but I know it's catching on. I learned about it from the NY Giants' website.

The owner of the NY Giants, John Mara, had a bucket of ice dumped over his head in a video and then challenged Robert Kraft (owner of the Patriots), Bill Belichick (coach of the Patriots), and Woody Johnson (owner of the Jets) to take the challenge. You can choose to get a bucket of ice dumped over your head or donate $10,000 to ALS charities. Most people do both.

Soon after I read that Obama was issued the challenge and chose to make an undisclosed donation instead of the ice. His challenger, 86 year old Ethel Kennedy, widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Bill Gates also took the challenge from Mark Zuckerberg after he took the challenge.

 I wanted to learn how it worked. Is there a set amount for the donating? What if someone can't participate in the money donation part and doesn't want to do the ice bucket part? It seems to vary based on who started the challenge. The average seems to be that those challenged have 24 hours to dump the ice or they have to donate $10 or sometimes $100. But you can choose the time and donation amount when issuing the challenge.

It starts with challenging a friend. Much like the guy ahead of us in the store, a group decided they would challenge each other. That means if you would be open to being challenged in the first place, you have volunteered. That's good to know. Not everyone can afford the money donation and shouldn't be forced to be put on ice for their financial status.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS is very serious. It's also called "Lou Gehrig's Disease". It effects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and muscles throughout the body. You slowly loose your ability to control your muscles.

My heart goes out to those with ALS and those caring for someone with ALS. It can't be easy to manage. The more it progresses, the less the person with ALS can do by themselves. That must be hard to deal with. The Ice Bucket Challenge is helping bring awareness to ALS and hopefully the research these donations will pay for will make a difference in management and cure.

This challenge has inspired the Robin Williams "Mrs. Doubtfire Challenge". You put your face in a pie or donate to help Depression. He committed suicide recently from depression. I hope Depression charities see an increase in donations as well.

This has me thinking about cancer. So I am issuing my own challenge. I hope it helps with cancer donations. It's the "Planting Challenge"

you a flower, shrub, or tree or donate $10 to a cancer charity within 5 days of being challenged.

please let me know if you took the "Plant A Tree" challenge. I'm curious about if anyone will.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Watering Tips

Rain and Watering:
If it rains heavier then a drizzle before 10am, you don't need to water. If it's not raining by then, you are better off watering anyway. Use half the counts from below when rain is in the forecast and it looks cloudy but hasn't started raining yet. Sometimes, rain is called for the afternoon but even if they call for a possible heavy rain you might not get much. If you water AND it rains, it doesn't matter. You're supposed to check each day of growing season if the plants need water anyway. It just means you might not have to water the next day.

80 Degrees:
For some ground plants, you only need to water every day if it's above 80 degrees that day. If it's below that, you only need to water if it hasn't rained at least an inch in five days. This is true for:
Ornamental Grasses
Ground Covers (like Ivy or Pachysandra)

* water each day for the first two weeks after planting so the roots can get established.

Grass Tips:
1. Hose Sprinkler: It's hard to water evenly. This is especially true with the kind of sprinkler you attach to a hose. 30 minutes of watering is one inch of water. Depending on how big your lawn is, you need to find a way for everything to get 30 minutes of watering but not more or less then that.

2. Hose in Hand: in order to get 1" of water you need to count to 5 for every 6 square inches of grass. It's not as hard as it sounds if you make focal points. Use lawn flags or empty flower pots. Choose places on each side of the lawn that are natural places to put focal points that aren't further then a between a foot and a foot and a half apart. After putting the flag or pot down, walk back across the lawn and check that it's in a good place. After that, you just count to 5 for each square 6 inches. For me, that means counting to 5 then moving the hose next to that place and counting to five again as I go across the lawn. That's a foot across. I move forward and repeat.







Container Counts: watering can and based on pot size
Count of 2: 3" and 4"
Count of 3: 5" and 6"
Count of 4: 8" and 9"
Count of 5: 10"
Count of 6: 12"
Count of 7: 14"
Count of 8: 15" and 16"
Count of 10: 20"

* for watering containers with a hose, just make sure the soil at the top is saturated

Ground Counts:
Watering Can 10, Hose 5: Bulbs 0" - 6" and Annuals 0" - 12"
Watering Can 15, Hose 5: Perennials 0" - 6", Annuals 12" - 24" and 6" of Grass
Watering Can 20, Hose 5: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 12"
Watering Can 25, Hose 10: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 18"
Watering Can 30, Hose 10: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 24" and Shrubs 0' - 3'
Watering Can 35, Hose 15: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 30"
Watering Can 40, Hose 15: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 36", Shrubs 3' - 5' and Tree Trunk 0'-2'
Watering Can 45. Hose 20: Perennials and Ornamental Grasses 48" and up, Shrubs 5' and up and Tree Trunk 2' and up

*All Counts speeds are meant to be a normal pace. Think no faster then the beat to "Cotton Eyed Joe" but not much slower either.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Dona

Dona was my babysitter. She was in my life for 18 years. She died a couple of weeks ago of cancer. I said in the "Friends Forever" post that Kindergarten thru High School Graduation are the most important and influential time of your life. She was there for all of mine. She told me stories about myself that my parents never knew about. Apparently, when I was three, I locked myself into a closet. A month later, I locked myself into the car. The police came to let me out both times. She told me the Police officer asked on the time with the car, "is that the same kid?" We had a special bond. She knew me better then anyone when I was a kid. She took part in shaping me into the person I am today. I have always loved her and will very much miss her.

I send my biggest hugs and deepest condolences to her family. They are wonderful people. She was a wonderful person. She was always nice, loving, fun, and caring. I have a huge amount of fond memories of my time with her. I am grateful that she was able to be at my wedding and hold Zach as a newborn.

My Dona. She will always be my Dona. My Dad told me a story. When I was three we were on vacation. I was enjoying myself but, after a few days looked sad. When he asked what's wrong, I answered "I miss my Dona". Now I will miss her forever. She was always special to me and always will be.

Some of my favorite memories are the little things. When I was around 8 - 10 years old she went through a phase of always getting her nails professionally painted. She always got a decoration on one. I was obsessed with her nail decorations and enjoyed just looking at them.

I will always remember around Christmas the house she took us to. The owners created a magical Christmas world including hiring a Santa. It was a special part about Christmas time when I was a kid. She just loved us. She always loved kids and I'm sure one of her favorite things was seeing a child's eyes light up with joy from seeing the Christmas lights.

I will always remember an average afternoon. I would do homework at the kitchen table while she made dinner, to be heated up later. First, she would make me a healthy snack. It was usually grapes, diced apples, diced pears, and cheese. Sometimes there would be something else but these were the snack bowls I remember.

I remember the table we took at the town pool every day. It was the second one in from the path closest to the 3ft entrance steps. We would spend most of our summer days at the pool. I will always fondly hold the image of her at that table while I swam. She went in for a short dip during the adult swims. At our town's pool, they periodically get the kids out of the pool so the adults could swim peacefully for 15 minutes. Most kids just sat on the edge of the pool staring at the lifeguards waiting for them to blow their whistles to let the kids back in.

I will always remember the Snapple bottle sitting next to her all the time and her big smile. I will always remember her crocheting a blanket when she was pregnant with her now college age son. She used to live near where we live now. I have been there many times. I walk by her old apartment all of the time. I think about her all of the time. She was family at heart.

She was around age 52. She started taking care of me when I was 6 months old. I will cherish the little memories of our every day routines that she was a part of as well as the special things that weren't routine. She was paid to take care of us but it was clear she loved us. I hope she knew we loved her too. No matter what lies ahead for us I know that I will forever be guided by my time with my Dona. I hope she knew the influence she had on my life and how much I loved her.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


No one would call me a Fashionista. I stick with denim bottoms and solid tops. No graphics, rhinestones, patterns, or accents anywhere. I'm not a case for a makeover show but I dress for comfort, not style. I like cloths that are stylish. But they don't fit my personality and needs. But I think they look great on other people. So, I decided to put together pictures to create outfits. I'll do one casual and one dressy outfit from Kohl's. I'll post the links under each picture.

Kohl's Dressy

Top in this color: Cobblestone. It is an undertone color in the skirt

Just the cardigan. In black.

Kohl's Casual

The Color is Yummy Mint



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Boko Haram - Bring Them Home

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. On April 14th a Boko Haram extremist group broke into a school in Chibok, Nigeria and kidnapped 276 girls. 57 escaped. The remaining 219 are still missing.

Boko Haram terrorists have killed over 5,000 people. In the time since the girls have gone missing, their village has been destroyed. Apparently, the captures are converting their victims to Islam. They are being taken from a Christian community.

I don't think it's right to try to force someone to convert. You have to connect with the religion in order for it to be something you can commit to. Religion takes commitment. You either believe something or you don't. You have to find the religion that matches your beliefs. You have to find the religion that makes the most sense to you. These "converts" are going through the motions but aren't connecting to Islam.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. They aren't all trying to convert everyone. There is a reason the word "extremist" is included. I like learning about different religions. I have met some Muslims and have asked about their religion. None of them were extremists. None of them would agree with what the Boko Haram terrorists have been doing.

Boko Haram extremists are doing what these terrorists have been doing for many years now. They are the new Nazis. If you don't believe what they believe, they think you deserve to die. They don't believe that random individuals at an airport could have different beliefs. Some of their innocent victims are Muslim too. It's a level of obsession and insanity that can't be helped.

There isn't anything we can do to stop them. The attacks are going to continue. Their missions are to make everyone extremist Islam like they are. They will use threats and violence to get attention and make people be like them out of fear. But fear doesn't change the truth. I pray for these girls to return safely really soon. Remember in the meantime, not all Muslims are like this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You Look Great!

I haven't taken a walk for exercise in a couple of months. Yet I am down to 136 lbs. In March I was 143 lbs. I still have a long way to under 125 lbs. but people have started to notice I am loosing weight. I even fit into my bikinis! Ironic since last month I got a couple of bathing suits a size bigger then I was just in case I needed it.

When someone has luck with a diet, those dieting wonder what worked so they can try it. For me, I take 2 hours plus to water every day. That also includes a lot of walking during that time. I cook dinner most of the time and my meals are lower in sodium. I am loosing some of that "sodium belly". But those meals are quick to make.

In the Fall I can walk more again. The grass and perennials only need to be watered daily if above 80 and no rain or 5 days of no rain if 50 - 80 degrees. Come the Fall, I won't need to water this much. It will also be more comfortable to take walks anyway.

I never know what to make when someone says I look great because I clearly lost weight. Maybe it's a layover from that 9 year long eating disorder. It ended 12 years ago but the mind never changes. I want to take it as the compliment it's meant to be but when I look in the mirror, I still think I'm fat. However, I see and feel a difference too.

It's funny, last Winter I was worried about how I would get exercise in the Summer. But this year my garden at home is double the size it used to be. It takes at least 12 trips with a gallon watering can each day. I have two and fill one while watering with the other and switch. My Dad's grass has never looked this healthy. I have a thorough method of watering there but it takes a while. Somehow, I found my hot weather exercise.

How will I continue to loose weight in the Winter? I don't know. Maybe something will just fall into place like it did for Summer. For now, I am appreciating the compliments and using it as motivation to continue my positive habits.

I'm sure there are a lot of people dieting that can relate to this. It's easier to continue these positive habits when you feel they are working. But we aren't the best judges of our own progress. So others noticing weight loss makes a difference.

Everyone finds something that works for them but won't necessarily work for someone else. We all want to share what works for us. The only advice I can give is to try to find something that fits your lifestyle. You'll never go to that gym if it's not near a place you go to all the time. You'll never eat healthy if you aren't finding meals you love that are like what you eat already and healthy. People are creatures of habits. Diets only work when you modify your lifestyle not change it completely. That's why we binge after a juice fast.

What foods do you like to eat? Can you make a healthy version that's not too different then what you have now? What exercise would realistically fit into your life and when? That might mean walking to nearby stores for errands instead of driving. It's the same thing you need to do anyway but in a healthy way. Can you really give that food up? If not, how can you make sure you have a smaller quantity at special times. So you don't feel deprived. Because there are some things you'll never be able to give up. But most things you should minimize.

You look great! Thanks. Everyone needs to hear that sometimes. But I don't know if you mean it or not. Part of me knows you would only say it if you meant it. But another part of me will never believe that I can look great or pretty. It's not about what the scale says with me. What I see in the mirror, isn't what you are seeing. But a lot of people have said it lately. It makes me feel good every time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"We Will Still Be, Friends Forever"

When Zach graduated in June I posted the lyrics to "Graduation (Friends Forever)" by Vitamin C. That was the graduation song when I graduated from High School. It still haunts me a month later. But for a different reason now.

Two weeks ago, we got the letter in the mail naming Zach's Kindergarten teacher. At camp last week they put the kids into groups based on which elementary schools they are going to. Zach had met one at orientation in May. As usual, Zach has fantastic taste in friends and his Mom is really nice too. I found out yesterday that this kid has the same teacher.

The kinds of friendships mentioned in that song sometimes start here. Zach and N connected right away back in May and Zach has been talking about playing with N throughout camp. On the first day of school, they will be there in the same classroom. A budding friendship is forming. The kind of friendship that lasts.

I've talked before about my High School friends. In almost all of the cases we lost touch after graduation but have renewed our friendships in the years since college graduation. It's easier to maintain childhood friendships when you go to the same school or both go to colleges near home. True friendships will last forever even when you loose touch.

Zach and N have a long road and a lot of ups and downs ahead of them. There will be fights and possibly declarations of "not wanting to be friends anymore" but they will stick together. I remember when we met N and his Mom. Much like my instincts that Josh will some someone important to me, I sensed even before introductions that this friendship is special.

"We will still be, friends forever". All of those friendships start somewhere. They all start with finding something you have in common. N lives really close to us. I foresee a lot of street catch ended with dinnertime calls in the future. I see graduation from High School pictures of the two of them because you HAVE to get pictures of the "best friends since Kindergarten".

Developmentally, we don't have any real memories before age 5. When we are older and talk about "when I was a kid", we are talking about Elementary school. Graduating from High School means everything you've ever known is changing. Because you don't remember before then. Zach has officially started that phase in his life that will become a major part of who he becomes when it's over. It's exciting!!! And N will be right there with him for this part of the ride. This friendship will stick in Zach's memory forever.

"As we go on
We remember
All the times we
Had together
And as our lives change
Come whatever
We will still be
Friends Forever"

The chorus to Graduation (Friends Forever)

Suddenly, I'm not experiencing High School flashbacks. I'm experiencing High School flash forewords. This time, it's Zach and N. They are just starting to create those memories together. The memories that build an unbreakable bond. There will be other friends and hopefully a group they are both a part of. But this friendship is special.

When Zach wears that cap and gown in June of 2027 will N still be in his group of friends? It's definitely too soon to tell. But knowing it's a real possibility makes me happy. Here we go Zach, are you ready for the most important 13 of your life?

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Marigold Obsession

Most gardeners have a lot of favorite plants. When someone asks "What's your favorite plant?" They answer "I have so many plants I love" and then provide a moderate to long list. Asking that question won't give you an answer. Walking through their gardens will.

Starting last August I expanded our gardens to be in front of our neighbor's window. Before then, I would sit outside and look at the garden but you couldn't walk through it. Now, we have a lot more plants and a lot more space. So I walk through my garden when I am about to go to bed, am having a long phone conversation, or having a stressful moment.

I used to answer that my favorite flowers are Mums. I have a Mum addiction every year. As I walked through the garden the other day I realized what my real favorite flowers are:

Perennials: Daylilies...........ANY Daylily!!!
Shrubs: Forsythias!!!
Trees: ALL Maples!!!
Annuals: MARIGOLDS!!!

Yes, yellow is my favorite color. Orange is a really close second. It's been that way my entire life. I was the 3 year old coloring on yellow construction paper with yellow crayon.

I used to mix Marigolds and white Begonias in my garden as the base flowers from May - frost. But I decided I would make the Begonias my Mother's Day flowers. Because the main reason I have them is because my Mom has had them all of my life. They are comforting. But I wanted four different types of Marigolds for my main garden because I love them so much. I needed the space.

'Antigua Gold'

'Antigua Orange'

'Disco Flame'

Safari Yellow Fire'

I can't help but smile when I see them! It's like they are my signature! So instead of asking your friend or family member what their favorite Flower is, just look at their garden!

Front to back: Antigua Orange, Antigua Gold, Disco Flame, and Safari Fire. In the back are the Sunflowers

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Safari Fires in my Featured Extra space. They were the "Last Day of School" flowers

My First Garden after Zach was born. Antigua Gold and Orange Marigolds. I ALWAYS have those in my garden! The small white Begonias are Zach's first exposure to his own garden.

Below are the Marigolds at my Parent's house. The top picture are mine but the others were my Mother's Day gift for my Mom. They are gorgeous in person!  


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I Agree With Christie On This One

Recently, Christie vetoed a gun control bill that would ban magazines with larger then 10 rounds of ammo. I support sensible gun control, but this isn't going to stop mass shootings. Supporters of this bill argue that smaller rounds mean a shooter has to stop and reload more saving more lives. But it wouldn't stop the massacre:

“Mass violence will not end by changing the number of bullets loaded into a gun,” Christie said in his veto message. “I will not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life, because this is not governing.” He returned the measure to the state legislature with a reform plan that deals with mental health issues, according to his office.

I agree. In order to stop mass shootings to begin with, we need to think about what makes a person think about doing them in the first place. In almost all cases the shooter has some version of a mental health issue. Mental help is expensive to get so a lot of people who need it, don't get it. But if that became accessible to them, then they are more likely to deal with their issues in a better way.

But this is all a general argument Christie is using. He's not mentioning HOW he wants to reform mental health.

Some shooters ARE getting mental help. Like James Holmes the Aurora theater shooter in Colorado.

He met with three Mental Health Professionals at the University of Colorado before the massacre. One of them warned campus police that he was dangerous. They deactivated his ID but that's all that seems to have been done.

With that in mind, any legislation to strengthen Mental Health Access to prevent these massacres from occurring in the first place needs to include the following:

1. When a Certified Psychologist or Psychiatrist says someone poses a danger, law enforcement needs to take that seriously (backed by session notes as proof). That means involuntarily being placed in a mental hospital. By posing a danger I mean the obvious: threatening to kill more then once, obsessions with violence, strong hatred for a specific type of person, not showing emotions when someone is being harmed, severe social issues, and anything else along those lines.

2. Extra money granted to mental hospitals to cover the costs of the extra patients (yes, as a tax payer I'd rather some of my tax money goes to keeping someone who needs the help in a mental hospital as opposed to that person killing a lot of people. It's a worthy investment of our money).

3. Mandatory life-long monthly sessions with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist once released for "mental maintenance". This will help provide a source to talk through issues and deal with stress. If someone is close to snapping again, the professional would see it and report it to law enforcement.

4. Something to help lower the cost of Psychological medications, testing, and sessions. The best recommendation I can make is high tax breaks on mental health bills submitted. It covers most of the cost of mental health care so cost becomes less of an issue. We really need actual costs to come down but that's up to the Psychologist, Psychiatrist, testing companies, and medication companies. Perhaps they need tax breaks too.

It's already illegal to get a gun if you have been involuntarily put in a mental hospital. But they can still get to guns of family members. If that family member has passed the mandatory background check, then legally we can't make them get rid of their gun(s).

But I would hope for the sake of their loved one and of society, family and friends would choose to get rid of their firearms once these individuals are released from the mental hospitals. Even if they don't commit mass murders, a lot of mentally unstable people commit suicide. If they know where to get a gun, they'll use it.

I'm not a danger to society but I do have General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Occasionally, I also get Depression. It's WHY I am a Stay-At-Home-Mommy. To reduce stress so I can better deal with life. I see a fantastic Psychologist who has known me since 2002. Those monthly sessions for "mental maintenance" do make a difference! My parents and Josh are VERY supportive of me. If I am going through a rough patch, they are there for me to help me through it.

I see how important Mental Health is. A lot of people say "those who are likely to cause mass shootings wouldn't talk about that in their sessions, the sessions would be a joke!" I read a lot about these things. I was a senior in High School when Columbine happened and ever since have been interested in WHY they do it. In most cases, the shooters have told someone about their plans, have a growing obsession with violence, and/or have been stronger in their vocal opposition to their would-be targets. Even if they don't actually SAY "I want to kill _______", most will start strongly talking about how much they hate that person or group. If they have a violent look in their eye when they are talking about that person or group, there is something to be concerned about.

The first step I mentioned involves the person in question having to get to a professional in the first place. The fourth is motivation to get them there. But it starts with loved ones who pay attention and say "you need help". Very rarely does an individual recognize and get help on their own with mental issues. It starts with being able to identify the signs of mental health issues and getting them professional help. Nancy Lanza learned her lesson on this the hard way.

Christie is right, a smaller magazine will slow shooters down but not stop the massacres. But seeing someone needs help and getting them there will. But that also means everyone in every step above needs to take their roles seriously. Aurora could have been prevented if the real police had been called and they had taken him to a mental hospital. The reporting Doctor did what she was supposed to. The University should have a better rule for these things. Her job should have been to skip Campus police and report him directly to the real police.