Military Spouse Life

The War On Mental Illness (Not Guns)

Let’s talk about mental illness for a second.

I had a great post planned on writing for today, but in wake of the terrorist attack last night, I’m going to get on my soap box for a moment. It’s my blog, and I can do that!

I feel for the people of Orlando right now. Even though I am from Newtown, CT where 26 of my townspeople were murdered by Adam Lanza, and I was less than an hour from NYC when the towers fell, and I worked a block away from where the Emanuel AME nine were murdered, I cannot fathom how the families and friends of this tragedy are dealing with this. I have an idea, but not first hand knowledge.

That said, it is easy for me to look from the outside and point fingers. While the topic of gun control is HOT right now, especially in the wake of Orlando, IT’S NOT THE GUNS FOLKS!!!!! I firmly believe we are dealing with people who are dealing with mental illness.

I could literally go on all day about Adam Lanza who is responsible for the Newtown massacre and  how the gun was not at fault! Adam Lanza was actually denied a gun from Walmart. Interestingly, when I went home in May, we went to said retailer, and no guns were for sale there. The gun was registered legally to Lanza’s mother.

Lanza had a mental illness. He had a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication for his mental illness. He opted not to take the medication or follow up with his health care providers. Allegedly, his mother was instrumental in his decision not to continue to seek help.

Why?

Probably because America as a society shames mental illness. Look at what happened in the 1970’s when we started deinstitutionlisation? We started closing down mental hospitals, shoving pills down the throats of the mentally ill, and tried moving on with life while people are not getting the proper treatment for the issue at hand.

When you deal with cancer, you get support from friends and family. You join support groups, you seek out others who are dealing with the same/similar illness and build each other up. You wear pink, tattoo a “survivor” ribbon on your ankle, and the “save the ta tas” car magnet.

When you’re diagnosed with depression, mania, schizophrenia, you don’t tell people. You pop the pill and sweep it under the run. It is perfectly acceptable in our society to have diabetes,  but God forbid you have a personality disorder.

In some instances, our mental illness helps us in other areas…such as say creativity, because you see the world differently. I am dedicating a lot of time and effort to showing this in my book Literary Crazy. I also want people to start embracing the world of mental illness, and stop shaming it. We need to see the beauty in having a mental illness and stop shaming it. You know why? Because people with mental illness deserve a fighting chance at a normal, happy life. Someone who is happy with life, does not walk into a school, church, or nightclub and open fire on innocent people.

Medication is not enough. Mental illness needs support. Mental illness needs to be as accepted as cancer, lupus, diabetes, endometriosis, etc. Maybe once we start embracing mental illness, and treating it fairly, we will stop having mass shootings of this caliber.

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Military Spouse Life

I Refuse to “Think Pink” (So I Must Be An @$$ole)

Admittedly, this post should probably come at the beginning of October when store fronts start painting their windows pink and even bakeries start producing pink bagels (ewwww)…..but alas I could not wait another 10 months for this post….

Yesterday was the two year “anniversary” of the shooting in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Some people remembered yesterday and talked on Facebook about “where they were when it I heard…..” and then today went back to life as we know it.

Not me.

I’m from Newtown. I was born in Danbury, and for a few short months lived in Southbury, but by the time I was a few months old, we moved (literally down the street) into Newtown. It’s where I learned to walk, talk, and bake. The logo for my bakery is of me under the willow tree in our back yard in Newtown, making MUDD pies and sharing them with the neighborhood dog, Pokey.

Even though I’ve lived in many other places since then, I still consider Newtown to be my hometown.

When Adam Lanza opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary, it could not have hit home anymore than it did, unless I had been there or was close with someone killed (I knew people and even went to high school with one of the teacher aids, but I was not close with any of them. I am not professing to be a victim. I’m heartbroken for my hometown).

Today as I checked Facebook for daily news (yes, that was a joke), I was outraged when someone I grew up with posted an article stating nine of the Newtown families (those who directly lost someone that day) have filed a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer for the gun Adam Lanza used, stating the gun should not be on the market, it has no value to civilians….

EXCUSE ME?????????

First off……this is a Second Amendment issue, and this post is not about that.

Second, Adam Lanza ILLEGALLY obtained the gun, so everyone can get off their “stricter gun laws” high horse.

Third, the issue is mental health, not gun laws. Criminals don’t follow gun laws. Those are a moot issue….but back to the mental health issue, and why I hate pink.

Americans are so proud to sport their pink bandannas, water bottles, shoes, dog collars, shirts, and cookies, saying “I support the cure for breast cancer…..” it’s almost sickening!

I can’t stand the pink.

I hate the “Save the Ta-tas” bumper sticker. I hate the pink water bottles. I hate how manufacturers try selling their goods based off making people feel like they are making a difference by buying a pink house-key for their key ring for $3.95, instead of a silver one for $.95. I hate how when we buy these things, we get on our high horses thinking we did something to end breast cancer.

Guess what folks? There is more to life than making yourself feel good for buying a pink cookie in October.

I’m not saying we should not find a cure for breast cancer. We should. However, what about finding a cure for AIDS? What about the 22 veterans who commit PTSD related suicide EVERY DAY? That number is based on the 23 states who report….not all 50, and it doesn’t account for the other veterans around the world!! What about the people with depression? I myself have major depressive disorder. I fight it EVERY DAY. There is no cure. Even with breast cancer, those people usually have a fighting chance to live a healthy life. I DO NOT HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE DEPRESSIVE DISORDER FREE and it makes me angry that in the United States, we continue to sweep mental illness under the rug.

Newtown, CT is a perfect example of this.

We want to blame the people who make the gun? How about looking at Adam Lanza and his DOCUMENTED mental illness? What about his DOCUMENTED NON-COMPLIANT MOTHER who did not actively participate in his healthcare? Oddly, she is believed to be his first victim. How about looking at how our government shut down every last mental institution in the 1970’s and started pumping people full of medicine until they felt nothing at all? That is no way to treat mental illness!!!!

As a country, as a planet, we need to stop sweeping the real issue under the rug. It’s like suing McDonald’s because you’re fat. Maybe look at the reason why you are over-eating, instead. No-one at McDonald’s held a gun to your head and made you eat their food.

As a side note, please do not order a Big Mac, large fry, apple pie, and a diet coke. That doesn’t work either.

I’m waiting for people to wake up and see they need to stop with all this PINK bullshit and start looking at other issues plaguing our communities. Maybe I’m an asshole for being tired of seeing all those stupid pink rubber bracelets, but when was the last time you saw a green one for mental illness? When? Never?

I don’t need a pink window visor to make me feel better about myself. I would feel a lot better if we would open up and talk about the problems we have with mental illness, which happens to be a driving force for many things, including school shootings.

Stop talking about the guns like they grew legs and started killing children. Address the real issue. The mental health issue. It needs to be as prominent as the breast cancer awareness.

I’ll enter my first full marathon for a cause, when we start running for depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, and the multitude of other mental illnesses we like to just sweep under the rug and pretend don’t exist.

Life

The Craziness Continues

What a week! Not only was it EXTREMELY busy, but I had to pull it off while being absolutely sick. Being sick while pregnant poses its own problems. I can’t take any medication, so really I just had to suck it up and suffer through it. Overall though, it was a great week!

We started with a baby shower on Monday night! I still don’t have pictures (they are on everyone else’s phone still) but the owners of the cafe where I work wanted to put together a shower. I’m guessing it’s because someone asked me about having one and I mentioned we didn’t think we would have one. Bill and I don’t have family here, and our closest friends live all over the country. There were about 10 people and the party was great! We have some new stuff for the baby AND the owners, who have three kids of their own, bought us a stroller/car seat combo. This is such a relief to us because it’s so confusing for new parents to look at these things and figure it all out!

Tuesday night, Bill was awarded Hero of the Game at the Stingrays Hockey game (which they also won!) There is a video floating around somewhere on my PC so I can show you…. Basically they choose a veteran each game and honor them during the game. We had some of our friends with us, I cried, and Bill had a great time! I’ll get you that video as soon as I can!

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Friday night we had the Holiday Party for the US Coast Guard. Each year we are honored with preparing the desserts for the party. We even have our own flavor for the USCG! This year we did cake pops and cupcakes for the display AND we got to go on the USS Yorktown which is (decommissioned) and put on display right here in Charleston!

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Saturday I was back to baking with this cake and smash cake for a 1 year old! It was good to be back in the kitchen, even getting over not feeling well (don’t worry, I had no fever and was over being contagious by the time I was baking!)

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Saturday night it was back to see the Stingrays. Obviously, we love hockey, but Saturday night told the whole story. Back in the 1993-1994 season, one team started what is known as a Teddy Bear Toss, where fans toss a new or gently used teddy bear onto the ice after the home team scores their first goal. Those teddy bears go to local charity groups, hospitals, shelters, etc.

It has become tradition among the lower hockey teams (I’m waiting for the NHL to start participating!!) but we set a record this past Saturday with the Stingrays collecting 3,835 bears for charity!

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I was a giant mess and it was AWESOME! It took them a good 15 minuets to clean up. They brought out pickup trucks, filled the beds, AND the cabs, in addition to several large bins and other methods of collection. Yes, I cried when I saw the generosity of the ECHL!!!!! It’s also funny to watch these big burly hockey players pick up hundreds of soft little teddy bears!

Finally, Sunday was the two year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT. This hits home hard, because, well, Newtown was my home for the first 6 years of my life. I knew three people inside that day, two of whom are no longer with us.

Those who remembered, got on Facebook and did the whole “I remember where I was when….” Me? I’m still angry. I can’t believe this would happen in our small little horse town. I’m angry it happened, I’m mostly angry at Adam Lanza, and I’m tired of hearing people scream “gun control” because obviously criminals DON’T OBEY THE LAWS. Adam Lanza went to the local Walmart….one I had been inside 1 million times as it was right down the road from my parents house in Danbury, and was DENIED a gun. He still obtained one. He killed 26 innocent people. I’m angry and probably always will be.

On that note, it’s time to start a new week. I’m still feeling under the weather, but I have a lot to do! I’ll tell you more next post!

 

Military Spouse Life

Operation Cookie Takeover

imageSo this is what a box of 250+ cookies about to be shipped to Afghanistan looks like! I know you really can’t see what 250 cookies looks like, but it’s A LOT of cookies….and we figured if we were shipping them over to the troops, we better do it right and send the BIG cookies…with small, round, colorful, won’t-melt-in-your-hand (or hopefully during shipping), chocolate pieces included!

We received an email earlier in the week asking us to jump in and bake since someone who had committed to doing them had to back out. Since Bill and I met after his 4 big deployments in the USMC, I never got to do this for him and his company, so whenever someone asks the bakery to do anything related to the military, I answer “HELL YES” as quickly as I can. It doesn’t make Thanksgiving any easier for those who are deployed, but it might help for a minute….or as long as the sugar rush lasts.

I almost cried when I packed the box and placed the paper inside explaining why the troops were getting the cookies. Attached to the information sheet is small slip of paper (it’s on the back, so you can’t see it in the picture) with the name of someone who means a lot to me.

Rewind about 30 years (I’m 33 now) and in a small horse town in Connecticut, I learned my first words, took my first steps, and started making mudd pies under the willow tree. Fast forward to 2012 and a coward with a gun opened fire in a small school in that town, called Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. While I did not attend that particular school, (I lived on the other side of Newtown). I had personal connections to three people inside. Two of them are no longer with us. One, a first grader who is the cousin of one of my BFF’s, witnessed the shooting in his classroom.

Each year, in honor of the 26 people innocently killed, Bill and I participate in 26 Acts of Kindness with We Are Newtown. We take the 26 names and attach them to 26 random things we do between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you jump on Facebook, you can like the We Are Newtown page and get a complete list of names so you can participate. I will also post the names here as soon as I figure out how.

This year I was able to take two things really important to me…our military, and my hometown, and honor them both. Yes, it’s just a box of cookies, but maybe it will inspire others. What if we all did 26 random acts of kindness each year? How amazing would that be?

I must sign off now because my eyes are tearing up and because I am SERIOUSLY behind on NaNoWriMo. People are starting to validate their novels and be deemed “winners.” I’m still introducing characters……but cookies wait for no one!

Ciao for now!