Archive for the ‘healing’ Category

Green Healing and Lizard

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Another Awesome Green Healing!

I always imagined that a horticulture therapy class would be fun and healing and I was right! I love the class.  I’m also in-love with a lizard!  Who would have thought that my springtime heartstrings would be drawn in by such a creature.

He (or she) lives in a small Cabbage patch, along with some Brussel sprouts and Rainbow Chard.  I’m not sure about the gender.  Perhaps Deb, from can tell me, but for now, I’ll refer to little lizard as a male.  I think he has a mate or a sibling, because the first time he appeared, another one was following him about.

Gardening has always captured my full attention.  Time passes easily and way too fast for me when I’m working with plants and dirt.  I’ve found myself in gardens all day many times in my life.

I haven’t been able to do more than have a few potted plants in several years, due to muscle and joint pain.  It’s too hard to bend over.  Fatigue slowly took my stamina and my time in the garden lessened with each passing year.  I later moved to the woods and enjoy what I am able to grow in pots, but it isn’t the same as working with a garden in the ground.

One garden I grew was such a part of me that I grieved for the best of a year after I had to leave it behind.  I dreamed of it for a long time.  I finally wrote the new tenant who moved to the house where my garden was.  I included a sketch, with a description of the flowers and which butterflies would be visiting.  I received two of the most wonderful long letters in return the next summer.  One was from the mother and the other from her six-year-old daughter.  They were wonderfully surprised when the garden bloomed and the little girl loved the butterflies as much as I did.  I stopped having the dreams after that.  My garden was loved.

The raised beds where I’m taking the horticulture therapy class are high enough that I don’t have to bend over too far and can even sit on the wooden frame.  Because of this, I am again altogether involved with the garden.  It’s a good thing the class ends at a specific time or I’d be there all day.

During class, I focus my attention on the task at hand and not too much thinking is going on.  I try to listen well when my classmates or the coordinator talks, because I learn so much, which is very cool.

There is so much I could say about each class, which is good, but a little tiring to my brain.  I’d really like to tell you all about what I’ve learned and have become aware of after only attending three classes, and maybe I will in time.

Having been taking photos too, I’m aware of a lot going on at once, and more than just my cute little lizard friend who turns from green to brown right before my eyes.  He’s cute and smart!

I notice a lot about myself.  Of course, I notice how good I feel while I’m there and after I leave.  I also notice how I try to fix things.  It seems I want to save the world.  Apparently, a part of me thinks I’m capable of this, I guess.  Why would I try if I didn’t think I could?

For my birthday last year, my mother and son brought me home a gift.  It was a miniature sculpture of a little girl, on a bicycle inside of a glass bulb.  It reads, “Given the right cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world!”  I can see now why they both thought it fitting for me.

A shovel got away with a young man during class yesterday and dirt went flying across the garden, landing directly on a female classmate.  We were preparing the bed for our tender young Bok Choy plants that we transplanted two weeks earlier.  The young man felt very badly and apologized.  The woman who was blasted with dirt jumped back in surprise and concern, as she wasn’t sure what had happened.  Then, she looked at her shoes and remarked about the dirt on them.

“They look like good gardening shoes,” I told her.  “I bet that dirt will come right off.”

I wanted to fix the situation.  I wanted to make him feel better and help her to let go of her worry over the dirt.  I also wanted her to know he was sorry.

As with the other classes, each time I have seen these particular traits in me.  They are heavy traits, and likely a part of what makes me sad and tired.

I hope the ‘Green Healing’ helps me to realize that I can only do so much.  I am not  responsible for the world.  I can’t make everything right.

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

Green Healing

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Horticulture therapy is truly rewarding.  Working with plants has always been a healing experience for me, but this is my first time in a formal class.  It’s amazing how much insight I gain from being with people in this setting.

“That was the best time I’ve ever had,” my son told me after the second class.

While working with the Cacti, separating plants and each of us making a potted arrangement to take home, I realized how hard it was for me.  Everyone else seemed to be having an easy time, but I struggled.

I found a small piece of Thyme in the potting soil and I couldn’t let it go.  I wanted to save it.  I tried and tried to get it in my pot, but it kept falling over.  I also had a hard time with the Seeds of Pearl, as the plant’s roots are tender.

The group coordinator finally came over to help me.  She didn’t know, or maybe she did, how hard of a time I was having.  Trying to save the Thyme filled me with anxiety and a feeling of failure.  My experience reflected the way I feel most of the time.

Pondering on the anxiety after I returned home, I realized how hard I try to save people or fix situations that most people would walk away from.  I try so hard to get everything just right and that isn’t really the way life ought to be.  I need to simply let go.

One Beet a Day

A beet a day to keep the doctor away

PHOTO CREDIT:  MiriamWilcox via Flickr

A Taoist Alchemist has been working with my son and I for about four months.  He replied to an email I wrote while my son was in the hospital last year.  I wrote more than several emails during that time, but most of them carried the same message, which was that my family needed help.

I couldn’t believe it when he wrote me back.  He offered to help us and he has, in more ways than I could ever have imagined.  He quickly became crucial to the plan for recovery I was working on, which did get my son discharged.

The Alchemist is also a semi-retired Master Clinical Nurse.  He worked with the most severe cardiac patients in the hospital for about thirty years.  You’d never know by looking at him that he’s been around long enough for that history.  He has a youthful spirit and is in excellent health. 

He practices several modalities of holistic healthcare, including homeopathy, Chinese medicine and Oi-Gong.  The man has spent years studying these healing arts, along with nutrition and holistic healthcare.  Today he enjoys assisting people in prevention and recovery from just about any disease, including a stressful life.

The first time we met was to talk about my son.  Of course, this led to discussing my son’s childhood, background and me.  I was in his office for my own treatments shortly afterward. 

My toes had hurt for a while.  I kept waking up in the night feeling like somebody was pulling my toenails with pliers.  It was extremely painful! 

I briefly mentioned this pain, but I wasn’t there for the toe pain.  I was there to figure out how to help my son.  I was there because the energy I felt around this man evoked in me hope that my son could get better, possibly even well, which is not what psychiatry has told us for nearly a decade.

The Alchemist gave me a homeopathic remedy the first day I went for a treatment.  I told him that I hadn’t responded well to homeopathy in the past, but he said give it a try anyway.

The next day, the toe pain was gone.  It never returned like it was.  I’ve felt it on a much milder level, but only a couple of times.  They had been hurting nearly constantly and at one point, I recall being afraid of having to use a wheel chair if the pain continued.  The doctors said it was likely Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus.

I was surprised when the pain vanished after one treatment from the Alchemist.  I really didn’t know what to think.  Perhaps the homeopathic remedy worked.  Perhaps the energy the Alchemist carries is that of a true healer. 

I believe in healers.  I believe some people have access to energy that can heal sickness and disease.  Healing may not always look the same as the pain in my toes disappearing overnight.  Healing is a process and it takes time, along with a little determination, which brings me to the subject of BEETS!

“I want you to eat one beet a day,” the Alchemist said.  I cringed.  I’ve never eaten a whole beet in my life and that’s counting the obligatory servings I’ve had from the predictable holiday side dish.  I wasn’t sure I could do it.

“Can you make that face again?” the Alchemist asked me, laughing. 

“I don’t like the texture,” I told him.  “They are mushy,” and my face crinkled up again. 

“Oh, they’re not like that raw.”


“Definitely,” he said.  “One raw beet a day for both of you.” 

“I want you to prepare this for your mother,” he then told my son.  “Do you think you can do that?” he asked him politely.

“Sure,” my son said enthusiastically.  He likes cooking.  He’s also pretty good at it.  Since he’s been living with me, we’ve split the chores.  His includes cooking and washing dishes.  (Yes!)

A beet a day goes a long way!We’ve had some great meals lately.  I have more energy.  I still have chronic fatigue and pain, but some days, I feel good.  Some days, I have energy.  I do believe a beet a day is a good thing!

My son is doing as well as I’ve seen him in ten years.  He still has challenges too, but we both have a little more energy and many more reasons for hope.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Resources: Taoist Healing and Chi Nei Tsang by Dennis Lewis

Pain, Fatigue and Dogs

dogs know how to fight fatigue, just look...

Sometimes I think I forget or am in denial of having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.  I go and go and go and then I crash.  I try to keep a balance, but some days life demands things and I do more than I should.  That’s the way it’s been lately.

I have a pretty bad infected foot, which I thought was fibromyalgia pain, until I pulled my little toe away to look.  I saw what was NOT fibromyalgia.

A month or so ago, I bought a pair of boots.  I wore them around the house, just for fun, and also to take the dogs out in the mornings.  My foot began hurting after several days.  I’ve had foot pain before after wearing a new pair of shoes, which is why I didn’t do any close inspections of my foot, especially beside my little toe.

Well, it sure didn’t look good so off to my doctor I went.  He gave me antibiotics and cream, made a joke about me wearing boots around the house asking if I thought someone was going to come by with a camera and did I want to be ready.  Very funny while my foot was swollen and infected, but I’m used to him.  I like him.  I don’t like that sometimes I think he lets things go, like my foot!

It only got worse.  A round of antibiotics started to help and here’s where I went wrong, I guess.  I missed a few doses.  Now, I have a hole in my foot.  I went back to the doctor.

“Do you think I need some more antibiotics?” I asked him.

“No,” he responded confidently.  I would like to send you to a podiatrist with your permission.”

Well, duh.

So, off I went to the fancy foot doctor who didn’t have any manners at all.  I don’t know where he’s from, but I bet it ain’t North Carolina.

I told him how I had thought it was fibromyalgia for the first several days of pain.  Maybe that’s why he had a dismissive attitude towards me, but then I am so tired of trying to figure out why people who act weird act that way.

He kept saying what I hadn’t done or what I was doing wrong.

He sent me to the x-ray room where they took several images of my foot.  Fortunately, those looked good.

“How long have you not been taking antibiotics?” he asked when I returned.

“Since I finished the ones my doctor gave me,” I told him.

“You do know you have a hole in your foot don’t you?”

I told him that I most certainly did.

“I’ve been to the doctor twice already.  I would have gone to the emergency room if I hadn’t known I was coming here.”

“You’re wearing closed shoes first of all,” he said in a tone that I didn’t like.

It was cold outside.  My family doctor had complimented my shoes.  Why had he not put me on another antibiotic I wondered.

The foot doctor explained how serious the infection is because of where it is and I’m too tired to describe it, but I took heed!  It can go up and into my leg if it gets worse.  He says if I do everything he told me to do then it should be getting well within a week.

So far so good.  Ten days of a very strong antibiotic.

I’d told my family doctor how my son said I was going to lose my foot and later, my leg when he saw it getting worse.  The doctor joked again saying not to let him get near any knives.  From what the foot doctor said, my son wasn’t far off from being right.

The good news is that hopefully, the antibiotics, along with soaking it in vinegar water will heal it.  The soaks hurt like crazy.

I dislike antibiotics very much and this one is kicking me down like a sick dog.

Tiny love hereSpeaking of dogs, mine are once again being very good nurses.

Yesterday, when I finally returned from the hospital, I lied down and put my foot up.  I know they felt how stressed I was.

Our big guy, Tiny, (the cutie with the big head) whom I’m going to write about soon, well, he crawled up beside me on the sofa and lied down on barely enough space for his wide body and put his head on my belly.  That’s what he’s been doing for the past few months whenever I don’t feel good.  He lies there looking at me with his big beautiful hound dog eyes.  Yesterday, just for extras, he gave me a kiss.  He doesn’t give many.  I felt very special indeed.

My pretty little girl curled up at my feet in her soft ball of silky fur.  She is absolutely the softest dog I’ve ever petted in my life.  Absolutely!

Dogs Rule!!!

They were incredibly sweet with both of their heads resting on me and their eyes saying, “OH WE LOVE YOU!”

cooking for mom

I’m also grateful to my son for the many meals he has cooked for me lately. I’ve gained a few pounds, which is a very good thing.

However, he is staying with me and it is driving me a little nuts.  I’ll be glad when he wants to go back to his apartment.

Just the truth.

I’m going to give in to the fatigue for a little while, which means I’ll have to be alone.

I think I’ll finish a good novel I started weeks ago, The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler.

I’m tired.  Too tired to think much.  I’ve been writing, but have nothing ready to click publish.

With that said, I’m offering a few links of interest I found today about pain.

I am here to tell anyone who suffers from pain each day, whose life is circumscribed and whose goals are slipping out of reach, that you are at last being heard. We are in a pain renaissance.”

Read more: “The End of Ouch” –TIME

–“an adaptive mechanism in which severe pain in one area of the body inhibits pain in another is impaired among women with fibromyalgia. Normally, this system works as a check on the amount of pain the brain can handle; if your arm is sore and someone steps hard on your toe, your arm will temporarily feel better as all of your brain’s pain attention is focused on the new insult. In chronic-pain patients, this mechanism is faulty or nonexistent.”

image of sleeping dog via OLX, Tiredness Disorders

we love mom
Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.

A dog named Free

A dog who loved the river, resting after a swim.

Free, In her element by the mountain creek.

I was a young mother and at times, when I look back, I think I grew up with my son.  Sometimes I’d get strange ideas.  Like with getting a dog.  I told him if we were supposed to have a dog (as if everything is predetermined, which I don’t believe is so), that one would probably just come to us.  I told him if the opportunity arose before school started, which was only about ten days later, then I’d think about it.

“$25.00” read the sign on the side of the large cardboard  box. 

 I don’t know how my son spotted it since we were across the street eating , but he did.  We were at the Apple Chill festival downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

“Mom!  Look!”  And he ran.  He ran fast to the other side of the road and then I heard, “Mom, come here and hurry!”  

Approaching the box I had no clue what was inside.  My son had already spoken with the nice woman standing beside of it.  She was smiling.  He leaned down and came out with a small but fat black furry puppy.  It was the ninth day since I’d said what I had and unknowingly to me,  he had counted the days. 

“It’s the ninth day Mom!”  He placed the puppy in my hands and looked into my eyes.  Very quickly he said here let me take that one and he put it back in the box.  “There she is,” he said.  He picked up another puppy, gently placing  her in my hands.  A smile came across his face instantly and right then tears flowed from my eyes.

I didn’t know why.   I felt something deep inside me.  I knew she had come to us.  I knew too that we needed an extra family member.  Two was not enough.  We needed three and there was our third member, curled up in the cup of my hands just like she had fallen from heaven.

“Can we take her home now?” my son asked.  He hadn’t tried to hold her but instead he wanted me to keep holding her.  “You like her don’t you Mom,” he said with great confidence, and I most certainly did.

“I have some cash in my car,” I told the nice woman selling her puppies at the festival.  “I’ll go and get it.” 

My son’s face glowed. The woman’s eyes teared up.  “You don’t have to pay,” she said.  I can tell you guys are going to give her a wonderful home and that means so much to me.  I can tell you both already love her!”

“Here is eight dollars,” I told her, which was all the cash I had on me.  I offered to pay more but she insisted that we not pay anymore.  She thanked me saying this would cover the puppy shots she had paid for.

Free lived with us as our third and necessary extra family member for 12 years, which is not much time in my time, but a bit in hers.

Most people think she was free, but we named her after a horse from Texas.  Free always reminded me of horses.  She grazed in fields of grass as a pastime and almost always never got sick. 

I’m thinking about Free a lot lately.  Free lived every moment to the fullest.  She engaged in life with every fiber of her being, even in the end she still wanted to experience life, mostly the fresh air outside.  

Free passed with as much glory as she had come to us with, leaving her love and teachings with me forever.

I found a note I wrote shortly after she passed on.  I know it is sad to think about our pets who had to leave Earth, but for me, I cannot forget.

I spent three amazing days with Free shortly before she left this earth.  I spent every day with Free during her life,  but those three days were special.  I stayed with her the entire time.  I lied down as close as I could get with her in the corner.   The Thunder beings came, which always scared Free and I held her close.  I stared into her eyes and I told her all that she meant to me.

People think you’re crazy when you say you can communicate with your dog.  I think people who can’t are kind of strange.

Free sure shared a lot with me.   She was my teacher.  Those three days –Free showed me the world from her view.   I could see life from a place of complete forgiveness, peace and a knowing that it is all okay.

I came across this note I’d written in my diary shortly after Free passed on.

She remains an angel.  

A gift from God

I am humbled 

  My face towards the ground, my head hanging low

I reach for the earth,  the roots run deep

I return to the sky,  the trees stand tall

And this is Free

She is everything beautiful.

Pretty flowers grew and beauty appeared in the woods where no other flowers grew. A healing garden in memory of my best friend, a furry four-legged girl.

A Healing Garden, In Memory of Free

Antidepressants don’t always come in a pill

Her name is Candy and if you met her you would know why.  With strength, a racer’s spirit and her graceful great power, mostly what you notice about her is how very sweet she is.  She sure gave me a healthy dose of an antidepressant!

her spirit comforts mine

Depression is something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life.  I’ve never been able to tolerate the side-effects of antidepressants.  I’ve turned to more traditional medicine for my symptoms.  I did once promise myself if depression zaps me to the point of not being able to get out of bed that I would take medication but the older I got the more sensitive I’ve become to the side-effects.

Acupuncture helped me when I had access to treatments.  Gardening helps me a great deal too.  When I last had a garden, my favorite part of every day was going outside first thing in the mornings and checking to see if anything had happened during the night.  Often times since I was living in the mountains, things did happen.  Little things that amazed me.  Personally, I think getting closer to nature is good treatment for depression.

The mental and psychological benefits I feel during and after riding a horse came as a surprise to me.   I don’t own a horse but I sure wish I did.

My grandpa used to buy and sell horses.  The thing about that was that he sold them way too soon for me to get to know one.

I got a taste of equine-assisted therapy by volunteering at a riding center in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina for people with disabilities.  She was about six years old.  She was amazing.  She helped me put the saddle on the horse and when we made it to the ring she stopped.

“Why did you come here today?” she asked me.

I had to think for a second.  “I came to help you ride,” I answered, which appeared to satisfy her.  She complimented me on my hair band.  I’d bought it in Texas at a cowgirl craft show.  It was my favorite.  “It’s very pretty,” she said.

Then she looked at me in the eyes and so sincerely she said, “This is the best day of my life.”

I understand better now what she may have referred to.   After having the opportunity to get to know Candy, discovering the antidepressant benefits along the way, I can relate to the feeling of having the best day of my life.

Several years after meeting the girl I started thinking of riding horses again.  One day while driving through the country I saw a sign.

“Horse lessons and Trail rides — I jotted down the number.

Not long after that day I was driving up the steep gravel drive on the small farm in a rural area near where I grew up.  The land was familiar.

Candy was gorgeous Appaloosa.  She was obviously sweet but I had no clue how spunky she was and wouldn’t find out until later when we took her to the forest on an equestrian trail.

Candy gave me good medicine.   I would come home so tired I had to go straight to bed but it felt good.

I would rest and remember how it felt being with her.  Every little turn in the trail had stuck in my mind.  I couldn’t wait ’til the next time I could ride.

I think riding a horse makes my brain produce all those wonderful chemicals depressed brains need.

I felt good when Candy listened to me too.  She certainly didn’t have to but she did.   She really wanted to do something else, which was fly as fast as she could alongside her competitive friend but she did what I asked her to do instead.  I learned to trust her.  I wanted her to trust me too.

I couldn’t believe the power she had.  She begged me to let her show off her racing skills, but I was not at all ready.  I knew I was too weak to handle her if she took off running and I could feel how fast it would be if I let her go.  I felt like we became friends in a way.  She was disappointed that she couldn’t fly but her loyalty seemed to be to me, as long as I let her know what I needed and wanted her to do.  I was sad for days that she didn’t get to run in that forest.  I felt like I had disappointed her.

There are many feelings that I experienced during the blessed time I was with Candy.

Fear, confidence, trust, excitement, accomplishment and love were all part of my experience.

The effects of the rides would last about ten days, maybe a little more.  That’s pretty darn good for one dose of medicine.

Healing and medicine doesn’t always come in the form of a pill.

I’m not a doctor or a medical professional.  This post is not intended as medical advice.

I’m just a person who discovered that building a relationship with a horse is healing.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Schizophrenia and community

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...

Image via Wikipedia

In Schizophrenia, I believe there is more to recovery than antipsychotic medications.

“Meaning, Mastery and Membership.  Without these people go nuts,” a former anthropology professor told our class one day.  “The three m(s),”  he called them.  I remember this because it made a lot of sense to me.  I really like things that make sense.

I’m not against using medication to treat symptoms of a mental illness, but it doesn’t make sense for this to be the only treatment method used.  I’m also not referring to an immediate mental health crisis.  I’m talking about the ongoing trials and tribulations of living with the symptoms of a mental illness.

I used to plant flower gardens to attract butterflies.  Butterflies are smart.  They would come when I arrived on the scene with potted plants that hadn’t even bloomed yet.  They would wait, for days and days, while I dug holes and prepared gardens.  Many times they would drink from the sweat on my shoulders, hanging out with me while I worked.  I felt good about myself when I planted those gardens.

I found personal meaning and a sense of mastery when they came to drink nectar from the flowers they had waited for, that I planted for them, and sometimes to lay their eggs on the glorious Bronze Fennel.

Mastery refers to the experience of being capable of doing something.   We don’t have to literally be masters or experts.  Being good at something of course gives us a sense of mastery, but also believing we can learn something new or get better at something we are interested in can also be empowering this way.

Membership is about having a sense of belonging.  Getting paid for my gardens included me in the work force.  I felt too that I had a place in my community as a business owner with a service that I felt good about.

In my personal experience, with my son and other adult children who have schizophrenia, work is either minimal or absent.

I think it’s true that if you work in a career or at a job doing something you enjoy, it’s more likely you’ll be happy and successful.  This is especially important for people who struggle with a thought disorder.  There is a symptom called disorganized thinking.   It is very much the same as being in a room where nothing has a place, a lot like my son’s apartment.  It’s completely overwhelming.

It only makes sense, at least to me, that he would succeed in an area that allows for free thinking, creativity, and time for him to focus on one thing at a time.

He got fired from a pizza parlor because the manager said he took too much time making the pies.  My son said he couldn’t make them unless he could make them just right and that the people deserved better than what they were getting.  He liked to decorate the edges and make sure the crust was perfect.  This took time he said.  He was passionate about the pizzas.

He had made pizzas before, when he was only seventeen.  His pizzas were famous among the locals and with the manager for being the biggest pies in town.  Once I went there and ordered one with artichokes.  The owner, who liked my son’s enthusiasm, laughed that night saying that there weren’t any artichokes left.  They had all gone on my pizza.  My son was proud, watching me as I ate so heartily.

This symptom of disorganized thinking is the main reason my son is not making pizzas as I write, along with the fact that most managers will not allow him to create his own masterpieces.  If I had the money I’d open him a pizza place.  It would have to be known for the biggest pies in town so he could pay the overhead.

There are residential therapeutic living centers in the northern and western part of the US, along with one in the southeast that has become popular.   Some of them have farms and animals.  Some of them teach certain trades or skills.  Unfortunately they are expensive.

I honestly wish that our local neuroscience teaching hospital included a residential living place for the patients who are able to leave and expected to survive in the community.  A place where meaning, mastery and membership could be cultivated and nurtured.  I wish we expected the patients leaving the hospitals and institutions to thrive and not just survive, even as I am certain that every single day my son survives is a blessed day.

Sometimes surviving each day is the very best you can hope for.  I understand that.  Most of my life is like that.

I know it’s dreamy to imagine a place, such as a residential healing farm, as being part of modern-day America’s approach to treating mental illness, but I think it’s a reasonable and rational imagining.

People who have the money are paying and saying wonderful things about some of the therapeutic residential living centers.  Plus, modern medicine doesn’t have illnesses such as schizophrenia figured out.  Recent studies show that being a friend to a person with a mental illness can change brain chemistry.  Well, I figured that all along.

We are told by psychiatrists that schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance in the brain and that antipsychotics are the only answer.  We are told schizophrenia is a lifetime brain disease.  This may all be true, but it doesn’t mean these are laws written in stone or that they apply to every individual diagnosed.

I think there is more to treatment, healing and rehabilitation than medication alone.

Meaning, Mastery and Membership.  We all need a healthy dose of each.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

I’m a just a mother with a few dreamy dreams.

I am not a doctor, therapist or medical professional of any kind.  I am not attempting to give advice about treatment of a mental illness.

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