Mental Health

My heart weighs heavy with thoughts of the terrible mass killing in Las Vegas this week. I’m still working on my 49 Random Acts of Kindness in honor of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shootings.

As always, the media and social media are quick to blame gun laws, asking for stricter rules and changes to the Constitution. It may not be a popular opinion, but I honestly think the issue is not about the number of guns the man owned. Did he need 42 firearms? I don’t think it matters. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used a rented truck and fertilizer-based bombs to kill 168. More and more we hear about people driving cars into crowds. Heck, September 11th was accomplished with box cutters. My point is that if someone wants to kill, they will find a way.

Yes, I know that access to guns may allow a person to kill more people, but the real issue, in my opinion, is mental health. We don’t do nearly enough in this country to help identify mental health issues and then to take care of them. I’m not talking about lock them away in some institution, but really help. There is still such a stigma around mental health issues that I think people are afraid to seek help. And I think that we are terrible at identifying them until it’s too late. We always hear “they were so nice” or “we never saw it coming”.

I don’t have an easy answer. I’m afraid that by focusing on taking away guns, we won’t focus on the real issue – what it is inside a person that allows them to think “I am going to kill people today”. I just know that all killers have one thing in common – something that is not a weapon. They have some sort of mental issue. And until we take care of that, I’m afraid we’re going to continue to see killings like those in Las Vegas.

 

Fire On The Mountain!

As you may or may not know, here in California we’re facing an unprecedented drought. On September 9th, a small fire started just a few miles from the barn where I keep Sue. Due to severe dry conditions and very steep canyons, what is now know as the Butte Fire exploded. Over the next few days it would continuously double in size. As of right now, it’s currently sitting at 71,660 acres, with only 37% containment. There are 4,668 firefighters out there trying to stop it. It’s crossed into two counties and came within 4.5 miles of my home. My horse was evacuated on the second day.

I’ve spent the last seven days trying to decide what to take if I needed to evacuate. Obviously my small zoo would go with me (picture my little Rav4 crammed with two dogs, two cats, and two parakeets). The chickens would be freed to the wild to fend for themselves. I have some important documents, my marathon medals, my husband’s Ironman medals, and some other personal items. What else do you take? There was a moment when I just sat there paralyzed… unable to think of anything that I should pack. Thankfully, the lines have held and today we have fog.

I did have the opportunity to go out and help with some of the evacuated animals. It was heartbreaking to see the horses with phone numbers painted on their sides or hooves and turned loose, in hopes that they could outrun the fire when trailers weren’t available to get them out.

I was amazed at my little community. I’ve always known that Amador and Calavaras counties were tight knit, but it’s been spectacular to see them come together to help each other. People drove trailers in and out of danger all night to rescue others’ animals. Strangers opened their homes to those who had lost their own. Hundreds of people reached out in any way possible to try to help their friends and neighbors. Now, “thank you firefighters” signs have started popping up everywhere – words that mean more to me now than ever.

Butte Fire 9-10-15
My Home on Day 2

I am completely amazed at the brave men and women out fighting this beast. From the firefighters on the line (my hubby included!) to the pilots of helicopters and planes (who pull of some ridiculously dangerous maneuvers), they risk everything day in and day out to try to save life and property.

Plane In The Smoke
Plane In The Smoke
Helicopter
Helicopter

So tonight before you go to bed, say a little prayer or send a happy thought into the universe, not only for the people of Amador and Calaveras counties, but for those up in Lake county who are dealing with an equally deadly fire.