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  1. #1
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    Default The stigma of mental illness...

    I have to admit, I am always mildly entertained by the stories of others who have family members who are, in their words, bat-shit crazy. Maybe because it makes me feel better about my family But it occurred to me today that in all the times that we talk about family members or friends being "nuts" we are touching upon a more sensitive issue: mental illness and/or the need for mental assistance thorough medical intervention.

    I'll admit it: I take Zoloft for mild anxiety/stress related issues. Hey - I run a horse farm - doing that for a living is bound to drive you a little out of your ticker. But when I first started feeling as though I may need to talk to my doctor about it, I had some huge issues revolving around feeling embarrassed and/or weak. My husband was a huge help in that department, as he has been on something for years for anxiety (and that's before he met me!) He helped me get past the stigma of it all. When I talked to my mom about it - she even gave me a hard time as she is from the "suck it up generation" and grew up on a Minnesota farm. It took her a while to get used to the idea of me taking something.

    I guess my point it - I wonder if a lot of the issues we are currently seeing have to do with people who have real mental health issues that are not encouraged to seek help and provided the resources they need. I am certainly not comparing someonoe who needs a little help to someone who has much more serious coping issues. But I wonder if it hits on a larger issue.

    Thoughts? Opinions?
    Come to the darkside...we have cookies.


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  2. #2
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    I too take Zoloft for pretty severe anxiety. It took me (and my mother) a long time - 6 years of hell in middle and high school - to realize what the issue was. Life has been much better since I've been medicated. I've never dealt with stigma around it in my own family, but I think that largely has to do with the fact that both of my parents are on antidepressants and it's something we've always been very open about.

    I really think we need to make psychiatric care more available. I think it can be argued that mental health is more important than physical health in some cases. We need to destigmatize it and make it a normal thing that is assessed, IMO. There's so many people who would benefit from a diagnosis and treatment of something like that, who are simply in denial and trying to cope with a treatable pain.


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  3. #3
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    Mr. PoPo's mom recently passed away. She was never formally diagnosed, but she was apparently schizophrenic. I can't even begin to explain the extent of the pain and suffering she caused her family. She never had a job, she couldn't take care of herself, she lived with her mother until the day she died (and her mother is almost 100!), she was an alcoholic, she was neglectful, she was a hoarder, among other things. Her symptoms came on in early adulthood and since she was an adult, there really wasn't much her family could do about it. She wouldn't see a doctor and go on meds, her family couldn't have her committed. While she did a lot of damage to her family, she wasn't a threat to society at large.

    I have spent time off and on in therapy and am currently looking for a new therapist due to a boatload of shit that is going on in my life right now. Therapy/mental health treatment is expensive and seems like it is something that is available to people with a certain level of income. What of the poor people who need help? Where do they go? A social worker? How would they get there (lit and fig)? What of the adults who are mentally ill but refuse treatment or who are alone (or who feel alone) so no one is there to persuade them to seek help? How does one even find someone to help them if they have limited resources?
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


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  4. #4
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    Totally agree with you PP. It can be really hard to get the help one needs. And for people with serious mental illness, they need constant support and involvement from a team of professionals, and family, and that support is just not always there.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


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  5. #5
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    Oct. 20, 2006
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    I'll participate having some nutty family members

    It doe seem very unfair that perhaps, those who need help the most aren't able to get it or the information isn't out there where to find it.

    My father is on state assistance. I've said that before. Thank, thank, thank heavens he has that. When he moved states a few years ago (he lives with his mother and she was moving essentially), he wasn't able to transition easily onto the new state's care. Those were months were I was waiting for a phone call to find out that he killed himself. He is not typically dangerous to others, but he can be very paranoid and if you take that into the wrong circumstances, that is incredibly dangerous.

    It took a psychiatrist with the most incredible patience to get him to where he is today. My father is extremely tricky to medicate a lot of the medications don't work, have the opposite effect, etc. Long family history of very serious adverse (and bizarre) reactions to all kinds of classes of medications. Finally, years in the working, he is now a stable, almost functioning adult.

    He had some extremely tricky bad days/weeks/months, but most of the time he was an extremely productive and lauded volunteer for a bustling non-profit organization. Most holidays, etc he is in there busting his tail.

    If you would have asked me five years ago if that was possible, I would have called you crazy.

    What happens when that same type of mental illness isn't treated?

    Why don't you ask some of his relatives that are 6 feet under?

    One in an altercation with police. Others decided to self-medicate and OD, drank themselves to death, etc.

    I can't diagnose anyone obviously as I'm not a mental health professional, but I am starting to see the changes in my brother...but he is a seasonal employee without benefits. Where on earth would he go for help? Especially expensive, tricky mental health issues. Not really a go in for an antidepressant type visit...

    And there is an incredible stigma all over. I couldn't tell you the number of times I have been with my father or heard after the fact about his medical appts and once the physicians heard what meds he were on, dismissed his pain/concerns as not being valid. One ended up being a severe concussion with resulting head trauma, another ended up being cervical vertebrae damage. However, the first few physicians couldn't see past the mental illness.

    It's sad. I always think mental illness is the black sheep of the cause world. Everyone always seems proud to have their pink ribbon bumper stickers but no one wants to be forward and admit/champion the cause for all the nutters of the world.

    And FWIW--I am a little quirky too. I have had severe depression issues and over the top anxiety. Now horses are my primary therapy, but I know that sometimes a little pharmaceutical intervention may be necessary...


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  6. #6
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    MI runs pretty deep on the male side of my family. My father & both 1/2 brothers, are HUGE self medicators, D w/alcohol, Bs w/pot. They are all now on big pharma meds, which I don't necessarily consider a positive. Ds meds help, just enough to keep on an even keel. Both Bs take handfuls of anxiety/depression meds. In their cases, it seems to be more about $ than sovling their probs. Anxiety, and some forms of depression, can be worked through with the right tools, as opposed to meds. God knows I worked thrugh A&D myself, no meds, no docs (I'd consulted with teo ijits). I am also creeped out by meds that alter my brain chemistry.

    CFF



  7. #7
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    Apr. 15, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by CopperFoxFarm View Post
    I am also creeped out by meds that alter my brain chemistry.

    IMO, it's no more "creepy" than taking a medication for hypo or hyper thyroidism or something like that. It alters how those organs are working. Taking Tums alters the chemicals in your stomach.

    It's medicine. When used correctly is should merely set things back to their normal settings.


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  8. #8
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    We found out about a year ago, that DH has Asberger's Syndrome. For 45 years I simply could not figure out what was 'off'. He could be sweet and then turn immensely cruel, saying the most hurtful things; even going to physical violence against me, the kids, the walls, the dog. I stayed because for the most part, except for being bossy, he was a good and faithful husband.

    The thought of mental illness never entered our mind. His words and actions were dismissed as reactions to a bad day, fighting traffic, and genuinely being mad about something.

    Only in retrospect does it all fall into place. Bossy was ocd and the need to have everything in an order that made sense to him. It wasn't about controlling me. It was about having his world on an even keel. His rage wasn't rage...it was agitation because the world went out of balance for him. I learned when to back off for a while and not over-whelm him. I have admit that I have to do all the work because he lives in his own little world. Which brings me to my point.

    In the autism spectrums, there are worlds, ideas, phantasies that just don't make sense to people who are not autistic. That's why it's so hard to understand why people like this do what they do...the over reaction, the violence over 'nothing', the inappropriate 'solutions' to problems that are invisible to us.

    His Asberger's made him a model child in his era..the 1940s and 50s....quiet; played by himself; kept order in his room; never cause upset or problem. He was praised for being so 'well-behaved' when , instead, he was not connected to the world around him; withdrawn, unable to cope with social situations in school, unable to communicate. The signs were all there.

    Now that I understand what he can't, I can at least make him aware of when he's slipping into that alone place. We've found a mutually satisfactory level for him to function and understand the world. And I've learned that his agitation is not anger or meaness...it's a loss of how to exist in a world he doesn't understand.

    I see more of these symptoms in what happen at Sandy Hook than anything else. Until there is more awareness of the beginnings of mental illness, disease and autism, I don't think we'll find any answers. As a society, we have to have more understanding of how to treat people with compassion and in a way that makes sense to them. My mother always told me, when I had concerns and didn't understand the cruelty in the world, that "You're being ridiculous, go outside and play". There's too much of that dismissal.


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  9. #9
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by alternate_universe View Post
    IMO, it's no more "creepy" than taking a medication for hypo or hyper thyroidism or something like that. It alters how those organs are working. Taking Tums alters the chemicals in your stomach.

    It's medicine. When used correctly is should merely set things back to their normal settings.
    Not so simple.

    A "normal" functioning organ other than the brain doesn't alter your consciousness, your sense of self like altering the way your brain works may.
    THAT is why it is so tricky to treat any mental issues, "normal" is a fuzzy definition in mental health care.

    By the nature of the brain, when you alter how it works, you also may alter who the person feels to be.

    One of our vets finally hung himself, a bit after 40, because he was stable on medication/therapy, but "not himself" in a way he could accept.
    He was non-compiant on medication/treatment, which is part of so much of the more severe mental illness.

    He described being on medications and functional as feeling like a horse turned out to pasture with hobbles on.

    For many farm calls, we were many miles away, 20+, he would get a backpack with supplies, put on running shorts, lace tennis shoes on and run all the way, treat our horses and run all the way back to his clinic.

    He also had Tourette's Syndrome and could not quit cussing and grunting and that put off many people.

    You may get sick and die with a physical illness, mental problems are a whole different ball of wax.


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  10. #10
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    Unfortunately, I can only imagine the stigma of mental illness getting worse each time there is a tragedy like this; there seems to be a lot of buzz about removing mentally ill people from the general population to keep everyone safe... At least, that is what seems to be reflected in many comments on the various news stories. Many people want to go back to the old way of locking people up in institutions until they are well again. These tragedies reinforce the idea that mentally ill = dangerous.
    Jigga:
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


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  11. #11
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    I have been out of therapy for most of the last three years, not because I don't want the support or don't have insurance to help, but because I can't FIND anyone with an ounce of what I know I need in this area. Many of them just parrot phrases that I can read for myself. Too many of them around here offer "advice" which is inconsistent with my values and beliefs.

    I've been to more than a half-dozen providers so far and come away so discouraged sometimes it makes "things" worse.

    I can imagine what a painful trial life is for people who have never had the benefit of good counseling or effective medication. I used to think it was because they were too stubborn or prejudiced to give therapy a try. Now I know that for many people, it's lack of access to talented help.
    *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=


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  12. #12
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    Aug. 12, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by saultgirl View Post
    Unfortunately, I can only imagine the stigma of mental illness getting worse each time there is a tragedy like this; there seems to be a lot of buzz about removing mentally ill people from the general population to keep everyone safe... At least, that is what seems to be reflected in many comments on the various news stories. Many people want to go back to the old way of locking people up in institutions until they are well again. These tragedies reinforce the idea that mentally ill = dangerous.
    I've been in a discussion about this all morning with a FB friend who is HFA. She is terrified, truly terrified, of being demonized by the community b/c of this tragedy.

    I'm not necessarily seeing a stereotype here. What I'm seeing is that a LOT more questions need to be asked about why the shooter wasn't getting any help or support, seemingly not even from his own family. Daddy "hasn't seen his son in years"? What's UP with that? Older brother hasn't seen him in years either? What's UP with that? Daddy ran off with a trophy wife and paid Mommy $280k a year in guilt money? What's UP with that? And she STILL couldn't get the kid any help? What's UP with that? And she had FIVE GUNS in the house? What's UP with that?

    I'm not demonizing ANYBODY at this point but I sure do think questions need to be asked about the conduct of the adults before we go demonizing the shooter.
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


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  13. #13
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    I had an interesting conversation with my dad this morning. A little history; my parents divorced very early and we grew up with our dad (my brother and I). Our mother didn't have a whole lot to do with our upbringing and this, as my dad reports, was particularly hard on my brother (younger than I). My brother died in 1990 from asthma and that permanently injured my dad (emotionally). He is convinced that his habits -smoking- were acts of self destruction from the pain of being rejected by his mother.

    Anyway, context. He always remembers a time my mother shamed my 17 year-old brother when he went to her office with his girlfriend to ask for some money and my mom, as reported by others in the office, angrily upended her purse on her desk and declared that every time he came to her it was for money. This hurt him a great deal. My dad comforted him the best he could.

    Here's what my dad said this morning, "If he'd gone outside and busted her windshield and set her car on fire people would have just said he was crazy".

    Isn't that interesting? Gosh, we really have to think about how we treat each other, and how we might injure each other, especially young people of that age, especially as parents. So mental health issues aside, what was going one with that young man that might have precipitated this action?

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


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  14. #14
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    It is no real secret regarding me so...

    I am bi-polar, and have been most of my life though not diagnosed until well into adulthood. Sometimes it manifests as just depression, other times I can flit from one to the other in a course of seconds, few times in my life I have been on the up side--what others would call manic. My preference would to be sl hypomanic if at all possible.

    You name a drug, I have prob been on it, and in most any combination. Some work for a while then not and have to change. And maybe come back.

    Yes it is sort of like organic diseases BUT it is also very different too. The substances that we are trying to moderate cannot be measured (seratonitin, NE, dopamine, etc) so unlike thyrioid dz or diabetes, we cann't measure our level of thryoid or glucose and adjust our drug doses accordingly And the neurotransmitters interact with each other in odd feedback mechnicsm, and the receptors the act at often up and down regulate depending on how much of the substance is present and for how long, etc.
    Then we figure in all the outside influences as well--just plain old moods.

    But as a stigma, I see 2 sides of it any more. I am seeing many younger people (I am 55) talking about being bipolar or depressed or whatever as almost a badge of honor. Almost TMI effect. As if having a mental disease like these is a fashion statement, or what it takes to fit in, or a way to draw attention to themselves as being special/same/different/or excuse for why the do stupid things. And I see the drugs handed out like candy to people that may just "be depressed" as opposed to may actually "have depression". And then the drugs and patient not monitored or offered any supportive therapy. "Here, take this pill and you will fine".

    But I also see it as a stigma of sorts. People don't understand it if they don't have it, or they think what they have is the same as what you have. And often the later is the worst!

    I wish there was a different term we could use besides "mental illness". If you have diabetes, you don't say you have "pancreas illness", do you? And if you did for some strange reason, there are MANY forms of pancreatic illnesses--some mild/minor and others very serious and debilitating.

    And we have no good way to accurately diagnosis your "disease". No blood test to say you have bipolor, depression, schizoprenia,etc like you do for diabetes, hypothryoidism, etc. While some of the more serious mental disease like the last are better defined, even that is a gray zone. Those of you with family members may agree that there are days these patients function perfectly normally. At least at some time they did. And same with the "lessor" diseases like bipolar, depression, etc.

    People develope coping strategies to be able to funciton in the rest of society even with their disease. We all do it, or at least I sure do it. I have to fake it more than not in order to funciton. So how do we know someone is "sick" before something tragic happens?

    And on I could babble, but I won't.


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  15. #15
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    True dat.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by War Admiral View Post
    I've been in a discussion about this all morning with a FB friend who is HFA. She is terrified, truly terrified, of being demonized by the community b/c of this tragedy.

    I'm not necessarily seeing a stereotype here. What I'm seeing is that a LOT more questions need to be asked about why the shooter wasn't getting any help or support, seemingly not even from his own family. Daddy "hasn't seen his son in years"? What's UP with that? Older brother hasn't seen him in years either? What's UP with that? Daddy ran off with a trophy wife and paid Mommy $280k a year in guilt money? What's UP with that? And she STILL couldn't get the kid any help? What's UP with that? And she had FIVE GUNS in the house? What's UP with that?

    I'm not demonizing ANYBODY at this point but I sure do think questions need to be asked about the conduct of the adults before we go demonizing the shooter.
    What do you mean what's up with that? That sounds like millions of "typical" American families! If I explained my childhood on paper it would make that one sound like a idyllic upbringing!



  17. #17
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    People also don't want the stigma of mental illness on their children, because I think they don't want to be blamed. When a family member's child was born with Down's many years ago, they got her into all types of programs, and really were there for her. But, there were many theories bandied about, among other relatives of the cause, and which side of the family this came from, and whose 'fault' it was.

    I've seen this happen since, with other conditions, and especially with autism. Some people seem to think that it makes a difference how something occured, instead of moving forward with helping the child as the most important priority. It seems that everything has to be someone's fault, instead of moving on.


    I've also seen parents deny the permission to get special tutoring for their child, or let them go into special classes with more help, because (I don't know if this is still true) but in the three states I knew about, it required the parents permission to put them in special classrooms, or tutoring, and if the parent said no, then the child went without help. Denial is a powerful tool, and it can dramatically damage a child's chance to grow and develop to their full potential.


    I was reading an article about the denial and coverups, and it stated that many child psychiatrists and psychologists that treat children don't even take insurance, because the parents pay directly so their child won't have a history of mental illness or treatment.

    And after reading War Admiral's post, I think the mother did everything she could to make sure her child didn't have a history or treatment. Or else the treatments or help weren't accepted by her son, but she paid for the fact that she had guns available with her life. Unfortunately, a lot of children and adults paid with theirs also. I can't imagine the pain of the survivors and the families.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  18. #18
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    Someone close to me has bipolar disorder and, like Meghan, would prefer to be just a bit hypomanic... he says it feels good to have lots of energy, all kinds of great ideas, self-confidence, an elevated mood, etc... A "normal" mood, or worse, a depressed one, is no fun in comparison.

    Counselling, in addition to hard work, to find the right meds, has helped a lot. He's understanding that most of us are not happy, happy, confident and effortlessly full of energy all the time and that daily life can be a little boring and just "OK"...I think accepting that a "normal" mood is not necessarily exciting all the time is a key to keeping people on their meds. I think a lot of us would love to feel "great" for days on end, but that's not reality and, for people with bipolar disorder, it can be a slippery slope to full-blown mania, which is terrifying for everyone involved.



  19. #19
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    Getting someone help is not as easy as it sounds. First you/someone has to recognize there IS a problem, and that it is significant enough to need treatment.
    Then you have get the person to concede to treatment. In their mind, they are normal.
    THen you have get an appointment. Ie, wait.
    Then, how competent, qualified, good, effective is the person you get the appointment with?
    And then there is the insurance fun. That is a huge problem for many people. Self included and I won't even try to go into it from even my experiences.
    Then which drug to start with? THey are not "one pill fits all" and they do not work immedicately.
    Who is going to pay for the drugs? They are not cheap. yes, there are ways to get them paid for but that is a paperwork trail and takes time.
    Who is going to make sure the person takes their meds properly?
    Then there is the monitoring and on going treatment.
    Trust me, it ain't cheap (and 280K in CT isn't the same as 280K in central OK!!) and it is a life long committment to treatment therapy.

    As for the guns side of it...I am hoping there is an explanation as to how he got access to the guns. That Mom had them properly secured at home and that he circumvented those security measures.

    I am not a gun fan. They terrify me. But DH has guns. Don't ask me what knds or how many; I don't "speak gun". They are all under lock and key, ie secured. Several are in a steel gun case that is locked and in the back of a closet that you have to move tons of stuff to even get to. And heaven knows where the key is. But he also has some in a "regular" gun case. Ie a piece of wooden furniture with a glass front. Yes, it is locked. And it is in a back room as opposed to on display in the living area of the hourse. But so what? Wood and glass break pretty easily. If I knew how use a gun and went off like the shooter did, I could easily access these guns. (I don't even know how to put bullets in one so everybody is safe. ) So I don't know how many guns he has but I know it is more than 5.

    So ALOT of people have guns in their house, and have them properly secured. And $hit like this still happens.

    If someone wants to do a crime, they will find a way to circumvent the safe guards us honest people have put in place to thwart them.


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  20. #20
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    I work as an RN in a local Psych unit. It has been a wonderful experience and I love working with this population. I become so up-set when people are negative towards others with mental illness. The longer I live, the more I believe there is no such thing as "normal". I have patients on a regular basis that don't want to take their medications because they are afraid they will "loose their-self". With the advances in medicine, the side effects are becoming grately reduced. I also explain to them that if they had high blood-pressure, they would more than likely not think twice about taking a medication. If something can go wrong with the heart (or any part of the body for that matter), why is it such a big deal if there is something wrong with the brain. The system STINKS for people with mental illness and I am not at all optimistic that there will be a change any time soon.
    Boarding for Show, Pleasure, and Retirement horses. www.LockeMeadows.com


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