Category Archives: Dreams

May Flowers Bloom: National Mental Health Awareness Month

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Whether you realize it or not, you know someone who struggles with mental health. Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 five people fall into this category(1). Statistics also state that 1 in 3 people suffer from heart disease (2). If you were one of these people with heart disease (or one of your loved ones), chances are that you wouldn’t hesitate from reaching out for help or posting something like this to your Facebook/twitter feed, “Send positive thoughts, my Dad had to go to the ER for angina (chest pains).” Or if you needed to change your medications to lower your blood pressure, you wouldn’t think twice about telling your boss the reason for the doctor’s visit, or tell your coworkers the purpose of those pills you take during lunch break.

Same goes for diabetes. Diabetes affects 29 million people in the US; that’s 1 in 11 people(3). It develops either through the failure of the pancreas to make enough insulin, or the body not using insulin properly. Either way, diabetes is managed through medications, educational counseling, nutrition, exercise, community support and close monitoring by a medical professional.

Diabetes and heart disease are caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors. It all starts with genetics, by environmental stress, including nutrition, can compound any underlying biology. Neither one of these illness can necessarily be “cured.” One doesn’t simply, “snap out of” a diabetic trance or lower their blood pressure by “taking a deep breath.” These facts are accepted and understood.

Yet, when it comes to mental illness, stigma and misunderstanding still seem to rule the day. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, to name a few, are caused by (more or less) a malfunction of neurotransmitter chemicals within brain circuits and sympathetic nervous system. Like the other two diseases, mental illnesses are also compounded by biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Some mental illnesses have been linked to abnormal functioning of nerve cell circuits or pathways that connect particular brain regions. Others are caused injury to certain parts of the brain.
Just like the other diseases, mental illnesses can be managed through medications, nutrition, exercise, community support and close monitoring by a medical professional.

Yet, you probably won’t see someone post, “my anxiety is running high, I need to adjust my medication,” or “Send positive thoughts, my Dad went to the ER because he hasn’t slept in three days.” A person who lives with a mental illness is less likely to notify their employer out of fear of losing their job. Instead of saying, “I’m seeing my doctor to adjust my bipolar medications,” they are more like to give an excuse. Instead of reaching out to friends when anxiety gets too overwhelming, the are more likely to disappear, to delete their Facebook or twitter account for a while.

Why? Why is it that we can accept that someone with diabetes has a MEDICAL condition that needs treatment with daily medication, but someone who is depressed needs to “just snap out it.” Where is the fear to reach out to our bosses and friends coming from? Why isn’t it a part of the normal dialogue?  And why won’t insurance pay at the same rate for mental health treatment as diabetes or high blood management?

A big part of the collective fear and disparity comes from the media. Historically, mental illnesses have been misunderstood and therefore portrayed in a negative light in films and TV. Also, whenever a violent crime with mass casualties is committed, often the first action is to rationalize the actions with, “did the person suffer from a mental illness?” Statistically, a person with heart disease is more likely to commit such an offense, but no one reports that person who shot up a school was suffering from high cholesterol. Also, people with a mental illness are more likely to be the VICTIM of a crime rather than the perpetrator. There is also the myth/misunderstanding that someone with a mental illness is somehow less mentally capable of completing tasks (not true!).

So, May is national mental health awareness. What can YOU do? Be aware of the myths and stigmas surrounding mental illness, and REJECT them. EMBRACE the current scientific research that demonstrates the need for community support and a PART of that community. SHARE this information to promote awareness. REACH out to your friends and family and let them know that mental illness is NOT something to be ashamed of, but instead, taken seriously and managed through love and support. UNDERSTAND, that a person with mental illness is a PERSON first, who has an illness second (just like a someone with heart disease is a PERSON with a malfunctioning cardiac system).  And if you suffer silently, paralyzed by that collective fear, don’t. SPEAK up, don’t be afraid to tell your inner circle. More than likely someone in that inner circle also shares this fear. WRITE to your congressman today and demand federal parity for mental healthcare. Tell them to support the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. It is unacceptable that people are turned away or don’t receive treatment due to the lack of access.

It is only through these actions that mental illness can be normalized and treated as the medical disease it is. Let’s, “snap out of,” this cycle of ignorance and fear, and promote a better understanding and acceptance.

-K.M.Clark, a person who conquers symptoms of bipolar disorder (most) every day.

  1. http://www.nami.org/
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  4. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-causes-mental-illness

In Dreams

 

 

 

“In Dreams we bloom, soaring beyond Time and Space.”
dream turtle

The Family Picture Curse

family picture

Cherished are the moments when

We gathered in front of the photographer’s screen

Poised in mirth and aplomb,

Forever captured for endurance sake.

But heed this warning:

Long after the camera flashed,

And the film was developed,

After the “right” picture was chosen,

Picked up from the studio, and hung prominently on the wall,

The eternal clock was set into motion

Counting down the days and years when each and every person

Captured in this resplendent canvas

Will no longer have breath to praise it

Or eyes to behold the memories it encased.

Each beating heart, so full of life in this picture

Beats to this clock, but ever time moves on.

Eventually, hearts stop; lives fall short,

Returning to the dust from which it began.

Yet, just as the original authors intended

This picture, displayed on the living room wall,

Captured every family member’s likeness

To remind all that come before and after

Of that person’s form and feature.

Thus, one’s moments of happiness

Is also one’s living curse.

In the end, after the final stroke of the predetermined hour,

Those who smiled for the camera

Now Only smile from behind the canvas’s frame.

A Walk in the Park

woods

Somewhere in the distance, civilization drones on;

But here, in this pocket of nature, its presence is only heralded by detritus on the trail.

Place one foot forward, and then another

Kicking the leaves before, leaving  soft footprints behind.

Watch the sunlight trickle between the fingers of the trees,

Giving light to all weary walkers.

Step lightly over the steadfast bridge, rubbing hands along the knotty pine rail.

Be as the cat on yonder log-

Eyes shut, ears wide open, listening to the creek’s gurgling song.

Glide away from the bridge,

stepping onto a trail worn smooth by many a seeker’s feet.

Covered in a carpet woven in autumnal leaves,

It invites all to explore its winding wonders.

And what wonders to behold!

Hark!  Inhale the many exhalations  of the trees that line the Way.

Taste the sweet sweat of the world,  first bequeathed to us from a comet’s demise.

Continue down this path; leave your cares behind.

And at the end—a glen with the best wonder of all:

Friends gathered with welcoming smiles.

A disk spins… “Catch!”

My America, The Eagle Distressed

My, America, the Eagle Distressed

36291_719_american-eagle-flag-wings-cross-stitch-pattern-look

To even contemplate that we, as a nation, are akin to an Eagle— one with the Freedom of the skies; to have the time, the Liberty, to speak about this noble bird in any manner with total impunity, without fear of mortal retribution or imprisonment, is absolutely the epitome of said Liberty, our Constitution eternal.

Yet, these very Freedoms that we have been given, and the idle time for such contemplation, has placed our nation in distress. Our nation, the majestic Eagle, appears to be tearing itself apart.

The left wing bites at the right wing,
right wing pulls off feathers from the left wing,
Until not enough remain and our Eagle nation flounders

Meanwhile, vultures gather hungrily,
waiting, watching the sky for discarded wingbits–
hoping that they’ll get more than pieces.

Where the vultures lurk, we do not wish to go.
We do not wish to be ripped apart and subjugated to Theocratic rule,
intestines bared and bones scattered.

I wish that we all would look past our own feathers,
if only for a minute,
and relish the heights that we have gained.

I pray, I meditate on the words set forth in our grand contract: “[no person shall] be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.” So, think again if you desire to pluck the vane from the feather on the other wing, even if it seems to not belong with your own. “ALL persons born or naturalized in the United states… are citizens of the United States.”

Shall we climb higher or go to the vultures domain?
Shall our words lift the other wing, even with respectful dissent?
Or Shall we continue to pluck out that which offends until there are only vanes of the same colour?
Can we afford to ignore that we indeed, The Left Wing and Right wing,
are essential if our great nation is to stay in Flight?

I, Butterfly

I, Butterfly

What has been written

that has not already been written?

What has been said

that has not already been said?

Is there no new place,

no new frontier

that man and his imagination

have not explored?

Can’t a single sparklight up a darkened room?

Can’t a lonely whisper

give voice to those once silent?

Is there not one action

that cannot change the universe?

Is there not one ripple

that cannot be felt across space and time?

 

 

***This is something originally written at least 10 years ago.  It only existed as the words on the left column. I cut many words and added a little balance; I gave it wings so to speak.

Freedom’s Wall

wallIn Memorial

A Wall stands at the edge of our freedom
Each brick bound with blood and dreams
laid upon the ground
sacrifice by sacrifice
and cemented together with hopes of better tomorrows.
And this wall stands firm.
Protecting ALL from threats both domestic and foreign.
Though many may try to topple and break through;
Though pieces are ripped apart and broken,
It will not crumble, it will not fail.
Yet, the Wall requires ever vigilance.
Each guard watching, waiting, fighting, standing tall.
Never failing to hold tight to the boundaries
that keep us safe at night.
If any should stumble, if any should fall,
then another is ready to take his stand.
Yet, that brave fallen will not be forgotten,
but returned in remembrance eternal.
Stars and stripes will he receive
and the honor
that even for only a breath,
he held up freedom’s wall