May Flowers Bloom: National Mental Health Awareness Month


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.


aSocial Butterfly


Oh Butterfly,
Trapped in a prison of its own device-
Four walls and a floor made of glass;
comfortably confining, a contradiction.
It stares out at the world through these walls
wishing, pining, hoping for release.
Yet, the release that it desires
comes at time of its own choosing-
It need only spread its wings
and soar towards the heavens;
to the freedom of the skies,
To the saintly touch of another.
But these glass walls magnify the world,
Distorting its view-
Creating monsters that seem bigger and closer
than they really are.
Even though freedom beckons,
Fright holds its wings closed.
Yet, when Fear takes hold
The Lepidoptera need only close its eyes,
feel the breeze from above,
and trust in the power of its lissome wings
to overcome the vast visions
of its self imposed confinement.
So, fair sky Contessa,
Shall you shudder behind glass all your short life,
and watch the fugacious world fade away?
or will you transform your fear into courage
and leave your four walls behind?
trapped no more in a prison of your own device
Oh Butterfly?

In Dreams




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

In this moment I grieve for thee


I stand as you stood many times before

laboring over dirty dishes in the sink.

As the warm water washes over my hands,

I gaze at the flowers in the window sill

and wonder if you smiled as I smile now,

smelling the sweet Calla lilies brought to you by little hands.

Did you sigh in relief as the dawn bubbles

removed the final crumbs from the pan,

the pan that you used to bake a cake for every year of my life.

Did your mind ever drift away–

as your hands continued their mindless task,

away through the window, down the driveway,

and the lane where we walked to Church together every Sunday.

As I stand in the echo of your memory,

drying the Just Flowers dinner plates

that served your cheese potatoes and other delights for countless family diners,

I wonder that if I complete this same task, touch this same plate

that you touched just a month before,

if I stand on the same tiles worn smooth by your feet,

will it reverse time, just for this moment,

and allow you to be with me once again.

Formation of a Spirit

painting writing

As a painter treasures a blank canvas for its potential, a writer treasures a blank sheet of paper for its inspiration.  A painter must listen to his canvas and make the first stroke; from which all other strokes will culminate.  So must a writer fill the first page, the nature and connotation denotes the shape and form of subsequent pages.

Color upon the brush: meet your lover, canvas.  Two worlds collide, moving both to a higher understanding. As soon as they meet, the blank and dumb canvas is neither blind nor mute.  He now speaks with the vitality of his new eyes.  Behold: a new creation, though he is only one brush stroke he will grow.  Every new brush stroke perfectly placed; there are no mistakes.  Hence, such “mistakes” give the world its flavor, and if aborted, the world looses another color.  Thus, the world is not colorless; an empty canvas beckons the painter to paint new shades.

Mighty pen: meet your lover, inspiration.  A harsh taskmistress, she is. She demands letters grouped in sensible words, then dressed into full bodies. Minutes bleed into hours and days of this love.  Until, behold, the first page has been born. These hours of labor reward its mother with a bundle of hope.  “What is this new squirming creature? How am I to nurture it, feed it, help it grow?”  The mother inevitably asks. Grow it shall. More pages of life will be added, each new word as important as the old.  All comprise this new creation and give life where none once lived.  One can only live word by word, page by page.

This truth brings the end back to the beginning.  Just as the painter writes with colors for the human eyes, a writer paints with words for the human soul.  Yet, even when an end or completion dawns, it brings new inspiration, new potential for the beholder.




I saw the butterfly
on the cold, grey cement.
At first I mistook it for a leaf,
spring green and spotted with decay.
But upon second glace,
I spied two slender feelers
And one beady black eye,
pleading for help.
I had to touch-
a velvety surprise.
Not like a leaf at all-
rubbery, rough or jagged,
But more like a babe’s bum-
powdered fresh and smooth:

I peeled the butterfly
from the cold, grey cement.
Its guts, splattered by many hard soles,
had plastered it to the sidewalk.
I wondered how a creature of such beauty
had fallen under foot and heal,
Trod upon, and walked over
regardless of saintly stature:
Holding it in one hand
I kept if from harm- if only for a while.
With my other hand
I lit the butterfly ablaze-
consumed, consumed—one last

I released the butterfly’s ashes
to the cold, grey cement.
No longer plastered to this earth
by guts and wings,
But free to fly
upon the winds of a

Carpe Diem


Dawn sings her morning song

to wake painful Day.

“Carpe Diem!”

Before she rises!

Kill her in her step,

Let not her head

rest in the sky.

Our time here-

in the stolen grove-

shall never end;

let’s Carpe Diem

and stay in the dark