Tag Archives: mental illness


** “Tango.” ©Tracy J Thomas, 2015. All rights reserved. **


noun equi·lib·ri·um \ˌē-kwə-ˈli-brē-əm, ˌe-\

: a state in which opposing forces or actions are balanced so that one is not stronger or greater than the other

: a state of emotional balance or calmness


I have been thinking a lot lately about equilibrium. As humans we are in a constant struggle to reach it, some of us more so than others. 

A few days ago I was feeling stressed so I made it a priority to drive out to the local wildlife area and take myself on a walk. As I walked, I found myself involved in a battle to clear my mind. I was trying very hard to let go of the noisy, jumbled list of to-do’s that was being broadcast on one side of my brain while attempting to hush the nagging voice of worry and doubt that was trying to take over my internal dialogue from the opposite side. At the same time my whole mind was working overtime to oppose my spirit. The spirit that desired nothing less than to embrace peace. 

As hard as I tried, peace would not be mine that morning. I drove home feeling defeated.

Sometimes life brings you gifts when you least expect them but are most in need of receiving them. One of those gifts arrived that morning as I turned onto my street and pulled into the driveway. I noticed a police car parked in front of our neighbor’s house. As I opened the door and set my keys down, two more police officers arrived. I could hear our neighbor Jenny inside her house yelling and wailing. 

Jenny suffers from Bipolar Disorder. She struggles constantly with maintaining a balance. Her equilibrium is off more times than it is on. Even with the help of medication she struggles. 

I stood on the porch and observed as the three police officers and Jenny came out of the house. She was highly agitated and began to walk fast circles in her driveway. The police officers were wonderful with her. Their voices were soft, encouraging, and kind. One of them gave her a gentle bear hug when she asked for one. I heard him say “we all need a hug every now and then.” 

Jenny continued her fast dizzying circles as she threw her hands in the air and began to preach about God and Heaven and how much she needed to go back to the hospital. The officers redirected her whenever she headed towards the street. Her circles became larger the more manic she became then she would pause for a moment to look up towards the heavens as if waiting for an answer or some sort of relief from her mind’s frenzied state.

I felt my heart break for her and tears began to roll down my cheeks. 

I watched Jenny continue to struggle as if lost in some parallel universe where she could not find the doorway to come back home. Then she saw them. A row of beautiful flowers planted against the front of her house. She ran to the flowers and said, “this is exactly what I need to do!” She began to pull the flowers up by the handful to form a bouquet in her hands. Nature in all its beautiful glory was able to catch her attention and provide some semblance of peace for her shattered mind.

As the ambulance rolled away with Jenny and her bouquet, I realized I had found my own equilibrium in the scene that had unfolded before me. I was reminded of the fact we all struggle at times but even when we feel the furthest from peace, our spirits crave it, and seek it out, and eventually find it. My peace came that morning when I witnessed Jenny’s connection to the flowers. The flowers that were right there in front of me the whole time but I failed to notice them until Jenny pointed them out.

** Click here to purchase Zen in the Garden: Finding Peace and Healing Through Nature on Amazon. **

For the Innocents Lost…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Yesterday was art day for me. A kind of therapy day in the midst of a very busy week.

I was in the middle of working on the above iPhone montage when the news broke of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.

I was stunned.

I was heartbroken.

I cried. No, I sobbed…

How in the world could anyone take the lives of such innocent babies?

Like everyone else in this country I feel devastated.

In the past I have addressed the gun control issue on this blog. I believe strongly that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be available for purchase on the market. Stricter laws surrounding background checks and proper identification should be enforced. However, purchasing firearms by way of “legal” retail channels is not the only way people who intend to do harm find those guns. If someone is set on using a gun, they can find it and still purchase it through illegal means.

I am all for the gun control conversation, however that conversation should not be held in the vacuum that it is usually held.

We need to stop sweeping mental illness under the rug. That is the BIGGEST conversation our country needs to have right now… It should be the “why?” Not the “what?” or the “how?”

We know that guns kill. But so do knives and bare hands and barrels of fertilizer and all the bombs we drop on other countries. Gun control is an important conversation because it gives us all a sense of “control” during a time when we feel utterly helpless.

But we should also be brave enough to face the fact that mental illness is REAL and there are a lot of individuals in our country who suffer.

Parents, teachers, doctors, clergymen, friends, family, etc. need to be trained to recognize the signs. We need to encourage our politicians to stop cutting programs that help the mentally ill. We need to have a conversation about the constant stream of violence that fills our televisions, the internet, our music and video games that feed unstable minds. We need to have a conversation about dysfunctional families and how they serve as triggers for mental illness.

But more than that, we need to start loving each other a little bit more. We need to stop and listen. We need to give a lot of hugs and kisses and stop our self-absorbed busy existence long enough to make a difference in the lives of a young person who might be hurting very deeply inside their soul…

For now, I am going to continue to embrace life and cherish each moment I have been given on this beautiful planet, as if it were my last day. But I am also going to love more deeply, listen more intently, attempt to understand more thoroughly, and always take the time to wrap my arms around the wounded souls that cross my path.

[I have decided to run a fundraiser for the siblings and classmates of the victims. You can purchase the above limited edition 12×12 print (run of 100) for $80. Fifty-percent of the proceeds after cost will be donated directly to a victim’s relief fund set up for the children of Sandy Hook. You can read more or purchase the print here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook]

For the little angels of Sandy Hook:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

We will hold you in our hearts forever…