Audio & slides:
Here are the notes I sent in preparation for the Interview–
Proposed questions from Deidre Reigel for the “Deidre Reigel Hope and Healing Radio Show ” & projected answers.
This was a rough draft & was open to any changes & suggestions.
Prelude: Tom played drums with The Performance Company then continued playing with a variety of bands of various styles. Inaddition to music he also had a career with The Salvation Army and then was a nurse’s aide. In 2012 he suffered partial paralysis to his left side due to an auto accident. He’s had some surgeries but is now confined to a wheelchair. As he was recovering from one of his surgeried he got news in 2016 that his son committed suicide. Inspite of these and other oppositions Tom looks for opportunities to not only find meaning and purpose in life but what he can offer to encourage & inspire others to find meaning & purpose in life.
QUESTION: Your blog, is filled with stories & articles you hope will encourage others. How does writing effect & help you?
Answer:Writing, just as reading what someone has written, can be an escape.
There are some circumstances in life that we can not control but when you are writing you have the opportunity to be in control.
For example, if you’re writing fiction you can put yourself there rather than where you are and your mind can go to the time period, the place (environment) and be surrounded by characters that you’re writing about.
If you’re writing non-fiction you’re able to write what you know and tell people your perspective of things.
If you write about other people it takes the focus off of you and you can think about them as you write.
If you write about yourself it gives you a chance to be honest and perhaps even discover things that you didn’t know about yourself or never really thought about in detail before.
My blog gives me the platform to express myself and share that with other people. Although my handicap makes it hard I’m able to use my phone and I type everything, on my phone! I use it just as if I was sitting at a desk with a compter keyboard. I love how I am able to write anywhere anytime.
I consider writing a type of art and it is something you can invest in regardless of how much money you have. There are many forms of art & writing is just one that has helped me process my life & the world around me. I’m not sure exactly how but it sure works!
QUESTION: Other than writing, what are some things you do that are artistic?
Answer: Now that I have to spend most of my time in at Geri Chair (a recliner that takes pressure off my legs, lower back & hips) I have a hard time drawing in that position but, where there is a will there is a way, so I use a clipboard and a small manageable piece of paper to sketch, doodle & draw but I found that being in that position the most fun way to express myself artistically, other than writing, is decorate rocks!
ART ON ROCKS! It may sound strange & different but it is great!
I take smooth stones or rocks, ussual between 2 to 3 inches, and I found that I can even just use permanent markers on them and I can use paint pens on them.
I have to limit my time sitting in a wheelchair cause that position irritates nerves in my spine, however I remember seeing people who were quadriplegic, let alone paraplegic and they would put a paintbrush in their mouth and move forward to a canvas and paint. Well, I’m not quadriplegic I still have use of my arms and even though my legs hurt and I have to get in almost a prone position to manage my pain I still am able to hold that rock and express myself artistically on it.
The great thing is that it’s not like a big huge canvas so I can share them with people much easier. I can give them as gifts or I can even hide them in a inconspicuous place so it brings a smile to who ever comes across it.
I found out a few years ago there is a project or campaign called , Kindness Rocks” and the idea is to do just what I’m doing.
There are a lot of these “Rock Groups” on Facebook. Now when I say, “Rock groups”, I mean an organized social media sire where people post the rocks they are creativly expressing themselves on and others posting the rock they found.
Some of them even put a little label on the back that reads, “If found post on Facebook” and the name of the group.
One of my favorite groups is “St Augustine Rocks”, which is where I call home now.
So that’s a way I can express myself artistically and because it’s on a small rock, not in a book or on line I’m able to share it in the real world not just cyber space. It’s great when you can actually see the effect of it, see the smile & surprise on someones face.
QUESTION: You played drums for the performance company for your last two years of high school and on into your college and career age years but now because of your polyneuropathy and the trouble using your legs, do you still play the drums?
Answer: Everybody who knows me and those who have known me for a long time, that’s the first question they always ask me.
I’m glad to say, “YES, yes I do.” The great thing is, in this day and age we have electric drums and I have what’s called SPD-30 Rowland Octapad. It’s 8 rubber pads on a desk type like contraption that offerd so many different drumsets & percussion sound effects.
I have the ability to record with it so I will put it in front of me, like a desk, I will sit in my wheelchair or I prefer the geri chair so I can play a little bit and. then I can lean back, take the pressure off my hips and legs but it’s great because I can still use my arms and I can play all the parts. The parts I use to play with my feet I am now able to play with my hands.
When handicapped or disabled in one way or another you just have to live life & “do life” a little differently but the important thing is you still do it & find what allows you to do it insite of whatever opposition you face. When your desire to do anything is strong enough you find a way to fullfill that desire. It may not look like what others do, it may not be done the way others do it but you’re still accomplishing something and that really makes you feel good all over in general.
When we are able to express what is in our hearts we grow and progress qnd can accomplish much.
QUESTION: What do you hope to accomplish with your art, including your writing?
Answer: Well first of all it keeps me out of trouble… as my wife & I like to say,
“Art is cheaper than therapy.”
Ya know, I have found out that in many ways art is better than therapy or sometimes more productive.
I never knock a good therapist but a journal, for me, is the best doctor & the best therapist that I have. Doctors & therapist can onlu do so much, the rest is up to the individual.
What I hope to accomplish is to simply express myself and don’t just keep what I learn & work through to myself but simply share it in music, writing & other forms of creative expression. Art can be priceless. It is valued in the eye of the beholder but if that eye holds on to it & never shares it how can it benifit someone else?
I believe “art” is simply desire & expression. You have a desire & then you express that desire. Not everyone will get it, understand it or appreciate it but then again some will truly be touched & moved by it.
It’s scary to put my art out there because I fear rejection or unfair criticism but when I stopped worrying about what others think I came to find that there are people who like it.
When I see someone enjoys what I share, what I’ve done artistically in a drawing or painted on a simple rock or clay or a story that I’ve written or a drum part I’ve rhythmically created, that’s very rewarding in so many ways but even while I’m doing it it’s rewarding and healthy for me mentally, physically & spiritually.
I share it not because I feel it is some great piece of art that will change the world or because I want recognition for what I have done but because I believe if it helped me, perhaps it will help someone else.
It’s the same with this interview, which I am so glad you asked me to share.
Once we get over being over critical in our own heads we can start to openly share with others and that has a real healing effect on our mind set & mental health.
QUESTION: You struggled with mental health issued and I was sad to hear that your son committed suicide due to his mental health, what are your thoughts on mental health and how do you manage your own mental health?
Answer: I’m actually glad that you asked that question because it’s important for people to understand mental illnesses. Just like we understand other health issues like if you had a brain aneurysm or if you had cancer that was eating away at your brain and all of a sudden you know you weren’t the same or a loved one has some type of an illness like a stroke that’s effected them and their speech, we understand that because we see it and it’s common but with mental health it’s happening on the inside and we can’t see it anymore than we can see cancer cells or a diabetic’s sugar levels. In regard to mental health when serotonin or other chemicals in the brain get off-balance they can actually cause people to want to do things that they normally wouldn’t do or that the average person wouldn’t think of doing. In some ways the effects bipolorism have on the brain it like a superhero power because some who are manic depressive will express themselves differently and maybe do some things other people just didn’t do or wouldn’t do. I’ve notices some people enjoy watching or listening to what comes from that creative, sometimes over creative, state of mind.
I think of some of the comedians that I’ve been compared to like Jerry Lewis or Jim Carrey or Robin Williams (well known people we’ve all seen) and people say to me you know I love that you’re upbeat, funny, silly, creative drive.
What they’re seeing in me is often mania (part of manic depression) and I think perhaps in a lot of artist what we’re seeing is mania or sometimes depression being expressed through their art and we are entertained by them because what’s inside them is coming out. When no one is around is often when the harsh side or ugly charateristics of any mental health issues come out.
With my son, he was in great shape physically (went to the gym all the time). He was in very good shape spiritually (read, studied & lived out the word of God. He share his faith with a lot of people). He even made YouTube videos & published a blog posts where he did like little messages from the word of God to encouraging people.
So, although he was healthy & strong physically & spiritually, mentally he struggled.
It was like a civil war going on in his mind and he tried to manage it the best he could but he got so sick of taking the medications they were telling him to take & feeling like nothing could help him balance out these overwhelming feelings & aweful desires.
He got so sick that the chemicals in his brain drownded out the normal/balanced healthy rationale thoughts.
He was only 22. I remember when I was 22 and wasn’t even aware of what bipolorism was. I had some crazy thoughts but it wasn’t until close to my 30’s when I faced a bit more external stress & met head to head with suicidal thoughts of my own. It was in 1997 I was diagnosed.
Knowing what’s going on with our bodies, minds & souls is the first big step. I’ve always said, “The difference between really being crazy & not being completely crazy is that you are aware that you’re crazy.”
No one likes being labled crazy or disabled in any way form or fashion but when you recognize how you may be different from the average person that is the first real mile stone in letting your “disability” & opposition present a new opportunity.
The mandarin word for hope is actually two words when translated into english and that is “opposition & opportunity”. Without opposition why would we even need hope that things were better? The Bible says in Romans 8:24-25 NIV “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25 NIV)
If you realize you’re not thinking clearly and there’s this fog in your head it helps if you have enough sanity to know that it’s going to be okay, it’s not okay right now but you honestly admit your weakness that something is wrong with you it will help get you back on the road to where things are manageable again.
Sometimes it takes family, a friend or a counselor to point this out but only we can take the steps in the right direction toward thinking clearly again. Sometimes the deterioration of our health is unavoidable, it’s part of who we are as humans, but there is help out there for us before we become so ill it leads to an eatly death.
I also want to be sure to say that our physical, mental & spiritual health is not always directly connected to each other. You could be in the best spiritual shape & time of spiritual awareness as possible and yet physically or mentally deteriorating because we are all mortal, we are human. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV the Bible says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
For me personally in 1997 my suicide attempt was unsuccessful & I got help.
Now to stay as health as possible so my own mental health doesn’t take my life prematurely I continually keep myself in check,
- I journal a lot,
- taking the medication they told me to keep taking & not stop taking just because I feel better & good. The medicines keep the right chemical balance.
- I also make sure I’m getting enough sleep, that is very important to me because when I am manic I feel like I don’t need sleep & can’t sleep.
- In addition to this, I am consistently trying to keep things in balance around me, which isn’t always possible because there are certain things, people, situations & circumstances that are unavoidable but sometimes I have to avoid certain people or places or things because it will make me manic. To stay balanced sometimes I have to keep things around us in balance. Spend more time in healthy environments than in unhealthy environments.
- I have to do things to help me unwinde & relax. Those recreational activities (even rest & relaxation) help re-create us. So we in turn can create thing, accomplish things & get that feeling of serving a purpose.
- Good encouraging relationships are so important too. I still have 4 daughters (Kyri, Olivia, Madi and Abbey), my wife Rhonda, 2 sisters & my parents are still alive & still very supportive. They, along with extended family & friends who are like what a healthy family should be, offers me a healthy environment.
QUESTION: Speaking of a healthy environments & relaxing activities, I understand your wife RHONDA makes healthy bath products that enhance relaxation & skin care. (rhondabsbathremedies.blog link below) Tell us a little bit about that & how those products help.
Answer: Yes! Rhonda B.’s Bath Remedies. The products that she makes aren’t just so that you smell good, although I need it for that too, they can really have a great positive effect on your physical and mental health.
The products have natural herbs and essential oils in them and no chemicals added so that when you use them there is a healthy possitive effect.
For instance the bath bomb, it feels good on your skin and has a great effect physically but it’s also very relaxing.
The shower Fizz can open up sinuses & take away headaches by simply breathing in.
The lavender soap can stimulate you mentally and help you relax. Bath teas, bath bombs, face scrubs. A lot of people, including me, love the all natural lavender soap she makes. It has a great effect on my skin which affects me physically but also makes me feel good mentally. I’m big on taking baths! Although we have a really small tub right now I get in there and breathe in vanilla and lavender. My body absorbs the essential oils and the fragrance relaxes my mind. Using them allows for a restorative process.
That’s why she named the business “RHONDA B’S BATH REMEDIES”
Conclude with links:
Rhonda’s home made bath & shower products: www.rhondabsbathremedies.blog
My blog: Www.tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com
And one of my son Alexx’s final request before dieing was, “Don’t let my writing die with me.” So for Alexx’s writings go to:
Me & Rhonda (my wife)
The last picture taken of me & my son ALEXX
Rhonda B.’s Bath Remedies
My Decorated Rock Art
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