Tracy grew up in Connecticut. Growing up, she describes her family as being very dysfunctional. At the age of 11 years old, her parents divorced. Tracy’s father struggled with anxiety and suicidal thoughts because he suffered from Agoraphobia (where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy solution to get away). Unfortunately, as her dad was suffering from this form of anxiety, Tracy’s mother was emotionally abusive towards her. Tracy’s family has had a history of emotional abuse. Her mother’s father was an alcoholic and her father’s father was physically abusive, which set the stage for much emotional instability in Tracy’s life. Her mother eventually remarried after the divorce. Tracy’s step-dad was emotionally abusive as well.

Later on in life, Tracy had interacted and dealt with a man who had bipolar disorder. Tracy describes this man as loving and caring before the doctors put him on medication. The medication he was put on opened a new side of him. This man got violent towards Tracy and started to stalk her. Concerned for her own safety, Tracy moved to Colorado where some of her friends resided. Colorado served as her safe haven. Tracy currently has a boyfriend of 3 years, who she adores immensely. She says, “He is the love of my life.” Apart from working in the insurance industry, Tracy loves to read and write in her free time. She also enjoys going on long drives with her “sweetie”.

Tracy lives life to the fullest while having two autoimmune system conditions. Tracy has Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s attacks her thyroid in which her anxiety stems from. She also suffers from depressive episodes, but is able to cope by keeping up with her reading and writing of poetry. Her anxiety is harder to deal with because anxiety activates stress, which then has a negative impact on her immune system. With that being said, Tracy manages her anxiety to the best of her abilities through diet and taking supplements.

Tracy’s depression and anxiety comes and goes, but she is mindful of what she needs to do when her symptoms start to take a hold of her. Tracy consciously makes the effort to push herself to be with people so that she doesn’t let the introversion, which comes with her depression, win. Tracy’s spiritual belief has a huge impact on her recovery. She feels as if she is not alone and she finds comfort in knowing that there is something there from the “other side” that will guide her through rough times; meditation is also helpful. Tracy has had multiple successes in her life. She has had her fair share of health issues but that does not stop her. She has been successful in her own business and wellness center, but she does not limit herself there. Tracy believes that it would be easy to shrivel up in a hole, but she wants to show herself and others that there is hope. This is why she loves Colorado Mental Wellness Network so much.

Tracy found herself unemployed because she was physically unable to perform up to standards when it came to doing normal, average tasks such as typing. Her Hoshimoto’s and Arthritis prohibited her from doing as such. She looked for jobs that allowed her to use her brain and experience, but that became a bit of a challenge, until she went to the Department of Vocational Rehab (DVR). DVR pointed her in the direction of Colorado Mental Wellness Network. There she learned about peer support and she became eager to work with The Network. Tracy had growing interests in the aspects of healing, psychology, and spirituality The Network, in some ways, provides. Tracy continues to be involved with The Network because she can see how big of a difference they are making in the community. She believes in the values the Network has. The Network serves as a constant reminder of hope and how others can make a difference as well.

From Tracy’s perspective, The Network continuously educates and advocates for the community and peers about issues that cannot necessarily be seen. The Network has given her tools for her own recovery and has shown her that she is not alone. Since being affiliated with The Network, Tracy has had many “AHA!!” moments. The Network has helped her overcome certain obstacles in her life. Tracy would like to see others to get involved because The Network provides an environment that promotes safety, security, understanding, communication, and advocacy. She thinks that everyone has their own issues and if people can use the tools and resources provided, the community can come together.

Tracy’s Story

Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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