the painted brain issue seven, april 17th, 2011
issue seven profile editor’s statement painted brain redux poetry
2 3 4 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 people stories 16 17 18 20
22 24 26 the beginner’s guide 28 29 30 31 semifiction 32 34 36 37 38 39 fashion 40 42 43 44 45 46 47 49 dear ozzy 51 join us 53 cover back cover
staff pictures identity by Dave Leon and Jenna Rodman a painted brain history lesson by Marcus White and Denice Frieden half bunny half man by A.A. the mask trial by Rick Rada edgar alan poe by Carlos J. Bahara love rain by Joshua Madrid leaves falling by anonymous water droplets dance on the window by Mirage crying by Benjamin Gomez five lives by Kamila Baker never an easy task by Ozzy Blount interviews my interview with Drew Horn by Ozzy Blount on Jules Perkins by Amer Azad interview with Tina Velazquez and Tiffany Keeler art works: a new kind of taco truck by Carla Brizuela and Roxanne Camanyag interview with Larry Rozner by Leslie Moreno world premier of gene’s machine by Larry Rozner waiting for the end by Larry Rozner an uneasy relationship with normality by anonymous beginner’s guide to medication by Thomas Mountain it’s raining meds by Sarafin my journey with medication by anonymous some other thoughts by painted brain artists nice guys kaboose by Joseph J. Hill burn different face off by Smokey tales of an anxious mind by Cory Mcleod stress by Eran McDonald sick and fired by Ofelia del Corazon i always try to look cool at the gas station by Philip Brubaker an excerpt from Hospital by Ben Robinson spring fashion - who am i? ollie, marcus marcus raffi jennaleigh ryan robbi mirage advice on the search for love by Ozzy Blount how to get involved by Angela Vazquez Larry Rozner bug k23609 1
thomas speaker artist coordinator
amer designer photographer
roxanne reporter photographer
river designer educator
marcus historian aritst coordinator
robbi educator photographer
carla reporter group leader
dave lead editor driver
denice reporter group leader
leslie reporter educator
jenna editor educator jules outreach educator ozzy reporter columnist
angela group leader designer robot by raffi
issue seven - identity Sitting on a cold and windy college campus doing final edits for issue seven, Jenna and Dave ponder again that immortal question, “What are the Painted Brain?” Being as this is the Identity Issue, they started to talk about how both their identities are served in different ways by The Painted Brain. They are but two small pieces of this project and they hope their musings illuminate. Jenna and Dave first met at Daniel’s Place back in 2005. Jenna was a Peer Advocate and Dave was a Social Worker. They worked on the first issue together, got along swimmingly, but then lost touch for a couple years. Down the road a ways, Dave was working at the counseling center at a local college when Jenna returned there as a student. She called the center and was assigned to Dave for a therapy intake. Dave recognized Jenna’s name and called her to say, “Let’s not meet for an intake, and instead meet for coffee.” Jenna agreed, and soon that great partnership was again unleashed upon the unsuspecting world. Over coffee, Dave wondered aloud about the future of The Painted Brain now that he had left the job where it started. Jenna supported the idea of reviving the project but wanted to be involved as neither a ‘service provider’ nor a ‘client’. Dave lives in both worlds too, a patient and a clinician, and sometimes fails to see the distinction. This simple thought, wanting to exist inside the mental health community but outside the dyad of the patient/clinician paradigm, is the central conceptual struggle that The Painted Brain attempts to embody and navigate. Our identity as a project lives within this vaguely defined gray area. We aim to create a space where people both providing and recieving mental health services can interact towards a common goal. While we work together, we learn from and about each other. The binary relationships between ‘patients’ and ‘clinicians’ are rewriten through our day to day experiences of each other, through our unique humanities. In this way we work to erase the gap between “self and other” that the stigma surrounding mental illness creates. Our Goal: To unify between and among, to heal, to thrive, to create art and community. Our Identity: Still forming, as identities are wont to do.
left: amer - issue three. above: anonymous - issue one. right: marlon - issue two. far right: lydia - issue four. inset: dave - preview. right corner, upper: blair - issue five. right corner, lower: ozzy - issue six.
A Painted Brain History Lesson The growth of The Painted Brain, from the perspective of Marcus White, told by Denice Frieden. When Marcus and I sat down to talk about this story, neither of us had strong ideas of what we would write about or where this story would go. I wanted to write a story about The Painted Brain with Marcus; he has been involved with the project for most of the project’s existence. One day at Daniel’s Place where he works as a peer advocate he said to me, “I have every issue ever printed at home. I can bring them in and we can look through them.” Marcus was proud that he had every issue, and he should be, hence this story was born, the evolution of the magazine as reflected by Marcus. Marcus has been involved with the project since 2006, he met Dave, (the director) attended the first release party and was hooked. After the release party, Dave asked Marcus to help with the magazine. Marcus began leading art groups at Westside mental health agencies and mc’ing the release parties. When we sat down together, Marcus reflected on each issue, the growth of the art, con-
tent, peer involvement and of course the beginnings of Smokey the cat. He ended each issue reflecting on his favorite piece, which we have included. One other fact about Marcus, he has amazing style; all of his t-shirts match his shoes. I imagine he must have 30 pairs of shoes. This is his story of The Painted Brain. Issue One - The first issue was much simpler and more personal, but also very thoughtful with comments and art work, from ways to cope to lovely poetry. Smokey the cat makes his first appearance in this issue and appears in every issue of the magazine through the 5th; no one is really sure who writes about him. In this issue, Marcus’ favorite piece is “At the Unurban Café”. The Unurban Café has hosted many Painted Brain meetings and past release parties. Issue Two - In this issue, we finally see color in the magazine and more people begin to learn about the project. There is representation in this issue from a number of new artists and more outreach to mental health agencies on the Westside. In this issue, Marcus’ favorite piece is by Marlon Pittman. Issue Three - In this issue, The Painted Brain really expands; outside events, 4
writers workshops, the first fashion shoot and poetry are included. The ArtHeals community event is profiled as a first for the magazine. The fashion shoot coordinated by Ke Andre with wonderful art, a great job! The magazine expanded by ten pages, the largest yet! In this issue, Marcus’ favorite picture is “When the prisms of the eyes fail, the third eye prism with prevail,” by Amer Azad. Amer is a featured artist with the magazine and has been involved in the project since it began. Preview Issue - The next issue released was an tiny preview issue. However, Marcus’ first article and editorial appears, so regardless of the size, it is important! In this small issue Marcus’s favorite picture is by Dave Leon, the project’s founder. Issue Four - This issue had the first theme, ‘Spiritual Mind, Meditative Soul.’ The fashion shoot was lots of fun and took place on a roof top in Hollywood. It was the biggest fashion shoot yet! This was the first fashion shoot that Marcus appeared in, he has been in every one since, and boy is he stylish! This issue saw the project grow further: new community events, a long feature story and a review of the movie “The Soloist” premiered. Marcus’ favorite piece is by Lydia Lam.
Issue Five - This issue, titled ‘Release Your Inner Strength’, was the bigger still. There were pictures, events and overall the magazine seemed geared more towards mental health. The peers went to the Voice Awards for the first time, the first Hollywood Painted Brain event! A reoccurring story, ‘the beginners guide to mental illness’ makes its debut. The issue also contains an important story with Elyn Saks, a professor of law at USC. The issue also includes the first stories of peers by peers. In this issue, Marcus’ favorite piece is ‘What Could Have Been’ by Blair Walker. Issue Six - This is the final issue covered for this story and according to Marcus its the best yet! The issue is well organized and grounded with the same amount of goodness and great stories. Like issue five, this issue also contained a story about a professional living with mental illness, Philip Brubaker, a filmmaker from North Carolina. Marcus had the pleasure of meeting him prior to this issue at an event where they both won an award in Indianapolis. Around the time this issue was in production, the Painted Brain moved into its very own space downtown! The fashion show section is one of the best yet and the story and event coverage is amazing. In
this issue, Marcus summarized the Mind Leadership Institute that he attended in Marin, it was one his coolest times. Here Marcus’ favorite piece is by Ozzy Blount. Marcus writes: Being involved in the painted brain has given me an amazing amount of courage and honor. The painted brain has done so much to help me in my recovery from mental illness. I could never repay Dave so I wanted to show a little gratitude and give a full update on the painted brain for all you new comers. For all those who have been there through it all like me, thanks for all the support, pass the painted brain on to someone in need. The painted brain is all about fighting stigma, promoting awareness and creating a community of young adults. Not to mention all the talented people and beautiful things we do. There are many things the painted brain can do but I think the best is giving people the inspiration to be active in their recovery. The art and music is how we express ourselves and activities like groups and outings are the things we do. We are the painted brain, alive and thriving. I encourage you to be a part the fun and healing. 5
poems galore half bunny half man thats all that i am hopping from place to place two buck teeth protruding from my face trying to erase memo ries past sipping carrot juice out of my flask will i last or be eaten by the hawk as i walk to the rabbit hole where my soul is complete will i ever meet the girl that i seek the future looks bleek so i climb to the peak of a mountain the air is so fresh i think about jumping and take my last breath but the air and the sky speak to me dont die live forever like us and thrive from the dusk till the dawn when you wake from your slumber with a yawn so i walk down the peak and to my surprise i meet a half bunny half woman with buck teeth protruding from her face so we walk to my rabbit hole at a slow pace feeling joy in my heart this may be the start of a beutiful life two years have now past and my kids are growing fast with their little buck teeth and the thumping of feet in the hole where we stay to this very day. by A.A.
The Mask Trial by Rick Rada Who is this man behind this mask he talks like heâ€™s evil but is kind to all things who could he be a god or a demon art in poetry section by amer azad unless otherwise specified 7
Edgar Alan Poe by Carlos J. Bahara I can remember four months ago when I walked the boulevard. Holding her hand without a care, now life is too fucking hard. But my mother fucking destiny was to be like Edgar Alan Poe. Sure why fuck not because of this I did not know. Writing through the night as I spill my heartâ€™s emotions. I bleed forth with passion passing through my motions. Was I left in ruins both I knew I didnâ€™t deserve. Cannibalistic fantasies deliver she is the finest to serve. Allowing this sin to cool off my desires I begin slurring 8
Bottles swallow me whole cut deep visions blurring My only friend remains true as whispers in my darkness Taunting upon my eyes lustful bleak my main weakness So after so long this betrayal been so kind to mine heart Do I whisper to blades of hopeful serenity must I depart? Can no man hear my fucking cry as I reach for them; ever silently Bleeding and pleading, on my knees forgiveness forsaken die violently Edgar Alan Poe where the fuck has the time gone, where are you? Edgar Alan Poe, where has my time gone, what the fuck would you do? larry l. wasan 9
Love Rain by Joshua Madrid Let the love pour Let the love fall Let me stand under the loe Without an umbrella. I want the love to pour down And touch my body Let me soak with love Let love get all over From my head to my toes Come join me. Donâ€™t be AFRAID To join me under the love RAIN! Explanation: I love the rain and when it rains I want to stand under it, but I thought of love and imagined rain being love. Sometimes we can be afraid to be in the rain. And sometimes we can be afraid of love. I say donâ€™t be afraid and stand under the love rain with me.
Leaves Falling Grass turning brown The wind feeling more crisp Days getting shorter Nights getting longer Scarves, jackets and layers upon layers Out with the old In with the new These are the signs of a new beginning by anonymous
camallo and dave
Water droplets dance on the window as I sit staring at nothing, allowing time for my mind to wonder. Listening with my heart trying to hear the truth, I feel breathless; “What have I become?” I ask my self, silently I cry. A portrait of what could have been hangs above me. My heart beats rapidly now. I listen to the wind; sweet sounds of yesterday. This universal song known to be the last heard. I’m lost in my thoughts, trembling and so cold inside. I’m Lonely. I’ve shunned my friends my family and my own soul. “Please God give me guidance” I know the answers lay within me. When the rain stops, the sun shines thru my window, I have a new path, reluctantly I take my first step. One thing I’ve noticed about you is your inner strength. You will succeed in this life; the fight within you is relentless Your aura is bright; positive light fills every room you enter. You’ve brought hope to those that have felt hopeless. Each day you wake not for yourself, but for those around you. You say you still feel like a child. You may not believe how important you are, Or how valuable your life is, But this is truth. Just remember you have come so far from where you once were. You’ve overcome so much. Capture and embrace the positive being inside you. It’s time you realize your gift, time to let go of the past. Be to yourself what you are to so many. You are truly a beautiful addition to the world. by Mirage
Crying by Benjamin Gomez
Verse 1 Baby, why are you crying? There in your bed lying I’ll do whatever I can… I will always be your man Chorus Run to me… And I’ll hold you by our sea Verse 2 It pains me to see you that way Whatever it takes, I’ll pay Just try to calm down You even look beautiful when you frown Chorus Run to me… And I’ll hold you by our sea Verse 3 I’ll always be there Remember I do care I know what you’re going through Because I’ve been there too Chorus Run to me… And I’ll hold you by our sea 13
showed where I’ve been Crack houses, and back alleys Trespassing, and drunken parties.
Five Lives by Kamila Baker
I’ve lived at least five lives But if you ask my father he’ll tell you I’ve always been a lair has an active imagination, pone exaggeration And I’ll admit, I’ve never had a good grasp on reality And maybe I am what you would prefer to see An articulate middle class black girl That was raised in the suburbs with two loving parents
I’ve lived at least five lives in these last twenty years from high school drop out to honors student. Preaching on the streets about Jesus to walking the streets looking for a buck or two or a john or two or... And I wonder if I would still be the one you would call to watch your kids if you knew where I’ve been on the curb with my arm wrapped around a shaking man with bloody shirt in his hand I don’t ask and he doesn’t tell, so I don’t know.
Who was in Girls Scotts and went to summer camps I’ve lived at least five lives in these last twenty years
I’ve lived at least five lives in these last twenty years
and I’m still running from these memories, or delusions, Or these hallucinations, psychosis, history, herstory,
and I’m still running from these memories, delusions hallucinations, psychosis history, herstory my story
I’ve lived at least five lives in these last twenty years
It’s just my story
From homeless sleeping in the back seat To a warm bed and a hot meal (see that’s all I need) A warm bed and a hot meal But I wonder if I would still be the one You would hire If my background check had really
people stories interviews
roxanne camanyag 16
drew horn at the voice awards in hollywood
Interview with Drew Horn by Ozzy Blount Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Drew Horn, co-founder of the Turn A Frown Around Foundation, that was founded in 2001. He and I first met last year at the Voice Awards, held at Paramount Picture Studios. When we spoke again, I was in Los Angeles at Painted Brain headquarters and he was in New Jersey at the Turn A Frown Around Foundation’s flagship office. He was a very outgoing guy and had a lot to talk about. We talked for almost an hour. I had to go home and recharge my phone afterwards. He told me a lot of jokes, but the one I remember best was about how he was so bipolar that he needed a job as an elevator operator, going up and down and up and down all day. Ozzy: So what is the sole purpose of the organization? Drew: To end loneliness. That’s the ultimate purpose. To try to bring joy into
pain, make the last person first, provide motivational entertainment for the lonely and isolated and create ‘smile stations’ (a gathering of ‘forever friends’) all over the world. Ozzy: How did it get started in the first place? Drew: It started out of my own pain. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 42. I went through a six-week depression, but my daughter, Rachel, brought me out of it. Went through three failed businesses, two failed marriages and two failed suicide attempts. But laughter and unconditional love from my daughter saved my life. I decided that I want to do more than entertain; I wanted to bring forever friends to people isolated either by living in an institution or by their disabilities. And so my doctor, Gregory Irving, and I founded Turn A Frown Around over nine years ago. I’ve won lots of awards including the Governor’s Ambassador Award. 17
Ozzy: How can people contribute to the organization? Drew: People can ask us to come and set up smile stations and volunteer or make a donation. We can become a forever friend and provide motivational entertainment. In fact, I have an old saying: “Let the manure of your past fertilize your present. You’re guaranteed a great crop for your future.” His purpose for running smile stations is to assure that people have a ‘forever friend’ -- someone to connect with, outside of their nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals. For more information about the TAFA Foundation please write: The Turn A Frown Around Foundation www.turnafrownaround.org 57 North Road Clifton, NJ. 07013 You can make a difference!
jules at pb headquarters. opposite by amer azad
On Jules Perkins by Amer Azad Amer: How did hip hop impact your life? Jules: It impacted my life in a way that it changed my points of view. It kept me leveled. I can’t explain it but it was definitely a positive experience. I related to conscious music way more than I related to materialistic genres of music. Everything was more natural, trees were trees. For example, I looked at everything more simply, listening to someone else’s points of view on life. It made me feel like I had to adjust my focus on how I see reality. The impact of it dramatically gave color to my world. But before I noticed that it did I took everything for granted because I didn’t pay attention to what anything was worth. If you were to
give me an orange I’d see it just as something to eat. Now, I’d see it as something with a purpose and I apply that example to every situation and I practice that belief daily. Amer: How do you think your music impacts your listeners? Jules: I think everyone is different so I think everyone’s going to take it in differently. It might confuse some people, but my goal is to make each listener relate to something, whether it’s a sentence, a metaphor, or how I reflected how I felt at the time. If you’re feeling down and you listen to one of my songs, I want it to make you feel like you’re not alone. If I could help one person come out of a negative mindset I’ve done my job. Even if I don’t know who I have impacted, what goes around comes around. I 18
hope it’s more good than bad, because I believe that what I project represents who I am. Amer: What do you feel when you’re performing on stage? Jules: I don’t like being the center of attention because I’m not used to it. It’s hard for me to verbally express anything because I’m the type of person that bottles stuff in. When I’m in the center of a room with people looking at me, while I’m performing, I feel like I have more control. Reciting my lyrics reminds me that expressing how I feel gives me a sense that I’m a part of society. It makes me feel like a piece of a puzzle. Even though every piece is different, I still fit in. Amer: What are you trying to accom-
plish with your music? Jules: I just want to prove to the people I’ve met and that I know, that even though college wasn’t my thing, I could still acheive as much as they can. I want to be at the point where I could tell people that I toured, or even that I finished
my sixth album. I want my music to give me a good foundation. In the future I want to look back and listen to how I’ve changed. Amer: What part does your mental health play in your music?
Jules: I think everything relates to my music in one way or another. It makes me appreciate things more. If I didn’t have a mental illness I don’t know where I would be right now. The way I look at writing music is basically writing in a journal. Whenever I need comfort I turn to my music to get away from stress.
liner notes for jules’ most recent album 19
photograph by roxanne camanyag, spot: calvin herring
Interview with Tina Velazquez & Tiffany Keeler by Carla Brizuela & Roxanne Camanyag Carla: What are the goals or values of your organization? Tina: We want others to know that recovery is possible. Meeting people where they are has proved to be successful since we wait for people to come when they’re ready. How can we support you in your goal? We have an open service provision. Tiffany: We want others to know that you don’t have to be scared of us. We want to be able to reach people who would definitely not step foot within a mental health facility, but are able to step inside an art gallery. Carla: What are some memorable events? Tina: I’ve only been here since Decem-
ber 2010. Dance performance in which modern dancers respond to the artwork stood out. Partnerships with colleges and universities like UC Riverside are always great. Tiffany: We’ve been invited to go to the Mayor’s Ball since 2008. It’s a ritzy event for the arts and we get to rub elbows with the big shots within our community. Carla & Roxanne: What is your identity?
Within the system of arts and mental health, we hope to provide education. Tiffany: They’ve never seen people like us. I never knew there was such a thing as recovery. Scrambled Eggs was a very therapeutic experience for me. Recovery is being somewhere; I have hope. Through the peer employment training, I learned how to take care of myself. I was able to get out of a hole I never thought I could get out of. It opened up a world of possibilities.
Tina & Tiffany: TACO TRUCK. SPLIT. EXPLOSION. OPTIMISTIC. HOPEFUL. STRETCHED. MANIC. SPLIT. ORDER COMING FROM CHAOS. Tina: We’re like a taco truck. Art Works is the kitchen, which produces all the food, and the Recover Art Core program is the taco truck that takes it to the community. Peer services and mental health services are not mutually exclusive. 20
Art Works - a new kind of Taco Truck by Carla Brizuela & Roxanne Camanyag Vibrantly dashed with large, red, yellow, and black stripes I couldn’t help gazing at the art on the wall, titled “Watch
and the gallery, with Tiffany. Usually peer artists with mental illnesses, friends and family of those with mental illness, or artists who support mental health, are featured in the gallery. The art exhibited in the gallery changes by monthly and quarterly cycles. Tina discussed how their involvement with the Riverside Art Walk event opens the community to their organization and the issues individuals face. She mentioned tiffany keeler, tina velazquez, carla brizuela, and roxanne camanyag the importance of Your Step,” by Robert Stephens. AnothTiffany Keeler, who has been with the how anyone can visit and view the art. er next to it, named “Beautiful Wreck- Jefferson Transitional Program since Tiffany stresses that, “There’s no sign age,” looked like black inked bamboo, 2007, talked about Art Works’ Acting that says there’s mentally ill art...There stained with a splotch of blood. As Carla Out Loud Troupe, of which she is a part, are so many people who carry a diagBrizuela and I walked throughout the and their award-winning performance, nosis…we want others to think, ‘Maybe gallery, we saw framed art, handmade Scrambled Eggs, which started in Novem- those people aren’t so scary after all.’” jewelry, collaged boxes, wire-bended art, ber 2008. The Troupe performs stories Because of their involvement with Art books, postcards and more. When we to over 100 people about their dark past Walk, as well as other collaborations inmet Tina Velazquez and Tiffany Keeler up until present day and their aspiring cluding Cal State, USC, Mayor’s Ball, La at Art Works, we soon realized that vis- future, traveling to a variety of locations Colima and more, there have been over iting Art Works was not only about the statewide and even to Chicago. To Tiffa- 1000 participants with about 60 active art, but the experiences and the people ny, acting with Art Works was large part members; their stories of art allowing behind the art. of her own recovery, motivating her, de- for recovery. Art Works, a Jefferson Transitional spite her Bipolar Disorder, to begin volProgram in downtown Riverside, is al- unteering with the Jefferson Transitional ARTWORKS & Recovery Art Corps at most like The Painted Brain’s communi- Program where she was eventually hired Jefferson Transitional Programs ty brother from another mother or sister as an Art Works Coordinator. Currently, 3741 6th St. from another mister - a group of young Tiffany and the Acting Out Loud Troupe Riverside, CA. 92501 adults with mental illnesses involved in will be working on Jubilee, provoking stotel: 951-683-1279 open art studios, support groups, and ries through a carnival theme. e-mail: email@example.com events to represent and empower themTina Velazquez, USC alum, joined website: http://www.jtpfriends.org selves, foster outreach to the community, Art Works in 2010, spearheading events, and adjust the stigma. Art Works has been around for three years, providing free art classes and support groups to the community ranging from writing to knitting to education on the stigma of mental illness. They initiated their Recovery Art Core Programs over a year ago, with peer-lead classes at community sites including youth detention centers, safe havens, room & boards, and convalescent homes, among others. The Recovery Art Core Programs are free eight-week sessions, incorporating themed art with foundational principles and curriculum conducted by the peer facilitator and leader. the painted brain’s own tamale ladies 21
larry rozner at work
Interview with Larry Rozner by Leslie Moreno
comfort. I feel that he does not mind, so I proceed and it goes as follows:
a USC Trojan football player literally breaking through a wall.
Leslie: What inspires you?
Leslie: What do you feel about your art?
I was asked to write an interview of an amazing artist for The Painted Brain. He has submitted art for every issue of the Painted Brain. His name is Lawrence Rozner, he’s 24 years old, and goes by Larry. So, first comes the introduction: Leslie meet Larry. He is sitting back on a somewhat relaxing love seat (actually the back seat of a van). Instead of a face to face talk I sit right next to him and begin to talk. Well, I do most of the talking, asking him questions about his thoughts on art and different questions about his own feelings. I have to say I am nervous, it being my very first interview. Afterwards, I felt that I should’ve maybe ask ed more, but then again the time was limited. The mood of our surroundings feels comfortable to me. He is able to draw as I asked him questions. Larry, being my first subject, I sit close, maybe too close for
Larry: What ever comes to my mind. Sometimes it comes out of anywhere. For example: When asked to do a drawing a picture for the USC mental illness project the first thing that came to my mind was the image of 22
Larry: I think about what’s on my mind and I can make a good story out of it. I like my art to tell a story, like what’s going on, in the image. Leslie: What do you feel before and after you draw? Larry: Generally, before I draw I let out frustration, sometimes I can be bored and I want to do something to take my mind off being bored. Afterward, I feel self satisfaction;a sense of accomplishment. Leslie: What made you get into art?
winkle); Takashi Murakami (super-flat anime-style art); Hayao Miyazaki (influential anime director); and Steven Spielberg (in terms of film-like presentation of certain art pieces.) There are countless others that I can’t quite get off the tip of my tongue. Leslie: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Larry: When I was six, I liked to watch a lot of peanuts cartoons. Afterword, I began to read comic strips. While reading the peanuts comic strips, I began to draw the characters myself. As I was only 6 years old my characters resembled building blocks. Now, I can draw like Charles M. Schulz . Larry is amazing. Leslie: How does your art make you feel? Larry: My art makes me feel confident, I feel like I can accomplish anything as long as I put my mind to it. Leslie: What do you want others to feel or get out of your art? Larry: I want people to be able to think for themselves, my art is commentary on life issues and politics, I want people to come up with there own ideas through the ideas I put out in my work.
Larry: I see myself having secured a lucrative contract with some newspaper syndicate (or whatever might succeed the newspaper syndicates, as it is a dying format). In that case, perhaps working for a comics publisher (maybe a major publisher or a small independent publisher, whichever is easier to obtain a job at). There’s also the possibility of working as an animator or storyboard artist for an animation studio. First, I simply want to have a secure job in order to have a secure living. Leslie: What’s your history with the Painted Brain? Larry: I was pretty much there from the beginning. Our editor, Dave, was one of my first therapists at Didi Hirsch. He invited me to submit work that could be published. Since then, I have submitted artwork for the Painted Brain and sold some artwork during some of our gallery shows. I keep working here in hopes of getting noticed by someone in one of the industries I’ve mentioned. I hope I was able to let everyone know a little about an-
Leslie: What other artists or visionary influence your art? Larry: My first influence was Charles M. Schulz. As I have grown up my other influences have been Garry Trudeau, Berkeley Breathed and Paul Conrad. Other artists or visionaries that have influenced me are Jay Ward (animation producer of Rocky and Bull23
other amazing artist! I have asked questions and I got answers. I am really happy to have met Larry, I look forward to seeing what great art he will be coming up with next. Right now am sitting in the same spot as when Larry and I met just a week ago. I wish that Larry and I would have had more time. Overall I think that all of his skills will go unmatched, they will not go unnoticed. I wish him the very best in his life and in all of whatever he does! I also want to say, “Thank you, Larry, for the opportunity of letting me into your thoughts. I had an amazing time. What follows on the next page is the world premier of Larry Rozner’s comic strip Gene’s Machine. The Painted Brain takes great pride in offering you a sneak peak at his work. Any interested syndicators, contact us and we will connect you with the artist.
Artist’s Statement: “My strip is called “Gene’s Machine”. It is my attempt at making a satire in the style of the author Paddy Chayefsky, whose most famous written work is the screenplay for Network. The basic idea is what the private lives of a group of people that claim to control all the 24
powers of the world are like, a satirical approach to conspiracy theories such as the Illuminati and other similar groups. The stripâ€™s plot is designed to evolve over a ten-year run in order to incorporate a larger story that will take precedence over the initial plot.â€? - Larry Rozner 25
n e o d i i t u a c G i d s ’ e r e M n : n s i s g e Be al Illn t n e to M An Uneasy Relationship With Normality by anonymous
I have a stigma dilemma, one better understood through Goffman’s division of the term. In his Selections on Stigma, Goffman proposes a difference between a discredited and a discreditable individual with a stigma. In a social situation the former is one whose, “differentness is known about already or is evident on the spot”, and the latter is one who “assumes [his stigmatizing quality] is neither known about by those present nor immediately perceivable” (p. 132). I am in danger of moving from discreditable to discredited. I have a psychiatric disability that
If I wean off my medication now, chances are the dyskinesis will go away. If I stay on the medication for a longer period of time, it will become irretraceable. At this point I feel compelled to assure you, the reader, that I am not in danger nor delirium. After the Arinecessitates medication. Let me restate, zona shootings, tensions are high and it does not necessitate medication, but I am even more aware and uncomfortI’m whole bunches of happier and bet- able of my diagnosis. This may be an ter rested when I am slightly medicated. example of what Goffman refers to as While being psychiatrically disabled the self-isolate who, “[l]acking the saluleaves me somewhat paranoid, ironically, tary feed-back of daily social intercourse that I will be found out and stigmatized, with others. . . can become suspicious, it also affords me the opportunity to act depressed, hostile, anxious, and bewilnormally if I can; to pass. I wear fash- dered.” (p.136) For one, I do not usuionable coats and whistle through classes ally discuss these matters with people imagining myself quite a bit younger and outside of my stigmatized group, makin perfectly good mental standing. While ing me technically isolated and lacking this obviously presents many dilemmas, in contact. Second, as I read over this essay so far I am bewildered and anxious of the topic and its topical volatility. Returning to the theme of my dyskinetic facial twitch, I would like to sum up that I am at a loss as to the best course to take. I am leaning toward an unmedicated self. For, while I will certainly survive this small spasticity, I have little faith in my ability to grow used to its confrontation in social situations. Nor do I the most immediate one comes in the have faith, as Goffman suggests, that I form of a dyskinetic facial twitch. Not will develop an ability to “. . . become a twitch, really, a full mouth retraction more adept at managing them.” (p.138) that leaves me in a grimace. As this grimace comes and goes involuntarily I Beginner’s Guide to am left, alas, looking like a crazy person. Medication
“After the Arizona shootings, tensions are high and I am even more aware and uncomfortable of my diagnosis.”
by Thomas Mountain with Dave Leon
I always start by saying that this piece is drawn from my own experiences and the last twelve years dealing with own mental health as a consumer and also working three years at a mental health facility. These are just some things I picked up. If you recently have experienced a first break or are just trying to make sense of all these medications they have been giving to you, my advice follows: Research all meds both before and after taking them. There is a lot of information to be found over the internet, but be open minded to this information. You might find that new meds take two weeks to a month till they start to have an effect. If you do have a med change you also might want to give yourself two weeks off or find a safe place where you can monitor yourself and get some accurate feedback from people who you trust and that know you. bug k23609 28
above: sarafin. spot: ozzy blount
Some general meds you might be dealing with are in five categories: antidepressants, anxiolytics (anxiety meds), mood stabilizers, stimulants, and antipsychotics. Medications impact neurotransmitters, the chemicals in the brain that allow brain cells to communicate
might include zoloft, paxil, wellbutrin, or prozac. Most of these medications effect the level of serotonin in the brain, though wellbutrin effects norepinephrine instead. These medications are intended to lift the mood. Some side effects are anxiety and happiness. Wellbutrin is also argued to decrease you desire to smoke. My advice is to take advantage of this opportunity because, as the Surgeon General’s warning says, “smoking is bad for you.” Anxiolytics, also known as benzodiazepines, include xanax, ativan, and valium. These medications vary in the time they take to take effect and how long they last. They tend to relax the mind and body but are risky because they are habit forming and can lead to dependency, but can be very effective.
“Research all meds both before and after taking them.” with each other. Among antidepressants, medications
Mood stabilizers are generally prescribed for bipolar disorder and include lithium, depakote and lamictal. The medications even you out and smooth out the highs and lows, balancing you out. Mood stabilizers often require some level of bloodwork to check their levels in the body in order to assure their safety. Simulants are the meds that people take to manage ADD and ADHD, and include ritalin, adderall, and stratera. These will give you a really speedy feeling if you do not have ADD or ADHD. When someone has a lack of focus the addition of a stimulant helps clear the mind of its distractability. Like anxiolytics, this is a medication that people can tend to abuse, and it can be risky for the heart. Antipsychotics include abilify, geodon, seroquel, risperdal and older meds like haldol and thorazine. These
above: brianna edwards. below: olivia garcia
would be prescribed for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and they usually decrease hallucinations. They are prescribed especially if you say you are hearing voices. Some side effects associated with these meds can include increased appetite and weight gain, metabolic syndromes, dizzyness, dry mouth and tiredness. The o l d e r medications are more likely than newer meds to cause, over time, tardive dyskinesia, a fancy word for facial twitches, tongue swelling up and shakiness. These can become permanent. Cogentin is often prescribed along with the older meds because it can help with these side effects and will be prescribed right away. This is just a brief overview. As Elyn Saks says, educate yourself about your diagnosis and your options. There is a lot of stigma and uneasiness talking about meds and even just saying that you need help. If you do decide that you need them, you will need to take meds every night or morning as prescribed. You can lead a successful and meaningful life and I believe meds are a very important part of recovery.
My Journey with Medication by anonymous At the age of 21, it became clear to me that I have the mental illness known as bipolar disorder. As I was experiencing the full effects of it, I could not dis tinguish reality from fiction. The loss of my mind was a slow progression, and I had become so accustomed to the great disparity between the opposing and polarizing nature of my emotions that I did not know how it felt to not be in that agony. I did not know that my brain was causing me unnecessary pain. At the time of my accurate diagnosis, I was in denial. I was living with my parents at the time when I started exhibiting strange behaviors. They gave me an ultimatum: I would take medication or I would live on the streets. At the time, my feelings were deeply hurt and I was angry, but in time I came to understand that my parents were only thinking of my best
“My life and I are a work in progress and I do not feel that my work is ever done.”
interest. However, at the time, I reasoned with myself that medication would not alter my state of mind. I believed that my perception of reality or lack thereof would remain the same and that my beliefs were right and true. I took the medication and soon felt a difference. I could also see that my parents were concerned. I was not myself. Eventually, I forget how I came to this conclusion and I began to understand that I needed help. I was exhibiting a great deal of anxiety and other physical discomforts. I wanted an end to the pain I was feeling. I remember the moment I spoke the words “mental illness” and at once understood, through personal experience, what it meant to have the ailments associated with bipolar disorder I felt a great wash of grief and relief. I accepted it. In that moment sitting in the office of my psychiatrist, I cried. I cried because I knew, finally, after years of suffering, what was ailing me. Finally, there was a name, a definition, a certainty, and a fix for my torment. I did not have to suffer anymore if I did not want to. It was not until weeks, or perhaps months, of regular commitment to meds that I really understood how much and for how long I had been suffering. I could gain control of my life again. I understand that without medication my ability to function and carry on a healthy lifestyle is minimal. I have experienced what it feels like to lose control of my mind, body, and life, and now with the help of medication I can take hold of my life and enjoy the things that make life worth living. Since it became clear to me that I have a disorder, I have diligently taken my medication. There was one other period
in my life in which I decided that, because I knew my diagnosis, I could manage without medication. For what might have been two months, it all began to happen again. First, I was manic; I felt extreme joy in the significant and the most insignificant of things. Then, as it had been before, it became difficult to hold a conversation. My thoughts were fleeting and my attention span was at its minimum. I was irrationally happy and living in a different mental and emotional space than my family, friends and peers. In addition, restful sleep was nearly impossible and the anxiety I experienced was seemingly at its worst. I began to feel an oversensitivity to others, accompanied with a fearful and constant concern that I was hurting their feelings. I was spiraling down to a deep depression. I was lethargic, weepy, and constantly had thoughts of suicide for no apparent reason other than the suffering I had endured for the previous two months. Because I knew I was making this a lifestyle choice, I called my psychiatrist about resuming my treatment. Once again on a medication regimen, I felt an almost immediate relief. Taking medication is a choice and it is a choice I proudly make. I choose not to needlessly suffer. Many people have alternative opinions regarding medication and I urge anyone considering medication to choose the option that is right for that individual, but I have been lucky enough to find a combination of meds that work for me. In addition, for some of my friends with mental illnesses, finding the right combination of medication has not been such a swift process. It can take a while to find a combination that works, but the payoff is worth it. Also, the side effects can be quite daunting, but in combination with other lifestyle changes and therapy, I am finding greater peace of mind. My life and I are a work in progress and I do not feel that my work is ever done. I also find it helpful to remind myself that this illness does not define me. It is an obstacle that I must overcome as much as it is a gift to have been given such an intense and vivid imagination. The obstacles of this disorder will not deter me from pursuing the endeavors that I find worthwhile and fulfilling.
that I am on medication to feel it. - Leslie
Some Other Thoughts Medication helps calm me down. With out, I might just go crazy in a couple days, so I take medication to keep myself calm and collected and to try not to hurt people. -Ozzy
One time I told a close friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time that I took medication to manage my depression. He reacted like I was suddenly not the same person he used to know. It kind of knocked me sideways, but I soon remembered that I probably would have thought the same thing back when I knew this guy high school. I don’t think like that anymore. My life is better for it. -Dave
It’s complicated. I was trembling. my parents thought I was just faking it, but It helps me so that’s pretty good. It’s the tremors were from the medication. worth taking, keeps me sane. Remem - Ollie bering to take ‘em in the morning can be tough. - Jules My suggestion is to speak out if you are having any adverse side effects. It’s a helpful tool, it helps me sleep and - Lady helps my digestive system work and my metabolism. I take stratera and abilify I hate the fact that I have to take medi- in the morning. I used to think I was cation. The fact of remembering it is a a slave to the system, being told that I big one that comes with responsibility. was mentally ill. Now I feel more stable Growing up I never took medication, and can handle one-on-one conversabut I did everything I had to do. Now, I tions. I used to be blocked off, living in feel like it is keeping me behind, holding a world that I had created. Now I feel me back. I feel like I can’t do or be my like I live in the world that I want to live best, but at the same time it works. So, in. I feel inspired to help others in need, I don’t have to like it. I hate it, but it and people who are just starting to take works. They say, ‘Don’t fix it if it’s not medication. They might be doing what broken’ and that’s how I feel, like I am I used to do which was to escape reality. not broken anymore. Also, I know that I want to guide them to feel happy with I am able to feel content, and as some- my life and focus on the future instead body that has a mental illness, that goes of regretting what they’ve done. a long way. I do feel normal, it just sucks -Lucien
above: zachary david juster. spots: amer azad and ozzy blount 31
semifiction stories Neither true fiction nor hardcore nonfiction, this section is dedicated to the prose poem, the embellished personal history, the state of the big world or the writer’s own. What follows are the efforts of folks here in LA and as far away as Ontario and North Carolina, saying what needs to be said. Read on, dear reader, and be warned: some mature themes are broached within.
Nice Guys Kaboose by Joseph J. Hill
I see why men are heartless, it’s how we must survive. But I’m stubborn and I’m stupid because I’m still a good guy. I never make a promise that I don’t intend to keep; it’s true I want to fuck you but I’d rather cuddle up and sleep. I’ll paint you fingers and your toenails any color that you want. It’s not because I’m sensitive, it makes my brain shut up. I’m a gentleman. I hold the door and let you enter first and if I think it’s chilly out I offer you my coat. I’m old school and I’m new school. What I do is not for show. If that were my intention
I’d treat you like a ho. I’d never show my feelings. I’d be shallow and conceited because that’s what women really seem to want. Sure they say they want a guy like me, considerate and sweet, yet they go right back to assholes who beat them up and down the street. The one that pushed her down the stairs for having a male friend or the one that punched her in the gut when she thought she was pregnant. The one that she caught cheating or the one that broke her credit score or the one who was sniffing coke and doesn’t pay child support. I’d sooner make myself a eunich then take back a girl that did me dirt. It should take more than an apology to fix that kind of hurt. I find it sort of funny though, can’t bring myself to laugh. The men they always leave me for turn out to be white trash but I feel sorry for us all because nice guys finish last.
Burn Different by
Your skies are blue, as my skies are gray. We walk beside each other, but your path is distant from mine. My path leads me to a broken road. The road that will make me fall, and fall each time I get closer and closer to reaching the light. While people love you, people use me. While people get closer to you, people run away and leave me. I’ll never know why, no matter how hard I try, to find out why this world has been cruel to me, it’s been nothing but good for you. The answers lie somewhere that’s beyond my reach. So I guess I can say it’s because I’m different and I’ll never understand why you’re “perfect”!
smokey the cat in a meeting of minds
Yeah no kidding. Smokey just cannot handle this big, simple, green creature aggresively storming her playpen. With her triune-ish, limbic-y brain, Smokey is capable of emotions, value judgments, and downright annoyance. “What the hell are you doing on my couch?” she’s thinking, staring at this primitive life form with his simple brainstem/cerebellum processor combo. “If you even could, you’d wish for a big warm emotional brain like mine.” If it ain’t one thing it’s another, huh Smokey? photo by dave. spots by ali and larry l. wasan 32
“The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.” -McGill University Website
Tales of an Anxious Mind by Cory Mcleod illustrated by Sarafin
I am told that when the babe first emerged there was an instant recognition of its concern; exactly what worried its newborn awareness was unknown, but it was the countenance which gave it away. Furrowed brow and fearful lips alarmed the physician that tended to the new life, and he would utter the colloquial sentence, “It’s okay little guy, I’m not gonna hurt you!” But indeed, it must have been the biological makeup, in conjunction with the zeal of the infant’s soul, which bore such worry and fret unto the Earth. The question of the ‘why’ instantly arises to both me, and I am sure, any outside observer who takes it upon him or herself to read these gathered words and make meaning: Why does Anxiety exist? I capitalize the word because it demands me to do so. It is not a person, place or thing. It does not exist outside of the meaning we as a race have created for it. But it deserves the right to be capitalized because of its hold over me, and all like me, it has no less a hold than my town, my fiancé, Food, or Air, has over me. You have anxiety? Well Jesus that’s
simple! Take a deep breath. Just calm down. Don’t think about it. Oh okay, that makes him feel better, thanks for the kind words there, Samaritan. The boy stood in a line amongst his peers, who chattered about their lack of fear in relation to the impending immunization. They were all to become impervious to one of the three hepatitis strains, by order of their teacher, who was simply taking orders from another in the chain of command. Have you ever watched the moving hands of a clock in detail? The second hand moves slightly every second, but pauses every three or four seconds for just a moment. There does not seem to be a pattern in respect to the pause taking place either every three seconds, or every four seconds. But, perhaps that was only the clock on the wall of the school hallway. The boy only noticed this because concentrating on such an arbitrary matter took his thoughts away from his mental turmoil. But the inevitable was nearing closer and not a fire drill or recess bell would intervene. He sat in the chair and his heart began to race. Had he been in a movie, the director would compensate for the latter by slowly increasing the tempo of a beating heart sound effect. The camera cuts from the quick blinking of the boy’s eyes to the nonchalant preparations of the nurse. She thinks about what she is going to prepare for dinner. She wanted to make a casserole, but she knew that she had used the last of the tuna on a sandwich over the weekend. That’s okay, she could stop at the store on her way home. Oh, and maybe pick up some cream for tomorrow morning’s double double. If she had only concentrated a bit more on her patient, perhaps she would have 34
seen the warning signs. The boy’s brow was sweating. His eyes compressed to conceal the lethality of the sight of the shining needle. The nurse routinely flicks the spout of the dagger with the gloved finger of her left hand. Her laconic smile is more detrimental than encouraging as she grasps the boy’s forearm and prepares her memorized medical catechism, “Alright, you’ll only feel a pinch, are you ready?” The boy fails to reply. The onset of the mental strangling begins before the metal stinger even has a chance to pierce his twelve year old skin. It’s like taking a sip of beer but instantly feeling the effects of consuming a twelve pack. The pulse races. Breathing becomes sporadic. It’s like being on a roller coaster all day without stopping, and then jumping off and trying to act normal because it’s a social situation; don’t you dare faux pas, right? “Uuuhhh…” the boy moans and lowers his head. “Oh boy, Jenny come here, we got a fainter!” A little bit of water here, a bit of crisis intervention there, and he’s on his way home. He would later blame it on an allergic reaction. The Ontario Education Board would even call weeks later complaining that he was not listed as immunized in their all knowing database. He tells them he’s allergic to the shot. “Oh, well that’s ok then, bye.” And that was the end of that. Now fast forward through hundreds of situations exactly the same, but the reasons for which are completely unbeknownst to the boy. Now put yourself in a university lecture hall at the end of the academic year. You are sitting in an uncomfortable backbreaking seat in a room with little ventilation. An hour and fifty minutes has passed and the professor stares at her watch impatiently. She announces that there are only ten minutes left to complete filling out the pieces of paper that will make or break you. And there’s that feeling again, just like the needle. A racing pulse and an uncontrollable dizziness. You want to lie down but there is no bed or couch in sight, and now there are only nine minutes to complete the essay on why the idea of Stephen Leacock’s Mariposa can be transferred to any of the dying small Ontario towns. Um, metonymy? No. Catharsis? No that was yesterday in Shakespeare. Eight minutes. Oh God. Screw it, a B- is fine.
The student goes to see his doctor about these events and complains of dizziness. He is screened for diabetes and hypoglycemia, both which come back as negative. “There may be things in your life,” he begins, “that are causing you stress. Remove these factors from your life, and see if things improve for you.” The frazzled patient exits the office more confused than he was before he entered. What factors in his life were making him dizzy? That makes no sense! The young man works for a bookstore chain and walks around in circles asking people if they need help finding anything because that’s what Heather wants. The floors are made of a beautifully unpadded dark pine hardwood which entices the eyes but angers the soles. A clever mix of twelve songs invades the ears, which is pleasing at first but maddening to anyone exposed to the airways longer than twenty minutes. The grand epiphany finally arrives when a man interrupts the customer experience representative’s irrevocable circling to inquire as to the location of travel literature. The clerk tries to direct the customer to the requested section, but the customer wants to talk. Oh God. He went to Europe once, and would you believe that the bus ran out of gas on the way to blah blah blah…there’s that feeling again! The first possible self diagnosis points to the unforgiving coffee-like drink which he had just previously consumed. After feigning an important phone call that he had to answer, the clerk leaves the bewildered customer to reminisce in his own anecdotes, and retreats to the staff room where his head hits the table. Another clerk says he looks white. No kidding. He goes home and would call in sick to work for two weeks. He schedules an after-hours appointment with his family physician. While sitting in the waiting room, that horrific familiar feeling attacks without mercy. The young man staggers to the receptionist and dizzily demands a doctor. The twenty other waiting patients cannot help but stare at the fretful young man losing his balance at the counter. The attending nurse helps him back and the on-call doctor happens to be his family practitioner. Oh great. Vitals are fine. Go to emerg if you think
you need to, he hastily recommends. Eight hours later, at two o’clock in the morning, the young man is released with no reasoning behind his dizziness whatsoever. There’s half a day of his life he will never have back. Months later, by chance or by intervention, the young man’s doctor slices his practice in half and a new family doctor is assigned. The young man goes to his primary visit, and leaves with an amber tube of life changing tic tacs. Its Generalized Anxiety Disorder, she says. Take one of these every day for a month, and tell me what happens. He takes them, and what happens is what should have happened a long time ago; the beginning of a normal life. Anxiety. It is a word that is repeated over and over again by television commercials, parents and teachers alike. Even the local Catholic priest weekly asks God to “protect us from all anxiety” amongst his prayers. But the occasional experience of this damning noun is not what plagues the young subject of this article; it is an unrequested lifestyle that was present from birth. Anxiety is an undesired way of being which thrusts its unholy jaws into the jugular of its freaked out victims. However, it can be controlled. Not just by sour tasting tic tacs prescribed by a highly educated person who owns a big house and a Jaguar. It can be held back
by not doing what everyone else does. Don’t drink coffee or alcohol, exercise, don’t work in a stressful job, and don’t forget to breathe. The fact remains that some of these “dont’s” cannot be avoided, especially when it comes to one’s job. Most jobs of the middle class are not going to be a walk in the park, and daily put one into a stressful situation. These escalated circumstances are taxing even to the best of us, but placing someone with a disorder in that same situation is asking for trouble. Also, squeezing an exercise routine into a fifty-hour workweek is no Sunday morning brunch. We all know how much effort it takes to straddle that stationary bicycle, even if there is a television to watch or a book to read along with it. While the unforgiving demands of our lives hurl into us like bullets, we all must remember to breathe. The way others perceive us in our day-to-day lives does not really matter. If you need to leave a situation because of an anxiety attack, do so. Just know that when your jugular is being attacked by that evil noun, it is very hard to remember to breathe. All that seems to matter in the moment is the feeling, the dizziness. But remember, there are many ways to overcome that little bug called anxiety. All you have to do is take the first step towards a better life. Start now.
by Eran McDonald Stress is the mental and physical condition that occurs when we adjust or adapt to an environment. (Psychology, Dennis Coon & John O. Mitterer). Suffering from a mental illness commonly known as schizo-affective disorder, I have complied with erratic physical surroundings: mental health facilities, seeing various psychotherapists, and going to various mental hospitals. Although several mentally ill individuals hate to acknowledge that environments such as listed, are promoters of stress, the other individuals do acknowledge this. Certain surroundings do not have the same impact on every person. For instance, if a dog was raised to being a housedog, why forfeit its liv-
ing arrangement and place it outside to live? The same goes for the individuals that find refuge in the mental hospital. These individuals undergo traumatic episodes of stress in the outer world;. Therefore, they run from their stressors and fortify themselves within the walls of solitude. Personally, I grew impatient every moment. I cried, I screamed, I threw objects, and the like. The reason for these impulsivities was the stress. Stress brings about fear, doubt, and naïve decisions. If stress didn’t play as a factor of the impulsive outburst, mentally and emotionally, it’s not legitimate. I’ve never met a person that said, “This is my first time performing in front of a big crowd and I’m not stressing it.” Such a statement is considered psychologically improp36
er. Now, I will not state that a statement like this is not true. I’m simply stating that it’s not common. Even if it is common, physically, how is the person reacting? Stress is not only mental but also physical. Mental stress and physical stress are in correspondence with each other. Although they correspond, they don’t tie in together automatically. Mental stress, however, can produce physical complications: heart attacks, cancer, strokes, and high blood pressure. Cognitive behavior therapy could help reduce the stressors we encounter mentally. Mental stress overtly is dangerous if prolonged. Stress in general is not always bad. Some stressors are needed in order for us to achieve a goal. Other stressors allow us to react
in cases of emergencies (alarm reaction). Stress is not uncommon among any individual. It’s only a matter of how the person copes with their stressors. Stress is an important factor in our lives and allows us to understand that without it is to be dead. However, with too much of it death could result as well. We must constantly ask ourselves, “Am I stressing over the right thing?” This question is extremely important because some categories in which we stress over are irrelevant and obsolete.
Sick and Fired
by Ofelia del Corazon I’ve been fired from almost every job I’ve ever had. I’ve had some great jobs, too: a trendy design firm, a number of chic department stores, an independent coffee shop, a corporate coffee giant and a women’s anti-war nonprofit organization, as well as numerous call centers. I’m charming as hell, a great researcher, and I have no problem with lying and neither do my friends, I mean, references. So I can pretty much get any job I want even if I’m not exactly, well, qualified for the position. I can get jobs I am qualified for too, but those tend to pay very little; in fact, usually not enough to survive. When they do pay me enough, the hours are so demanding that I just can’t keep up. I dance as fast as I can but at the end of the day my thoughts race on and on, my brain is full of the anxieties about the next day, the next week, the next month – if I last that long. I really am a hard worker, if I believe in the cause. Yet I’m also bipolar and I’ve had to come to accept the fact that I just can’t work as much as everyone else. Forty hours a week for me is toxic – a mental health death sentence. My brain was not built to work that much. The stress and anxiety of the job make me coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs – and I become overwhelmed, get behind on my work, or I just can’t hold it together to make it through the days any longer. Some days the thick clouds of drowsiness form. The many anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and mood stabilizing drugs don’t allow me to wake up
and get my ass to work, so tardiness is often a problem. Or sometimes I am just too depressed or paralyzed by stress and anxiety and shame to get out of bed. Near the end, I’m always missing a lot of work just to keep surviving – taking three days off so I can make it through two. It usually ends with the familiar humiliation of being called into the boss’s office. They explain to me that while I’m a stand up gal and they love having me around, they just need someone more organized, more competent or more together. I’m an expert at holding in the tears until just after I’ve been escorted off the premises, full of shame and often a strange relief. Unemployment only lasts so long and when you are constantly in a cycle of working for a short time, being fired and working independently, then money runs out of the account quickly. Although I would likely qualify for permanent disability benefits (they’ve been offered to me on more than one occasion), I have always had too much shame to accept them. My disability is invisible and most folks don’t see how sick I get. I have so many debatable identities that I’m afraid to take on another. The same voice that tells me I’m not brown enough to identify as a person of color hisses that I’m not sick enough to collect disability benefits or call myself disabled. I come from a home where both parents were often unable to work due to their depression and psychosis. The shame of mental illness is great and the pain runs deep through my guts and the web of my family history. My father received his SSI check every month because of the debilitating symptoms that accompanied his schizophrenia. My mother has received those same benefits for a number of years whenever working as a night nurse became too stressful and she had another psychotic episode. Besides, eleven hundred dollars a month isn’t enough to survive on in Los Angeles. I never knew what I’d do with my life. The only things I’m really passionate about are sex, art and activism. Yet art and activism pay shit. Then I discovered sex
work… It had always been in the back of my mind like a sexy red dress hanging in the back of the closet you haven’t the nerve to wear. One day while working as a freelance makeup artist and struggling to make ends meet, a friend of mine revealed to me that she had been supplementing her income as a public school teacher with phone sex. What? I was fascinated. I’ve got a filthy mind and a filthier mouth and I’d been wondering for a number of years how I could bust in on the phone sex action. So I tried it and it turned out I was damn good at it! I started setting my own hours, developing my many phone sex “characters” and for the first time in my life, people were paying me five to ten dollars to purchase a single erotic story I’d written. Like Anaïs Nin, I’ve developed quite a collection of gentleman who hire me to write personalized erotica for them. Like any independent business owner, it took me a couple of years to discover how to run my business most effectively – when and where to place ads, search engine optimization, how to nurture my relationships with clients and how to tease the fantasies out of them so I can spin them back to them as luscious Choose Your Own Adventure. All of a sudden I was making more money in less time than I ever had before! Sixty to a hundred dollars an hour
olivia garcia. spot: ozzy blount 37
might not sound like a lot to an escort but this work has saved my life and my sanity. My work is safe, most of the men I speak to don’t even know what I really look like. If someone becomes rude, unpleasant, or verbally abusive I simply hang up the phone – a luxury I never had working in customer service. I have never been so economically and emotionally stable. I was even able to cut back on the meds I was taking by about fifty percent. My mental health has never been so good. These days I even have the money to help supplement my mother’s meager disability earnings. I even have time for making art and working as an activist and organizer, without being forced to work seventy or more hours a week while being married to a nonprofit monster. My clients supply me with endless material
and fodder for my artwork and writing. I am like a Pandora’s box of fantasies. People place their fantasies inside of my brain and I quickly and quietly file them away for future use. They may later appear in a piece of erotic fiction or be pulled back out to lure my client back. Most of what I do is counsel on sex and gender related issues and weave nasty stories. Being a phone sex operator has helped me to hone my story telling abilities like nothing else. I have never made as much money as I do now and, at least for the time being, I choose to take my economic empowerment lying on my back in PJ’s eating yogurt and other quiet foods. At family parties, my tíos y tías can’t help but remark that I am the most successful artist they’ve ever known. I laugh and smile and am modest, because I know it’s true.
above: anonymous. spots: larry rozner and lucien lee 38
I Always Try To Look Cool at the Gas Station
by Philip Brubaker of North Carolina Neighborhood boys with sports jerseys saunter around. Sharp-suited white collars tapping their credit card numbers into the shop-worn keypads by the pump. Everyone comes to the gas station. Why? Because no matter what car you drive, whether it’s a Lexus or a used Honda Civic, you need gas to get around. While your job, or your neighborhood may segregate you from the other element, you gotta mingle with all kinds of people to get your petrol. But when I go to the gas station? I gotta look cool. I don’t hold the nozzle trigger while I pump. Naw, that’s for suckers. I slide the nozzle into the gas port, pull up on the trigger, lock it, let go, and let the machine do all the work. Oh. And did I mention? I lean against the car and fold my arms across my chest as the auto mojo flows into my beloved magenta Toyota Corolla. I am generally wearing sunglasses when this transpires. I get my gas at the end of the day, on my way home from work, so shades are a must with the sun on its way down. Leaning against the car, which needs to be washed, I scope out the scene. There’s a Hispanic lady corralling her three kids while filling her tank. Someone should tell her about the nozzle lock method. There’s an elderly black man walking slowly into the Mini Mart, weathered baseball cap on his head, beat up looking flannel tucked into his tight jeans. He looks real lean and I wonder if I should try harder to lose weight. I look over at the gas counter. My fill ups always cost around $20. I am a master-gasser. But there is one trick I have never mastered, which can only mean it can’t be done. Surely you’re all in the know on this one: spillage. The machine stops pumping because it can tell when you’ve had enough. You press the nozzle catch down, cutting off any liquid remains from passing through that hose. But no matter what you do, when you remove that nozzle from your car, there is leakage. Spillage. Gas falls on the ground. A waste. Okay, it’s only just a smidge of gas, but it consistently ruins my fill up experience. There has got to be a way to cleanly, compulsively make filling your tank a perfect exchange of fluids. I cringe whenever gas drips onto
the area around the gas port, or on the ground. Just once I want to drive up to the pump, unscrew the gas cap, slide the nozzle in, lift the lever, fill the S.O.B., pull out, holster the nozzle, and leave no drop behind. That would be something. Not to spill a drop – a totally pure fill up. The black man emerges from the Mini Mart with a six pack. The Hispanic lady takes her kids inside to pay with cash. The dirt-covered prompt asks me if I want a receipt. Hell no. I’m too cool for that. I go through this experience twice a week. My work commute takes a half hour, one way. I play rock loud when I pull up to a pump, but the predominant musical sound around here is rap. Some guy was playing rap out of his speakers while filling the tank. Even worse than that was a guy leaning over his gas port while smoking a cigarette and loading on unleaded. Some people never learn. You just can’t always look cool at the gas station.
an excerpt from Hospital a novel by Ben Robinson
My in-patient doctor later came to me and asked if Sonya had proposed the editing project to me. I said yes. My doctor asked me if I wanted to participate. I said yes. My doctor said it could be dangerous. I told her that Sonya had already warned me of this. My doctor asked me if I wanted to participate anyways. I asked her what she thought, as my doctor. She said she thought I was capable of participating. Again, she asked me if I wanted to participate. This was strange. Up until this point the medical professionals hadn’t been treating me as if I were stupid. While I was often delusional around them, they usually used logic to unravel my strange thoughts. My doctor and Sonya were really hammering home that this study was optional and dangerous. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I recognized that reading a proposal for treatment might make me paranoid, but I was paranoid about a lot of things. What could one more delusion hurt? Maybe they were bracing me against the coming
paranoia. Still, it was irritating. Finally I got the document. I was given three days to read it. It was quite long. I was to read it, and make notes, and tell Sonya what parts made me feel suspicious. The document outlined a patient with a disorder very similar to mine. I went into it assuming the document was not about me. That had been made clear. Then it talked about a combination of pills, accompanied by some electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). Some of the pills I was on were listed. But I wasn’t supposed to be on ECT, and I had no reason to believe I ever would be. Talking to the other patients, I got the impression that ECT was used mainly to treat depression. The person outlined in the document was more messed up than me. ECT seemed reasonable for this patient, but not for me. The document explained why the pills were being given, why the ECT was being given, and the estimated time it would take for all this to happen. The document said if the patient was resistant to medication, some of the drugs may be given surreptitiously. The paper mentioned something ridiculous like an 83% chance of recovery from the pseudo-patients illness. I was jealous. I read the entire document in the first day, then read it again the next day, as I had nothing to do. The document did not make me especially paranoid. Sonya came to talk to me after four days. The third day I waited for her all day. I had wanted to see her, because I had a crush on her, and because there was nothing to do most of the time spent locked away. Sonya asked me what I thought of the document. I was all excited. I had prepared. I had taken notes. I told her all in all it was good, and I had few complaints. Still, I ached to be a part of the project. I went over some areas I didn’t understand. She explained 39
them to me. I went over some parts that I felt I understood, but thought was a little ambiguous. She explained those parts as if I didn’t understand them. I told her I understood their meaning, but they were ambiguous. She explained what they meant again. I told her that all I was saying is if she wanted my advice on how to improve the document, she should change the document, instead of explaining it to me. She explained it again. She had a thick Eastern European accent, and I gave up trying to communicate what I was trying to communicate, chalking up her stonewalling as a language breakdown. Then I told her I was done. She asked me, if I were presented this document, would I consent to this treatment. I said yes. She asked me if I wanted this treatment. I said that the document predicted a high success rate in terms of full recovery, so yes. She said that this was just an experiment to see if a delusional person would accept the treatment. I said I knew that. She asked me if I wanted the treatment. I was puzzled. I said that she just said this treatment wasn’t for me. She said that was true. She asked me if I wanted the treatment. I said, “Theoretically?” She said yes. I said yes. She told me the treatment wasn’t for me, but was being designed for someone else...
rio r od
this season it’s all about identity, so we thought to ask ourselves... WHO AM I? (today)
Who am I? I’m the person that no one understands. I’m the person people love to look at, but regret talking to. I’m the person with one of the most caring hearts in today’s society. That people will only know about if they scale the iron walls. I’m the person who must be validated because they hate themselves, but doesn’t know why but wishes they did. I’m the person with no good goals to follow through on. I’m the person who loves to help others because it keeps abnormal thoughts from going through the mind. I’m the person who doesn’t like nosy people who feel like their opinion is the only right one. I’m the person who knows who they love, but is always on edge because they are scared they will mess things up. I’m the person who will always be there to listen to others and give advice, but can’t take and use their own words of wisdom. I’m the person who doesn’t have faith in themselves. I’m the person who gives up on things because they believe anything they do doesn’t matter. I’m the person who wants to be better but is scared of failure so won’t try. I’m the person who yearns to be held and told everything will be alright. But is scared to ask for it, they think they will be ridiculed, and told what for, and end up feeling worse about themselves. I’M THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO BE OKAY WITH THEMSELVES BUT DOESN’T KNOW HOW. -Anonymous
olli e An individual. I want to bend rules of gender, not conform to gender. *ollieâ€™s sportinâ€™ an exclusive ozzy blount t-shirt. buy one (while supplies last) on our website: www.thepaintedbrain.org
Iâ€™m still an artist, even though I deal with recovery from mental illness. Iâ€™m also a writer and poet and very much in love with my work as a peer advocate. It inspired me to be very urban with first outfit, second outfit was more professional
I am a young guy trying to experience new things in life, Iâ€™m trying to see myself in a different way. Thatâ€™s why I do fashion, so i can see myself in a way i have never seen myself before.
h g i e l a n
I am a young woman who is trying very hard to live a life I can be proud and happy about, just feel really good so I can look back and say I have come really far, by the strength of the lord. I want to feel pretty and desired, if I were a guy I would say she looks really pretty.
n rya Somebody, yeah, somebody BOLD.
I got a second chance at life to show everyone in the world who I am, where I was in my life and where I am now. 47
As a mother of four I try to take the opportunity to let my hair down and stay young as often as possible. The style I choose today is one of many pretty and sweet pin-up inspired styles I love to rock.
01/31/11 Dear Ozzy, I’ve only ever had two girlfriends and the longest was five months. I want a long-term relationship, but when I date, it lasts a month or two. Any advice on finding long-term love? -Lost in Love Dear Lost in Love, That’s a very good question, my friend. I’ve had my share of relationships in the past and the longest that I’ve been in one was a little over four years, so I must’ve been doing something right back then. But here are three key words that should help make a relationship last longer: -Communication -Support -Trust Communication is very important in a relationship. It’s good to be a good talker, but better to be a good listener. It lets the person know you’re paying attention. Support is when you are there for that person. Whether you want to give them a pat on the back for a job well done, or offer a shoulder to cry on when they’re down. Either way, show them that you care about them. When it comes to trust, you and your lover have to be 100% honest with one another. Without it, there can be no love. Keep these three words in mind and I’m sure the next relationship you get into will last longer than before. Just give it some time. And remember this: Patience is the mark of true love. Sincerely, Ozzy
To ask Ozzy a question, please write to him at the painted brain headquarters or at our website. Address is on the back page. 51
how to get involved artists
Submit Art/Photography/Poetry/Writing by email or post. Check our website for the next issue’s theme, create your own account and upload your pieces. Journalism/Magazine Development - Submit thoughts and stories online on the blog or email. Editor’s meetings are at PB HQ Monday afternoons to get assignments and use computers to work on layout and design.
Open Studio - Saturdays 2-4PM at the PB HQ in downtown LA. Art and music welcome!
clinicians and agencies Distribute our magazine! Contact us about subscriptions, or bulk orders for your offices, lobbies, or clients. Host on-site Painted Brain art groups, co-facilitated by one of our artists/ writers/ musicians. Host Painted Brain anti-stigma/mental health education presentations co-facilitated by one of our artists/writers/ musicians to staff, clients, or community members. We are always looking for partnerships and collaborations. jonathon bell
mail (PB HQ): 1335 willow st., los angeles, ca 90013
Attend an event, send us an email, or friend us on Facebook! We’d love to have you as part of our growing global community.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org damien arson
The Painted Brain is a peer-driven media and outreach campaign to eradicate the stigma of mental illness, to promote social development, and create a community of artists. The Painted Brain is a project of Community Partners. 53