I started connecting with people who live with a mental health challenge, and were living well, and thriving. I thought, oh, there's recovery for this? I can really live a full life and be OK and thrive?


My addiction to drugs was replaced by an addiction to Jesus. I didn't drink, do drugs, smoke, curse, and I dressed modestly.  God was changing me. It's like in the fall when leaves fall off the tree. They don't all fall off at once, but as they're ready, God would take those layers of sin and  turn me into this beautiful thing. It was amazing. 


I feel like I was born sort of weak and small, you know. They told me that I'd probably never be independent. They had me on disability when I was a little kid and that's how my life was  setup.


I lost my son in 2010 in a car accident. I had a nervous breakdown. I had been in AA at that point for 15 years, sober. Before I lost my son I  had never thought about my mental health condition .

An Intense Look At Mental Illness

For the next year I will be immersed in the world of mental illness and mental health. This will not be strictly focused on the Southeast U.S. like my first book was. I’ll go wherever I need to go in order to find stories and solutions.


I never really painted up until five years ago when my wife left me. She was from the Philippines and I went over there and met her and got her. After 10 years of marriage she left me. I fell into a real bad depression, a real dangerous depression, where I wanted to die, kill myself, because I felt like my whole life was worthless. 


It was like an AA bootcamp.  Maybe some people need that, but I'm completely against the idea, so I left on Labor Day and started walking from  Ohio to Georgia. Man, I've met nothing but good people. I got this whole bag full of gear from angels that have blessed me.


I was ready to hit the road when I was 4. We were sitting in my dad's truck talking to his friend Johnny close to the train tracks in Little Five Points. I looked up and there were a bunch of train hoppers jumping out of a train. I asked what they were doing and Johnny said, "Those are hobos. Those are the mother fuckers that are living real."


BW: What's the biggest lesson you've learned on the road?

Spoons: Stay out of it. Just stay out of it. Mind your pints and quarts, bitch. 


We see the spectacular, we see the magnificent, we see the beauty of nature. But when you look real close, it's cruel, brutal, and unfair as hell, but we don't avoid it. We learn to navigate it. And on the real chance that you get bit by the snake, stung by the bee, or whatever, you heal up as best you can and keep it moving.

Megan - Class War

 For a long time I absolutely refused to work because I didn't want to contribute to wage slavery but when I got my knuckles tattooed I was working in a very busy restaurant during Mardi Gras season and I couldn't take my gloves off. 


 I was really young. Like 13. One day I got my period and I thought I was gonna die. She gave me a yellow Vicodin and told me it was a Naprosyn and I was like, woah this is great. Ever since then I loved them. After that it was like drugs all the time.

Thomas - Forsaken

Back when I was younger, I had loads of faith. At the age of 15 my best friend committed suicide.  I also lost a friend to a drunk driving accident. My mom was an alcoholic and she beat the fuck out of me. I didn't understand how there could be a God


I had been staying in an apartment, strung out, and I walked past this Adventist Church. I'd seen that they were holding NA meetings there, so I went. I was sitting there, chin on my chest, nodding out, and they just didn't give a shit. These guys took me right in.


On the day she was going to be buried they opened her casket so people could say their goodbyes. I went up and looked inside. It was her but her eyes were sunken in. I had made her like a friendship bracelet and I put it on her hand. It was so cold.  It was at that moment that I realized she was really gone.


When I was 16. My mother gave me up to the state. After my mom gave me up, I hit rock bottom and got really bad on drugs. I started shooting heroin, coke, pills, alcohol, whatever I could get my hands on.


For a while I wore a purity ring and tried to force myself to be straight and to be in relationships with females. I was 14 when I finally admitted to myself I was gay. I never planned on telling my family, but one day I did.