No matter how down I am, I'm gonna be a positive person. If I catch somebody who's down and out, I'm gonna help in some way, whether it's opening the door or giving a kind word. You're never alone in New Orleans. Someone is gonna reach out to you.


There was a lot of abuse, sexual, verbal, physical, by staff. Unfortunately, I got sucked into that and I was abused.  It was a recurring thing in my life. There were situations as a younger child that I had experienced sexual abuse. So I'm thinking, now as a young teenager, here we go again. 


I got put into foster care due to violence in my family. I had a brother who was bipolar and schizophrenic and that's how it started. He'd come home upset, and I was his punching bag so he took out all his anger on me. I allowed  it because that's my brother.


It could be better. I just got out of jail for stabbing somebody. It was self defense. Got into an argument and the guy swung on me, I stabbed him. They put me in jail for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. I wasn't trying to kill the guy.


I called the helpline when I was upset and they called the cops and the cops came with guns drawn into my house. I was so traumatized with the fact that they came in with guns drawn that I was switching personalities. They put me in restraints  and retraumatized me.

Kaelin Part 1

I think that's what's special about New Orleans. Everybody has PTSD. Everybody's got that connecting trauma, and it doesn't seem like it'd be a good thing but it's shown itself in really positive ways.


They gathered us all in the day room and told us the news and I just broke down crying. All of a sudden I'm surrounded by men dragging me to seclusion where they kept me for a week "for my own safety." There were a lot of sadistic people there. [They would] strip you completely naked, four point restraints and shoot you up with whatever drug they wanted to shoot you up with.


I took off running and went to the nextdoor neighbors and nobody... I couldn't find nobody. my brother had crazy bubbles on his back, like real bad burns. I was little man, I was only six years old. Wasn't nothing I could do about it.


My supervisor told me that if I didn't leave the ER with or without my stuff, she was gonna call the police.  I had never hurt a patient; I had never caused any medication errors; I had never caused any errors in patient care, even when I was manic.


Soldier: In the military, I took 11 lives. I got 11 confirmed kills. I've killed 11 people as a soldier. That's what I was trained to do. That's what I was taught to do, and I had to do it.



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 .


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."


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.