The episode that you’re about to listen to touches on all three, addiction, mental health, and New Orleans. I’ve known David in passing for a few years. He was a barista at a coffee shop I often went to on Lower Decatur in the French Quarter. He was also roommates with a friend of mine, Cory, who died from a fentanyl overdose last year.
The first time my band and I came here was just after Katrina in 2005. It was still a total fuckin’ hot mess. We had a traveling circus van and a tour bus and were like, yeah we can stay at a friend’s house, and we roll up. It was a dilapidated, bombed-out, hell-hole.
I came for the weekend eight years after the storm. I was invited to meet Françoise Gilot, the wife of Picasso. She was showing her artwork down there on Royal Street, and that’s really the thing that changed my life.
The primal feelings for him, and the sex; it was very intense. We had a very intense relationship, and I was so grateful. I had never been so close to anybody and oddly trusted him in a way I had never trusted anybody. It was us against the world.
During the inquest after his death, the pathologist gave his version of events and talked about how very minimal amounts of the drug were found in his system—minimal amounts, and he choked basically in his sleep. They were about to record a verdict of suicide, and I stood out.
I almost froze to death in there—they shut off all the heat in the buildings. I was in a locked cell by myself with paper clothes on. All that was there was a mattress. The guards really beat the shit out of me; when I first got there I was having blackouts, and apparently I was talking a lot of shit to the guards.
After I left home I ended up hitchhiking around the country. My first experience hitchhiking I got raped. Numerous boyfriends and people I thought were my friends have raped or sexually assaulted me. Some of them were people I had known for years---people I called family.
A lot of people have preconceived notions and stereotypes because you believe what you're told when you're growing up. So, to get to know me and see-- she's a good person; she's a good friend, and then they find out that I am a lesbian.
The oil spill happened in 2011 —Deepwater Horizon. I was a young man, just turning twenty-one. I had two jobs in the hospitality industry when it happened. I was busting my butt, working, working, working. I went from making $1600 every two weeks to $500 every two weeks.
I first started DT-ing three years ago, I guess. It took a year of traveling. I mean, I had a fucked-up, traumatic childhood, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't trying to escape it. It just went from partying every night to partying all day, and now it's like changed my brain chemistry or something.
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.
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.
He was like, “Well let's play twenty questions, and I bet you by the end of it I'm gonna figure out what you're gonna get.” I was like, whatever. I got nothing to lose. He asked me all kinds of stuff about myself. They were in-depth questions about my family, my personality, all kinds of stuff. At the very end he was like, “Okay, I know what you're going to get.
My record [is long] in Georgia and Florida. I did three years here in Orleans Parish Prison. I was making money and having fun back then--eating three jars of peanut butter a day, working out all night, not jacking off, and victimizing people. I had a good time in OPP.
Oh yeah, absolutely. My whole life’s been a burden, but I bear it in a way that it makes something positive for everyone else. When you wear your ink properly, and your ink is right, everything else is just perfect. People see it. They understand. You get a connection with people that is…beyond price.
I felt super suicidal the day that I told her and I felt like I needed to cut my body open in some way. So I decided to get Love of Fate [tattooed on my knuckles] and just let it go and accept that that's just what the past was and I've moved forward from that.
Carlos: I see a lot of stuff [spirits and demons]. That's why I have these saints and Jesus on my arms. It gets super scary to where I can't sleep at night. I have to sleep with my candles on because I catch all that stuff.
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 thank God. I still get depressed; I still have my anxiety; I have panic attacks on occasion in large crowds, but I’m learning so many new things. I learn so much from the people that I work with. I’m hoping and praying that they’re learning from me too. I just can’t see my life doing anything else.
God communicated to me that there were some children buried in a landfill in Cumming, Georgia. I was living on Lake Lanier, so I set out to try to go find them and swam across part of Lake Lanier. I had on nothing but sweatpants, and they came off during the swim so I was buck-naked when I went up and knocked on a door at this big beautiful lake home. The woman came to the door and just started screaming. I didn’t think I looked that bad naked…
The book will be a beautiful, coffee-table sized book that features stories from about a hundred people with lived experience. It also features subsections about important issues that impact the mental health of Americans like poverty, pharma, war, and the criminalization of mental illness that currently exists in this country.
I fight depression. I always have, and in the last few years, I learned that the less I care what anybody thinks, the happier I am. At the beginning of this year, I really, really embraced it, and it’s been the best four months of my life.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I had just discovered that I had bipolar depression. I just thank God that he brought me through so much. That's why I want to get my poems out there, cause I want to help somebody who been through what I been through.
They kept telling me how great it could be in recovery. I thought that it was bullshit. My whole life I'd always heard, once an addict, always an addict. In my mind I was never gonna get any better. Never... I wanted things to get better, but I never knew I could live life without using dope, because I'm an addict.
For a long time I tried to keep everything as clean and perfect as possible, so that nobody would get angry. After a while I realized that it wasn’t working, so I started doing other things. I self injured [cut] for a while. I wanted a way to control the kind of abuse that was directed towards me. If I abused myself, at least it was me choosing it.
Actually I’m not homeless. I have a place but… I do drugs. I stay in Norwood and I prostitute over here [downtown] so it’s too far to go home and come right back over here. I might as well go on and stay over here in the downtown area, keep going, get clothes from the shelter.
I went to prison for four years because of the PTSD. A cop was dragging me by my hand and I bit him right there [pointing to upper arm] and when he pulled out his cuffs, I bit him there [pointing to wrist]. I did four years in maximum security.
She was just always getting ridiculed by guys on the street because she was talking to herself cause sometimes she’s not on her medication like she’s supposed to be. I used to worry about her like that. Sometimes schizophrenic people wander off.
she was best friends with Jerry Garcia’s baby mama, Manasha Garcia, so we traveled with them a little bit. So, she thought that because of his drug connections that the FBI was always after us so it kinda made sense.
When I grew up, there was a lot of stuff goin’ on. My mamma did drugs and stuff so she always had all kinda people over. Everybody. Anybody. A lot of slammin’ doors. A lot of yellin’. In and out. Bein’ little, that messes with you. Put you on edge. Especially when you by yourself.
I’m usually a very private person but today, I’ll talk to you. My husband of forty years is at home right now smashing up and destroying everything that’s in my house. I’m not even able to go home and lay down.