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.
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 .
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.
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.
There was a dark time in my life when I collected hard money loans for someone in Phoenix. It wasn't pretty.and I was effective at my job. I earned that one.
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.
Cole: I've been to 46 states now and I still haven't found home.
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.
Everyone's kind of looking for love or someone or something. You hitchhike and travel and you're almost hopeless sometimes, but I met this pretty, dope, girl, hitchhiking, and she's been like the crown jewel of the road for me.
I did fall in love in prison though... He was the first person to read that I was trans. When he touched me, he touched me like I was a girl. He treated me like a fucking princess. I wasn't really interested in him at first, but he coerced me into having sex with him and then he treated me like I was a woman. It became like a fix for me.