Mental Health Awareness and AA –
As an artist/writer who shows in local galleries and has shown throughout Southern California, I chose to make mental health awareness as an issue to address in my work. Other artists tended to pick causes like police brutality, feminism, animal rights, etc… I chose this subject mainly having dealt with being a bipolar member of Alcoholics Anonymous. When I went to AA at a young age, I was secretive about it, until I told my then sponsor. He disagreed with my therapy and treatment (like he would know the difference) and told other people in AA. The information spread through the rooms like butter. I tried going off my meds and almost killed myself. I started speaking out in the meetings to protect others going through the same AA abuse for it. Eventually, it got to the Internet and they blasted it all over social media. I do often get emails and messages from AA members going through the same ordeal and thanking me for standing up. When I tell friends outside the AA rooms, they find it ironic that they look down on me, yet they are alcoholics and addicts themselves. As though, they are somehow better than me.
When I started showing in the local galleries, it became an issue I addressed. A schizophrenic homeless man, Kelly Thomas, had been beaten to death by the police. As an artist, I became more public about my illness. Also, I had known Kelly myself having shared a hospital room with him in a local facility years prior.
But there have been serious barriers to address that I wasn’t expecting. The media and the public are all over what they call Big Pharma. Which I agree, has a lot of problems. But for myself and those I know, taking our medication makes us better or at least helps. People should be allowed to seek their own medical treatment without harmful pressures from others.
I know for myself, God is not going to cure this or any other disease. In fact, I’ve never really believed in God at all. Also, marijuana advocates get up in my face about taking pills. Which again, is none of their business. But it creates a great political play for them to say Big Pharma is pushing drugs, so smoke pot instead.
As an advocate for those seeking treatment for mental health, I run in to a lot of adversity and conflict. I’m sure one would expect that. But as an artist, I hold true to my cause.