Tag Archives: psychiatric drugs

11/8/14 status update

I’ve neglected my blog for so long that it’s hard to know where to start. While anyone who follows me on Facebook is pretty up to date with the gruesome details of what’s going on in my life, here’s the gist of it for anyone who’s not up to speed:

  • I moved in with a girl in Chicago in July. We broke up in August.
  • A day and a half later, I started seeing another girl in Chicago. That lasted three months, until Thursday, when I finally left.
  • I love the girl but the relationship was incredibly dysfunctional and it had me more fucked up, twisted around, confused, depressed, anxious, and suicidal than I’ve been since December 2012.
  • While I’ve neglected writing the statements for my artwork, I’ve still been actively creating new pieces. The lack of updates can be accounted for by (1) not having had the new pieces photographed yet, (2) not having their statements written, and (3) the fact that these new pieces are HUGE and the last two have each taken more than a month to complete.
  • My charges are still pending and still stressing me out but I’m still (sort of) optimistic that some kind of a resolution can be reached – or at least resigned to accept the punishment that’s being offered as part of the plea deal that’s currently on the table.
  • As the weather got colder in Chicago, I saw a dramatic decrease in my print sales when I’d go downtown to set up, paint, and sell. Consequently, my income this last month is lower than it’s been since January, which is stressing me out but not killing me.
  • I desperately needed to get out of Chicago to escape my shitty relationship, so I’m in St. Louis now. On November 22nd, I’ll go to Minneapolis for the Rivethead reunion. On November 24th, I’ll return to Normal/Bloomington, IL for my next court date. From there, I’m not sure what I’ll do but if I have to accept the plea deal, I’ll be put on two years probation and will need to choose a state to serve it out in, since my movement will be restricted and I’ll have to be physically present for monthly check-ups. My art career would warrant that I choose either New York or California but I would probably have to choose Florida for the sake of my mental health, as that’s where I’ve got the most emotional support. In theory, I would be able to apply for travel permits to leave the state for my “job” (for example, to go to Minneapolis for my exhibition in March).
  • When I left Chicago on Thursday, I left without Chris Spillane. It was six months ago that I petitioned the court to have him picked up by police and put into detox and six months since I picked him up from detox and brought him out on the road with me. He now has six months clean, a job, a place to live, and everything else that could be reasonably expected of relatively well-balanced kid of our ilk. When I return to Illinois for my court date at the end of the month, he’ll have the option to rejoin me but I suspect that he’s gonna keep on in Chicago, building up his new life.
  • In September, I started seeing a psychiatrist in Chicago. In October, she put me back on antipsychotic and antidepressant medications (in addition to the Adderall that I’ve been on for ten years). The last time I was on antidepressants was as an inpatient at Tranquil Shores in February 2013. The last time I was on antipsychotics was (I think) as an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center in February 2012, though I almost went back on them in January 2013.
  • In addition to the psychiatrist in Chicago, I’ve also started meeting once weekly (via Skype or Facetime) with Tracy, my counselor from Tranquil Shores.
  • Anxiety and depression destroyed my appetite the last month or so and I’m skinnier than I’ve been in at least twelve years. That’s good because I have body dysmorphic disorder and being this thin makes me feel good about myself. It’s bad ’cause… I don’t know… ’cause people say it’s bad…?


I have no idea how this all comes across as a whole but here’s what I think should be the important point to take away from it all: October was a bad month but – here, in St. Louis – I am safe, and cared for, and feeling eight million times better. I am no longer suicidally depressed and though I am afraid of what will happen once I leave St. Louis in two weeks, I am okay and I am once again grateful.

I’m going to spend the day with my current work-in-progress, possibly do some layout work for a new flier or work on written statements for finished pieces, and – tonight – I’m going to go downtown to see Rational Anthem play with The Copyrights and The Murderburgers.

If you wanna buy some art right now, that’d be pretty great.

Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come

"Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come." 9/8/13. Pencil and marker. 1⅝x2⅝”.
“Ugly and Dreading Everything to Come.” 9/8/13. Pencil and marker. 1⅝x2⅝”.

I knew it’d be a problem. No one took me seriously. I gave up – I wanted to be agreeable. Now the consequences are here and I hate myself. Addressing it directly now will only make it worse. So – here I am – fumbling around with vague bullshit. I want to say “am” but will settle for “feel.” I feel weak, dependent, vain, and trivial.

This piece is really little, you guys.


Roller Skating Sideways Through Blood

"Roller Skating Sideways Through Blood." 4/6/13. Acrylics and pen on stretched canvas. 12x16".
“Roller Skating Sideways Through Blood.” 4/6/13. Acrylics and pen on stretched canvas. 12×16″.

In 2011, when I was inpatient at Hazelden, I noticed something about myself: whenever we got a new patient, I’d behave just a little more “outrageously.” Like – the things that came out of my mouth were a little more shocking, absurd, or over the top. I very much had a need to let new people know that I was a character. And I realized that it wasn’t a new behavior; the settings varied, but I had been acting this way all my life.

That realization really upset me and I resolved to change immediately. I didn’t need anything else on my (already) long list of shit don’t like about myself. Some people responded well to those antics, but I’m sure there were plenty more that were thoroughly annoyed. Granted, treatment is the kind of intimate environment where – so long as you’re not totally shut down – people will learn to spot your bullshit and see through to “the real you” pretty quickly (whether they want to or not) and that meant the only real consequence of my acting out was to be initially disliked. [I remember deciding at one point that four to five days (for someone to come around and not hate me) was the standard rule]. Still, I didn’t wanna stomach that feeling for any days if I didn’t have to.

Once I’m comfortable somewhere, I can conduct myself more consciously; I can elect to play the clown or choose to be more authentic. But when I’m the new kid, I’m really shy, quiet, and usually lie silently as I absorb the dynamic. But I move fast. That “new-kid phase” is usually only twelve to twenty-four hours. After all, I’m pretty desperate for attention, pretty much all the time [as sad (and uncomfortable to admit) as that is].

About twenty-one hours after my arrival at Tranquil Shores, we’re taken to an arcade for our “community event.” In the van afterward, riding back, I asked about some of the past community events.

“We went to the roller rink, but probably for the last time. Debbie fell and cracked her head. There was blood everywhere, and kids, and…”

Holy shit! What a fantastic image! I pictured little kids slipping around a roller rink as a pool of blood spread across the floor. I couldn’t contain myself and shared my delight with my new peers. Everyone laughed and someone joked, “Nobody let this kid near any scissors.” I responded with mock indignation, “HEYjust ‘cause I like to roller skate sideways through blood – doesn’t make me a cutter.” That really cracked everyone up. I was pretty pleased with myself. (More so than was warranted but…)

Either way, I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to take four or five days for these people to not hate me. I felt accepted, by both the clients and staff, almost immediately. And while there were certainly moments when I tested that acceptance (and consequently felt like a misfit or an outcast again) really, it only increased as my stay went on [the exact reverse of every past experience]. To this day, I’ve never felt more accepted or appreciated anywhere than I have at Tranquil Shores. And though that had very little to do with my dumb jokes, that moment in the van was when I first started to feel it.

Fast-forward eight months or so: I’m at Indie Market, feeling very not pleased with myself. The “skating sideways through blood” thing came to mind and I wanted to recapture the feeling of that day. I picked up my brush and started to paint, but it wasn’t going well. Nothing was looking as it had in my head and I was beginning to feel frustrated (to an absolutely irrational degree). But I was trying so hard to not be that way. I wanted so badly to be better and stronger than that. Instead of giving up entirely, I moved colors, distorted shapes, and started writing about art and my frustration with the commercial end. I had become incredibly prolific but nobody was buying my work; I felt like a factory, spewing shit no one cared about. And I had spent a bunch of money on frames, thinking they’d help “legitimize” my work in the eyes of strangers at Indie Market (and increase sales) but no one was buying anything. I was burnt out and annoyed with myself for posting every new piece of art on Facebook. It’d be one thing to shamelessly promote a product no one was interested in – it was worse that the product was (essentially) me.

needed to sell my art it because someone told me I had “what it takes” to be an artist and I had allowed myself to believe them. I was afraid of letting them down and even more terrified that I was letting myself down – terrified of being wrong, of not having what it takes. In hindsight, it was all insane. I had only moved out of Tranquil Shores five or six weeks prior – and I had only started painting and drawing a few months before that. To have sold anything in that timeframe was fucking remarkable.

The last sentence (“It’s better than Cymbalta”): I don’t know if I really believed it as the letters formed on the canvas but – as soon as they had – I know that I did. That’s when I started to feel better. And – as if the universe was offering a direct rebuttal to all my negative thinking – within a few weeks I had sold eight paintings – including this one.

I’d say that, every so often, someone really ought to kick the shit out of me but I already do such a great job of it myself. But in my better moments, I do have gratitude. I do see how lucky I’ve been. How blessed I am. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I feel it and it’s real.


Related entries:


“Success rates” for slit wrists and knives to the heart are surprisingly low. I didn’t want to go to a hospital…

Forty-eight hours before “No Accident” and the moment when I started to finally “get better,” I was in my room – researching suicide methods that didn’t require anything that couldn’t be found in my apartment at Tranquil Shores. I was going to kill myself because a girl was mad at me. A girl that I wasn’t even sure that I liked.

Earlier that afternoon, we did an exercise in group. We had to pull a couple items out of a basket and relate to them. I declined to say anything aloud, but when it was time for art therapy group, I started writing.

The fortune was absurd, the paper it was printed on was dirty and crumpled. Together, they were useless. This pencil is not useless. It has incredible potential. It is an instrument of a higher purpose. In the right hands. It is comforting. I like holding it in my hand. With paper, it can save me from almost anything. And it is forgiving. It has an eraser. If I make a mistake, it allows for correction. Or at least undoing. The mistakes I make with it are rarely entirely forgotten. I don’t know how to apply this to my life. Is it by chance that the trauma I addressed [in group] this morning, that I was supposed to see is not happening anymore (but which I claimed could and would (and sort of was) still taking place) – is it by chance that just hours later it pretty much is [happening again]? Or did I choose that memory because it had already begun? Yes, that’s it. It’s just more clear now. Because I realize I’m no longer willing to be honest which means I can’t get better. I can’t be helped. So there’s no reason for me to be here. Except that to hope that things will change once more. I no longer believe that I’m a drug addict. Sort of. I know I can’t use drugs (or that it’s not worth the risk in any case). But I’m not going to pick up. Fuck that. I’m over it. It’s not appealing anymore. But I’m miserable. Like I realized on my first weekend here, people are unhappy for countless reasons other than drugs. Me? I have no legitimate reason to be unhappy. It’s all in my head and it’s illogical. Is that recognition enough to get help in getting well without disclosing my irrational stressors? Celexa is an SSRI. Cymbalta is an SNRI. Which means that it does the same thing as Celexa, plus more. Adding Celexa to my prescription [regimen] adds little to nothing. And it will be another 3½ to 5½ weeks before we even know if it’s having any effect. I need something different and I need something faster. I am chemically imbalanced. I need chemical balance. Abilify might work. It’s too expensive. It’s less expensive than inpatient treatment. Maybe I’d be better off with Abilify and outpatient treatment. Here or elsewhere. At this point I’m not afraid to leave.

I don’t like art anymore. I don’t like treatment anymore. I don’t think I’m ready to get better anymore.

"Clarity." 12/10/12. Pencil. 12x18".
“Clarity.” 12/10/12. Pencil. 12×18″.

This piece is called “Clarity” because that’s how I actually felt in this moment. I thought I had nailed it. I was deluded enough to think that my primary issue was chemical, thoroughly confused as to whether or not I needed any kind of mental health therapy or substance abuse treatment, yet I was somehow lucid enough to know that those feelings (and my written rant) were totally insane. The title is “Clarity” because I thought it was hilarious. I wasn’t laughing, but I knew it was funny. Even then.

Sometimes, emotions are more powerful than facts.

Later that night, I made a half-hearted attempt to kill myself by asphyxiation. (Success rates are in the seventy to eighty percent range).


When I handed over the Traffic Street inventory to Kiss of Death, Glenn gave me a few new KoD releases. One was The Slow Death’s first LP. I listened to that record a lot while I was at Tranquil Shores. My name is on the thanks list even though I didn’t have any hand in its release. (Though I had been a big fan and supporter of The Slow Death and helped them out in other ways, so it wasn’t totally shocking). Still, I wasn’t expecting it and it was a really nice surprise. I had become so far removed from the world that I had lived and breathed for so long… Little things like that helped me feel connected in those days. It meant a lot to me. It seems appropriate that my first experience back in that world was the little tour with Rational Anthem this month, up to the fest that Jesse (of The Slow Death) organized. Here’s a song from that first LP that came to mind while I was writing this entry. And here’s a second song from their brand new record.


"Titrating." 3/14/13. Acrylic, marker, and pen on canvas. 8x10".
“Titrating.” February 26th and March 14th, 2013. Acrylic, marker, and pen on canvas. 8×10″.

I’ve never shared the text in this piece with anyone until now. Shortly after I moved out of Tranquil Shores, I went down to Sarasota to see if I could sell some of my artwork by just setting up on the sidewalk. I didn’t want any trouble with police and the most trafficked spot in downtown Sarasota is outside of Whole Foods, so rather than set up in such a way as to be explicitly selling artwork, I just sat at a table outside of Whole Foods and painted, with a few finished pieces (facing outward) in the crate attached to my bike, another on the table in front of me, and another leaning against my chair. I just painted and hoped that someone would walk up and want to talk to me and then I could somehow segue into trying to sell something. Plenty of people did stop and talk to me, but I didn’t say anything to anyone about selling anything. And it was twilight, so no one could really see anything anyway. The whole thing was awkward. It wasn’t exactly my best plan.

Just before I went to Whole Foods, I had stopped by Clothesline. I had made a habit of doing that whenever I was back in Sarasota in the last year or so (in between stints in rehab), but this time it wasn’t just to say hi to the owner, Austin (my best friend from ages two to ten or so). Clothesline does gallery openings or art exhibits or [whatever you call that kind of thing] and – as of a couple months ago – I was now an artist. I figured I’d show him some of my pieces and see if there was any possibility of showing some of my stuff there. He was really supportive and sweet, but I didn’t actually ask outright and the whole thing didn’t pan out exactly as I’d have liked it to. Looking back, that makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, this was written a few hours later – after the Whole Foods attempt, after starting my ride back to Bradenton. It was colder than I could stand (to ride in) so I pulled over and wrote this on a piece of canvas that I had started to paint earlier. It says:

At first I thought it was just because she wanted to see me, but when I started writing on “Smiling With a Paintbrush in My Teeth,” I realized it might not be a good thing. When I asked her if she just wanted to see me or had something specific to talk about (and that I might not be home by ten) she said, “It’s not a big deal – it can wait ’til tomorrow.” But it’s a big enough deal that it’s not a text or a phone call. And a big enough deal that – ideally – she wanted to talk about it tonight. I’m really scared. Trying to see the good. Trying to be a light. Whole Foods today (covert street sales) was a bust. Clothesline was a bust. I might need to be in a big city to be an artist. And what keeps me from that? Heather. If she left me, I could go wherever I want. In another piece today, I had described myself as “stuck” and “trapped.” Also “smiling,” but still. My little punk rock heart’ll be broken, but I’ll be free to pursue my dream. And she’s been weird the last two days. “A dream I don’t want to wake up from.” It’s true, but maybe it’s time for me to wake up. I tried to ride the moped back. It’s too cold. The zipper on my bag keeps opening. I caved and called Lynette. There’s pizza waiting at home. I’m scared but I just need to make it another 100 minutes. Writing this killed 17. By the time I’m warm and fed, I’ll only have maybe 55 minutes to kill. Fuck. I’m smoking a cigarette now.

So – being incredibly codependent – I wanted to see Heather every night, but I was trying to be cool with it on the nights that I didn’t see her. But when she sent me a text on this evening, asking if she could come over around 10, I was excited because she had said that she had to work early and wouldn’t be coming over. And then my brain went into panic mode, as I realized that her text also implied that there was something we needed to talk about. Obviously, I jumped to the conclusion that she was going to break up with me. We had only been dating for a couple of weeks, but – shit – I didn’t really understand why she had been into seeing me in the first place. I’m a heroin addict and I just got out of rehab. She’s well-adjusted and employed. She drives a car! That she bought! With money from working!

I got picked up on the side of the rode and went “home.” (I was living with an ex-girlfriend’s family – although – I think it’s safe to say at this point (eight years in) that they’re basically my family; they’re as much family to me as anyone else in the world). Anyway, I was a ball of anxiety, I was so incredibly stressed out throughout this, but I remember that the one comforting thought in my head was there will be pizza – I will eat pizza and everything will be okay. (Yes, I am nine years old). When I got back to the house, there was not any pizza left. It was a pretty devastating blow.

I didn’t finish this piece that night because I didn’t want it to be a piece. I didn’t want anyone to see what I had written. It’s embarrassing.

Three weeks later, I found myself similarly upset though and I picked it back up. In all of that time, I had been cutting my anti-depressants all the way down to zero. For that reason, it was tough to tell when something was a legitimate issue and when I was maybe just feeling the absence of my medication. Just before I moved out of Tranquil Shores, it had been suggested that maybe I didn’t need anti-depressants after all. I started titrating down and we were monitoring my condition to see how I did with a lower dose and then with no dose. The day that I finished this piece, I was at the very end of my titration. I had no idea what was what.

I still get depressed, but I haven’t gone back on anti-depressants. After all, I still got depressed even when I was on them. And actually, I got depressed even more often because my “mental health tools” weren’t as strong back then. I don’t wanna go on a long spiel about it, but I’ll just say: I think anti-depressants are for people suffering from depression without cause. If, on the other hand, a person has plenty of legitimate reasons to be depressed, depression is the appropriate response and not something that should be treated with a pill. That strikes me as being roughly equivalent to putting a piece of duct tape over a “check engine” light and thinking the problem’s solved.

Anyway, I’m not saying that I have good reasons to be depressed, but I’ve got my little episodes and I have ways that I can manage them without a pill. Did I need it for a time? Almost definitely. I don’t think I could have started to get a grip without them. I was immeasurably miserable all the time. Words like “hopeful” and “happy” disgusted me. I wouldn’t even say them out loud. My process, getting well… it wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy. I had a very long way to go. (And – yeah – I’m still going).

Quick aside. In writing this entry, I noticed something cool about this piece: how many other pieces it alludes to or is tied to in some sense. At least five. Maybe those will be the next ones I add to the site. (As I add those pieces, I’ll add links to them in the text of this entry, where each is referenced).


This painting has already been sold but hand-numbered/signed prints may still be available. Contact for availability inquiries.