Free Your Mind

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This beautiful artwork comes from the talented Leandra Luizinho. You can find more of her work on Tumblr and Instagram. Be sure to give Leandra some love in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

 

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World Artwork dear hope

I grew in the most unexpected of places

I grew in the most unexpected of places,
In the winter,
Underneath the silky frost,
Or at the bottom of black oceans,
I grew amongst the side of freeways,
Underneath headlights,
I grew amongst blood splatters,
that ran like oil paint,
I grew in tired houses,
And on pieces of paper,
Under a 2am moon,
That cast down a spotlight,
I grew in elastic thunder,
In midnight-coloured nights,
And starving deserts,
You see,
No matter where your fist sprinkles my seeds,
My crumbs,
My leftovers,
I will still
Bloom,
Like bruised freesias,
maybe I’m not the prettiest bouquet you’ve ever clapped your eyes on,
But I’m indefinitely,
The most durable.
// TPT

This poem was submitted by the wonderful Skye, also known as The Paper Trail (TPT). You can find more of Skye’s work on her Tumblr and her Instagram. Give Skye some love in the comments.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

 

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope poetry

An Unbreakable Cycle

 

It can sometimes feel like my mind never switches off. I’m constantly jumping from one thought to another in a frenzied stream of consciousness that can make me restless at best and panicked at worst. It’s very hard to distinguish them from each other sometimes. I saw this picture of a fern and it looks like it is in motion even though it’s still, and that really conveyed this feeling for me.

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Dungeons and Dragons Gave Me My Life Back from Anxiety

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scared of everything.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ve had it my entire life, but I’ve only recently had a name to call it by. To sum it up, my brain responds to most situations with fear and a lot of it. I’m always expecting disaster, even in the little things. I find myself drawing up game plans for everyday things like buying gas or going for a walk. If I make a telephone call, you can bet there was some form of a panic attack involved, and I’ve lashed out at too many concerned friends and loved ones for “attacking me” when they were just trying to help. My folks will tell you that when I was young I’d run inside to wash my hands whenever I touched my sandbox. I thought I’d get sick otherwise.

Article dear hope

Questions as Daggers, Questions as Saviors

But you seem fine.
You look like you’ve been doing well!
You don’t seem depressed on social media.
Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling bad?

Don’t assume. You know what they say. I’ve gotten so good at hiding how I feel, shoving the emotions down so far I seem to misplace them altogether, that even those closest to me don’t see a thing.

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. I know the right things to say and do and wear. I know how to hide the scars, internal and external, and pretend like they’re not even there (are they even there?)

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. This gets me in trouble.
I’m often in trouble.

I don’t want you to take it personally. Really, I don’t. It’s not you, it’s me (really, it is).

The facade I maintain is one I’ve been perfecting for years, my fears of vulnerability stemming from a long list of disappointments and misplaced trust.

I don’t like to worry anyone,
don’t like to be the center of attention,
don’t like to be the one to drag the party down.

So, if I ask you for help, know that it’s taking every ounce of me to do so,
every last fiber of my being to muster up the courage to let my guard down and stand before you with my heart in a box of doubt, tied together neatly with my greatest insecurities and nightmare-inducing thoughts.

And I’m sorry if I haven’t.
Don’t be offended if I never do.

But you have a great life.
People have it much worse than you do.

I know. Really, I do. Guilt is my middle name. It seeps into my bones and erodes my body from the inside out. What’s left is nothing more than a pile of skin cells and disappointment.

People are starving.
Homeless.
Sick.
Dying (why do I wish I was dying?).

I’m sorry. I am. That’s all I can say (that’s all I know how to say).
I’m sorry I feel this way.

I wish I could change it. I wish I could fix the world’s problems with a swish of a wand, with a big bandaid stuck across its oceans and continents, one that heals the hurt across the globe.

I wish I could do the same for my own mind, for my own heart,
for the hurt I endlessly feel as the days stretch on and the months stretch on and this life stretches on and on
and on
and on
and on.

I wish I could fix my problems as easily as magic or medicine.

Maybe that’s selfish.

Maybe that’s survival.

You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.

But you see, I don’t think I’ll ever really,
truly,
honestly,
love myself.

I don’t think I know how (do I know how?).

Will I ever really learn, as easily as I learned how to write my name or tie my shoes or ride my bike across the pavement?

Will I get an eviction notice plastered to the door of my heart, a “Do Not Enter” sign stapled to the aorta?

Will it whisper softly,
“Beware,
Beware,
Beware,”
As it beats,
beats,
beats
to keep me alive?

Will I just be lonely forever?

Why are you on so many medications?
Why don’t you try exercising or eating healthier?
What about deep breathing or meditation?

You see, I know all of that, too. I lose track of the pills in my medicine cabinet,
all the dosages and names and bottles,
all of it blurring in my vision as I count the tiny circles and oblong ovals in my palm each morning and afternoon and night.

But, you see, it’s taken two years to figure out just the right combination of ovals to make the dark things less dark, the bad thoughts less bad.

Two years is a long time and sometimes I worry if it was time wasted (I worry that most of my time is wasted).

And sometimes the dark things are just as dark, the bad thoughts just as bad, anyway.

Sometimes my only exercise for the day is running away from my problems. This kind of running allows me to stay under the covers. Most days dragging myself out of bed feels like a marathon.

Panicking makes breathing difficult. Meditation seems unrealistic for my clouded mind.

I appreciate the advice, really, but I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to hear all of it day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
always constructing some combination of excuses to make them stop talking at me like I am a child.

It’s just not that simple, as much as I wish it was (I wish it was).

It’s not that big of a deal.
Stop overreacting.
You’re being dramatic.

But, you see, it is that big of a deal. Making mountains out of mole hills is my specialty and crying over spilled milk is part of my morning routine.

I know I’m overreacting. Trust me, I do. I know more than anyone that my thoughts are out of control and my actions are beyond what they should be. I know.

I know.

I know.

Dramatic used to have a positive connotation for me. I put my extroverted personality onto the stage rather than in my personal life, but here I am panicking under the showerhead because I’ve got six assignments due at the end of the week and my friend hasn’t replied to my text in two hours and 13 minutes but they’ve already opened my SnapChat and I watched a group of girls walk by me and laugh and I’m positive it was because I didn’t wear makeup that morning because it took me over an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and I ran out of time after pulling my limbs into the shower and I nearly died walking to class because I didn’t look both ways before I crossed the street and I haven’t told anyone that I did it on purpose (I did it on purpose).

That stage is now my life and I am constantly putting on a show where people leave at intermission.

Maybe it’s not that big of a deal.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
Maybe I’m being dramatic.

Maybe I’m me.

Maybe I don’t like any of those things (I don’t).

Are you okay?
How are you doing?
Do you need to talk?

Keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.

Because I may say,
“Yes, I’m okay.”
“I’m good, how are you?”
“No, I don’t need to, thanks.”
And I just might be lying to you (I am probably lying to you).

But one day I may get the courage to say,
“No, I’m not.”
“Not so good, actually.”
“Yes, I do, please.”

One day I might find the courage to ask for help even though it’s taking every ounce of effort not to run the other way,
not to shove the feelings down like I’ve done so many times before,
not to plaster that signature smile across my face like wallpaper, a sickening slap of paste across my lips that seals the sadness in tight.

So don’t be offended if I lie. It’s not you, it’s me (really, I mean it).

So keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Please keep asking.
Please don’t stop asking.


This piece comes from our community member Sandra Mercer. You can find her other powerful entry in our Coping series here.

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Feel free to leave a comment for Sandra below.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Creative Pieces dear hope

Liminal creatures: Lorca the Papergheist and Artistry Through Agoraphobia by Lorca Jolene

None of these collages are digitally created or enhanced.


I am a self-taught artist from Chicago who has been crafting chimerical and uncanny creatures from paper and ink for five years. My collages are deeply influenced by my own experiences, as a queer person with panic disorder and agoraphobia, of claiming and communicating in-betweenness in the context of health and labor.

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“Skinsmith”

Panic disorder – the bouts of paralyzing terror, the dissociation, the bone-deep exhaustion of perpetual unease – is a thing I carry around in my chest like a bullet. Living with it is like circumnavigating a spaceship through colonies of black holes inside yourself that will rip your memories and name apart… and hoping that the steering doesn’t fail. It makes “real” a feeling beyond my experience, and presents the decision everyday to invest effort and love into a world that feels as ephemeral and incomprehensible as dreams.

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“Goblin Market”

And the hardest thing about all that is pretending – around parents, colleagues, employers – that none of it is happening. Presenting to others as functional, approachable, and sociable is a constant process of alternating between different spaces in which my symptoms are more or less not permitted to exist. Years upon years of this practice has made me a creature most at home in liminal spaces and most at ease on social peripheries.

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“Lycanthrope”

A driving force between my art is the desire to create archetypes and mythos that explore liminality and ambivalence as powerful rather than defective or toxic. My collage characters are salvaged, scavenged, pieced together from a myriad of sources – their bodies literally cut nature and society at its joints and paste it back together. It is my hope that they might offer guidance and guardianship for whomever will make a binary – between psychosis and sanity, man and woman, health and deformation – their battleground.

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“Gemini”

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“November”


A special thanks to Lorca for submitting this wonderful work to us. Lorca has had work featured in RAW Artists Chicago’s recent showcase, a residency at Chicago’s Fulton Market Kitchen, ArtAscent Magazine, Chicago Literati magazine, the 365 Days 365 Artists Project.

These images are incredibly thought provoking and moving, and I hope you’ll leave a comment below about what you think.

You can find more work on Lorca’s Tumblr, Etsy Store, and Instagram.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF


Check out some more art on some of our other pages.

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope

A Message to Myself: It’s Not Your Fault

Hi friends,

I wanted to share some food for thought for anyone else who gets stuck on the track of thinking: Something about me is fundamentally wrong, I don’t deserve the things I want, and my hopes and expectations are too high.
This way of thinking can come about for any number of reasons. Sometimes, when our expectations don’t match up with reality, it feels like this is somehow due to a moral failure or a sense of unworthiness.
Often, things simply don’t work out. Not because we did something wrong. They just didn’t work. It’s pretty simple, right?
But for some reason, instead of internalizing things this way, our inner dialogue goes more like this:
This didn’t work out, and it’s my fault, and this will continue to happen because of who I am. Maybe I deserve less than I thought.
Have you been there before? Have you felt your energy shift as your mind goes from thinking about small disappointments to making a giant, irrational leap in thinking that somehow, you are being rejected for who and how you are, and that’s why things aren’t working? 27955620062_70b62fc866_k.jpg
I don’t always feel this way, as I’ve worked for years to change my inner dialogue and it has dramatically improved. But when I do feel this way, I want to shrink and hide. To stop asking for more. To be as small as possible to avoid future disappointments.
But I think that as tempting as it is to do that, we really need to do the opposite. When circumstances in your life lead you to believe that you are not good enough, or wrong, or undeserving, the best (and maybe only) way to push past those self-imposed limitations is not to curb your ambition and enthusiasm and your hope for better things. As counterintuitive as it feels, in those moments we need to expect more, know that we deserve more, and hope for bigger and better things. Especially when we feel that the opposite is true.
Not everything negative that happens is a rejection of who or how you are. In fact, most things are not. Sometimes they are just reminders that you are settling for less than what you deserve: which is to feel loved, fulfilled, and inspired.
Lots of things about you are fundamentally good. You deserve the things you want. Your hopes and expectations are not too high, so long as you are willing to put in the work to get them (and I know you are).
I’ll be repeating that message to myself for as long as it takes to really believe it, and I hope you will, too.
With love,
Samantha B.

Thanks to Sam for contributing her words to our site.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Article dear hope

Music Submission: “Letting Go” by Greg Best

I wrote this song after my first therapy session in November 2013. I was struggling with severe depression and surviving the devastating pain of loss due to suicide. As my tears flowed out, so did this song. I realized that I couldn’t blame anyone for causing me the pain and that I must continue to work through it if I wanted to heal. I can’t change the past but I can make healthy steps towards my own future. Though I don’t always want to face the reality of pain and fear, I know I must honor the memory of those I’ve lost by healing and helping others heal.

No one is to blame for this pain
And I am responsible for my healing
None of us will lose in this game
Just sit and watch us fight till we all win
These memories won’t erase
They can’t change
But still I’m holding on to this faith
I trust you with my heart and I know
This is the hardest part
Letting go
Although this is the hardest part
Your name is written on my heart
Although this is the hardest part
Your name is written on my heart
Although this is the hardest part

Your name is written on my heart


You can follow Greg for more music and insight on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Facebook.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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dear hope music

A Selection of Poems and Art After Losing My Daughter: Peter Bruun of The New Day Campaign

Below are a selection of poems I’ve written since my daughter, Elisif Janis Bruun, died at age 24 of a heroin overdose on February 11, 2014. The drawings I include to accompany each poem I made recently, and to my mind invoke something of the spirit of the poetry.

Ravaged

Her body
has changed
from wire to round to wire
ravaged
from wild cat life
one unmeasured impulse
and the next
spinning spinning spinning
night through day through night
madness and madness and madness again
her body
has changed
from itself to something else and back again
only now
a softly subtle wilting
to eyes
that love her
wanting her well.

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Boys and Girls

The boy
In the beater
Gold-rimmed mouth
Nacho-chip-orange fingers
Lost eyes
Like a flick of a Bic
Ready to ignite
For another cig.

The girl
Pink thong strap
Above the fringe
Of black spandex pants
So easily pulled down
For a buck
And a fix
Teddy bear on the headboard.

In fluorescent corners
Boys and girls
Change hands
Prey and predator
One and the same
Nobody wins
This dance
Without music
Without chairs.

The Walmart goldfish
Still alive
By the framed photo
Of her son
On Santa’s lap
Wanting something else
Anything else.

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Mercy*

Pleasure
is not what holds me
in your room
life smeared across the floor.

You are
rage and raw
pure love and hot pain
a tender contradiction
neck-high in crap
redemption
against my loss and shame.

I am
no less mess than you
wondering what it is to be a man
worth the ground my little feet displace.

You and me
holding pawed hands
as best we can
mercy with every breath.

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*This is an excerpt from a longer poem


 

Peter Bruun is an artist, curator, and founder of the New Day Campaign, an initiative using art programming and public engagement to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and addiction, making the world a more healing place. Learn more by visiting his website at http://www.bruunstudios.com/.

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter at Mental Health America’s 2016 conference this past June. He is not only an extremely talented and compassionate individual, but one of the friendliest people I have ever met. Please check out his amazing artwork and his nonprofit work with The New Day Campaign. It’s good to know how much good there is in the world.

Leave Peter a comment below and always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Just Sit Back And Relapse Again

By: KaLeena Genette

Any form of depression is tricky to handle. My form happens to be Bipolar II Disorder, and I’ve been battling that demon for nearly 11 years. Last year I finally broke–really, seriously broke–to the point of being nearly catatonic for about two months. After ten years of “I’ll go see a shrink eventually,” I ended up with no choice if I wanted to keep my job and my sanity.

I’m one of the people who are lucky. I landed in the office of a psychiatrist who made the right call on medication. I wound up on the couch of a patient therapist who watched me lose my mind for weeks until the medication started kicking in and the anxiety and depression started to recede.

Now I’m here, and “here” is still a difficult place to be. Over the course of ten years, I developed unhealthy habits and unhealthy ways of thinking. Even though I have the medication and I’m at the right dose, I have ten years of bad habits to put to rest. This version of life isn’t the miracle I was looking for.

Article dear hope