Cartoon-A-Thon’s Mental Health Hero: UPDATE It's the 22nd! Yes, we are coming to the last few miles of mental health awareness. I planned on drawing all week but due to work and some kind of jaw/tooth pain, I've been sidelined until today. For the last few weeks, the pain came and went. I went to the doctor yesterday cause...OUCH, the pain was so severe!! I've always had a high tolerance to pain. Well, when you consider my past issues with cutting and branding, you have be able to take what you're dishing out to yourself. Still, constant building pain can be overwhelming...meaning, I want this pain over with and fast!! I know a lot of you reading this understand what I'm talking about first hand. Now, I'm at the doctor's office and right off the bat she tells me, 'my symptoms sound like TMJ.' I have to get a CAT scan to rule it out. Other issues could be a tooth thing and then another possibility... (She did not specify since she did not have all the facts) I'm thinking cancer but she assured me, most likely, it's TMJ. I found this info on a website about TMJ. When I read the symptoms, I had and "AHAAA" moment. I bolded all of the symptoms I've experienced over the past few weeks. This is not the first time I've dealt with this thing. It's just the first time the pain was off the scale!
Mental Health Humor Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 11-17 Mental Health Heroes I wish I could write a post for each one of this week's heroes! I'm behind with work. So, I'm going to have to mass post them today. But each one of the following heroes will be featured in a future blog post. Thanks!
Have you wondered why I volunteered to draw 31 cartoons (caricatures) for my Cartoon-a-Thon’s Mental Health Awareness Month Project?? Someone questioned me the other day as to why I volunteer so "little" time toward mental health advocacy. Implying drawing these cartoons and caricatures could never match her 3 hours a week of volunteering at a local mental health service (names withheld to protect the uninformed). I’m not on SSI and have to work even when I’m symptomatic! I have to push through the depression or mania to make sure my wife and 4 children have food and we have a roof over our heads. Sometimes, it does not always work out so smoothly! For example, my cartoon below, reflects what a few of my mental health movements consisted of… Me moving!!
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 15th Mental Health Hero: UPDATE I can't believe the month is half over! I had to work a lot this week and that put me behind in my drawing. I knew sitting down today, I had to draw and ink at least 8 people... I was only able to do 6 and a half. Before getting started, I knew I'd need some encouragement and motivation. So, I tapped into my Facebook friends! Let's take a quick look at some of my friends' replies:
TODAY I DRAW! I've been working all week at my "REAL" job. You know, the one that pays the rent. I'm 5 days behind on the Heroes... Today I will try and fix that... Send me some encouragement and motivation... Stroke my ego please and pray my pens are full of ink... I'm heading and there is no stopping till it's... drawings are done or I'm done.Here's what a few of my friends said:
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 10 Mental Health Hero: Bonnie Neighbour Today's Mental Health Awareness Month Hero is Bonnie. She is known for letting her voice be heard. More often then not Bonnie is "Vocal" for people whose voice has been silenced by the stigma of mental illness. She volunteers an average of seven hours a week to various health community projects including several peer-run programs. As Advocacy Coordinator for the Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership (VOCAL), the Virginia state-wide mental health consumers' network, she is involved in changing the mental health care delivery system for Virginia. She feels privileged to support others who are trying to do the same thing. Are you listening? Let it be heard, today's Mental Health Hero is Bonnie Neighbour. Thank you Bonnie for being a good "neighbor" -- keeping your voice VOCAL for all of us!!
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 8 Mental Health Hero: Ken Jensen I was introduced to Ken Jensen in May 2008 when Alicia Sparks did a blog post series called, "This Is Why I ROCK! " At that time, I was just starting out on my journey with Mental Health Humor Cartoons. However, I did have a precise and direct focus on how the cartoons would be used to help my peers. The post she wrote about me is called, Success Story: Using Mental Health Humor As A Coping Skill. This is how I met Ken. It's best that I just quote Alicia, since her introduction is what kept me reading his story. "Ken Jensen puts us through psychiatric boot camp with his system for surviving bipolar disorder... Ken Jensen is a former soldier – not just any soldier, but a Marine. (“A MARINE!” I’m reminded of Marty Maraschino in Grease every time I say that. What can I say? I’ve always been partial to the devil dogs – ex-husband aside.) - Bipolar Survivor Ken Jensen Explains Why It Takes Guts To Be Him." I knew as soon I started drawing Ken, I wanted to bring out his strength.
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 7 Mental Health Hero: John Grohol Psych Central is celebrating 15 years as an online community! Doctor John was and is a "visionary" when it comes to cyber mental health. Dr. John Grohol's Psych Central is the home of "down-to-earth, reliable and objective mental health symptoms and treatment information." A place to come when you need help and a place to come to share experiences that are helpful. When I sat down to draw him today, I could not help but think about all the work he has done online. I envisioned "DocJohn" as a programmer ("USER") from the 1982 movie, Tron. With his battle disk in hand and a shield to ward off stigma, he pressed forward.... "How are you going to run the universe if you can't answer a few unsolvable problems?" This quote from the Tron movie is asked by Kevin Flynn (Played by Jeff Bridges). I think that "Psych Central" is the answer!
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 5 Mental Health Hero: Stephen Propst Last week at the DBSA conference, I had the honor of meeting one of my favorite BP Magazine writers, Stephen Propst. His column, "Mind Over Mood," is always filled with great advice which is both reasonable and practical. Be sure to check out his column!
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 4 Mental Health Hero: Allan Adams Allan is a 55 year old lay person who has battled agoraphobia and panic disorder for 15 years. What has been the a result? Allan says: "I am on social security. I operate a blog titled "More Than Coping" that reaches out to people who struggle with mental illness and the stigma that comes with it. My blog is targeted to a Christian audience because this is a target audience that needs to be reached.
Cartoon-A-Thon’s May 3 Mental Health Hero: Dana Foglesong Dana is my buddy locally and we really had a blast together this past week at the DBSA conference. She told me she has a great puppy, Colby. She loves to belly dance so, I thought I would include that in the caricature. "Dana Foglesong’s Recovery Story I took the road less traveled. I would have rather taken the path my friends were taking. The path that would lead me directly to college, a job, marriage and kids. I took a different path; not because I wanted to, in fact at the time I had little choice in anything. At the age of 18, my path was defined by a pervading and frightening brain disorder, a mental illness.
I can't believe it! I've been doing the annual Mental Health Awareness Month Cartoon-A-Thon for 3 years. You ask... What's a Cartoon-A-Thon? It is the biggest thing in the world!!! Well, maybe just in my world. I volunteer my time and effort to draw 31 cartoons for each day of the month in May (Mental Health Awareness Month). It began in 2007 on my own blog, Started publishing in 2008 on another big blog network which will remain nameless, since I'm here at Psych Central. Here (PsychCentral) is where the Cartoon-A-Thon should have always been... among friends and peers. Here is a link to Mental Health Humor's 2009 Cartoon-A-Thon. This year, I am drawing caricatures of 31 Mental Health Heroes. Each day, I will attempt to draw them and post them on the website: www.MentalHealthCartoons.com I started out with my personal hero... ME! When I look back just 3 years ago, I was lost; had no hope and in the hospital from a suicide attempt. It was my last call for help.
What an Awesome week at the the DBSA 25th Anniversary Conference in Chicago!!! The Eaglewood Golf Resort and Spa was a bit Bipolar... It had its ups and downs! One of the ups I loved was my room! Getting to it was another thing. I had to walk the distance of 4 football fields just to get to my room! No kidding... FOUR! I should have known cause a lot of other guests were upset, too. Walking across the nicely trimmed green grass, I kept hearing other resort guests yell FOUR! I mean, they were really mad... They even HAD CLUBS in their hands!!! Anyway, the conference had so much going on that for a few moments, I had to take a "time out" of an event and just relax in my room. Fear not, I will be posting a LOT of my highlights, videos, photos, and other unwanted stuff, here on my blog. Going along with that, I wanted to share with you some photos taken by a few of my friends at the event.
Last night for the VERY first time in my life, here in Chicago “celebrating” the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance’s 25th year of peer support, I did STAND-UP comedy!!!. I want to thank David Granirer from Stand-Up for Mental Health for giving me a chance to bomb. I had 24 hours to write a set of jokes about living with mental health. All the other students had a three month course that Dave does with them to work out their jokes.
Still here in Chicago “celebrating” the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance’s 25th year of peer support. It's the last night of the conference. I have so much information. I've gone to so many lectures, breakout sessions and Key Note addresses - my brain is about to melt! Last night, I went down to watch the David Granirer rehearsal for Stand-Up for mental health comedy night. Saw about 9 people getting ready for tonight's performance. I wanted to participate but, the class was full. So, I asked if I could just watch. While I sat there, I started to write a few jokes down. Then as the rehearsal was ending, I asked Dave if I could do a set.