Prescription: Reach out to an old friend.

Generitic: Make a new connection with an old pal.


Hello my dears,

management here, otherwise known as your humble narrator Emma Retina.  Concerning our “Looking Through the Illness” project I wanted to make some clarifications.

  • It has to be a portrait with a clear representation of illness in it.
  • It does not have to be a photograph.
  • It does not have to be a portrait of you it can be someone else or fictional.
  • The individual does not have to wear a hospital gown or scrubs in the portrait.
  • The feeling the portriat emotes can be negative, positive or neutral.
  • I will not excet anything that appears to be promoting self harm.
  • I will not except anything that promotes harm to others physically or emotionally.
  • I will not except anything that promotes suicide.

If I have any doubts about your piece I will kindly email you about it and we can work something out.  Despite the project I still am accepting the usual submissions!  And am always happy to see them!

If you have a project idea pitch it to me at

I am still working on the contributing artists links page so if you don’t see your name there don’t worry, I’ll get it up there.


Inpatient Asylum Press:


Contemporary Asylum New:

3 Startling Facts About Mental Illness Stigma and 3 Ways You Can Fight It


“You do not need to have mental illness to be a mental health advocate. Everyone is impacted by stress, grief and mood fluctuations at some point in their lives. A recent article in Newsweek points out that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness.”

“Many individuals and their families and friends continue to struggle to access the help that they need. New federal regulations have helped to insure that there isparity between physical and mental health treatments. However, the current epidemics of military suicides, school shootings and heroin overdoses are evidence that more needs to be done.”

“Despite the obvious need for increased attention and care, mental illness continues to carry a stigma.”

You can read the rest of the article here

Dating with Mental Illness


“First dates are supposed to be exciting – but when you have a mental illness, the fun of dinner and drinks and the chemistry between the two of you can be dwarfed by worrying over how your date will react when you open up about your condition. If you tell him too soon, you might scare him off. Wait too long, and you run the risk of her feeling misled. So what do you do?”

If you are interested to an opinion you can read further here


Support and Other Voices

Please listen to this brave young man.  This video was sent to me by a supportive friend of mine Kyle Brandt!  If you have a supportive friend you want to give a mention on the site, email me.  Also email me if you have a news article or inspirational story you would like to see posted.

Confessions of a Depressed Comic

Our own voices:

The Disquieted Family: Disturbance and Distress in the Carlson Home

Orignally presented at the “Adolescence, Mental Illness, and the Impact on Society,” Mt. San Jacinto College–Menifee Honors Seminar, 26 March 2012

This is the last installment of David’s story!

David A Carlson

Mental illness too often is when the unthinkable is thought.  Worse yet, it is when the unthinkable is said and done.  When throwing things was not enough to satiate the agitating emptiness inside of me, I began speaking against my two children in voice loud enough for them to hear.  For personal reasons which I will not discuss in this presentation, I felt coerced into having children, at least the first child, when we did.  Yes, I was part of the conception process.  But my ever increasingly distorted thoughts allowed me to believe that I was not responsible at all for the births.  I would scream at the slightest provocation that I never wanted children when we had them.  Then I would look into the boys’ bedroom to make sure they were crying from my words and anger.  Such actions disgust me now, as they should disgust all of us.  Then again, I am well-medicated now.  I was not medicated for psychiatric concerns then.

As an adolescent, my distorted thoughts were somewhat—or apparently—harmless.  As an adult, the distorted thoughts became vicious. And my words would not only be directed at the kids—I approached destruction with my wife too.  I would often demand separation so that I could “regain control of my life.”  In actuality, my only hope of regaining such control would come through the wonderful support system that my wife and children would learn to become.

In the meantime, however, my kids would develop the early symptoms of mental illness.  While it is safer and more accurate to diagnose such illnesses in adolescent years, my boys clearly demonstrated an advanced need for both medication and psychotherapy.  I do not know if their early symptoms popped up because of genetics primarily, but I do know that those divisive and harmful things I said and did have a profound effect on especially Zachary’s health, Zachary is the older child, both mentally and physically.  I am not saying that Zachary would not have gained a lot of weight or developed a bipolar mind had I not said the things I said.  But the development of those things after my rages witnessed by him seems more than coincidental to me.

With Zachary, it seems that being bipolar with the irritability that comes with it means imposing his will, his presence, on the rest of the family—which is not utterly unlike my movement through my disorder.  Most of Zachary’s bipolar rages have been triggered by his desire to do something opposed to what his parents wish or his brother wishes him to do.  Some might say, “Well that’s just how adolescents are.”  Perhaps, but only to a degree.  Zachary seeks to impose his will to the greatest degree and at all cost to his family and even himself.

The most painful words Zachary utters are, “I don’t care,” because he means it.  At the least, Zachary resigns himself to not being able to face life’s situations and says he does not care.  Just as I knew the damage I was doing to my family by destroying metaphors and dividing with my language, Zachary knows the damage he does by “not caring” about any consequences for his actions.  This has led to numerous police calls when we could no more physically handle him and subsequent hospitalizations where Zach could get meds adjusted, though not always in a productive way.  Too often med adjustments are experiments and trials rather than deeply calculated approaches designed to heal.  This leads to frustrations on the part of the doctors, one of whom finally, while seeing Zachary as a hospital inpatient for the third or fourth time, told Zachary that he did not want to see him again, but rather that he should next see Zach as an inmate across the street at Juvenile Hall.  That was NOT a productive statement, nor an encouraging one.

We all in our family have a bit of mistrust for doctors because of statements like the one above made to Zachary.  Yet we have little option but to work with them as best we can.  And, indeed, we have had some great psychiatrists too.  Sometimes bureaucracies are the problem.  As a part-time instructor at just one school, I am not able to provide health insurance for my family—nor does my employer.  I knew that would be the case when I took the job, and, let me emphasize, I am grateful for my job.  My psychiatrist will not let me work more than I do, and I am in an optimized situation for my condition.  But I make little enough money, again being only at one school, and with a wife who has been unemployed for four and a half years, so we applied for Medi-Cal insurance.  Medi-Cal, it seems, prides itself on making us jump through hoop after hoop, time and time again.  Worse yet, one person will give one answer to our questions while another person will give another.  However, they, thankfully, provided insurance for us for a couple of months, during which time I was hospitalized with heart problems.  But then they noticed that my employer had taken out a life insurance policy on me and that my employer has been taking $2.80 out of my monthly pay check towards that end.  We researched the insurance policy.  I have no access to the funds, not even to borrow against it.  It is only effective if I continuously stay in my job until I die, in which case the money goes to my beneficiary, my wife.  But because of that, the Medi-Cal worker felt that we must be hiding money from them.  We submitted official paperwork from my employer indicating clearly that I have no real money invested in the insurance policy.  My wife called the Medi-Cal worker over the period that the worker was supposed to review the paperwork.  The worker promised three times to review the file within a certain time period.  The worker did not.  My wife said, “My husband has a psychiatric disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.  And you are not going to approve his Medi-Cal?”  To which the worker replied, “What if I get audited?”  Two weeks later, we got a mailing indicating that we no longer had a Medi-Cal worker.  We have since reapplied from scratch.  Wish us luck.

At the same time, the pharmaceutical companies that formerly provided samples of my antipsychotics, Invega (the first and only medicine on the market specifically for those with schizoaffective disorder) and Abilify, to my psychiatrist now refuse to send samples.  These are medicines that have been known to cost over a thousand dollars a month together, maybe more.  That absence of samples would have been OK given that those companies have low-income assistance, but Riverside County clinics all of a sudden refuse to write scripts for those prescriptions for low-income assistance because they do not want to have the meds shipped to them.  It would be too inconvenient even if WE, the patients, do all the paperwork ourselves.  And the clinic I go to is under orders to replace my previously effective antipsychotics with cheap generics that, to this point, have been beyond ineffective.  I have had severe psychotic episodes on one of them (Risperdal) including tactile, visual, and auditory hallucinations and severe delusions.  The anti-psychotic they are trying with me know, Haldol, leaves me angry and, well, unquiet.  But that is “the best they can do.”  Incidentally, I was placed on the Risperdal by a physician’s assistant under consultation with the psychiatrist who was her superior at work with the epigram, “Being on some anti-psychotic is better than being on no anti-psychotic.”  Well, that was not so true.  It is a challenging time to be in the mental health system, a system under attack with budget cuts and the like.  I am grateful to be relatively under control despite the cuts to my care.  Many who are mentally ill are not so fortunate.  And then society will likely be not so fortunate.

I fear for my children with their mental illnesses, though, because they know full well, even at younger ages, what devastating effects bureaucracies and even health care givers have had on our family.  I wonder if that contributes to the helplessness that they and so many adolescents feel when they wish they could look for help.  I think of the experience I had with the social worker who was woefully inadequate in her preparation and willingness to help me with the gun episodes and wonder how many more like her are out there when adolescents do finally reach out for help.  It may explain the findings in November 2011’s issue of Academic Pediatrics that “most teenagers with suicidal thoughts do not receive mental health treatment.”  The report, as indicated in U. S. News and World Report and seen in The Thermometer Times, February 2012, published by The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Riverside, California, continues to say that the researchers “looked at mental health treatment among youth ages 13-18 who were eligible for mental health visits without a referral and with relatively low copayments.  The researchers found that among this group, only 13 percent of teenagers with suicidal thoughts visited a mental health professional through their health care network.  Even when other mental health services (such as antidepressants and mental health care received outside of network) were included in the tally, the researchers found that just over a quarter . . . had received any kind of help” [Note: Carolyn McCarty of Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington School of Medicine was the lead study author].

There are many factors, I suppose, going into why so few adolescents with mental illness seek professional help.  Certainly stigma is a big factor.  But I want to suggest that a lack of trust in the system of care givers may be at play also, especially for my children.  My children have seen how the system has been unreliable for us, though we have not necessarily wanted them to see it that way.  Thus, as parents, relatives, and friends, we must be ever more aware and vigilant that the children and adolescents we know get the care they deserve.

The reality is, though, that there is little to no closure for mental illness.  It simply continues to develop on its way from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to senior years for most patients.  I have recently discovered how my own mental illness continues to develop.  And my reliance upon psychotropic medications is ever more fixed.  I was on jury duty at the start of this semester.  And because of the jury duty, I had to miss a key doctor’s appointment with my psychiatrist who was to give me medication related to my schizoaffective disorder.  The fact that, when my psychiatrist said he wanted to write a note excusing me from jury duty I said, “No, thank you!  I want to serve the system” ought to have demonstrated my incoherence.  I knew I was sick.  I knew deep down that I shouldn’t have been in a position to determine a person’s life based on my judgment regarding an alleged crime.  And in the compressed atmosphere of a jury room, it finally came out why I get so angry and irritable when I am not on my anti-psychotic meds: I quickly develop a paranoia that people are trying to undermine and embarrass me.  That paranoia goes with a sense that I am somehow superior to others around me, specifically intellectually superior.  And when there are disagreements, I must be right at all costs or anger erupts.

The paranoia is like building structures and stories to fill in major gaps where only partial information exists.  I will have bits and pieces and then construct labyrinthine thought structures that make sense only in my mind.  And when I express those “completed” thought structures to others, they cannot understand.  This frustrates my sense of intellectual superiority—a sense of superiority going back to when I was sixteen—and I become extremely agitated and angry.

And here I stand before you today.  Take me as you will.  Just take me with the understanding that no two mentally ill folks, much less folks in general, are alike.  And, to be clichéd, it might be said that until you live the life of those you would judge, you cannot judge fairly at all.  I just hope you will take me and my family for who we are and what we desire to be.  I hope that we will all understand that when people act in ways we do not understand, there may very well be a reason behind it.  And I just hope that we will ever increasingly understand mental illness, especially in the young, so that effective knowledge bases can be built and necessary treatment can occur before things get out of control.  Thank you.

Now I wish to open the time for any questions you might have regarding this presentation or mental illness in general.  There are so many things I could speak more about; these include but are not limited to problems with medical insurance and lack of coverage, problems with meds themselves, and the financial impact on families and society of mental illness.  I cannot promise to know everything, but if I have knowledge that bears on what you are asking, I will gladly share.  Consider the window through which you may ask to be wide open.  Please do not be embarrassed at your own questions, though you can be sensitive and discreet.  Now is the time to ask a person who is open with his mental illness the things you have always wanted to ask.

We are excited to begin the raw Gregoire Patterson’s novella tonight!

Gregoire writes-

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is considered the most devastating, puzzling, and frustrating of all mental disorders. People with this disorder have a disrobed view of reality and are often unable to function in a world that makes no sense to them. The word schizophrenia comes from two Greek words that together mean “split mind”, and the split refers to the fragmentation of thought processes. In 1911, one of the most influential psychiatrists of the time, Eugen Bleuler, coined the term schizophrenia in recognition of the disorganized thinking, perceptions, emotions, and actions that characterize the disorder.


A person with schizophrenia is said to have a schizophrenic disorder; this is because schizophrenia is really a variety of disorders, Schizophrenic disorders are a group of disorders characterized by fragmented thought and by deterioration of social and intellectual functioning. The symptoms must begin before age 45, and some disturbance in behavior must last at least six months, with symptoms persisting for at least one month. People with schizophrenic disorders are said to be psychotic-suffering from a gross impairment in reality testing that is wide-ranging and interferes with their ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.


Schizophrenia usually begins slowly, with more symptoms developing at time passes. It affects 1 out of every 100 people in Canada, which means that in any given year about 220 000 people in Canada have schizophrenia. Women and men are equally likely to be affected. The disorder is associated with more lengthy hospital stays than most other conditions, so people with schizophrenia account for a large percentage of people in mental hospitals than those with other mental disorders. The diagnosis is applied more frequently to those with other mental disorders. The diagnosis is applied more frequently to those in lower socio-economic groups, even when symptoms are similar. This findings suggests that the diagnostic process is somewhat biased, and a study of bias among clinicians making diagnoses confirms this view.


Essential Characteristics of schizophrenia disorders


People with schizophrenic disorders display sudden significant changes in thought, perception, mood, and overall behavior. How they think about themselves, social situations, and other people – their social cognition – becomes seriously distorted. Those changes are often accompanied of distortions of reality and an inability to respond with appropriate thoughts, perceptions, or emotions. Schizophrenia is characterized by both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are those that people with schizophrenia experience and normal people do not – for example, delusions or hallucinations. Negative  symptoms are behaviors, that occur normally but are absent in people with schizophrenia- for example, an inability to experience please. Not all of the symptoms of schizophrenic disorder are necessarily present in any given person, although many are often seen together.


One of the first signs of schizophrenia is difficulty maintaining logical thought and coherent conversation. People with schizophrenia disorders show disordered thinking, impaired language use, and memory deficits. They may suffer delusions. For example delusions of persecution cause the person to believe that someone or something is trying to harm him or her. Such delusions are often accompanied by delusions of grandeur, which cause the person to believe that he or she is particularly important – important enough to be the target of persecution. Some people with schizophrenia take on the role of an important character in history and imagine that people are conspiring to harm them. Delusional thought is often apparent in schizophrenics’ speech, in which sentence structure, words, and ideas, become jumbled and disordered, creating a “word salad of thoughts. Thus schizophrenic person might be heard to say “Your highness, may I more of some engine to my future food, for his lowness.”


Memory is seriously disturbed, especially verbal memory,  including both working and long-term memory. Recall that working memory holds information for brief period so that further processing can take place and allow a person to respond as a task demands. It is not surprising that when a system that is so important to thought and language fails, both thought and speech patterns become disorganized and often incoherent. Recent research (Homayoun et al. 2004) suggests that th NMDA receptor, a type of receptor for the neurotransmitter glutamate, appears to be involved in both memory formation and schizophrenia, which may be reason for the memory problems evident in schizophrenia.


Another sign of schizophrenic disorders is the presence of hallucinations – compelling perceptual experiences that occur without any actual physical stimulus. Auditory hallucinations are the most common. Hallucinations have biological basis in the brain functioning; brain-imaging studies show that the left side of the brain (the one that processes language) is more active when  individuals experience auditory hallucinations. The person reports hearing voices originating outside his or her heard; the voices may comment on the person’s behavior or direct the person to behave in certain ways (Hunter, 2004).


Distortions in emotional reactions. One of the most striking characteristics of schizophrenia is the display of inappropriate affect – emotional responses that are not appropriate in the circumstances. A person with schizophrenia may become upset and cry when her favorite food falls on the floor, yet laugh hysterically at the death of a close friend or relative. Some people with schizophrenia display no emotion and seem incapable of experiencing a normal range of feeling. Their affect is constricted, or flat. Their faces are blank and expressionless, even when they are presented with a deliberate provocative remark or situation. Other people with schizophrenia exhibit ambivalent effect. They go through a wide range of emotional behaviors in a brief period, seeming happy one moment and dejected the next.

Italics means I came back in a later time and added to the story (added Jan 02, 2010)

September 25th, 2007

This will not be coherent

I am currently in a state of psychosis. I swear everyone knows me, the radio talks to me, the tv talks to me and people can read my mind. Everyone knows details about my personal life. The coincidences are endless. I talk about something and the topic comes up the next minute. I am afraid to open my mouth for fear of being mocked or judged.


I know it’s for a greater good. I am putting my faith in those higher than me. And those of this town. But I feel like I am trying to be manipulated. I feel as though I have no free will or say in this. As a result of all this manipulation I don’t often believe a word said to me. Simple conversations with people have turned intense. This is making me shy away from all speech.


On the positive side I am drawing a lot of inspiration from the old minds. And of course music. I love underground hip-hop because these people have lived the harshest lives and keep going as well as maintaining respect.


School is going to be a nightmare. I am going to be ripped apart like last time. But this time I am ready for it. I need to continue that inner peace I draw from electronica. This will give me the patience to do the work that is necessary for my classes. I fear my mind will be so overwhelmed I won’t be able to work. I just want to succeed once at something important.


It’s difficult to write this and I don’t want to hex or jinx myself. I cannot bring a girl into this.


Even now they are playing with my fears. TV: “boy sleeping, completely controlled”


All these thoughts make it seem like I am hearing voices.


I have to read now.


If I lose my sexual desire I am in trouble.


Awsome night. Pretty anxious at first, I wasn’t sure how people would act. But my friends took it pretty good. Minimal double meaning comments, I got to relax. I used to think people would use metaphors for everything. It was the only language they were allowed to speak. It got so bad at one stage I thought car colors, street signs and car types were metaphors for me. White was for love, black was for hate. A truck would mean I was tough, a stop sign would mean shut up. I filled in the holes as I went along by saying they could control time and my body; so every sign that I saw I thought was timed perfectly.  


I looked at Lu once and than felt bad. Keith made some comment on it “look who wants islands” shot in the dark… metaphor for breast?. Chris is like my best friend. The thought of even thinking about her that way is like a sin. Chris was my biggest bully in highschool who became my friend and eventually became an RCMP officer. Keith was a friend of a friend who played a card game that I played.


Listening to things is tricky. As much as I like feeding my ego and I run away with it sometimes but I think it’s wrong. “Sitting Bull”cute. Quote: He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good. –Confucius



I don’t think I will have anymore ordinary days. Exciting and scary times. My nerves are going to be tested to the extreme again.

It was exciting because it was a brand new world.

It’s going to be a challenge to try and be normal.

I don’t know who I am anymore. But I have all these people saying I love you, at least that’s what am hearing. A quiet whisper usually.

I am terribly afraid and feel really alone sometimes, but I think I can handle it.

I just got a couple comments from the tv. “Winners, you know who you are, and a black man in a nurse outfit”. Some old fears are coming back. Namely the speed at which they do this. How did they gather commercials for me so quickly? Makes me think I’ve lost it. And if you haven’t figured this out yet, I have. It’s like they can predict the future or something. Or read my mind.

Other people are like in a different world. Am sure if I confront them with any of these thoughts they will deny it. They deny everything. It’s like there under some strict order.

This journal won’t be pretty I am going to whine here. It’s the only place I have to.

I can’t tell Heather any of this and I will have to lie to her. I live in a world of illusions. My entire life has been a lie. At that point they had sent me to the hospital numerous times and because the nurses played mind games with me I did not want to return. Their philosophy was make it as difficult as possible in order to make it feel easy on the outside.

I certainly fear that place you brought me to once. The light, so much fear. Indescribable anguish.  What the hell was that? Please don’t do that again. I almost forgot about it. To this day I still do not believe what happened to me that night. I saw bright imagines and could barely breath, it was very cold as well. Like jumping off a high bridge and hitting cold water.

Glorious. I used to enjoy such a difficult challenge.

I am going to stop dancing around this but I feel as if they can read this.

Sometimes I get that feeling am going to be sucked into another world. I thought I would wake up on a medical table surrounded by aliens with people cheering. Waking me up like in the Matrix.

Man I feel dirty sometimes. Today is that day.

I feel like they are going after my body now. People would comment and make fun of me for getting a hard on.

I am having that same mind control fear I used to have.

Hospital is not real.

Fear now

I can’t get off they did something to my body. Should have been a piece of cake, worked out twice today. I just feel all cold. Your attempt to try and make me hit on a girl? You think I am going to bring a girl inside my insane life. WTF do I tell her, yeah am insane, am really hard to talk to, I get nervous around people, I don’t drink, I don’t go to clubs, I am not comfortable with myself, I rarely have fun, complete strangers try to mind fuck me, I don’t have a job, I live with my parents, I am 25. It won’t work out. I have nothing to offer. Just pain, let me jack off. They used to give me a hard time about masturbating, they said it was “perverted”.

My sister left a book on the counter, a textbook, “No radio” maybe I should stay away from the media

Pills have kicked in, and I no longer feel cold. Much more relaxed.

Asylum Artwork

This is the work of Clinton Van Inman :

unnamed (1)

BIO:  I was born in Walton-on-Thames, England, graduated from San Diego State University, and have been an teacher all my life having recently retired from the Tampa Bay area where I live with my wife, Elba.



Submission from the talented Leigh Bubsy:

unnamed (4)

unnamed (2)

unnamed (3)

A beautiful submission from Sharon Kathleen Johnson

Nature’s Fire


The answer to last page’s riddle:  because an apple a day keeps the doctor away

Riddle Me This:  What 5-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?