Hospital Photo
Paul Photo
Discharge Photo
Medal Photo
John Umstead Hospital
My psychologist in his typically tidy office

My brain does a lot of peculiar things. I have a relentless imagination skewed by obsessive/compulsive disorder and clinical depression. A recent therapist feels that I have Asperger’s syndrome, a freshly-minted diagnostic term for autism-lite.

Early in my teens, things began to get difficult for me. My mother was in a quandary and did the only thing she could think of. She had me committed to the state mental hospital, a situation that came to be viewed as a farce by the staff. I languished there for about a year, in a peculiar brand of hell that defies succinct analogies. Eventually I was rescued by a dedicated psychologist who got me out of the hospital and into an art school. He became my mentor, parent and guiding light. Our friendship was peculiar, deep and abiding.

My psychologist taught me to analyze my thought patterns with speed, clarity and brutal honesty. As a result, I’m exceedingly adept at reading a situation and adjusting my response accordingly. His diagnosis was that I had a very sharp brain and very wrong circumstances. The diagnoses for depression and obsessive/compulsive disorder were still a few years in the future.

OCD and depression are a dysfunctional duet that practically defines drug and alcohol addiction. The mental lubrication of alcohol is an easy fix for social discomfort. The screaming compulsion to lose myself in work shot into the stratosphere with cocaine and crystal meth. I came to define myself solely by my work identity. When my creative performance began to slide, I was lost. I hit bottom and began an aggressive attachment to AA. I’m still clean and sober 26 years later.

A therapist I saw more recently suggested that I try a drug used to treat OCD and depression. It has made my somewhat dysfunctional life a joyful one. My “get stuff and organize it” obsession is still obvious, but has been reduced to an amusing level of eccentricity. Sometimes, though, the meds don’t win the battle and I get overwhelmed. On those occasions I sometimes draw frantically as a means of releasing the pressure of the screaming voice in my head. Some of these curious pieces are shown in Art/Drawing.