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Painted Brain | Hard Walk, A Mental Health Journey
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • James Giaquinto
  • December 24, 2014

Hard Walk, a mental health journey

10/26/14  Here’s what’s happening with me right now. I want to go for a walk around the block. I haven’t been getting enough exercise and I need to drop some pounds or I’m just going to get worse. I can’t get out the front door though. When I think about going out there, I think about who I might see, who might see me walking for exercise and how they would judge me because I know that I judge overweight joggers. I think they are sad and beyond help. What does that say about how I feel about myself? Yes, I hate myself. I think I’m sad and beyond help. To be able to get out there and actually do something good for my health I need a change of attitude. For a depressive, this is the hardest thing to change. A change of attitude is like a change in self.

Would you rather have the power of invisibility or flight? It’s not such a random question. I think I would like to fly, but I would use that power to go somewhere no one could see me, reach me, or judge me. People who would be best fitted with flight are the one’s who act without thinking, who do and then find out what happened. I am best suited with invisibility. While invisible you are able to be the observer and not be observed. If I were invisible I would once again be able to go out there and act a fool, only thinking about the world I am interacting with, not how I look as I’m interacting with it. I haven’t had that kind of free spirit since I was very young and even then I didn’t know that people were watching. Once I found out that I was seen as I played, I stopped playing because I didn’t have the freedom to make mistakes. If I could be invisible again, I just might have the freedom to do without worrying about how I looked as I did it.

I’ve just gotten back from walking around the block once. My heart is racing, my brain is throbbing, and my muscles are twitching. Well, that’s to be expected when you just start exercising again, you might say. I think this is more likely because I was on the verge of having a panic attack from the moment I opened the front door. Every door that creaked open as I walked past the house shot adrenaline through me, as did every person I had to pass. I had to keep reminding myself that there wasn’t a ninja hiding behind every bush, or that the guy walking in the opposite direction wearing the dark jacket wasn’t a hitman coming after me, or that every car that passed me wasn’t going to have its steering and brakes fail just at that moment so that I would have to jump out of the way from being run down.

Moreover, I know these thoughts are irrational and would never happen in a million years, except for the one time it will happen. Rationally, I know that the people I pass on the street are as self-absorbed as I am at that moment and that no one gives a care for how I am doing or what might be going on in my head. Still, this is what I go through every time I open the door. What makes it bearable is the routine and focusing on the objectives i have for the day. And as a gift, the two blue jays I’ve befriended spot me coming back home and flutter onto the fence and chirp expectantly till I go out and give them the peanuts they know I have for them. At the sight of them my heart rate drops a little and I’m able to breathe normally again.

Name: James Giaquinto. What does he do? A long and winding road has led James to the
Painted Brain where his talents as a musician, artist, and writer are utilized for this awesome
and involved community of artists, and he is a frequent contributor to Painted Brain News.

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