Jerome Lawrence is an artist who lives and
works in Atlanta, Ga. His paintings are
showing in galleries across the state,
including Mason Murer Fine Art, Chances,
the Millennium Art Co-op, and Soda Salon.
Readers can contact
Jerome by e-mail at
Two of his paintings, “Passion Series III” and“
Exuberance,” are pictured above.
more of Jerome’s work.
times I would answer my doctor honestly when
asked if I were taking my meds as prescribed. The
answer (three out of five times) was, “Yes, I am taking my
medication as prescribed.” I was hurt very deeply at my
doctor’s look of disbelief each time I said
this. But when I started keeping my medicine in a daily/weekly
pill box, I noticed at the end of what I thought to be a perfect
month of taking my meds, there were pills left peppered
underneath the transparent caps.
I would not stubbornly refuse to take the meds if
believed they were helping. Here’s the problem: The very
reason some people don’t take their medicine is the same
reason they are given the medicine. We have degraded to a
state where we are unable to determine on a consistent basis
that which is in our best interest. It is at this time that the
doctor prescribes such strong and life-changing drugs as
antipsychotics, serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and dopamine enhancers.
It would be sad
indeed if a doctor prescribed these drugs, which drastically alter
our brain chemistry, if
they were not necessary. And if they are necessary, then we may
need help following our
medication regimen to avoid a long stay in the hospital.
We may need a friend (make that a few friends) to
engage us on a somewhat daily basis,
ensuring that during the times when there is confusion, paranoia
and uncertainty, there is
a hand, which consistently points North, and a shoulder on which
a tortured soul can
I sense that many believe that people who have mental
illnesses are a lost community.
That it would not be economically sound-or even possible-to further
educate and train
them in a meaningful way, even about how to maintain a consistent
After all, “Who has the time?" uninvolved or misinformed
individuals may say. “Learning
would be slow, they obviously don’t understand, you can’t
teach a person that doesn’t
want to learn, and who wouldn’t prefer handouts and government
assistance checks to
working and owning a life?" Well, just about everyone I know.
I would much prefer to take part in my own recovery,
to do things for myself, in my own
time, than be lead around on a short leash. I, much like other
consumers and not unlike
the rest of the world, want to be free. Free of illness and free
to make decisions about our
lives. To do this, I work with my doctor to make sure I get the
proper medication, and,
importantly, in the correct dosage. I encourage everyone to call
their doctor whenever
there is a problem and leave a message about how you feel or your
guess at what might be
wrong. And when you need to talk, call up or e-mail a trusted
friend, and share heartache
just as you would share joy. There are just too many people on
the planet for us to think
that we might be alone.
I have peered through the doorway of sanity. I have
crossed over the threshold as if it
were a bridge taking me from a place where I wasn’t doing
well on the meds to one where
I was doing much better. I harbor a desperate desire to set fire
to that bridge, for I know
that without help, I must turn back. So I have relied on friends,
members of my support
group, their shoulders wet with tears. But my hand never wavered
from theirs; on their
shoulders I rested my fears. I am proud to say what I’ve
always known: Try as I might, I
can’t make it alone.