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I met Joey Olszewski at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, just feet from where he made his suicide attempt: "‘P.M.A. – Positive Mental Attitude’ is what we call it. If anything bad ever happens, we always go and hang out with each other and provide that solidarity, but it’s not commiseration. It’s always like, ‘Listen, you’re going through this shit, but you got this. It’s not the end of the world.’ That’s the most important thing to remember, I think."

I met Joey Olszewski at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, just feet from where he made his suicide attempt: "‘P.M.A. – Positive Mental Attitude’ is what we call it. If anything bad ever happens, we always go and hang out with each other and provide that solidarity, but it’s not commiseration. It’s always like, ‘Listen, you’re going through this shit, but you got this. It’s not the end of the world.’ That’s the most important thing to remember, I think."

Chris Agudo: "For some reason, out of nowhere, I’m like, ‘let me turn my phone back on.’ I turn it on and I see—exaggeration, of course—but hundreds of missed calls, hundreds of missed texts and voicemails. I go through them. They’re my parents, my brother, my friends, and even friends of friends, who I don’t even know. That really got to me. That really got to me, and on the spot, I was crying like a baby was being born. Just ridiculous. It was the worst I’ve ever cried. It was tremendous."

Chris Agudo: "For some reason, out of nowhere, I’m like, ‘let me turn my phone back on.’ I turn it on and I see—exaggeration, of course—but hundreds of missed calls, hundreds of missed texts and voicemails. I go through them. They’re my parents, my brother, my friends, and even friends of friends, who I don’t even know. That really got to me. That really got to me, and on the spot, I was crying like a baby was being born. Just ridiculous. It was the worst I’ve ever cried. It was tremendous."

Frankie Barretto on some of the issues we face with reintegrating soldiers into society: "I think the biggest problem is the disconnect between society and the soldiers. Society does not understand what these soldiers go through. That’s why you have former Marines and former Army servicemen getting shot and killed by police and getting locked up, and you hear it more and more every day because they’re labeled as crazy."

Frankie Barretto on some of the issues we face with reintegrating soldiers into society: "I think the biggest problem is the disconnect between society and the soldiers. Society does not understand what these soldiers go through. That’s why you have former Marines and former Army servicemen getting shot and killed by police and getting locked up, and you hear it more and more every day because they’re labeled as crazy."

Chris Benedetto on external validation: "For years, I always sought validation outside of myself and I let  too much of my happiness be contingent on the external. And when I gradually learned  to get past that, I think that’s one of the things that messed me up, like, ‘Wow, you know, I’m not drinking, I’m not drugging, I’m not pissing my rent money away. Why is this happening? I’ve been on time every month with my rent. I’ve tried harder with this girl than I have with anyone ever in my…

Chris Benedetto on external validation: "For years, I always sought validation outside of myself and I let too much of my happiness be contingent on the external. And when I gradually learned to get past that, I think that’s one of the things that messed me up, like, ‘Wow, you know, I’m not drinking, I’m not drugging, I’m not pissing my rent money away. Why is this happening? I’ve been on time every month with my rent. I’ve tried harder with this girl than I have with anyone ever in my…

Mashuq Deen is a 37 year old transgender playwright and performer in New York. He is also an activist in the LGBTQ community, a bread baker, and a (stuffed) monster maker.

Mashuq Deen is a 37 year old transgender playwright and performer in New York. He is also an activist in the LGBTQ community, a bread baker, and a (stuffed) monster maker.

Davey Davis on what might have stopped him from attempting suicide: "I think the only thing that could have stopped me would be—‘cause I was a thoughtful boy, and I was smart—the only thing that could have stopped me would be somebody recognizing that this was a potential of mine and really patiently and clearly and lyrically and, you know, in the form of literature, explaining to me what the repercussions of this act would be for myself and for my parents and my family."

Davey Davis on what might have stopped him from attempting suicide: "I think the only thing that could have stopped me would be—‘cause I was a thoughtful boy, and I was smart—the only thing that could have stopped me would be somebody recognizing that this was a potential of mine and really patiently and clearly and lyrically and, you know, in the form of literature, explaining to me what the repercussions of this act would be for myself and for my parents and my family."

Dustin Hill is father to a young son, works in IT, and dabbles in music (he plays the saxophone). He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. He lives in Raleigh, NC. He was 32 when I interviewed him. Here, we talk about the shame of waking up after an attempt and the frustrating process of getting diagnosed and treated properly.

Dustin Hill is father to a young son, works in IT, and dabbles in music (he plays the saxophone). He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. He lives in Raleigh, NC. He was 32 when I interviewed him. Here, we talk about the shame of waking up after an attempt and the frustrating process of getting diagnosed and treated properly.

Pamela Northrup is a 39 year old stay at home mom to a 20 month old little girl in Bowie, Maryland. Here, we discuss the severity and stigma of postpartum depression.

Pamela Northrup is a 39 year old stay at home mom to a 20 month old little girl in Bowie, Maryland. Here, we discuss the severity and stigma of postpartum depression.

Paolo Sambrano is a 26 year old writer and performance artist from Oakland, California:  "The turning point was realizing these feelings are okay to have. It’s gonna pass. Instead of, you know, getting angry about, ‘This shouldn’t be like that.’ I think that’s sort of been like the main [effect]. And basically just all variants on applying stuff like that. Just being okay with yourself, which is a lot fucking harder…"

Paolo Sambrano is a 26 year old writer and performance artist from Oakland, California: "The turning point was realizing these feelings are okay to have. It’s gonna pass. Instead of, you know, getting angry about, ‘This shouldn’t be like that.’ I think that’s sort of been like the main [effect]. And basically just all variants on applying stuff like that. Just being okay with yourself, which is a lot fucking harder…"

Devin Jones on mental illness and stigma: "I saw some picture online, actually, and it was a really good quote that summarized everything. The gist of it was, ‘do I tell people when I have issues that I’m dealing with—pain and whatnot—and let them think that I’m seeking the attention that comes with that, or do I just suffer in silence and pretend that everything is OK?’ It really does feel like a lot of the time, it’s one or the other, even if you legitimately have issues."

Devin Jones on mental illness and stigma: "I saw some picture online, actually, and it was a really good quote that summarized everything. The gist of it was, ‘do I tell people when I have issues that I’m dealing with—pain and whatnot—and let them think that I’m seeking the attention that comes with that, or do I just suffer in silence and pretend that everything is OK?’ It really does feel like a lot of the time, it’s one or the other, even if you legitimately have issues."

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