Enjoy the last episode of Collected Layers season 3! We'll be back later this year!
From my books ‘Letters to the Universe’ up until ‘Andromeda’ I was doing a lot of soul-searching. I was trying to find out who I was. I was trying to make any sense that I could out of the things I had went through in my 20’s. I finally knew in my head that I wanted to live, I just didn’t physically feel that way. My earlier writing was a product of my seclusion and meditation. Although it was more positive than my schizoaffective and panic-driven-manifesto days, it was still very ungrounded. Yes, I was aware and hopeful, however I was not very present and still felt like I was watching my days pass away from afar. I was the third-person omniscient narrator of my story, and it was boring always knowing what was going to happen. With ‘Meanwhile On Earth’ I decided to take a break from the spiritual and visit this wonderful place called Earth. It was my attempt at coming back to myself. And when I got back I was very surprised that the talk of the town (more the talk of the internet) was sexism, racism, lies, and fear. Even the people that claimed they were there to serve, were really just serving up fear. Damn, I thought I’d be coming back to a place of peace, love, and understanding? It was with ‘Meanwhile On Earth’ that I realized why so many people like myself ran away to a journal to get lost deep into the mind. It felt a little safer in there. “Meanwhile on Earth, I don’t want to hear another word.”
As caseworkers and social workers, the front line means getting someone to the next day. Ned and Grace are a father/ daughter combination who work with at risk populations in New Jersey. This often means helping individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders get beds at inpatient facilities, help find jobs, housing, security, among a range of other services. A key piece of this episode is how long many sufferers, from both substance abuse issues and mental health issues, have to maintain motivation before they can get the proper inpatient care they need to succeed. People like Grace, Ned and the tens of thousands of other case workers do the work on the front lines, helping those suffering today.
Music by bensound.com
The fourth poetry book that I wrote was named Andromeda. You’ve probably heard the word Andromeda if you are into Astronomy or Greek Mythology. So it won’t be a surprise when I tell you that this book was inspired by both. I have always had a passion for digging into the roots and meanings of why things are the way that they are. How did some of the earliest forms of civilization see stories in stars? Or were the stars telling the stories? I guess we’ll never really know but I was hell-bent on trying my best to find out. I can promise you this, I do not have a magical cure for depression, however I will promise you that if you go out and look at the stars you’ll be amazed again and again and again. Without fail you will have to ruminate that your life IS worth living after all. If you feel like you can’t see the miracle that is your life, go outside and look up tonight. If Andromeda was saved and still shines bright, you are going to be alright.
Harmony, harmony, harmony…. This word replayed on a figurative loop in my head after I release my second book Letters to the Universe. I had noticed a trend in my writing. I would get really frustrated, irritated, and overwhelmed at the beginning of starting the first 2 books. I would then feel this need to spill my frustrations onto paper. After the first 10 to 20 poems I would start to feel a little better. Still anxious, still overwhelmed, but somehow a little better than before. Then for the final 100+ pages of the writing process I could somewhat enjoy it without feeling like I was caught somewhere between the tidal wave and its undertow. Stuck in the foam with just enough air to choke. I was now treading water, but damn, I wanted to float.
Why was one of my favorite things causing me so much stress? Was this a microcosm of my life? Did life need to be stressful? Does a job need to be difficult and boring? Does a relationship need to be dramatic and psychologically devastating? I had all of these questions and the answer seemed pretty plain to see. No. Could I teach myself how to separate myself and my life from the status quo?
Life is supposed to be filled with peace, grace, joy, fun, contentment, and ease. I needed to find my Harmony. So I wrote until it made sense to me.
It's tough to fit Joseph Fusaro into a description. We recorded a 2.5 hour interview with him last summer where we recorded his life story, mostly in chronological order. We split this episode into 2 parts to capture the serious ups and downs he's had with manic depression and the myriad of other struggles he faced tangentially. You've also heard Joseph on our blog the last few weeks, he's a prolific writer and hosts a podcast himself called Hysteria Radio, where he talks about the connections between art, creativity and mental health. Check back in next week for Part 2.
Check out the 3rd chapter of our collaboration with the talented writer, Joseph Fusaro. Big hint! We recorded an interview with Joseph last summer and will be releasing it on Sunday May 5th in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month! Sit back and enjoy the calming voice and writing of Joseph Fusaro.
Matt Shyman has been through many battles in his life, from being diagnosed with depression to being diagnosed with cancer, his radical acceptance and resilience is something to be admired. When you hear him tell a story, you can’t help but listen and his “cartoon character” like charisma made for a really special interview. Editing this weeks podcast is another special man, Peter Esposito. A longtime listener with a heart of gold and keen ear for content, “Pops” provided a special perspective as this week's guest producer and host.