|Posted on June 25, 2016 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
In response to a recent question at one of our book signings. We were asked, if the asylum is on the national historic register how can it be torn down? The answer is...so long as the property, or the property owners, are not receiving any federal aid, they can pretty much do what ever they want with the property. The registry mostly makes note of the historical significance of the "place".
Keep those questions coming!!
|Posted on June 8, 2016 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
The subject of electroshock therapy has come up at several of our talks. While it is still used in some cases today, it's not what comes to mind for many of us. Hollywood has burned the image of some poor tortured soul, strapped to a gurney, biting down on a mouth piece, as high levels of electricity course through their brain and the "doctor" laughs maniacally.
This link is to the Mayo Clinic's explanation of the modern day uses for this treatment.
|Posted on April 23, 2016 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
As I am often asked about process, I thought I'd share some of the prep work I am currently doing to achive my latest sculpture.
This is my final project for my last undergrad art class. I'm working hard to make my amazing and incredably supportive professors proud.
|Posted on March 27, 2016 at 6:55 PM||comments (0)|
A couple of shots from our latest book signing. We had a great turn out, thank you to all who came down to say hello.
|Posted on March 25, 2016 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of publicity and public appearances for our book. If you have joined us or purchased a book from us, you may have gotten an inscription from me; “Be the light.” As many of you know, I have had a life long battle with depression. I realize many of you may not know what that truly means. It much more than simply being sad, or lazy, or just having a bad day. What it means to me (and I can only speak for myself) is there is a darkness within me. It whispers to me that I am somehow less than, it tells me to not even try. It comes to me with headaches, body aches, and low levels of energy. There have been times when something like going to the grocery store was impossible. Even times when I am laughing, or seemingly okay, it’s always there lurking beneath the surface.
This is me, every day of my life. It isn’t all I am, but it is part of me… even on the “good days”.
When I had gotten to the darkest place I’ve ever experienced, I couldn’t find the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. I was nearly without hope, and it was all I could do to lift my head from the pillow. Somehow, and I’m honestly not sure how, but somehow I found the strength to seek help. My journey started with my PCP (Primary Care Physician).
Though finding the right person for me didn’t happen right away, I found hope (a sliver of hope goes a long way). I met with several counselors and psychologists, and while they were all very nice, I wasn’t getting what I needed. Maybe I didn’t even know what I needed. Somewhere around a year-and –a-half later, on another visit to my PCP she told me about a psychologist who was new to their group. She told me we’d be a perfect match, just what I needed, and she wasn’t kidding.
I made an appointment that day.
When I first met Tina, I would have no way of knowing how much my life would change. At the time, I knew I needed help, that if I stayed on the path I was on, I wouldn’t survive, but I had been given an amazing gift. She’ll tell you I did all the work, but she had to find a way in through the darkness, shining the light of hope. With her compassion and understanding she patiently worked with me, adding layer after layer, all the while building a framework for and with me to find my own light. She has been my guide, my mentor, and my friend.
I see so many people each day fighting a battle like mine. For some it’s depression, for some anxiety, trauma, or chronic pain. At times, we’ve all felt left out or chastised ourselves, but for those of us with these maladies, it’s so far beyond that. I once heard it referred to as “trying to swim upstream in a river of cement”. While some days are better than others it is always there.
This is where “be the light” comes in. I was so blessed to have been led to someone with the right training, the right temperament and compassion to help me. But, there are so many people out there suffering, who are either afraid, or maybe don’t know how to ask for help. Perhaps they fear the stigma associated with issues of mental health. Perhaps they feel people will think of them as weak, or crazy. Some think that if they go to a therapist, that therapist will think they’re crazy, or will laugh or any other horror the mind can imagine. But the truth is, there are thousands of wonderful people out there who just want to help. People who can listen, and help you find your own way. The problem is, they can’t help if you don’t ask for help and when you are in this state it can feel impossible to face alone.
Be the light for someone who is struggling. Offer to go with them to their first appointment so they don’t have to walk in alone. Offer compassion to someone who is hurting, even if you don’t understand why. Be the light for your children and parents and brother and sisters. Be the light for that friend who is burdened, for that coworker having a panic attack, or the one shaking in fear.
You don’t have to understand, you don’t have to even say anything. All you need is compassion. All you need is a desire to help. Be the light for someone and show them there is reason for hope, a reason to exist for another day. You never know what you can inspire.
|Posted on March 17, 2016 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
Abandoned Asylums of Massachusetts
By Tammy Rebello and L.F. Blanchard
Among the most often asked questions is how we got started with this project and what drives us. Tammy and I have known each other for three decades, and while there was a time where we had lost touch, busy in our own lives, we reconnected on Facebook several years ago. Tammy had been photographing for over 20 years at that time, and on a whim, based on the interest her kids took in an episode of Ghost Adventures, she grabbed her camera, and brother Josh (the muscle), and headed out to the New York location.
She loved it the moment she stepped on the grounds, and has been hooked ever since. When she returned home to Central Massachusetts, she began researching like institutions close by. While exploring she discovered a strong desire to tell the story of these places. This is when she came to me.
It didn’t take long before we had a definite direction to our project. Tammy continued photographing, every chance she could, often returning to the locations several times. In the snow, or the blistering heat she persevered with a desire to get just the right shot. We were both students at Worcester State University, and had the chance to take a few classes together. This gave us the chance to talk, and receive guidance and encouragement from the faculty.
We were recently asked if there was a point when we wanted to throw in the towel and abandon our journey. For me, it came when my mother took ill. During that time, nothing else mattered but spending time with her and the family. The irony of this is it was also the catalyst for me to see it through. While our family came together for her, we would spend hours talking, and it gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas off those I trusted most. After a period of mourning my mother, Tammy and I were ready to move forward and haven’t looked back.
We quickly discovered how well we worked together. Tammy was in control of everything photographic and I, everything written, although we are constantly bouncing ideas off one another. We talk with one another daily, even now that the first book is finished and out for the world to see. While we don’t always agree, we try to maintain our respect for one another. Our friendship is most important, even more than the books. But I feel that’s what makes it work.
We approached this project from different angles. Tammy loved the architecture, the style of the buildings and the artistry of the physical structure set against the rubble left behind. She recently told me how much it saddens her to see these places being torn down. If perhaps they had taken care of these buildings instead of letting them rot, they could have been saved for future generations to see how beautiful they truly are.
I on the other hand come at it from the psychological perspective. I dug in to the history of these locations. I wanted to know for what purpose they were built; what they became; and what led to their demise. I explored the story as a whole, with the perspective of the state, the institution and administrators, employees, patients and their loved ones. The story of how the mental health field in Massachusetts, and in the United States, changed over the past century, and why. Tammy and I spoke with dozens of people, all with a unique impression of how the most horrific and unimaginable, alongside the most wonderful, shaped the mental health field today and will continue to as it evolves.
Our goal has always been to tell the story; to let you in, behind the scenes. Perhaps, in our own way, start to change the stigma associated with mental illness. While we have come so far in this field, we still have a battle ahead. For those working to better the lives of others; who teach the tools to a more peaceful state of mind, I commend you. But to those who struggle, you are not alone. Both Tammy and I found the courage to step into the light, and you can too.
|Posted on February 29, 2016 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
Now through the end of March 2016, at the Worcester Public Library - Sax Room, I will be showing photographs from across the country.
I had the great fortune to visit many of the National Parks, and I strive to bring a piece of that beauty back home. Across the scenic byways, and through mountains and valleys, from ocean to ocean I walked in the steps of explores before me, in great awe of the miracles only nature could provide.
|Posted on February 13, 2016 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
We had an amazing turn out this morning at our very first book signing at the Hubbard Memorial Library in Ludlow, Ma. A great big thank you goes out to the folks at the library who made this happen. We were so happy to meet so many wonderful people with great questions and stories to tell. We can hardly wait for our next book signing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
|Posted on January 31, 2016 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
I had the opportuntiy this afternoon to set up an art display at the Worcester Public Library (Main Branch). It is a joint show with Tammy Rebello featuring her photographs from and inspired by our book, Abandoned Asylums of Massachusetts, which hits shelves tomorrow. My half of the exhibit is inspired by the book as well, however it includes original art as well as photography. Included are several acrylic paintings, ceramic sculpture, scupture made with burlap and wire and a large canvas piece that I named "The Evil Men Do" which is my take on the crushing reality, and all too often cruel impressions of those who suffer with depression.
This show runs through the end of February.
A sneak peek of one of my four cases.
|Posted on January 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Dr. Fuller is one of the innovators in the field of mental health, and is featured in our book; Abandoned Asylums of Massachusetts. His story is one of my personal favorites.
Dr. Fuller was the first African American Psychiatrist in the United States. He worked closely with Dr. Alzheimer and went on to make groundbreaking discoveries in understanding of physical causes for what were formally thought to me “mental” problems or “normal” aging process.