‘Crazy’ gets personal with readers

Artistic approach debunks myths of mental illness

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“Crazy,” a lasting glimpse inside a disturbed mind, takes readers on a personal and creative trip through eight common mental disorders.

Utilizing prose, various mediums of graphic art, poetry and clinical explanation, the book, edited by mother and son Tami and Michael Hanna of Adams Place in Centennial, is a one-of-a-kind view from the inside out. It is educational, but artistic.

“We’re about debunking the myths of mental illness through words, art and education,” said Michael Hanna, 30, who like his mother lives with bipolar disorder. “This book is really all three of those things. We have text, we have art from people and we have information.”

There are roughly 150 artists who contributed to the book, all of whom at one time or another have been a part of Adams Place — a “village” brought to life by therapist Tami Hanna, where those in treatment or past treatment can meet in a non-clinical environment, be artistic and help one another through nurture and support.

“When we began this book four years ago it was following the accidental overdose of one of my former kids,” Tami said. “At the time it was more a matter of educating. People got together, hung out and educated each other, learned about each other and it was really powerful. When Michael came along he started putting it all together.

“People came from all walks of life and perspectives; kids, adults, parents, siblings. It became a community. For us to be able to present this is really exciting because the people in this book come from this community, from right here. Even though it has a lot of darkness, I think the brilliance is there.”

The book, which is in no way pieced together like a traditional textbook, takes an educated look at the ins and outs of living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, eating disorders, ADHD/ADD, trauma and recovery, and also has a section on suicide. Each section begins with an informative look at the specific disorder and is followed by pages of accompanying art and writing that is identifiable with each illness.

“It’s really more of a coffee-table book,” said Michael Hanna of the 272-page, self-published work. “Our target audience is anybody who is crazy or who knows someone who is crazy. People don’t talk about it, it’s a big stigma. So, by opening that up and getting people to talk, there’s this fostering of community immediately, because everyone knows someone who is crazy.”

For more information, or to purchase a copy, visit www.adamsplacecrazy.org. Michael and Tami Hanna will appear at the first Douglas County Libraries Local Author Showcase, 2-4 p.m. March 10, at 9292 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch.