A SHORE Success Story: Art with a Purpose

RHA’s SHORE Program in Wilmington, North Carolina, provides outpatient therapeutic services and support to young people, ages 15 to 30, who are experiencing certain life challenges due to symptoms associated with schizophrenia spectrum and similar psychotic disorders. Services include assessment, development of an individualized treatment plan, case management, individual, group and family therapy, substance use treatment (if needed), medication management, educational support, supported employment, and discharge planning. Peer Support Services are also offered as part of the program.

Below, Alabama Stone, an RHA Behavioral Health Certified Peer Support Specialist, shares the story of one SHORE program participant, Justice, who has used his artistic talents as a tool in his own recovery and to fight the stigma associated with mental health challenges.

Known in the local art scene as, FUDGEWILLI, Justice has been a consumer at RHA for four years. He has been an active client of SHORE and is incredibly involved in SHORE’s many art projects and peer outreach groups. From making music to film production, standup comedy to performance art, writing poetry to creating children’s books — FUDGEWILLI does it all.

Justice has been creating art ever since he can remember: “I started with making little books in like kindergarten, but remember being like 15 and drawing and making music and making clothes—I’d take anything I could afford to mess up to make art.” He continues, “I made a ceiling fan a couple of months ago, it’s still in my closet. It’s blue and I saved it from being thrown in a dumpster — I’m doing a one man show in the summer; I’m sure I’ll use it.”

While Justice continues to create on all levels, with all mediums, he’s recently focused his work on self-publishing books. His most recent, Take Your Medicine Eddy Jefferson has been celebrated for its message and unique art.

Take Your Medicine Eddy Jefferson is a children’s book addressing the battle of psychosis, where the narrator is speaking to the character, Eddy Jefferson — a beautifully bizarre conglomerated image, a hybrid of a prescription bottle, person, angel, and superhero. The narrator encourages Eddy to continue to take his medication, anti-psychotics, to keep him well and to “fight the battle with psychosis.” When asked what led him to write the book Justice responds, “the narrator, me, is telling him (Eddy) to take his medicine so he doesn’t have to deal with symptoms and things like that when he didn’t take it.” Justice continues, half-smiling, half-laughing, “it’s kind of funny because I wasn’t taking my medicine when I wrote it.”

Throughout his time in SHORE, Justice has shared that the phrase, “take your medicine” has been weaponized by some of the people in his life. This is what led him to take to the page. “I wanted to use a nurturing tone to encourage young people to take their medication.” Justice continues to advocate for his community and to fight the stigma associate with mental health through his art, and is in school for Film and Video Production Technology, with plans to eventually make film adaptations of his books.

FUDGEWILLI is the definition of an artist, challenging himself with new projects, and utilizing art as a tool in his recovery. Justice has done a lot for his peers in RHA’s SHORE program and gives insight and encouragement to his community. His books are available online at Amazon, and can be ordered by request at Barnes & Noble.