Brandon is a writer, and an advocate for mental health. These two worlds collide in his more current work, writing articles for our local newspaper (NorthumberlandNews.com). He has a wonderful way of bringing heart and humour into our every day lives, and addressing very serious topics with his very real life experience.
Schizophrenia, suicide, and recovery are topics he will discuss in this feature; as well as his large realm of creative endeavors!
These are a few of my favourite poems, written by him:
In His Words:
Being a burnt-out writer is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. It constantly lets me know that I haven’t done enough and that my life isn’t finished yet.
I’ve considered myself a poet for nineteen years (I will be celebrating next year)! I still consider myself a novice as any type of writer. I’ve had four chapbooks of poetry self published. The first two are out of print. I have a few copies of the last two left. They are, “The Love Marble” and “Bleeding Heart Fist Fight”.
In my writing life, I have done a few things I’m proud of but am still hoping to truly break in. I would like the big time but I still don’t know what that means. I’ve tried my hand at screenwriting and know it to be the most labour-intensive work I have ever endured. I have also written an 80-page novella called “A Poet’s Attempt” that I submitted to the 3 Day Novel contest a few years ago. I would love that piece to end up on some kind of screen someday.
I find the solution to anything that is blocking me, is to read more and perform free associative journaling. This leads to a breaker switch in my brain that accesses the stockpiles of poetic synergy. It’s kinda like flatulence. Positive Brain Farts?
One note to keep you abreast is that I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1993, so it is a condition I am quite familiar with now. “My Story” was featured twice in SZ Magazine in 2003, it’s a small circular that has now ceased publication. I have also had a poem featured at the International Artist’s with Disabilities Day at Variety Village called “One Way”. In my speech at the event, I did state that I have an invisible disability and I thanked everyone involved for making my writing something visible.
My first forays into getting noticed were being selected as an Opinion Shaper for a contest with the local paper as well as finding work with a circular called Northumberland Life Magazine as their official Humour Columnist.
In 2004, I created a mental health movement called Finding Your Marbles. I performed paid mental health talks, speeches and forums around Toronto, and western-eastern Ontario. I was working with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.
In early 2005, I had a meltdown that led to a suicide attempt and had to shut down Finding Your Marbles to regroup my life in its entirety. Years later, and many experiences later, I felt I was ready to tackle the mental health landscape again and just recently started Red Tape Lab. This company will be involved in advocating for the voiceless and aiding in navigating the system for people that either can’t or don’t have the time for things like paperwork and the day-to-day grind. Basically, consultant work.
Finding Your Marbles is still in existence but is now under the brand FYM2004. I have T-shirts, stickers and patches made up for those that want to support the mental health industry in a small way. I will also be branding RedTapeLab2020 when the company completely gets off the ground.
Back to writing. In 2014, I made the front page of the local paper for a “Breaking the Stigma” article. With my Mum by my side, we smiled our way into a small job writing a mental health column for the www.northumberlandnews.com as well as the hard copy. Since then, I have appeared every year on the local radio station 89.7FM for Let’s Talk Day and have also anchored myself on the board of directors for a local counselling centre. My column has since garnished me nearly 150 separate articles and can be found on the website if you search Brandon Hahn/articles.
In the not-so-distant future I will be doing a lot more speaking, advocacy and writing and have found that the condition of schizophrenia is both a hard lesson and a super power. It is also not all that I am and I have truly grown to separate myself from my diagnosis.
After finding the last love of my life and working quite hard to stay “normal” I will constantly continue to help, to aid, write and to learn more about the human experience because, “there is no finish line.”
Brandon is currently living in Cobourg, Ontario. If you are interested in his books, merch, or services please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.