Who is Vanz?

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My mom gave me a notepad and a pen and I immediately started writing. She asked me, half-laughing, what I was writing. I told her I was writing a book and that I was pretty sure I was writing in Chinese. I’m Latina.

Since I was writing a book, I was pretty sure I was responsible for the illustrations so I got used to taking care of that as well. I started drawing everyone with round bellies, round hands, round legs, and round heads.

In retrospect, my scribbles on that notepad would be an insult to the beautiful written Chinese language and the drawings definitely not accurate representations of the people I was drawing, but since I was only 4 or 5 years old at the time, I hope that’s forgivable.

Writing and artwork have always been vital parts of my being. Even before I knew what I was doing. Which isn’t much different from how I feel now.

Growing up, I battled with depression and anxiety and later, was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. I used writing and drawing as coping mechanisms to control the lack of emotional stability I felt, especially throughout high school when I wore argyle socks and Vans every day (hence the nickname my high school boyfriend gave me, Vanz.) Art was always a place for me to curl up in comfort and be myself.  Until it wasn’t enough.

In my 20’s, I relied heavily on alcohol and dangerous behaviors to make it through the day. I wasn’t properly medicated, I was lying to therapists, and indulging self-destructive behavior. I ended up in issues with my family, relationships, legal troubles, health issues, financial burdens, I was homeless at certain points… I was Madness.

Eventually, my depression was so great and the burden so heavy, I turned on a Sunday service from a pastor in San Diego that was live streaming on the internet and was overwhelmed by the hope and the peace that was being offered. I gave my life to Jesus Christ with my bare knees on my studio apartments scratched wood floors in Downtown Riverside, CA and have been learning more about my relationship with Him ever since.

Things didn’t get immediately better. My alcoholism and bipolar II disorder grew to unmanageable extremes until I surrendered it all to Christ and figured out the meaning of humility and learned what “self will run riot” truly meant. I got involved in AA, church, and writing and painting again. Peace and serenity have returned. There was The Miracle.

My hope is that my writing and artwork can encourage and inspire others to seek something greater than themselves to restore themselves to sanity and to use their God-given interests to seek refuge in God during this world’s storm.

You are not hopeless, you are not defeated, you are not worthless.

You are worthy, you are loved, and you are valued.

If you are struggling with mental health or addiction issues, there is help.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Homepage
Take a seat beside me.

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