Eskenazi Health Patient Gives Back Through His Writing

Andrew Majors showed early signs of promise as a writer and thinker. He kept a letter from his high school history teacher praising his potential in his wallet. As a young man, he approached an insurance publication company executive with an idea and narrative for a film strip on parenting that was “well received.” His lack of focus, he says, is what got him into trouble. While he was advising others on parenting based on his observations and prolific reading of self-help books, he was getting high. “I was doing mescalin, LSD, anything I could get my hands on,” he says, adding, “if it was a drug, I tried it.”

Majors says he also struggled with racism and mental health as a child and teen. He believes his “poor” concentration by the time he reached sixth or seventh grade resulted from what he later concluded were symptoms of psychosis. These experiences, along with his drug use and many physical altercations, contribute to his belief that “any time, any place that I see [someone] have a struggle, I can relate.”

He didn’t fully pursue recovery from his substance use disorder until after he turned 40. Since then Majors has been a patient at Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center Older Adult Services, utilizing multiple Eskenazi Health offerings, including addiction, employment and senior services.

In middle age is also when Majors finally returned to his interest in artistic expression, prompted by a woman he encountered in a homeless shelter. When she told him he should create something for kids, he realized she’d given him a way to ensure he was known by his new grandson and others for more than his addiction.

While regaining control of his own life, Majors was struck by how much children needed a sense of power in theirs. He observed just how many issues children shared. “All kids have bullying problems,” he says. “All kids have self-esteem problems and so forth.” He recalled that as a day camp advisor — “the best job I ever had” — some of his charges “had never heard a positive word or an encouraging word in their lives.” Seeking to change that, Majors teamed up with an illustrator to write an inspirational children’s coloring book, which later became a series. Topics included leadership, being good, deprioritizing looks and avoiding fights. Majors describes his stories, which take place in urban environments, as “character building,” “educational” and “multicultural.” These books have been used in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and shared with children at Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. Each book includes blank sections where readers can reflect on their lives and answer questions, giving children the sense of ownership Majors knows they crave.

Since creating that series, Majors has written a memoir/motivational book for adults in recovery. New projects in the works include a video game based on his children’s books and a series to help adolescents “in their analytical and critical thinking so that they will make wiser and better decisions when the time comes for it.” As an artist, he is moved by “anything that is going to improve and enhance, uplift, elevate the behavior and attitudes of youth that don’t get it any other way . . . . ”

The children’s book author also never stops working to uplift himself. In those efforts, he has been aided by Jeffrey Nulton, a licensed clinical social worker for Older Adult Services. Majors says Nulton has assisted him in “trying to reach over to become part of mainstream America.” His care coordinator at Older Adult Services, Solomon Scott, has also been a “great supporter of my efforts, both professionally and personally.” Majors says that staff members at Eskenazi Health “treat me with dignity and respect.”

While he notices others in his generation content with their present states, Majors sees his life differently. “I’m trying to improve myself at 80 years old,” he says. One stage of development he still hasn’t reached, he explains, is “learning patience.” Envisioning that achievement, Majors laughs, “I can’t wait.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep trying to enhance his art. “As I grow,” he says, “the merits of my material grow.”

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