Brandon McMahon is a published poet, a singer-songwriter, and an entrepreneur with a website that sells his music and books, along with T-shirts, posters, and mugs emblazoned with his own inspirational words about the meaning of life and death.
He is one of the first residents of The Connection’s Park Street Inn, entering the program in 2005, when he was just 21, and graduating one year later. He is, in all likelihood, Park Street Inn’s most successful graduate. Brandon is now 29 years old and, in addition to his music, writing, and entrepreneurial efforts, is working full-time as a peer recovery counselor at a local mental health and addiction services agency.
Brandon has struggled with mental illness and addictions since he was a teenager and spent several years in juvenile and adult psychiatric institutions. When his mother, who struggled with mental illness and addictions died, his father sank into alcoholism and two years later lost custody of Brandon. Then 13-year-old Brandon moved in with relatives and soon began using drugs. By 16 Brandon was living on the streets at the local homeless shelter. But he was bright and resourceful. When attending a residential school, he took the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), did well, and enrolled at Bryant University in Rhode Island.
But Brandon’s addictions took hold at Bryant and he found it difficult to concentrate. He dropped out after two years and spent another two years in psychiatric institutions and group homes, including the Park Street Inn (PSI).
“When I first got to PSI, I was afraid I would end up back in the hospital,” he says. “I was afraid they would kick me out because I kept using drugs, but they kept giving me second chances because they believed in me and it ended up working well.”
He also reconnected with family. “They were really glad I was off drugs and that I had my own apartment. They all came to celebrate when I published my first book of poetry,” he says.
Brandon began working as a peer specialist in 2010. He utilizes the skills acquired from years of writing and computer graphics to do a newsletter for his employer.
Brandon’s plans for the future include going back to school. He is thinking about becoming a veterinary technician or a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. And he wants to keep doing and promoting his art.