BY ADA TSENG, CLAIRE HANNAH COLLINS: For Complete Post, click here…
David “Eli” Israelian felt like the walls were closing in on him in his co-working space in L.A.’s Arts District in 2009. Israelian is a software developer who lives with mental illness: schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder. And he does have hallucinations.
But as the weeks went by, he said his space really was getting smaller. He saw Dave Leon — then a stranger who shared the area with him in the warehouse — moving the cubicle walls, and they started to talk.
Leon, a licensed clinical social worker, doesn’t remember the details, but he had recently started a project called Painted Brain to create a community for people with mental health challenges. They were having a lot of gatherings, he explained, and they had a lot of stuff — a piano, a drum set, tables and lots of art supplies. They were outgrowing their space.
Once Israelian learned about Painted Brain’s mission, he offered to build them a better website. At the time, Leon didn’t know Israelian was struggling himself, going in and out of hospitals. Israelian coded his first version of the website on paper during one of his stints in a mental health facility.