As promised last week, I am going to go over some of the mental illnesses my characters will be learning to navigate through in my Get in My Head series. I won’t tell you what is in each book, you’ll just have to follow along to find out for yourself.
The importance of this series is to:
1) Encourage people who have a mental illness. No matter how bad it is or impossible it seems to get, there is always hope. That hope looks different for each person. The hope I cling onto may not be something you agree with, and that’s okay.
2) To help those who have never struggled get into the heads of the sufferer. Example: my spouse has never struggled with depression or anxiety to the depths I have. He’s a fairly happy individual and at the beginning of our relationship, he had no idea what to do with me. It was hard and stressful. I needed him to be everything for me, but he didn’t know how. It wasn’t fair for me to expect him to pick up the pieces for me. As he reads through my manuscripts he has gained new insights to how I feel and why I feel the way I do, and that sometimes I don’t even know why. Sometimes the past randomly triggers me for no reason. He graciously takes it all in stride, but I am wise enough to know not everyone has that kind of support.
3) I want those who do struggle to understand that they cannot always lean a hundred percent on family or a partner, especially if that partner cannot relate. Love isn’t always enough and that it is okay to reach out to other places of support.
4) Anyone can be affected by mental illness. It doesn’t matter your race, financial standing, popularity, anyone can be suffering in the dark, and you would never know. What is that quote? “Be nice to everyone you meet for everyone is fighting a battle.”
I cannot cover every mental illness, and further yet, every variation of each mental illness, that would take a life time. But a few that I have taken the time to research and study (or pull from my personal experience) include:
If you’ve made it through this massive info dump and plug for my series, you are a better person than I am. I am both excited and nervous to be putting all my guts on display for the world to see. Thanks for following along on my adventure.
A quote from my WIP:
It never warns you. You never hear a knock at the door, warning you that you’re about to have a heart attack. It just happens. The feeling of your heart being ripped from your chest, the force of tears pushing their way out of your eye sockets blurring your vision. Tremors shoot through your body making a simple task like holding a pen in your hand to sign your name impossible.
You feel like you’re dying. No, you know you are about to die.
Life is funny. Misunderstandings happen. Awkward words are said, lonely people reach out for that extra human contact in the most innocent of ways. No harm, no foul right?
Unfortunately, if you’ve experienced any kind of trauma, life can feel more like a big joke. That innocent misunderstanding, accidentally crossing a line, can send someone running across the street in mid-traffic to get to safety. Crosswalk or not. At any moment you can fall down an unexpected spiral, quickly losing control before you realize it. Panic-fear-anxiety-depression consume a person over something as simple as a touch… a sideways glance… a text message… a friend request.
My body doesn’t always ask permission to run across the street without using a crosswalk. Sometimes when a line is crossed, somewhere in my subconscious panic bubbles up before I understand what is happening and physically react before I can take a second breath.
I don’t always understand how or why this happens, because there isn’t always a rhyme or reason. To you it might seem like an overreaction, but for me, it’s survival.
This summer the first book of my series is coming out. It has been a lengthy process that has left me drained, wondering if I had completely lost my sanity. I’m excited and nervous to put out this work that is full of my insecurities.
I’m also really proud of it. Writing this series has been an act of therapy for me. Throughout the eight manuscripts, I have written my life into the pages, personal experiences and even some of my journal pages from growing up. Will I tell you what’s mine and what belongs to my fictional characters? Maybe some day, but not anytime soon.
I began writing this series after years of being gaslighted and finally being able to bring my head above the surface to breathe. It was that first breath that made me realize that I had been drowning that whole time. I didn’t know. I thought I was just losing my mind and everything was my fault.
When I stepped out of that situation, I still wasn’t free. Years of depression threatened to keep pushing me down. Anxiety and suicidal thoughts left me wishing that I would give up and drown. I wanted to give in, and there were many times I almost did, but something changed in me. I wanted to fight this time. I wanted a new life.
I started writing.
The first script I wrote was a fantasy, and it’s still a hot mess… but it got my blood flowing. I couldn’t stop writing after that. I tried pushing out the past but it kept coming back, harder and faster every time I pushed it away. That’s how this series was born.
It started out as a writing exercise, then I gave in and let the script dictate what I was supposed to write. Everything came to the surface. Not just from my gaslighting experience, but every childhood demon broke free and swam through my mind, every evil horror that haunted me in my young adult life, all of it came back to stare me in the face.
Now, if I was a wise individual, I would have sought counseling immediately. And I did for a while, but nothing worked out. That’s how this series was born. I was desperate. I screamed and cried my way through the whole first draft of the first book. Then another draft of another book.. then another.. and so on.. now I have eight scripts in this series.
Most people see me as a happy individual, I’m not afraid to get down right stupid to make someone else laugh. Their happiness is important to me. Putting these books into the real world is like putting a swinging door onto my soul, what you see is not always what you get…
Putting myself out there is going to be an exercise in self acceptance, because I know this series is not going to be accepted by everyone inside of my circle. Even outside of my circle. One thing I have learned through this process is: This is me. I might be shiny and pretty on the outside, always wearing a smile, always the first to ask how everyone else is doing, but on the inside, it looks like shit. It has taken me a long time to be okay with that. My books are the door to what’s on the inside.
Today ask yourself: Are you accepting of people because of their neat put together appearance? Because they seem happy and look like they have their lives in order? Or will you run in the other direction at the first sight of their shit coming to the surface?
It’s those individuals who have stayed by my side after they’ve seen my shit that I cherish the most.
Happy Monday y’all. Let’s keep it real.
Follow along to catch my next blog where I’ll be talking about some of the mental illnesses I will be covering in my Get in My Head series.
I tend to only write in my blogs when I have an intense emotion or I feel overly passionate about something. Unfortunately this leads to a lazy blog. Like this one! If you’ve stuck it out this far, thank you.
Last night was rough, and I woke up feeling off this morning. I’m somewhere in-between real life and knowing that I can topple back down into the pit at any moment. If you have struggled with depression, you know the feeling.
Sometimes it just happens. One day you’re perfectly fine, then the next day you’re not. You can’t even get out of bed. There is no warning, no lead up. Your body didn’t leave you a note telling you that your life, chemicals, hormones, thoughts, are going to take a nose dive-so you better take cover!
Sometimes, you know. It can start as a feeling in the bottom of your stomach, like you just swallowed a rock. The forever wall of tears that slowly builds up behind your eyes, threatening to break free at any moment. You can see the dark cloud in the distance making its way towards you. The irritability gets worse and you end up having to lock yourself in your room to save those you love from your wrath.
Maybe I’m a selfish person, but I hate being on the edge, knowing that no matter what I do, I’m going to fall in anyways. I can try to fight it, but nine times out of ten, I get pulled down into the dark kicking and screaming, leaving nail marks behind on the ground.
It just happens. It’s not always something I can prevent. It’s not something that I enjoy or revel in. Not being able to stop the tears, knowing that the sunshine can’t help me now, I hate it. I hate all of it.
If you have a love one in your life that struggles with depression, some advice: tell them that you love them and bring them a warm fuzzy blanket and a mug of hot tea. Sit with them in the silence, and if they’ll let you, hold their hand. You can’t always make it better, and don’t be surprised when we tell you, we can’t always make it better either.
My earliest memory of being depressed was in kindergarten. I didn’t know what it was at the time, I just remember feeling sad and disconnected. I spent a lot of time at home with imaginary friends, and most of my time at school, I was known as the cute shy kid who blushed all too easily. I was terrified to make anyone upset, ever.
I can recall a cluster of events that happened to me around that time that left me feeling confused and dirty. Being the age that I was, I didn’t know it was wrong at the time. I just knew they made me feel sad.
As I got older, my imagination became even more active and wild. My stuffed animals talked to me, they would comfort me. I would have whole conversations with people in my head, things I knew I would never say out loud because I was never brave enough, and the more I grew, the more I was consumed by anger.
By the time I hit the fifth grade, my emotions were not manageable, and I saw my first counselor. We joked at home and called it anger management, because that’s exactly what she was trying to get me to do: to control my outbursts at home.
No one on the outside world was aware, only my family bore witness to my moments of rage and attempted fist fights. I always thought it was normal though, as the rest of my family seemed to have loud burst of anger and emotion too. We were a very physical family, I was just following suit. Somehow, I was the one singled out. Probably due to the moments where I would just shut down, stop talking and acknowledging my parents, or my siblings. I just didn’t know how to function at times.
My mother, and later on, my father were religious. They did not understand at the time that depression or outburst could be a chemical problem, all they knew was the spiritual side of things. My mother used to take me to church specifically to have the pastor and elders pray over me.
I never saw another therapist or doctor for my dark cloud as a child after that. I quickly learned, that in order for me to survive, I had to fake it as best I could. It was safer to be happy, and put on a smile for everyone to see.
Often I wonder, if my parents knew and understood the signs of childhood depression, if my adult life would have turned out a lot differently. Or, maybe, they were both too consumed with their own depression to notice their shy, cuddly child was a sufferer too.
As an adult, I have more control over my mental health. I still feel guilty and ashamed for admitting I am struggling from time to time. It is still humiliating to reach out, because I still wear that happy go lucky mask all to well. People around me still assume I am fine.
However, now I have a small group of people I am close to. They recognize when I am struggling, and they never make me feel ashamed when I reach out. I feel more blessed now than I ever did as a child.
If you are struggling today, don’t be afraid to reach out. You would be surprised to find out who has walked in your exact same shoes.
Well, it’s the last day of 2016, and I thought I should write a blog about it. This hasn’t been an easy year by any means. I have experienced heart break, the failure of a support system, depression, anxiety, abandonment, judgement and loneliness. It was a long year to work through.
But, let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about the good things that happened this year.
This year was a new beginning for me on many levels. I started to rediscover myself, in unexplainable ways. For the first time in years, I listened to my heart, instead of allowing the comments from those I assumed to be more spiritually resilient than I, determine what I should do and how I should do it. I ignored the ‘labels’ I was given in the past and did my own thing. I spent time pouring into myself, instead of letting myself get sucked dry by others.
During this time, I discovered the joy of painting for others, not just myself. Painting has become a therapy that speaks to my melancholy self, more than speaking to another human ever could. There is something very deep, and personal about creating something.
I also started writing, for the first time in over ten years. Aside from blogs and random poems here and there. This is something I have kept to myself for the most part, because I was allowing fear to hold me back, wondering what others would think of my work, or how many little old church lady friends I would offend.
I have discovered that this is who I am: A writer. An artist. An activist.
Sometimes it’s weird for me to admit that I have been wandering around for the longest time, assuming, or pretending that I knew myself, or what I wanted to do. However, I am grateful to have discovered this new empowerment in the darkness of my trials, this is something I can take into 2017 with me.
This is something I can take with me for the rest of my life.
Happy New Year y’all. As you walk into this new year, don’t allow the bitterness to step over the threshold. Beat it down and reach out for the joy that is waiting for you on the other side.
When I was younger, my mom used to lock herself in her room a lot. I didn’t think a lot about it, because she worked hard, and suffered from migraines a lot. As I hit puberty and became a teenager, I too experienced migraines, and let me tell you, it is not something you can get up and walk around with, they knock you out cold.
But this post isn’t about migraines.
My mom locking herself in her room happened on more than just a few occasions. It started becoming a habit for her, something she would do the moment she got home. She would hide from us. It got to the point where my older sister had to make dinner for our younger brother and myself. Sometimes my older sister had to make sure the laundry was switched over, or the dog went out, because mom couldn’t do it. Mom cried and yelled a lot, we never knew what was going to set her off. We grew to be terrified of her and her outbursts.
When we all became adults and moved out, my sister had to go through counseling to work through her mommy issues, my brother grew distant for a while, but me, being the middle child, did my best to reassure everyone: people change! People grow in their skin and learn new ways to navigate through the world! We should be more forgiving.
It wasn’t until I was an adult, and the memories had already accumulated, that I knew what was going on.
It wasn’t until I had experienced what my mom went through for myself.
After months of coming home, and going straight to my bed, or just not being able to leave my bed, skipping out on dinner with loved ones, being extra agitated for no reason, sometimes even yelling and losing my tempter during the most mundane situations, I knew I was doing exactly what my mother had done all those years ago.
Only this time, I had a word for it. I had fallen into the world of clinical depression, or acute depression disorder.
‘Scientists believe that as many as 40 percent of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. Research has also shown that people with parents or siblings who have depression are up to three times more likely to have the condition.‘ My dad also suffers from depression, which is another story for another time.
With my family history, sometimes I wonder if I even stood a chance against my reality, if maybe I always had a dark cloud over my head, ready to rain on me with no rhyme or reason.
This is why the suck it up way of thinking shoved onto someone with a mental health issue can be more detrimental than good. It cannot always be helped with a ray of sunshine and a jog through the park. I want to encourage people to read, and educate themselves on topics such as depression. It is not always a surface level feeling. Sometimes it can seep down into your bones and leave you lifeless.
If you suffer from depression, I want to encourage you to seek help, on a personal level, and a professional level. Find a support group if you do not have a close group of friends. Reach out, and I promise there will be others reaching back for you.