So What’s The Big Deal With Mental Illness?

it is the main theme running thru Silence & Noise, and while discussion of mental illness seems to be more prevalent in our society than in the past, the negative stigma has not gone away.  yes, there are tv and film characters who are portrayed as “depressed” or to suffer from some sort of mental disorder.  yes, your best friend might feel perfectly ok working, “i’m just feeling depressed today” into the conversation, and maybe you hear the occasional, “he must be bipolar” from time to time, and it’s hard to read a magazine or turn on the television without seeing an advertisement about some new depression medication and all of its glamorous side effects, but what does it all mean?  and does it change anything for those people who are out there actually suffering from a mental illness?

in 2004 it was reported that around 26% of US adults had some sort of mental disorder, that would be like every family of 4 having at least one person living with a mental illness.  at that time that was close to 58 million people.  that statistic was in 2004 and only includes the adult US population with reported illnesses.  i’m not exactly sure what the statistics are now in the US and across the world but i can only assume they are higher.  so where are we now?  while the topic of mental health is discussed more frequently and not as hush-hush as it once was, i’m not sure we really understand it.  the prescription market has certainly taken a hold of the reins, making sure we all know what drugs are available and urging us to get them.  we all know that depression “hurts”, and we all know the various side-effects of the prescription commercials and some of us have probably laughed a time or two hearing them listed off, but what does any of that really do for those suffering?  or for the families and friends?  or those who really just have no clue what any of it means?  is it knowledge?  is it information?  no, it’s just a quick fix.  “hey you are depressed? take a pill”.  “oh, bipolar you say, swallow this”.  “hearing voices?, no problem i heard there was something for that”.  and now we end up with a lot of people taking medication and ever more people not even understanding the problem to begin with.  this is not to say that medication is bad or that it can’t help manage symptoms of some of these disorders, it’s more to say that there is a whole lot more going on here than a quick fix pill.  a lot of these medications leave people feeling worse off than they were before, a lot of them are masking symptoms, hiding the real issues, a lot of them are causing major side-effects to the body, and again, it goes back to not really knowing what we are facing here.

still with all the resources and knowledge we have today, mental illness isn’t taken seriously.  it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who may be dealing with these issues when you aren’t really sure what they are, or what it looks like.  how do you even know if someone has a mental illness?  yes, there are the obvious cases, but what about the ones who keep it just below the surface, keep it hidden?  it could be the person standing beside you waiting to get their morning coffee.  would it matter if you knew, would it change anything?  should it?  probably not.  but why is it when we hear someone has been diagnosed with cancer our hearts ache for them, but if we hear someone is bipolar, or depressed, or suffers from anxiety we think,”they need to be stronger”, “just toughen up, get thicker skin.”  there is no cure for bipolar disorder.  it can be treated and managed to a point, but it is a life changing diagnosis.  i think the more aware we are, the more knowledge we have the better equip we are for handing whatever interaction we may have with mental illnesses, whether in our own personal walk, a friends, a family member, a child.

Silence & Noise focuses on Lily’s story, on her battle with mental illness.  it isn’t a true story but i believe it deals with truth.  i think Lily could be anyone out there who is battling a mental disorder and i hope her story can help to shed some light on the negative and false stigma’s still associated with mental health.

Resources:
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is a great place for anyone to start to learn more about mental illness. http://www.nami.org/

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Normalcy.

I was thinking today about the idea of being normal and what that means or if it even exists. In Silence & Noise Lily is in constant battle with who she is and who she thinks she needs to be. She is overwhelmed by her emotions, the feeling of being an outcast. But there is also the notion that our uniqueness, our little idiosyncrasies, those are the very things that make us who we are. When we find ourself in our dark moments, sometimes we forget there was ever anything other than that. Than the bad. Our insecurities getting the best of us. Our pain overtakes us. And in those moments it’s easy to get trapped there, to only see that. Alone in who you are.  And it seems like so often we are struggling to feel normal, to feel like we are understood.  Thinking that maybe we will never be understood.  And I think when it comes down to it, we are more understood than we could imagine.  Some people are just better with honestly than others.  Some people are more comfortable expressing what they are going through.  We usually just end up complicating it with this notion of normalcy.   In a way it exists because if we were all honest we would probably see we are more alike than we think.  But in a way it doesn’t exist and it shouldn’t exist and we shouldn’t desire it because it’s our differences that make us who we are.  Our pasts, our presents, our moods, our fears, our experiences, all of those things help to make our interactions that much more interesting.  It’s a constant struggle, this life, and I am amazed by the strength I see in some people.  The things they overcome.  I do believe we are capable of overcoming more than we imagine.  We set our bars so low, but we are capable of so much.  I don’t know that I really care about being or feeling normal anymore or what that would even look like to me.  I just have to live each day the best I can, and I think that’s all any of us can really do.

on a side note…Silence & Noise: one girl’s journey into insanity has been formatted, time to review it and send it off to my editor!  Only 2 months til the deadline…wish me luck.

The Waiting.

so draft 3 is complete. it’s now in the process of being read and formatted. it’s a pretty great feeling being so close to the completion of silence & noise and i’m ready to get it out there. i have decided to self-publish which makes me very excited. it allows me so much freedom with the work and control over my writing which is very appealing. my husband who just so happens to be my manager has started the process of getting the book published and has already gotten a few book stores to agree to carry it, which it’s pretty cool. it’s all a learning experience and i’m really enjoying being 100% involved in the process. now that draft 3 is complete and it has been passed off to be formatted and reviewed by some folks i’m sort of sitting here waiting. curious about how the changes i made to the story will go over. wondering if lily’s story will impact other’s as much as it has me. i guess all i can do it wait and see.
we are shooting for an October release of the book, which i think is the best month of the year, so i’m pretty excited about that. Keep reading and i will post some new excerpts soon!

Reflections.

i stumbled across this writing a few days ago and thought i would post it here.  i think it fits in nicely with Lily’s story.  it was written during its conception and really encompasses a lot of the emotions displayed throughout the novel…have you ever felt this way?

the older i get the more i find myself slip away.
the quirks i had – the desire to be alone, needing my space, observing.
stuff that could have once qualified as cute, quirky, playful.
now as each year passes the senses heighten.
the need to be alone magnified to a secluded mess.
anxiety with human interaction, intensified insecurities.
always thinking, feeling i won’t be remembered or recognized.
imagining myself as completely insignificant.
standing against a wall watching the world fly by around me.
so close but just beyond my reach.
imagining i’m impossible to be around.
always up or down.
wanting to be alone, locked away.
needing companionship.
not wanting to leave the house.
staying out all night.
but watching always watching from the sidelines.
afraid of my own shadow.
knowing deep down i am nothing.
wishing i was everything but knowing even then none of this would change.
a prisoner in my own mind.

The Next Step.

As i sit here, editing the third draft of Silence & Noise i stop to think about the journey.  the things that got me to this place and the unknown that will follow.  the closer i get to the end of the draft the more excited i find myself getting.   the idea that all the hours and months poured into this story, all the years in my own life that have come alive thru Lily’s story, all of it will soon be finished.  i can’t wait for other people to read it, people who have been so important in my life and people i don’t even know.  i can’t help but think there might be something in Lily’s story for everyone.  a piece we can cling on to and hold tight to.  there are so many moments as i write, i want to wrap my arms around Lily, comfort her and tell her there is a better place than where she is.  then i remind myself she is strong, and determined and no matter what she will survive herself.  i think everyone has that fight in them, i think sometimes we just forget it when things get hard.  we forget about our tenacity, our fire, our spirit.  even in our timidness, in our fear, we all have strength within us.  i’m thankful i will forever have Lily’s story to remind me of that.

this post was inspired by this excerpt from Silence & Noise: one girl’s journey into insanity 
I found peace in my misery.  Some twisted peace.  The kind that doesn’t really exist.”

Goodbyes.

I just finished editing a chapter in the novel about a goodbye.  It made me reflect on the goodbyes in my life.  The moments that i re-live in my mind.  The moments i have almost forgotten about.  Goodbyes can vary so much in emotion, from bitter-sweet, to complete sadness, and everything else in between.  There are the goodbye for now’s and the final goodbye’s.  And sometimes i know for myself, i don’t even realize at the time when i am in those moments of finality.  Maybe it’s not wanting to admit it to yourself at the time.  Not wanting to see the end of an era, the end of a relationship.  What is a goodbye that sticks out in your memory?  Do you wish you could go back in time and experience it again?

Memories.

Memories are complicated.  What really happened in contrast with the stories our minds create.  Silence and Noise: one girl’s journey into insanity, touches on the path of a memory and what that instills in us.  I naturally focus on the negative.  My mind always goes back to the mistakes, to the slip-ups, to the moments i would do over if i could. And i wonder as i look back if those moments i have frozen in time, if they are as bad as i remember or if instead it’s the re-living, obsessing, trying to fix and change that has made them into bigger disasters than they ever were.  What are your thoughts on memories?  What is your greatest memory, worst memory, most haunting memory?  Do we have the ability to unbiasedly remember our lives?  Do we create our own versions of the truth?