Getting Anxiety In Public Places

The other day I went grocery shopping all by myself, the first time I have ever done this. I was excited to feel like an adult, shop for my own food and drinks, and without anyone telling me any differently. It was a nice feeling. I was ready for it.

As my roommate and I pulled up to the store, I got out and headed inside. At first, it felt nice. I’m walking around the store when I suddenly realized I didn’t have a cart.

Oh, I thought. Getting a cart might be a good idea.

Despite that little slip-up, I was still feeling positive. Knowing that first and foremost I wanted some Bolthouse Farms juice, I head to the back of the store where they keep the dairy, juice, and things along those lines. As I make my way back there, I soon discover that my said juice is not there.

It’s okay, I told myself. It’s got to me somewhere else in here. In the meantime, what else do I need?

This question left me stumped. It was at that moment I realized I made no list and had absolutely no idea what I wanted except my juice. While this is happening, I’m trying to reach into my brain to think of anything that I like to eat or drink.

Nothing comes to mind.

So of course, like any normal person, my heart starts pounding at about a million miles an hour, and I find my palms sweating, despite how cold it is. Deciding that it’s best to just go look for my juice, I start meandering around the store with no idea what I’m doing.

After finding my juice, I knew that I needed other things. One can’t survive with just juice. I once again ask myself what types of food I want, and again, my brain gives me nothing. I start talking to myself in the middle of the store, trying to calm myself down.

Do I like cereal? Yes, I like cereal. But what kind? Healthy kinds? Sugary kinds? And even if I get cereal, what else do I need? I can barely cook, so meat’s not a good idea, right? Then again, I should probably get meat because everyone needs it. But wait, I can just get the Bolthouse Farms Protein drinks. Yes, that sounds like a good idea. But what else can I eat? Fruit? And what kind? Pineapples, apples, oranges? There’s so many options. Will I even eat it if I buy it? Maybe I should just get some But again, what kind? Nah, I’ll just go get some bagels. But where’s the cream cheese? It’s not over here by the bagels.

Before I knew it, I was hyperventilating, tears forming in my eyes. I noticed several people looking my way, but were they really looking at me? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not. Maybe they were, or maybe it was just my anxiety telling me that their focus was on me.

After a good hour, I leave the store with $122 worth of food. I made it out alive. But did I get everything I needed? Maybe. Maybe not.

Fast-forward to today. I got my financial aid check from my college, and realized I needed some new clothes for the new year. Similar to my shopping experience at the grocery store, I went to Kohl’s and was dropped off by my roommate.

I enter the store, and spend a good five minutes trying to find the guys’ section. Once I get there, I ask myself, Okay, I’m here, now what do I want? What do I need? Some pants is a good idea. But what type of pants do I want?

And similar to the grocery store experience, my chest suddenly tightens up and my eyes begin to water. Instead of letting things get too far this time around, I picked up my phone, and called my mother, who was able to thankfully calm me down and help ease my anxiety through the whole experience.

Both of these experiences have given me some insight into the adult world, but I still have a long way to go. My anxiety is something that I deal with on a day to day basis, and probably will for the rest of my life. My mental illness is real, and regardless of what other people think, it exists in many others as well.

We are not alone. You are not alone.

Depression’s Like A Big Fur Coat

“Depression’s like a big fur coat–it’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm.”
 
This is a quote from Icon For Hire’s song “Iodine,” which has become one of my favorite songs over the last couple years. Most people here know my story, although some only know bits and pieces. There’s people I can encounter on a daily basis that don’t know me, or don’t know the struggles I’ve gone through, or don’t know the reality of what goes on inside my head.
 
Back in 2012-2013, I had one of the hardest years of my life. I came to the realization, after many hospitalizations, that I had depression. Some people still refuse to believe that depression is a real thing, but unfortunately it is. It’s not just sadness. It’s not just crying every once in a while. Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling completely numb. Sometimes it’s as simple as being tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get. Sometimes it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning and do things that you have to do because you’re supposed to be a responsible young adult.
 
Writing is something that’s always been important to be, but over the last few years, I’ve used it as a way to channel my feelings. It’s been one of my easiest coping mechanisms and it’s been incredible hearing from readers who tell me that my books have made them realize something about themselves, of that a book of mine has changed their life in some way. When I look back at everything I’ve gone through and then examine where I am now, I see all the obstacles I’ve overcome. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to know that I’m no longer in that place I once was. On the other hand, every phase of life comes with a new set of struggles, and we must learn how to deal with what life throws at us.
 
Although I’ve overcome many things, the one thing I wish I could say I’ve fully overcome I have not. My depression. Some people may be wondering how that’s possible. How I can seem like this happy person all the time, whether it be at work or somewhere else, and still be depressed. Some wonder how it’s possible to have confidence in myself, yet still have depression.
 
I wish there was an easy answer, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, it’s not. I made a post a while back about being an empath, and about how everything around me affects my emotions. I’m a highly sensitive human being, and it’s both a good and a bad thing. The problem is that we live in a world full of negativity. There’s not a lot of light that shines through. Several people have told me that they believe most people are inherently good, and maybe that’s true. Over the last two years, I’ve come to realize that even though deep down they’re good, they do not come across that way, especially to me. I’ve been treated poorly by people when I don’t deserve it. I’ve been abandoned by people who swore they’d never leave. I’ve fallen in love yet again, only to have my heart ripped out of my chest. I’ve been played by people who seemingly have nothing better to do than to mess with my emotions.
 
So why am I telling you all this? Well, as a person who struggles with depression, although a lot of it is internal, external forces have a tendency of making things worse. I always have these two conflicting sides in my head–do I become numb like everyone else and turn into an asshole with no regard for others’ feelings to protect my own, or do I continue to love, to feel, and to be in touch with myself so I don’t fall into the darkness this world creates in people?
 
When I wrote my novel The Long Road Home, it was one of the most personal books I’ve ever written, and it has reached so many people. It’s my favorite book that I wrote, because I wrote depression as it is. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it can be confusing. Often times it leaves the people surrounding the ill to wonder what the hell is actually going on inside their head.
 
Part of me feels like a hypocrite. Sometimes I wake up in the morning wondering what right I have to tell people that it gets better when I still have monsters in my mind. I wonder what gave me the right to write the things I do when I’ve not fully recovered myself, and potentially never will.
 
But that’s the thing about mental illness–it finds a way to tell you these lies. It finds a way to convince you that you’ll never be good enough and that it’s best to just keep quiet. Because if we keep quiet, no one will get better. If we ignore what’s there, no one will get better, and instead will only get worse.
 
September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Month. On September 10th (which also happens to be my birthday) it is National Suicide Prevention Day, and my plan is to participate in the Suicide Prevention Walk in Reno.
 
We all have our battles, and this is mine. Every day I’m struggling, but I’m also overcoming the struggle every day I don’t self-harm or make an attempt on my life. Even though thoughts can be there, as long as I’m not acting, I’m winning. I’ve already won the battle.
 
Now it’s time to win the war.

My 3 Day Experience With Grindr and Hornet

Over the last three days, something has been eating away at me. Something that I need to get off my chest.

As many of you probably already know, Grindr and Hornet are two gay dating apps, which help locate people around you. While they are similar, both have slightly different features. For example, with Grindr, you can only have one picture. Half the time messages you receive are from people that have no picture at all. This can be challenging when trying to decide who is real and who isn’t. Hornet, on the other hand, allows you to post up to 4 pictures, and then 4 private pictures (which probably consist of exactly what you’re thinking). This makes Hornet seem more like a hookup site than a dating site, considering most guys will offer up their private pictures without even talking to you first.

I started using Grindr and Hornet both a few days ago. I knew it was going to have some ugliness to it, but I figured some people might actually be there for the same thing I am. Dating. Unfortunately, that turned out not the be the case.

Over the last three days, I’ve seen that there are several types of guys on these apps.

  1. The guy that messages me, seeming normal at first, then quickly turns it into a sexual conversation to try and get in my pants.
  2. The guy that messages me asking for sex right away without even introducing himself.
  3. The guy that plays it cool, pretends like he wants to be friends, acts semi-normal, and then out of the blue blocks me.
  4. The guy that pretends he wants a relationship and then suddenly stops talking.
  5. The guy that will play it cool for a little while, tells me how amazing I seem, and then blocks me.
  6. And finally, the guy that genuinely seems interested but I never hear from again.

I know for a fact that I can’t be the only one who has this issue. But my question is then, where are the others like me?

I stand by the gay community in a lot of ways. I always will. We’re a struggling group, trying to find acceptance in a lot of places. But riddle me this: How come we expect acceptance from straight people when we act like this to each other? We’re feeding into exactly what straight people think about us by doing the things we do on these sites to one another.

I understand that many gay men have given up, and use these sites as a last resort for sex. And in no way am I insinuating the entire community is like this (*cough* Me *cough*). I know for a fact they are not. But in situations like this, it makes it harder for me to believe in this concept of love. If I can’t find someone in the real world and certainly can’t find someone online (which is where many gay men have sadly turned to), where am I supposed to find it?

I believe as a community, we need to make it stop. It hurts me to see the way we hurt each other, pretending that none of us have feelings. We’re humans, not sex toys. We’re not things that we can just throw away. If we don’t want society to treat us badly and toss us away, we should probably work out the issues going on in our own community first.

On the Seventh Day

I wrote a short story today. I hope you all enjoy it!

***

The bright blue sky is illuminated by the sun hanging high. I run through the field of paper flowers, folded perfectly into shape, each a different shade of the rainbow. A cool breeze brushes against my skin and I lift my face to the sky, inhaling the aroma of leaves from the trees around me.

“Perfect,” I whisper to myself. Everything was just perfect. Everything I ever wanted, everything I ever desired, was at my fingertips. I was free.

The clouds in the sky looked like large chunks of cotton candy, floating endlessly.

After a few moments of enjoying my peace, a boy came over to me. He couldn’t have been any older than twelve, with his babyface glowing in the sun.

“Hello,” I said to him.

“Hello,” the boy replied kindly, but I sensed a bit of sorrow lingering in the back of his throat. “I’ve been sent to show you something. Something you really need to see.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

“What you see if not perfection,” the boy explained. “Ill be back tomorrow. For today, focus on your surroundings. What do you see?”

Before I could answer, he vanished. For the rest of the day, I focused on the Earth around me. I didn’t understand what he meant–everything here was perfect.

On the second day, the boy came again. “Look at the sky,” he told me. Then he vanished.

I did as he asked, yet it still made no sense. The sky was bluer than it ever had been, and the cotton candy clouds continued to float about.

On the third day, the boy returned. “Run through the land. Take in the sight, sounds, and smells.”

I did as he asked. I ran through the flowers, trees, and grass, feeling the happiest I ever had.

The fourth day arrived, and the boy said, “When night falls, stare at the stars and the moon. Notice the difference between night and day, the sun and the moon.”

Without question, I spent the evening staring at the sky, the stars shining so bright, it felt as if someone was watching over me.

The fifth day came, and the boy smiled sadly at me. “Only one more day till you understand. Spend the fifth day at the lake, swimming and enjoying the peace.”

I did so without asking why, feeling the freshness of the water against my cheeks.

When the sixth day came, I said to the boy, “What do you mean this is not perfect? Everything so far has been. Is there something I’m missing?”

The boy needed.

“Today, enjoy the company of people around around you. Your family, your friend, and even those who don’t know you. Talk to them, spend time with them. Meet the love of your life. Have children. Grow old with them.”

He disappeared before I could protest. In my entire six days since I’d been here, I hadn’t seen a single soul. I was all alone.

On the seventh day, the boy came back. “How did your final task go?”

“I couldn’t do it,” I said. “Why not?”

“Because you never gave yourself a chance,” the boy replied. “One week ago, you killed yourself, wiping away all possibility of life getting better. You can’t go to college. You can’t get a spouse or have children. A family is no longer in your reach. You’ll never see your family.” He wiped away a tear and said, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Before I could beg for my life back, the boy vanished, leaving me all alone. For the first time in seven days, I realized what I’d lost. Everything. Suicide didn’t make it better. Nothing could ever get better.

On the seventh day, I wept.

Fear Games Premiere, The Long Road Home Preview

As some of you may have noticed, my presence on Wattpad has been growing the last week. With Fear Games’ premiere last Monday, and posting the first chapter of The Long Road Home as a preview, I’ve been attempting to draw in new readers.

Part of the reason I chose to do Fear Games as an online miniseries on Wattpad is due to the growing popularity of books on the site. The interactions with readers in phenomenal. In fact, many of the readers on Wattpad are kind, dedicated, and optimistic any time their favorite writer adds something new. It is an environment I’m truly happy to be part of now, and I look forward to seeing you there.

You can find the premiere of Fear Games right here.

You can find the first chapter of The Long Road Home right here.

Feel free to subscribe to my page here.

I’ve also been a lot more active on Instagram. You can find me here!

 

Why I Never Had Boy Friends Growing Up

Ever since I was a little kid, I rarely had boy friends. In fact, the only guy friend I’ve ever really had was my best friend, which in itself is pretty ironic.

I would say the main reason for my lack of boys as friends was because I was gay, but I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Obviously that was a huge part of it, and most guys never wanted to play with me as a child, and still to this day don’t want to hang out with me. Even so, I wish I could say that it was entirely their fault, but it’s not that simple either.

When I was in elementary school, boys never wanted to have anything to do with me (with the exception above). I was gay, awkward, and quite frankly, afraid of them. I was bullied a lot and it made it really difficult for me to even pursue the nice boys as friends. In middle school, things slowly began to shift, except a few bullies and the one time I got jumped by a group of guys. Because of these things, I was terrified of being friends, even though I was attracted to them.

When I started high school, I started to befriend a few, but those went out the window within a few months. Now, as a senior getting ready to graduate in three months, I have almost no boy friends and I really don’t have a definitive answer.

One of the reasons is likely the lack of commonality. A lot of guys enjoy things like sports and working out (not saying all, just in general), and then here I am with my books. Another reason, I hate to say it, is probably because I’m gay. Many guys I’ve met in high school are still really immature. They do say females mature faster than males, which is possibly another reason as well. I want true friendships and often guys I come across don’t want that, and instead, just want things I can’t really offer.

There’s one big difference between elementary/middle school me and high school me: Lately, I’ve wanted guy friends. I want guy friends that won’t treat me differently because I’m gay. I want guy friends that I can talk to and connect with. I want to feel like I am accepted by people of my own gender. Maybe it’ll happen someday, but I’m way more willing now. Sure, I’m turned down, and sure, it’s not easy. Maybe adulthood will come with wider territory for me to travel and I can finally make some guy friends that will accept me for who I truly am and won’t ask me to change. Not in the slightest.

The Long Road Home Cover Reveal

The time has finally arrived! The cover reveal for my newest book, The Long Road Home (April 15, 2016) is below!

The Long Road Home Cover

The cover is a bit different than we originally anticipated, but we feel as though it fits the story perfectly. The orange represents Brooke’s life in the past–the monochromatic phase in her life. The colors near the top represent her time in the hospital, looking for a brighter future, hoping to recreate herself and her life.

The closer we get to the release day, the more anxious I get. In the meantime, here’s the synopsis below!

Brooke never meant to survive, hoping that the suicide attempt would end all of her suffering. After years of rejection, pain, and heartbreak, she feels as though she’s not good enough for anyone. Now she’s stuck in a hospital, being forced to take antidepressants and is getting therapy for her issues.

And she hates it until she meets Matt.

Now Brooke must remember the past in order to better her future, while trying to keep her feelings for the new patient in check. In this heartbreaking novel, a young girl will laugh, cry, and fight to find her way home to the one place that’s been ruined one too many times–her own heart.

Are you as excited for the book as I am? Let me know down in the comments and feel free to share this post! I look forward to sharing this story with you.

The Long Road Home Release Date and Party

So I finally have a release date for this book. Even though it’s only been two months, it feels like forever, mostly because I’m super excited–and proud–of this book.

The Long Road Home will be release April 15th, 2016!

Along with that, April 15th-17th, I’m hosting an online release day weekend event on Facebook. There will be lots of authors and bloggers doing takeovers, with lots of giveaways! The event is public, so all you have to do is click here to join.

I look forward to seeing everyone there! I also have a cover reveal party here, so be sure to check it out to be one of the first to see the cover!

Before I Break Sequel Cancelled

In light of some recent discussions, I made the decision that the sequel to Before I Break, which was titled Once I Fall, will no longer be written.

Originally, Before I Break was going to be a standalone novel, but late last year I announced it would not only have one sequel, but two. I was putting off the sequel for a very long time due to the subject matter, which was going to focus more on the T in LGBT. Because of the transgender attention in the media and literature, I was excited, albeit nervous, to write the sequel.

Unfortunately, after some consideration, I do not feel as though I am the right one to write this story. I have cancelled the project for Once I Fall because of many reasons, a lot of them personal. With lots of debates such as locker rooms, pronouns, sex changes, and more, I realized the transgender route is not right for me, and I want to leave room for other authors to write theirs.

With that being said, you may be wondering if Until It’s Done, the third book, will still be written. At this moment, I am unsure, as some key events were going to make Until It’s Done what it was. The cancellation of this book really is not something I want to do, but I think by default, it may just end up happening and I do not want to lead fans on thinking it may happen.

So for now, both sequels are cancelled and will not be pursued. This does not mean I’m done writing contemporary young adult, as I have many more plans for the future. I hope that you all stick with me on my journey into 2016, where I’ll be releasing my next contemporary, The Long Road Home.

THE LONG ROAD HOME Finished

I did it.

Took me two months, but I finally finished this book. There are a few thoughts I’d like to share, because I have to say, this book was an incredible journey for me to write. With that being said, there were a lot of highs and lows creatively throughout this book.

The book’s currently in editing right now, which I’m very proud of. I got some feedback from an early reader today who said that they liked the book and felt the ending was “weird.” There is a reason I’m addressing this, and I’ll tell you why.

I love feedback. In fact, this person’s feedback is probably going to help improve the ending of the book a lot; that is, writing-wise. Do I regret the ending that I gave to the book? Of course not. Do I regret the decisions the characters make at the end? No. I wanted to write a book that was raw, honest, and powerful.

Granted, the ending, especially after the first draft, really needs some improvement. Believe me, first drafts are never pretty. There’s usually some cases of inconsistencies, or hell, even times where a character’s name changes from Clarice to Claire mid-book (yes, this happened in The Long Road Home, and the character’s name is now Claire). My point is, I appreciate my betas because they give me some input on things I may not catch myself, and this girl’s feedback will probably help the writing style of the ending a lot.

Will I change the ending?

No.

Will some fans want the ending to be rewritten?

Maybe. It all depends on the perspective, and that’s okay.

With Before I Break, I was concerned about the ending as well. Heck, I was so scared that I almost didn’t publish it. But I did and the reviews and feedback I’ve gotten in amazing. I don’t regret where my characters end up. They’re real, honest, living characters that deserve to face reality just as much as people do.

Not every story has a happily-ever-after. Life is not a fairy tale. Life’s a journey that needs to be walked, and the characters in The Long Road Home all face a dose of reality.

With that being said, I hope you all do, too.

With love,

Alec John Belle