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.
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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.

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.

New Blog Coming: “Beyond The Scars”

Hi everyone!  I apologize for my absence lately.  Between editing my books and preparing them for republication, I have had so much going on, especially since I’m still a full-time student.

As you all know, I’m currently a blogger at the You Matter Blogger Council, which is basically a branch off of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.  I’ve been trying to figure out some things I can do once I stop writing for them, and I came up with this idea that I’m so excited to share with you all.

A few years ago, I started a Facebook page called Beyond the Scars, a page in which people could reach out to me if they were in the middle of a crisis.  I wanted to do the best I could to help prevent suicide, because it is a topic very close to my heart.  I then unpublished the page because it wasn’t really going anywhere, and I needed some sort of outlet.

I don’t know why it took me so long to come up with this idea, but I decided I wanted to start an online blog used for suicide prevention.  Then I decided, why not have it be much broader?  Suicide isn’t the only thing young adults may be dealing with. Things like abuse, discovering sexuality, eating disorders, coming of age, applying for college, getting financial aid, overcoming illness, etc. are just to name a few.  I wanted to create a place for people to be able to share their stories.

Beyond the Scars is going to be my new blog.  Yes, I will still use this for book related things, so don’t worry.  Beyond the Scars will be a place where people can submit stories, poems, resources, blog posts, etc. for teenagers who are struggling.  With the blog, they will have the option to remain anonymous or use their names.  Obviously the rules will be more in depth once I create the blog, but I want YOU to know that submissions will be open.  It’s open to everyone and will give them an opportunity to share their stories.  All submissions will go through me, and edits may be made for grammatical and formatting purposes.

Please keep in mind that this blog will be about overcoming challenges.  It’ll be a place where people can know they’re not alone, and there will in fact be a resource page for things like that National Suicide Prevention Hotline and many more!

The website is here!  If it is unavailable right now, that means the site is currently being fixed up.

I just want to let you all know that I’m really excited about this.  The blog will be small at first, but I’m really proud of this project.  I hope to get submissions from people soon!  I’ll have details about that soon.