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.

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!

 

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!

New Book 2016: The Long Road Home

A few days ago on my Facebook page I announced that I would be writing a new book for Spring 2016. This new book is my next contemporary young adult novel, The Long Road Home. While there is no official synopsis yet, this is the one I have.

Brooke never meant to survive. She hoped 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 hated it until she met him.

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 she’s never really let anyone in–her own heart.

This book is going to be something different for me, but I am all about taking risks. My hope is that it reaches to many people who struggle with the same issues Brooke has and that it can shed some light for those who haven’t dealt with these issues before.

The Long Road Home is scheduled to release in February/March 2016. The book can now be marked as “to-read” on Goodreads as well!

Forbidden Darkness Cover Reveal, Why I Wrote the Book

Today I am very happy to share with you the official cover for my re-release, Forbidden Darkness!

Cover and description.
Cover and description.

I’m very excited to say that this book will be released to the world on June 5th, 2015.  This book is very important to me, as well as the series as a whole.

One thing I know I’m going to get asked is this:  Why did you choose to incorporate things like suicide, self-harm, and depression in a world that’s supposed to for entertainment?  The answer to that question is actually pretty simple.

I do not believe in censorship.  When I wrote my first novel, Before I Break and it made its debut in September of 2014 (which is also re-releasing this July), I was very concerned about the type of response it would get.  Many authors including my very favorite, Ellen Hopkins, get banned from schools and certain places because of the type of things their books cover.

Forbidden Darkness focuses on Heather Hawkins, who just recently almost lost her best friend Kristen to suicide.  The affect effect that it leaves on Heather is sad, because throughout the novel she worries that it’s going to happen again. Heather’s mom worries that Heather will turn out like Kristen.  Philip, who is now Heather’s love interest, plays a role in the things that happened to Kristen.  While Heather is the main protagonist of the book, what happened with Kristen was pretty damaging to everyone around her.

When Heather realizes she’s a Monster Hunter and is being stalked by a guy named Kadin in her dreams, she notices he can wield Darkness.  The idea of the Darkness came to me when I originally named the first book Negative Energy.  I won’t go too much into the story because I still want people to read it, but the Darkness is basically a physical form of all those negative emotions you feel.  And it’s entirely, 100% evil.

I look forward to being able to dig into other issues as this series goes along, and for you to see the true potential of Darkness.  Just like life, we all have a little Darkness inside us, and when everything is going on around us, we need to learn not to give in.  Never give into the Darkness, because it will take over your life in ways that you may never have imagined.

The hidden messages are thrown throughout the novel, and I hope now this will make it easier for people to catch them. Writing this series was a way of controlling my Darkness.  What will you do to control yours?

Forbidden Darkness wrap

Before I Break Short Stories

Many of you know that Before I Break was originally self published.  During the time after the book’s first release, I started focusing on other characters that had important roles in the plot.  I then came up with two short stories.

When my book got picked up by Booktrope, I asked my book manager about these short stories I’d written.  Originally the plan was to publish them through Booktrope to build the excitement for the book, but then we decided to do something a little more appreciative to the fans.

We decided to make BOTH short stories free!  And to make it even better, I decided to write a THIRD short story as well!

For those of you who do not know what Before I Break is, all I can say right now is that it’s an LGBT Contemporary YA novel that focuses on other social issues.  Some topics covered in the book and short stories are suicide, discrimination, mental illness, self harm, coming of age, discovering your sexuality, and more.

The three short stories descriptions are as follows.

1.  CAPRICIOUS (Before I Break, #0.5):  In this haunting prequel short story to Alec John Belle’s novel, Before I Break, Jake struggles with the idea of religion, discrimination, homosexuality, and life as he deals with an obvious mental illness.


2.  THE WINTER OF HARMS (Before I Break, #0.6): In this prequel short story to the upcoming novel,Before I Break, read Avery’s journal and see what pushed him to his breaking point, and the mistake he made that could have taken his own life.


3.  TURMOIL (Before I Break, #0.7):  Following the events of CAPRICIOUS, Melissa is happy in her relationship with Cyril, until she finds herself looking at other girls.  But she loves Cyril…right?


All of these short stories focus of the three supporting characters of Before I Break, which will focus on Cyril’s story.  In the novel, you’ll see all of the stories come together and how each of these characters lead to Cyril’s breaking point.

These short stories will be available my Wattpad account (http://www.wattpad.com/user/AlecBelle) and my blog (https://alecjohnbelle.wordpress.com/)

The release dates for these short stories are as follows:

CAPRICIOUS:  May 15th, 2015.
THE WINTER OF HARMS:  June 12th, 2015.
TURMOIL:  June 26th, 2015.

All leading up the the re-release of Before I Break!  These short stories will also be available for free as e-books for iTunes, Nook, Page Foundry, and quite a few other places, but those links are now live as of right now.

This book, along with these short stories, are very important to me.  This world I’ve created with these characters has grown on me, which is why I have some more announcements coming your way after the book re-releases.  I hope you all stick around to see how everything turns out. 🙂

Forbidden Darkness E-book Free

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to give you all the heads up that Forbidden Darkness is FREE one last time for a while.  If you don’t already know, The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles is about a girl named Heather Hawkins who finds out that she is a Monster Hunter.  If you’re interested, please go check it out and write a review!

Love you lots!

Amazon Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Forbidden-Darkness-The-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B00O99L782/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

5 Things I Learned While Writing Before I Break

Before I Break Finalxcf

I wish I could lie and say that writing Before I Break was an easy journey.  When I came up with the idea for the story, I knew it was going to be a difficult book to write, because I was going to be writing it from the point of view of someone I wouldn’t necessarily like in real life.  Here is a list of things I learned while writing my very first (and very challenging) published novel.

1.  Writing from a perspective of someone opposite from you.

If anything was challenging about this book, that would be it.  Not only was it hard for me to actually get inside Cyril’s head, it was difficult for me to get my fingers to type some of the things he would say, like “fag” or anything else that was hurtful.  I’ve had many experiences with straight guys that were not very pleasant, so when I told myself I was going to do this, I was looking at myself like I was crazy.

Am I really going to go through with this?  Can I even go through with this?  What if I use too many stereotypes?  What if he’s unlikable?  These are the things I worried about for MONTHS before I actually sat down to write.   I had an idea of where I was taking the ending, but the stuff in the middle…I had no idea.  I just knew that everything had to lead up to that ending–the ending that I didn’t really want to write but knew I needed to.  It was a hard book.  It really was.  I cried multiple times throughout the book, as well.  Some people think that makes me a baby, but a majority of people don’t know what I’ve gone through, so writing the book was not an easy task.  Writing from the perspective of the type of person who has told me to kill myself because no one wants me, or beat me up in school, or picked on my for being who I was…it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done as a writer, and for it to be my first book, I am extremely proud.

2.  Not all straight guys are jerks.  

This sounds like an obvious statement, but like I said, I’ve had pretty bad experiences.  Most of the straight guys I met were assholes, there’s no doubt about that.  In school, almost all of my friends were girls because I just couldn’t deal with straight guys.  It was awful.  I had to hide any time I saw one.  There was always this fear that I had, and I think a lot of times, the friendships with straight guys that I had that did go wrong eventually…it was my fault.  Because there was always this internal fear that something would go wrong, so it did.  Always.

This book was an experience.  Sometimes, I learned, guys (and girls too) just do what they know.  A lot of them truly don’t know any better and haven’t had any room to think for themselves.  There is sometimes this conflict inside of them, and that’s what I tried to portray in Before I Break.  A lot of people said they thought Cyril was bipolar, but he isn’t.  He’s confused.  He’s really, really confused and can’t make up his mind.

But the point is, I learned that they’re not all the same, and I wanted to write a book for straight guys in need of some ideas.  I want to change perspectives.  To prevent the ending of Before I Break from happening to others, this book needs to be read.  And I’m not just saying that because I wrote it.

3.  Religion CAN be used for good.

This was something I kind of already knew, but didn’t know how it could be put into action.  In this book, you had two sides: Homosexuality as a sin and homosexuality as a norm.  So which is right?  You can already assume my answer, but I think it’s up to the reader to decide.

Cyril’s mom grows as a character, even if just a little, because she looks into what she believes.  Cyril looks into it.  Melissa already had her heart set right.  Avery was a gay Christian. Pastor Morrison and Jake were homophobes.  There were a lot of dynamics in the book, and life is a lot like that.  Who is right and who’s wrong?  Will we ever really have the answer to that?

4.  There are different types of love.

Obviously there’s a family love, a relationship love, and then a friend love.  But is there somewhere in the middle as well?  Cyril struggled in the book and wondered if there was a possibility he could be gay.  There’s no denying that Cyril loves Avery, but it’s not in the way that many people wanted it.  Heck, even I wanted he and Avery to get down and dirty a few times, but I knew that wasn’t Cyril.  Cyril is straight and always will be, but there was that connection he and Avery shared.  It was strong and I think a lot of friendships in real life can be like that.

5.  The writing industry is hard.

I wish I could say I’ve made millions off of this book, but I’m not.  Actually, most people aren’t even aware that this book exists, unfortunately, but I have gained some fans and amazing friends through the process.  More people are buying every day, but I’m still not making a lot of money. Actually, I’m hardly making a dime.

If you haven’t read it already, it is currently free for Kindle on Amazon.

But the process is worth it.  Writing it was worth it.  Seeing it come to life as a book in my hands with a beautiful cover was worth it.  I just hope the readers find it as worth it as I did.