'Mental illness' are not dirty words - A blog post for Mental Health Awareness Month.
May is mental health awareness month, so i thought i'd write something and open up about my life with mental illness and disability, because we shouldn't be ashamed.
I used to be ashamed though. I used to try everything to hide the fact that i had a disability, to fit in. I never had many friends growing up, especially at school. I got bullied. So i spent my lunch times in the library or in the corner of the playground reading or writing. Books and words were my friends.
I have what used to be known as Aspergers - a type of high functioning autism, but is now put under the same umbrella as all forms of Autism. My therapists, friends and i still call it Aspergers, though. I also have anxiety, which makes it difficult to verbally communicate and get out and about in society.
Which is why being an author is the perfect job! haha. I can sit at home and work, and not 'people'. It's hard when i go to book signings and events, though, because i have to be 'on', and talk to people. At the end of the event i am absolutely exhausted. After my last event, i was really sick with a respiratory infection for a few weeks. It's emotionally and physically draining.
But that's anxiety for you.
I am also an empath. I can feel people's energies, which is even more exhausting. I can't stand negative energy, or lots of really loud, extroverted energy. I am most at home on my own, with a book, with my fur babies, in the quiet. After a big event, or even after my job at the State Theatre, i need a few days to recover, to switch off after being so 'on'.
Writing is my therapy, my creative outlet. Without it, i wouldn't be here. I had been diagnosed with depression in the past, and am on medication for it, and my anxiety. Yes, you shouldn't be ashamed to say you're on medication. I feel so much lighter now.
I used to worry the pills though would destroy my creativity. Most artistic people would know that in the darkness is where all the best ideas live, where most muses live.
But the good news is, the pills haven't dulled or destroyed my muse. She is still here, working as hard as ever on the next book.
Putting mental illness on paper
I love flawed characters.
When i began writing my books, i subconsciously made my characters have mental struggles, inserting mental illness unintentionally into my books. I don't know why, but i just love flawed characters! And their character arcs are just so much stronger when they're going through a battle with anxiety or depression, or another type of mental illness.
I love the outcasts, the weird ones. Because, growing up, i was the weird one. the outcast.
And those experiences, traumatic as they were, have helped shape the way i write and my characters today and will continue to shape them in the future.
If you wanted to read some of my flawed characters...
You may be thinking, if i was to read one of your books that represented mental health or mental illness, which should i read?
Most of my characters have flaws, i won't lie, but i think the stand out books that deal with mental illness specifically are:
- The Molten Heart saga (Soon to be getting new covers! Watch this space)
- Girl in the Spotlight
- The Adelaide Paige Saga.
- Truth or Dare (The whole Summervale series really)
These are the ones i recommend.
Girl in the Spotlight especially deals with depression and trauma after my main character Lexi is sexually abused and harassed by her boss at work, and her love interest breaks up with her.
My latest release is The Adelaide Paige Saga Complete series boxed set. So you catch up on one of my bestselling series and binge read all of Addy's adventures. You can get your copy here.