BLOG: 6's & 7'S
My first suicide attempt was in 2004. Yes, I said “first.” Others followed. I’m pretty forthright about my struggles with mental illness. I fight my demons as best I can, and if I can cause some good to come of it by showing others that they are not alone and that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, then yay me.
My novel The Trees Beneath Us tells the story of a man suffering from grief, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He seeks solace in nature and hikes the Appalachian trail. Along his travels, he meets a woman called Frog. She is part den mother, babysitter, therapist, and caretaker for the distance hiking community that tromps through her yard. Frog is the subject of Building Cairns, my contribution to the Christmas anthology Tangled Lights and Silent Nights.
When my friend, Kelly Stone Gamble asked if I thought I could take a character from my book and put them in a holiday story, I had to think a lot about it. The themes of the book don’t readily translate to the joyous holiday season, but I gave it a shot.
I’m proud to have my work included in this eclectic collection. Tangled Lights is a group of writers tackling a challenge and demonstrating their craft. Additionally, all proceeds from this book are being donated to the Life After Project. It is a nonprofit organization that serves the survivors and victims of suicide, domestic violence, and addiction.
I teach at a community college. Each semester, some students eventually find my blog, which is almost entirely about my mental health struggles. Every class, every semester, a student will come to tell me they too suffer from mental illness. They find comfort in knowing that an authority figure gets up each day and faces the same struggles they do.
I guarantee everyone knows someone dealing with depression. It is widespread. I’m proud to do my part to remove its stigma, and I’m proud to be among a group of writers donating their time and creative work to supporting those who struggle.
Tangled Lights and Silent Nights is a raucous read. Think of it as a literary mix tape. You’ll find something that will delight you or move you. Give it a read and help the Life After Project do important work. Happy holidays!
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