Since the idea to write first became a squatter in a neglected corner of my mind, there has been an unraveling and reweaving happening in my life. The writing of my first book, Summoning the Strength, was fueled by the emotion known for its ability purge demons. (metaphorical ones) Anger. Anger at the loss of my friend to cancer and anger at the lack of progress humanity has made toward ending violence against women. Recent events making that reality even more maddening, have set me on fire.
Well, if you’re reading this, I am grateful to you. The truth is I am humbled by the honesty of those who share their private battles for the benefit of others who may be trying to figure out who they are. The premise for my second book is another unraveling and reweaving of sorts, in the life of a young woman named Emily Branch. She is a fictional character, but her experiences are far from imaginary. She encounters the same highs and lows each of us experience as we figure where we belong in a world constantly struggling for control of our hearts and minds.
Both women and men are tormented with egocentric anxiety, avaricious impulses, and despair. There are those who would have us believe depression is a consequence of disobedience, or worse, that humans are pawns in some ancient feud between a jealous deity and rouge angel. I am no theologian, but even I know a belief system rife with inconsistencies begs to be challenged.
What a way to set us up for failure! The phrase, we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore, never seemed more appropriate.
Unlike sibling rivalry or adolescent rebellion, the adversary, once spoken of in hushed tones if spoken of at all, holds a family secret. Euphemisms for the volatile phantom abound, but madness has lost its distinction among modern maladies. By degrees, delusional by chance or choice, now everyone is a little crazy. It’s the new norm.
Initiatives to demystify mental illness, or at least profit from it, have created a heightened sensitivity to euphemisms we use to minimize our uneasiness when talking about emotional disturbances that lead to domestic violence, even suicide. Fears once quelled by expressions such as nuts, loony bin, funny farm are socially unacceptable in today’s climate of political correctness that does less to educate and more to dictate insecurities and fears be suppressed until they ignite. Global warming in action.
Mental illness, whether acknowledged or kept secret, eventually spills into all our lives. Sure, there are coping mechanisms that work to keep most of us from going all kinds of Jerry Springer, but there is no such thing as a perfect family. Crazies are a not new phenomenon. After all, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, but the poor misguided youth defense is right up there with the Twinkie junkie claiming mental defect as an excuse to not be held accountable for their actions. The million dollar question of the day is how to address the escalating violent behavior in our society. Shouting Stop! You’re breaking the law, doesn’t seem an effective way to solve the problem. Neither does medicating everyone into a dysfunctional stupor.
To understand how mental illness becomes woven into the fabric of one’s own life, some search for a single point of reference – defective nature, flawed nurture, demonic forces, fluoride in drinking water. Sometimes that single point of reference is a lie. Sometimes we haven’t gone crazy at all. Sometimes the truth is Beyond Belief.
“Many draw the “seen” while I choose to portray the perceived – the meaning the mind gives to the objects – not what the eye sees.”~~CJ Bradford