Dancing Without Music is Now Available

When major depressive disorder, seizures, and an eating disorder leads to hopelessness, lack of interest, loss of pleasure, and worse: alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, isolation, anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness, and suicidal feelings, seventeen-year-olds Mia Callan and Milo Chatham who only recently began dating find this brutal array of dangers overwhelming, and possibly even deadly.

Bullying on and off social media, spiked drinks at first parties, stalking, and sexual assault are just some of the obstacles they have to face as burgeoning young adults.

What happens when they try to get out of danger? Will it follow them anyway and wreak havoc upon their lives and those of their loved ones. Will they find the correct medications that will allow them to live normal lives full of success, satisfaction, and sobriety? Can a first true love win in the end?

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: The Place Between Breaths by An Na

Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2018

This little, cerebral thriller of a book packs a punch. However, there’s a few things to consider before you read it. It is a book about mental health and schizophrenia. It is not a fluffy cuddly book. This one bites, and confuses. The author has South Korean origins, meaning that the Eastern influences are heavy in the writing style of the book. And why do I say both things before I even review the book? Because if you’re expecting a perfectly “coherent” fluffy book, this book is not it and it definitely isn’t a Western view of the world even if it is set in the US.

Throughout the novel we get to know Grace, who saw her mother deteriorate in the grips of schizophrenia, and then ultimately disappear from her life. Her mother has never been found, which has led Grace’s father on a desperate quest to find a cure for this debilitating illness. Grace interns at the lab where her father works. He is a headhunter, bringing in the top scientists from around the world to join forces in search of the key that will unlock a cure for Grace’s mother—the love of his life—if only they could find her.

This is a non-linear novel that uses the seasons of the year to anchor you in the story. Na is a master of imagery and it felt to me that her arresting descriptions of the weather coincided with Grace’s moods and mental state. I could be reading too much into it, but nothing in this book felt accidental.

In addition to jumping back and forth between the seasons and around in the story, the reader is also left to parse between reality and delusion. This made for an intriguing and gut-wrenching, but unenjoyable read. Though, I would argue that “enjoyable” was not the goal, and for this I was glad.

Though a novel, this did not read like an attempt to make schizophrenia into entertainment. This felt like a deft effort to bring understanding to an illness that continues to be misunderstood, despite decades of research. The portrayal of this mental illness and how it breaks the mind apart from the inside out was honest and elegant. It does not glorify the disease but rather exposes it in all its gruesome tragedy.

It was definitely worth the read, and I believe an important work for helping people understand what schizophrenia looks like from the inside out. It’s a confusing illness, and to wrap up the story with a neat little bow would have been disingenuous. In the end, I appreciated the beauty and tragedy, and clarity and confusion Na wove together to create this novel. There are a lot of twists and intriguing bits in the story where at first you aren’t sure but as the story progresses you begin to realize how much Grace is fighting and what “enemy” she’s fighting. In my opinion it was a clever book with the way it sets things and how it leaves you guessing

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

How do I think other people perceive me?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

While I have anxiety, OCD, and schizophrenia, I oftentimes feel that people think I’m sitting in a corner in utter anguish and hearing voices. I have stressors like everybody else so I have rough days, but those are usually days that would be stressful to anybody. Some examples are work issues, writing challenges, family matters, and such. I feel like pulling my hair out some days.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

But the voices are well-controlled with medicine, and my OCD can be uneasy at times, but it’s not noticeable. My delusions are kept in check with consistent therapy. Now for my social anxiety: I’d say that’s the most challenging for me. It’s hit or miss. Adrenaline usually helps me make the day. However, there are days when I just can’t handle the bustling crowds and choose to stay home and read a book or paint. But all in all, I think that I’m underestimated and viewed as the images above show: cowering in a corner, frantic at my computer, or hiding behind a tree.

Book review: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

Random House, 2017

This YA fiction novel tells the story of Adam, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, is about to start a new school, and is also in a clinical trial for an experimental drug to manage his symptoms, the most prominent being that he’s sees people that aren’t there, all the time. Adam discusses friends, family, and love as he navigates a world much different than his peers. He gains a new best friend, attracts the attention of a bully, and falls in love all the while his main concern is traversing a new social situation without giving anyone reason to think he’s “crazy.”

This book is comprised of Adam’s journal entries to his therapist. I think the end just really highlights the strong relationships Adam has, and how they can support him. Adam is an amazing character, because he feels so real. I enjoyed reading his thoughts about the little things and his vision of the world. This book will make you laugh, cry and smile. It also brings a new light on schizophrenia, a disease most people do not know much of. This book sits right next to The Fault in Our Stars and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Words on Bathroom Walls is a beautiful, touching book, a true masterpiece. Adam is so engaging and funny, and his commentary on the cast of characters in his head so fascinating. While he wants to keep a secret from close ones at all costs, his drive behind it is that Adam just wants to be known as a normal kid. I like that Adam himself is a complex, but likeable character; he likes making people happy and does noble deeds, but he makes mistakes from time to time as well.

The conflict Adam has with himself, over keeping his mental illness a secret is well-written and the people Adam hallucinates and interacts with as a symbol throughout the book represent Adam’s thoughts and feelings, adding to the conflict. Above all, I came away with mental Illness isn’t something we can control. Learning to live with it is difficult and we should never have to apologize.

Book review: Ghosts of Harvard by Francesa Scottoline Serritella

Random House, 2020

The protagonist, Cady Archer, goes to Harvard with the intention of finding details about the suicide of her brother, Eric, who had schizophrenia which creates a division in her family with her father supporting her intent, and her mother opposed because she’s in fear of losing her daughter as well.

Serritella deftly weaves together this highly textured and atmospheric study of historical knowledge and theoretical physics to build an interesting, gripping mystery, as opposed to a typical ghost story. While high-functioning, Eric, did have psychotic episodes, and he stopped taking medication, as he became dedicated to his research on entanglement theory in a notebook that can only be described as a cryptic map of sorts which Cady ends up using in her search for what ultimately happened to her brother.

Like her brother before her, Cady, in mourning as well as danger, also “hears voices,” but are they hallucinations, aspects of medieval science or quantum physics bending time and space, or are they ghosts from Harvard’s past? Perhaps all of the above? Fortunately for Cady, one of the voices helps her escape a rapist.

What she discovers is quite startling and troubling but is a page-turning read. All in all, it’s not the YA fiction about mental illness that I’m used to reading. It came across as more supernatural with some stereotypical characters but ultimately was a well written, witty, suspenseful, and interesting read about personal growth.

Now Available

Angela Grey is a writer with paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. She has created memorable moving tales about the sometimes unexpected and challenging road to first love: Secret Whispers (a story about schizophrenia), Déjà vu (a tale about a teen with bipolar disorder), and Of Laughter & Heartbreak (a piece about obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman

Thorndike Press, 2015

In recent years, mental health has become a rising issue in society, especially in youth. This story details mental illness, schizophrenia to be exact, showing real ups and down, not glamorizing it, and giving a real depth to it that is truly sad at times.

The narrative follows fifteen-year-old Caden on his journey to both the lowest point on earth and recovery. As a result of his mental illness, Caden seemingly lives in two separate worlds, one being the real world, and the other on a ship under the direction of a Captain.

This boy is written in a way that can also be understood by a younger audience as a YA novel that could also be read by mature primary aged readers. At the start of the novel, Caden’s parents try to cure his paranoia and anxiety through hobbies. As his schizophrenia worsens, Caden is hospitalized where he meets other teens, who all suffer from a variety of mental illnesses. It’s a potent, realistic, relatable narrative that connects to readers because of the utter honesty of one struggling with mental illness.

I recommend it to increase awareness of schizophrenia and those that struggle with it because it encapsulates the emotions of everyone involved.

Mental Illness Struggles by Decade

mental health

In my twenties, after getting over the years of low self-esteem in my adolescence, which came about through parenting and realizing what really matters in life, I noticed changes first in college seeking my Associate’s degree. I began thinking someone followed me throughout my days and into the night. Paranoia also set in big time. The voices and hallucinations started slowly and, at that time, were indecipherable. Did I know something was wrong? Yes. However, I knew I couldn’t remain married to an alcoholic any longer and filed for divorce while my four children were preschool age. With that came worries about custody, so I kept my illness to myself.

The thirties brought security in my relationship in the form of Robert. I knew I’d met the love of my life and didn’t want to lose him. My jealousy turned into hallucinations, which I felt a subsequent loss of control with as days progressed. This brought about disagreements and strife. Custody issues permeated my thoughts. So I kept my illness to myself. I’d returned to college for drafting, as well as the goal of a Bachelor’s degree.

During my forties, I was deep in hallucinations. Any anxiety brought about a deeper delve into madness. This also was the start of social anxiety disorder. I think that came roughly due to the fear of being found out. I started taking more online classes for the generals. I only stepped foot in a classroom if it was through the U of M’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, such as yoga, MBSR, or other overall wellness-related topics.

Alas, the start of the fifties. Am I really this old? I don’t feel it. This time is pretty much entrenched upon the adage: Life begins at the edge of one’s comfort zone. I don’t know where I heard that, but it rings true.

For this reason, I push myself to remain part of society, and not hide away in my writing cave, in hopes of attaining real enjoyment despite discomfort to achieve such new experiences. Coming to grips with my intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives, thereby helps me conquers fears. Although it’s easier said than done…

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