It’s taken me 9 years to do it.

Content Warning: suicide

August 19th, 2008. The day I tried to take my own life. Roughly 11:00AM. It was a Tuesday. And every August since then, I’ve mourned. I’ve had anxiety attacks. Memories of that day play over and over in my head. It was a traumatic day. My mother, who found me, would try to help me see all the good things that have happened since then, all the amazing things in life. I still struggled with anxiety and a rollercoaster of emotions surrounding the event.

But this past August was different.

I didn’t mourn. I didn’t have anxiety attacks. I didn’t ride a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. Remembering all the ugly things about that day didn’t bring me pain. Instead, I celebrated. It sounds morbid and twisted from the outside, but it’s not the fact that I attempt that I celebrated. No, I celebrated living. I celebrated being alive. I even baked a cake. I made it through the entire month of August without a single anxiety attack from my memories.

I started this tradition last year, in 2016. August hit, and I was struggling. A therapist suggested I try to change the way I see August by doing something positive. I jokingly posted on Facebook that I was celebrating hitting 8 years, I should make a cake with sprinkles. A very good friend did just that; he brought a small cake with confetti sprinkles to work. We dubbed August 19th my “rebirth day” and had a mini party in the break room.

So this year, 2017, has been the very first year that I haven’t mourned my memories. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in 9 years, still battle my bipolar disorder. I’ll be doing my third Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention in October.

I hope to bring hope to others.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/.

I’m maybe a little impolite (also: why I write Romance/Women’s Fiction)

It tends to surprise folks who know me offline when they find out I write Contemporary Romance and Women’s Fiction. They usually say they’d pinned me for a horror or murder mystery author, or something along those lines.

But romantic drama? What is this, Days of Our Lives?

To be fair, I see a few factors going into people’s presumptions about my genre choices.

I wouldn’t say I’m off-putting by any means, but I can be a bit rough around the edges despite what my soft, gentle features and doe-like hazel eyes suggest. Some of my friends and I have a lot of weird, inappropriate conversations about bodily functions, and we make a lot of puns. Verbally, I can come across as fairly aggressive (i.e. I cuss like a sailor).

I’ve been told by coworkers that I’m essentially a girl with the brain of a dude.

Gender stereotyping aside in that statement, why can’t I be both an abrasive slinger of all unholy cusses and a lover of The Notebook and Safe Haven? What’s wrong with admitting that I get a bit misty-eyed every time I watch Stepmom and What Dreams May Come? Or that I outwardly love Legally Blonde and Mean Girls?

 

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In all seriousness, though, I love many of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. I don’t read Erotica, nor am I into the 50 Shades craze. I just enjoy reading about well-developed characters. I want to feel every gripping, heart-wrenching emotion the protagonist feels. I want to laugh. Cry. Fall in love. I want to focus on the characters themselves and how they interact and, more importantly, how they react to the events happening to them and how it drives the story forward.

That’s why I write romantic drama like Waiting for You: A Story of Loss, Grief, and Love. It’s far beyond just a love story–it’s also a testament to friendship and family. As mentioned in my post A Subplot of Sobriety, Shawn is a testament to events in my own life–and the light banter between Shawn and Adam is ode to my own friendships and how we speak to each other.

Hope is always alive ~ another psychiatric hospitalization

Just a mere five days ago, I was released from my fourth psychiatric hospitalization. It’s not always the easiest thing for me to talk about, but I want others who have been through similar situations to not feel so alone — and to see there’s no shame in it.

See, I have Bipolar I Disorder. I had my first episode (depressive) at 16, but wasn’t properly diagnosed until a manic-turned-mixed episode during college, at age 21. It involved delusions, drugs, drinking . . . a perfect storm of chaos, a storm that ended with my suicide attempt and my first hospitalization.

I’ve had to go through another acute series of ECT (but I’m still grateful that it’s kept me stable for over two years now–something no medication was able to do). Fortunately, however, it’s only an abbreviated acute series. I had #4 this morning, and will return to maintenance next week.

Recovery from a hospitalization always takes time. All four times that I’ve returned home from an inpatient stay, there’s been a period of adjustment. There’s a flood of emotions–relief, gratitude, reluctance, uncertainty, fear. Part of you is so happy and relieved to get back to the creature comforts only found in your own home; another part is terrified of not being in that safe, regulated environment where there’s always someone around, someone to make sure you’ve taken your meds, someone to check on you.

Happiness can be found in the darkest of places if one only remembers to turn on the light.

The light during my current recovery from my hospitalization is made up of (naturally) my husband and my parents, but also some amazing friends. Part of my illness, one of the sneaky parts during my mixed or depressive episodes, enjoys whispering lies in my ear: it tells me that no one actually likes or cares about me, that I’m worthless, that I’ll never amount to anything, that my life isn’t worth fighting for.

But since my return home I’ve had so many friends who have texted me just to say a simple “Love & miss you” or “Hope you’re feeling better”. I want to share this one particular text that, not going to lie, got me a bit choked up earlier today:

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The outpouring of love I have received in the last five days has been such a stark contrast to the lies I believed a mere week and a half ago. One coworker/friend is picking me up tomorrow, and has made a nice lunch for us. She insisted on helping me get out of the house, as I’m not yet allowed to drive for another two weeks at the very least.

A psychiatric hospitalization is never easy. It’s never easy to ask for help. But just remember that there are people who care, even if your illness is trying to convince you otherwise.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Character Interview: Christy Mann’s Derrick

Another great character on Meeting With the Muse. 🙂

Meeting With The Muse

In this interview, Christy Mann invited me into the world of her story ‘Death of a Secret’ to meet with her character, Derrick, who has fallen on some very hard times. I sat down with him and asked questions to learn how he got to this time in his life.

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It was a nice balmy seventy degrees outside while Derrick sat, almost stiff as a board. His wheelchair was sparkling in the bright sunshine. He was a little nervous, not knowing exactly to expect from this interview. He was going to turn it down, but something told him this was something he needed to do. A lot of lives had been lost and others, like his, turned upside down. If it could help someone think twice, then he had to do it.

Kelly approached the house and saw a man in a wheelchair on the porch. She smiled as she…

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Author Interview: Nancy A. Nation

Check out Kelly Blanchard’s unique interview style with other authors. It’s a refreshing take on the typical Q&A with authors. 🙂 I’ll be reblogging some of her interviews here.

Meeting With The Muse

I had the pleasure of meeting with sci-fi/urban fantasy author, Nancy A. Nation, to ask her a few questions about her writing and what inspired her series. In this interview, ‘Kelly’ is written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Nancy’ is written by Nancy A. Nation.

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Pushing open the door to the cafe, Kelly looked around, finding it to be a quaint little place. She smiled as she went up to the counter. “Just hot chocolate with whip cream, please. I’m waiting to meet someone.” After chatting a little with the woman behind the counter and coming to learn a bit more about this place, Kelly finally got her order and went to a table in the corner but near the front window. She sat facing the door, so if her interviewee, Nancy A. Nation, came in, she would see her.

After sipping on her drink then deciding to just wait…

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A Subplot of Sobriety

I’ll say it outright: Waiting for You is Romance. Perhaps it is on the cusp of Women’s Fiction, as there is so much more to this story than the main love story between Kylie and Adam. Family. Parents. Frienship. Loss. Many Romance novels focus solely on the main couple, usually to the point that it seems like both parties have zero friends, family, or basically anyone else in their life. That’s why I find it somewhat cringe-y to admit that my work falls under the Romance genre.

I’ve gotten several positive comments about Shawn, who is Adam’s roommate and bandmate, and his subplot in Waiting for You. The main thread in all the comments I’ve received about this subplot of sobriety is how they’re glad a modern day issue among today’s twenty-somethings–alcohol and drug abuse–is touched upon. It is by no means a major part of the plot, but it’s there. Waiting for Life, my next novel that’s still in its first draft, has mental illness and alcohol abuse as its main theme–an extremely personal theme.

 

There are quite a few aspects of Waiting for You that are a nod to aspects of my own life. Shawn’s subplot of sobriety is one of them. Friendship is another. Between Kylie and Cat’s friendship, and Adam and Shawn’s, I wanted to show that there’s more to their lives than a romantic plot and a happily-ever-after. I am incredibly lucky to have so many amazing friends. They give me cake and stuff. (Really, our friendships go much deeper than cake, but I always appreciate a good cake.)

I traveled to New York this past summer to visit my friends. One put together a flash drive of a ton of photos from college for me. I was browsing through the photos this morning, chuckling at some of the evidence of our shenanigans, when I came across this photo, which prompted this post:

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I was 21 and one month clean. Out of everyone I knew in college, I have three friends who have stuck by my side through everything I’ve been through. While they were entering their senior year in college (and what would have been mine, too), I was home, attending an outpatient rehab five days a week and figuring out my new diagnosis of bipolar disorder. But these three friends of mine — Theresa, Anna, and Candice –they drove two hours to visit me for a weekend, get a cake for me, and celebrate my one month anniversary. At that point, I had a sponsor. I was beginning to work the steps. I was doing a ninety-in-ninety. I was scared shitless. But I couldn’t ask for more supportive friends.

In contrast, this photo was taken about 6 weeks prior to the photo above. This was just a few weeks before my suicide attempt in ’08, and my subsequent journey into sobriety:

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My drinking was at its worst. I was abusing pain pills on top of my drinking. I had bottles of liquor hidden in the house. For a while, I had some friends fooled. We’d go out to the bars, and I’d have a drink or two then go home. But then I’d sit alone in my room and down shot after shot until I passed out. I’d skip meals so I could get drunk faster. I was in a horrible mixed episode–both depressed and manic, and delusional. I was sick.

 

And, of course, this is me nowadays, 8 years sober (and not sure if I’m panicking over the fact that I’ll be 30 soon…) 🙂

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