Today I looked into a camera and said my weak things in a strong voice. I told my story about my intense struggles with PTSD after my apartment building fire, and how that recovery turned me into an author. I told my deepest, darkest secret, and I feel fierce and free. Link to video will be live soon.
I’m so honored to be a part of the #ShatteringStigmas series on the wonderful book blog It Starts at Midnight. I’ve been following Shannon’s excellent writing, and when I saw that she was doing a program around erasing the stigma of mental illness, I wanted to share the story behind the story of the mental health plotline in my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Shannon gave me the chance to do that, and it is one of the first times that I am speaking about my own struggles and the healing process of writing my book. I hope you’ll check out the story on Shannon’s site. There is an excerpt of it below.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” ~Rumi
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen
These two quotes gave me the title for my young adult book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. But what the title doesn’t tell you is that there was a long and winding road, often painful and treacherous, that brought me to Emerson. For me, she’s not just a character derived from my imagination. She is the manifestation of a journey that showed me that we are stronger, braver, and more courageous than any of us can ever imagine. To me, she is the very definition of life.
In the five years leading up to when I first put pen to paper to write her story, I had been struggling with the effects of PTSD. On September 5, 2009, one of my neighbors in New York City blew up her gas stove. She had been cooking, oil spilled, and rather than shut off the gas, she just ran out of the building. I was in my apartment on the fourth floor. I had just gotten out of the shower and noticed that the radiator in my kitchen was hot and making a ticking sound. I looked down at the floor around the radiator and saw the tiles heaving up and down. Something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what. I grabbed my keys (which now seems completely futile) and went out of my apartment to knock on my neighbor’s door downstairs. They had been doing construction on that apartment and I thought that may be causing the tile and radiator issue. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
The second I walked out of my apartment, I was consumed by an unending cloud of black smoke. Read more…