Mental illness changes lives. Masterpiece Kodiak Doudoune It does not, however, change our humanity. Penelope Baker is one of the main characters in the novel Leave of Absence. She lives with schizophrenia, and she is filled with shame and self-loathing. In this scene, she is lamenting one of the ways it has impacted her life: “I used to be proud of myself. Nike Air Huarache Femme I graduated from the University of Chicago and worked as an advertising executive at Anderson Fletcher.” She paused and hugged the beach ball against her chest. When she resumed, she spoke quietly. “But then I changed, and I’m not the same anymore. I had to take quit the job I loved. canada goose snow mantra At first, I thought I could take a leave of absence, just a little break to get well and then go back. Doudoune Parajumpers Homme But I never got better enough to go back. I had to quit completely, and now I’m just a loser.” Tears rolled down her cheeks and splashed onto the ball. I wrote Leave of Absence because no one experiencing mental illness should ever have to feel like a loser. I possess a unique combination of experiences that I carry with me into my writing—my novel writing, my Anxiety-Schmanxiety column on HealthyPlace.com, my newsletter writing for my local NAMI chapter, and my blog writing. That I write about mental health is no coincidence, for I have experienced mental health and mental illness from both sides of the proverbial couch. Air Jordan 13 For Kids Having been both a counselor and a patient, I have a deep understanding of how people can suffer emotionally in so many ways, how people can triumph emotionally in so many ways, and of how every human being deserves empathy and understanding. Joe Montana Notre Dame Jersey I use my many experiences to create stories that, while themselves fictional, are a very real manifestation of mental health and mental illness. It is my hope that Leave of Absence, My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel, and all my writing will help people understand each other more deeply. I have a rather intimate relationship with mental illness. I understand it intellectually thanks to an intense graduate program, and that lends a solid factual background to my stories. I understand it professionally thanks to all the people I have worked with in various capacities; in working with people, I have developed a real-world understanding of what people need in order for them to help them help themselves heal, and I weave this into my stories. LUNARGLIDE 8 And I understand mental illness personally thanks to my own experiences with it. Parajumpers Homme Big Bend I try to draw on all of these aspects to infuse my character-driven novels with not only facts but feeling. My own roller coaster ride with mental illness officially began in 2004 when I sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. Because I could walk, talk, and physically care for myself, I didn’t qualify for brain injury rehabilitation programs. That didn’t mean that I was functioning well in other areas of my life, though. I saw a psychologist for counseling, and when that wasn’t enough, I was admitted into a behavioral health hospital. The Airhaven Behavioral Health Center that is the setting for much of Leave of Absence is actually based on the hospital in which I stayed. The characters are completely fabricated, of course, but the physical description and other little details (such as Oliver’s hatred of the ticking clock in his room) are based on my own personal experience in the hospital. Parajumpers Denali I was in and out of that hospital five times over the course of a few years, and it was there that I was officially diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and anxiety disorders. So it’s on multiple levels that I understand what it means to suffer mentally and emotionally, how mental illness impacts every single facet of one’s life, what it’s like to live with the stigma and have people shun you both personally and professionally. Andre Tippett I believe passionately in the importance of bringing these issues it to light. When we learn about each other as human beings, when we take time to really listen and look, we begin to understand.