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The Preemptive Big Sad Retrospective

With a deft wit and a series of stellar twists, Jackson creates a conventional love story that is also something more: an exploration of what draws people together, and pushes them apart; a commentary on faith’s ability to unite or divide; and a reminder that “death brushing past makes people hungry to connect to other people.” ...Jackson’s roller-coaster love story will leave the reader both thoroughly sated and hungry for more. --PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

With a deft wit and a series of stellar twists, Jackson creates a conventional love story that is also something more: an exploration of what draws people together, and pushes them apart; a commentary on faith’s ability to unite or divide; and a reminder that “death brushing past makes people hungry to connect to other people.” …Jackson’s roller-coaster love story will leave the reader both thoroughly sated and hungry for more. –PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

I want to ask about your biggest Big Sad, but first, let me remind you, we are coming to the end of the virtual book tour (Explained here if you do not know what that is—Plus you can see all the FUN PRIZE DRAWING LOOTS for participants!)

I would adore for you to be a part of it and help Someone Else’s Love Story have the kind of launch at THE ALABAMA BOOKSMITH (a stellar indie store) that will get it some attention.

It is a good book, I promise. In fact, it was just chosen as the #1 IndieNext pick. That means, Independent Bookstores everywhere really want to handsell you this book. They believe in it. They think you should come buy it from them. They are yelling for you to come buy it from them, loud and strong. They are yelling it practically FROM SPACE.

I love them. When I found out about the #1 Indie Next pick I burst into unseemly tears, the kind of ugly-cry in which you trade all your decorum for loads of snot. I made this book, I love it so, and it is so desperately amazing when someone who isn’t my mom loves it, too and says, GOOD JOB. YOU DID A THING THAT IS GOOD.

Come and have Virtual Book Tour with us.

MEANWHILE, I have a bug, and I can’t go to yoga. I MISS YOGA, and this close to release, nerved up beyond all nerved-y-ness, I need my dog to face down and my breathing to be deep. I need the Astrid and Malia classes at Decatur Hot. Their classes are spiritual and deep, but they also have that element of playfulness I need to stick it out.

Yoga has been an amazing discovery for me because it puts me into many shapes. Shapes are good, because historically, I learn to recognize the all the feels I feel from the outside in. I put my body or face in the shape, and then the feeling of the shape happens. Then I match it with the feel I am feeling, and see if they are of a set.

I am not intuitive. I would just as soon live in my occipital lobe. Seriously. When things are bad, my go to move is to crouch back in the darkest cave-iest bit of my brain, munching my own bone marrow just to spite myself.

Sometimes I have no idea what I am feeling until I see what I do. “Oh look,” the omniscient observer who rules my brain-world says coolly, “I seem to be throwing this vase and screaming….I am going to guess I feel some rage. Wait. Maybe I just hate that vase? No. I think it is likely rage. Hm. Interesting.”

I need to go to yoga, because I suspect I am Having a Feeling and I don’t recognize it. It may be just run of the mill impending terror. Not sure yet. Could be something that I actually have to pay attention to and deal with in some way.

P’shaw, I should be praising myself for noticing that I am having a feeling. I do HAVE them, all the time Oh yes, indeed I do! I have MANY feels. In fact, I have ALLLLLLL the feels.

But I am good at not noticing; I suspect that if I chose to lapse into my natural state, I would be a carnivorous narcissist. If you knew me in my late teens/early twenties and I was terrible to you, then I am sorry. I was pretty hateful and lashed at those who dared love me in those days, mostly because I was so so very desperately unhappy.

This dog is having a feeling. A SAD SAD FEELING.

This dog is having a feeling. A SAD SAD FEELING.

I felt that I had stories to tell. I felt no one was listening. I felt misunderstood and while I was articulate and bright and could SAY A LTO OF THINGS about how I was, explaining my misery in depth did not help me change it or climb out. My words did not change my actions. I SAID I was miserable, and my actions backed it up, but really? I didn’t truly know that my own life was what was making me miserable. I had cause and effect reversed.

I had to do a lot of things to let myself know I was unhappy, like trash valuable longstanding friendships to hang out with wastrels who didn’t actually care if I died because they had lapsed into carnivorous narcissists, too. Me and my new friends were all very clever and funny and heartless, which helped us ignore all the ways we aided and abetted our own misery.

Looking back, I can clearly see that my friends and I, we didn’t really love each other. We didn’t really WANT anything wonderful for each other. We never looked up from gazing deeply into our own navels to DO the things that would help fix ourselves and make us better. Those things seemed hard, and did not come with any guarantees, so we curated our shared misery and normalized it.

Those were, I think, the hardest, darkest saddest years of my life. 11 and 12 were BAD, 13 was an active hell, but Middle School looks like a winning cupcake march at a Halloween lawn party compared to 19, 20, 21…

I am remembering the path back, now. I am trying to retrace it.

My own oldest child is heading toward 17 and senior year with a bullet. On he sails, happy and busy…. But there rocks ahead. He is not good at knowing when he is having a feeling. I want to remember. I want to get better at it. I must be ready to help him navigate.

What was your saddest year? And how did you get out?

You did get out, right?

28 comments to The Preemptive Big Sad Retrospective

  • My worst year was seventeen. I was horrible. I was horrible to my lovely, loving parents, and to my friends, and to basically anyone who knew me. I was dealing with an as yet undiagnosed anxiety disorder, topped off by a depression caused by hormones, high school, and a broken heart (the alliteration was almost entirely accidental there, I promise). I went to a high school filled with teachers who didn’t care about me (there were magnificent exceptions, but did I pay attention to them? No), I had just broken up with a boy who I was positively infatuated with, but who was a terrible fit for me, and I was dealing with old school bullies.

    I took these things as permission to be awful. When my dad got a nice new tv to put in his and my mother’s bedroom–the second tv they had purchased IN MY WHOLE LIFETIME–I was PISSED that it wasn’t for everybody and that it wasn’t in the living room. Nevermind the fact that my dad worked crazy long hours and weekends as a self employed type person to feed us, and buy me brand name clothes and songs on iTunes, and that he used a large portion of his income to help those around us who needed it. NOoo, I was mad because this tv was something he treated himself to, before he treated me, his long-suffering daughter. I cold shouldered him for longer than any reasonable person would, and I still hate myself for that.

    However, the light at the end of the tunnel did come. High school boy away for college, I found new things that I enjoyed doing, I *started to realize that the girls who were jerks to me weren’t worth my time, and most of all, I realized that I was almost ready for college. These realizations came in tandem with therapy and prozac (prozac is great, but EVERYONE and I do mean EVERYONE should go to therapy at some point), but they were realizations just the same.

    I still struggle with anxiety (see the link to my blog above), but I’ve found ways of dealing with it that don’t involve me falling into a “big sad.”

  • Martha

    My SADDEST year is too hard to share… even anonymously. My youngest son is in the midst of several self-destructive sad years and I can’t help him. That makes me hugely sad and fearful.

    Bah – even typing this stuff makes me sad and anxious. I will now commence pretending I don’t know any sad stuff.

  • Well, I think in a lot of ways I’m having my saddest year right now. The only thing that truly could have pre-empted it was not marrying my husband, but I wouldn’t choose that option if I had it to do over again.

    I also had some pretty sad years in my mid-twenties, but I don’t think I realized at the time how sad I was. I was living alone, which I told myself I loved, but I didn’t really. I dated some people who didn’t really care about me. I isolated myself from my friends. I did get out of it, because I started writing after not writing for a long time. Keeping a journal helped me recognize my feelings for what they were. Not coincidentally, when things were very bad with my husband, when his mental illness was taking over both of our lives, I stopped writing in my journal because putting it down in black and white was too hard. If I wrote, it was real.

    I don’t know if your son’s a writer. I don’t know if he’d be resistant to therapy. I can tell you that now, after about eight months of therapy, I finally am starting to understand my own emotions and to be able to recognize them in the moment instead of after I’ve thrown a vase or screamed or both. The best thing to do, I think, is to talk to him about it. Let him know that you struggle with the same things, and that it’s okay to talk about it. I don’t know that this will preempt him having some sad times, but it can certainly make him more resilient when they come.

  • I know there are different kinds of sad. This past year, not the calendar kind, but the kind that started in October of 2012 with the death of my very best fur-friend who’d been there with me since I was 16. He was 21. Not terribly unexpected in reality, but in my heart I thought he was immortal. Then, not half a year later, my grandmother passed away. She was 92, almost 93, but it was a sudden, swift decline. For that wonderfully sassy, fierce woman, I’m sure that’s how she’d have chosen for it to go. Not all lingering in misery in a nursing home because she would have been miserable there. Then almost an exact month later, my 14 year old kitty passed away suddenly. He fell into renal failure after a dental surgery. And I just almost cannot breathe typing this. I’m still raw and sad about all the loss this past year has wrought.

  • Elizabeth J

    the biggest, badest sad was 15. Hormones & hs and failing trig. (no bf for me, Abby – another source of big sad)
    I did want the pain – and me – to just go “away” but never actively tried to do anything about it. One upside to depression based insomnia is that I used to read the dictionary.

    The thing that got me through, for better or worse, was always having something to look forward to – not necessarily in a happy way but the next thing.
    Of course there have been many disappointments w/that (all that pressure!) and it’s a good life lesson to live in the moment (“Life is not a dress rehearsal!”)

    Eventually there were anti-depressants and oh how I wish I’d had them earlier on! Who knows what I could have accomplished! (Might have – as I discovered, the puls don’t write the papers or have the uncomfortable conversations for you.)

    Adolescence and hormones are inevitable. Having a close personal someone who you know has shared the experience helps. Or even a stranger who shares a familiar sounding story (“I’m not the only one!”). Someone who can remind you “this is only temporary.”

    And I too have used a pen and any scrap of paper as my therapist when another human being wasn’t available.

  • A.Nony.Mouse for this

    My very worst sads were probably still my middle school years. I dealt with it by listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and being mean to my mother. But depression came to visit in 2004, then again in 2008 and then once more in 2012 (hmmm, never noticed the every four years cycle there…I think that’s coincidence).

    The thing I wanted to add to this conversation is that my son is also a senior about to fly the nest and I think he has learned to recognize his feelings, or at least to recognize that he’s feeling some feelings. He was stressed last night so spent an hour playing guitar and then taking a run. Those are the two categories we’ve helped him recognize as stress-relievers: exercise and/or something creative and calming (like writing, or gardening (that’s mine)). What I’ve learned to do is to NOT try to name the feeling for him – because that pisses him off – but to simply suggest he go for a run or hit the punching bag in the basement. Also, because he knows I have depression and knows it can run in families, he is aware of the need to self-monitor. I’m an open book about it, in part because I want my kids to know how to recognize it if they ever experience it (and of course because I don’t want them or anyone else to feel ashamed by it).

  • OH hey as for the 4 years…I don’t think it is necessarily coincidence. I REALLY believe in the body-mind connection , and maybe your brain chemistry is on some kind of 4 year cycle which make sit easier for badthinks to get in at that time… Which, if that is true, you can get out in front of it, you know? Like, you can say, “I have a danger year coming in 18 months, so I am going to be aware and vigilant and up my exercise and eat EVEN MORE kale at that time and be mindful and pre empt a big sad or mitigate it.” And if it actually IS coincidence, and the biog sad does nto descend, well then — you have STILL eaten more kale and upped your exercise and been gentle and careful with yourself and these are GOOD THINGS.

  • Brigitte

    I started my lifelong sad halfway through 4th grade, but I have to admit that I’ve been lucky enough not to have anything especially tragical happen to me yet. Luckily for everyone else, I mostly keep my sads bottled up inside and avoid people when I can.

  • Corey

    I was a moody teen, and tended to get bogged down in the feel of the moment. A minor bad (snarky comment from a “popular” girl, bad grade on a test, reprimand for not doing a chore), and I’d carry that low around with me. Several pretty close relatives died before I even got out of elementary school, so it seemed I had more than a “typical” exposure to hospitals, nursing homes, and funerals for a kid.
    In my freshman year of college, my older brother was hit by a car and wound up hospitalized with a severe brain injury for the rest of his life (19 more years). It colored everything with uncertainty, anxiety, and continued the feel-of-the-moment mentality, since every day brought new ups and downs (he seemed to be aware of me today! he had a seizure! uh oh, infection! he squeezed my hand!).
    In 1998, my first daughter was born (happy happy, worry, obsess), still moment-to-moment. After 2 miscarriages, my next pregnancy seemed to be going well until the 19-week mark, when we got a dreadful diagnosis and were told our daughter wouldn’t likely survive. She didn’t, and I had to give birth to her, stillborn at 27 weeks. A month later was 9/11/01. Frazzled mess. A year later, a sniper was on the loose in my area (DC suburbs), and I was pregnant again. After my second daughter was born in 2003, I was still just a mess, though a little calmer.
    And one day at work, I greeted a coworker with the usual “how are you?” It struck me that she just answered, simply, “I’m great.” Not perky and over-the-top, just matter-of-face. I started thinking about what she meant, and it occurred to me that she was not having a reaction to every minute of every day. Yes, stuff happened, some good, some bad. But *she* was a content person, knowing she had many blessings in her life, despite also having difficulties, and *she*…was great.
    Yes, I get upset, worried, anxious, sad, afraid, and happy, excited, loony, and exhausted, overwhelmed, angry, etc. But I always try to center myself over the “great,” content part and not let the feels drag me around in each moment.
    Also: exercise = endorphins = Ah.May.Zing.

  • penelope

    Could we get on the four year plan? I’m afraid we’re on the two year plan for major life stressors. I’d like more than a year to recover before the next crushing wave hits…and best not to write about it all the rest of it here, because I have to do.the.next.thing. Just do.the.next.thing. At some point, there will be time for the processing. That time is not now.

  • It would have to be a toss-up between my mid-30’s when I was working 80 hours a week and had small children and my husband and I disconnected. It was horrible, I feel like I lived for about five years in a fog. Therapy and drugs got me out of that one. And this last year has been pretty horrific too, because of my son and his struggle with his middle school sads. But things are looking up. He has become more self-aware than I ever was.

  • Tina

    I’ve had many big sads. My biggest, baddest, longest sad was in my late 20’s/early 30’s. That sad lasted 7 long, sad years. I had a very self-destructive sad in my early 20’s, but I was lucky enough to get pulled out of it (into a very weird, dysfunctional happy/sad that wasn’t good for me either, but I’m convinced it saved my life). I had a sad, angry, sad, sad, sad middle and high school due to things out of my control (which led to the sad, self-destructive early 20’s).
    Right now I feel myself on the verge of a sad. I don’t understand it. Things are GOOD. I love my family (and extended family of friends who are like family), money is…ok. And I like(ish) my job. But I feel the sad coming on. I don’t know how to avoid it because I don’t know where it’s coming from. Maybe kale and upping (well, starting) my exercise will help?

  • Sarah

    Well 7th grade was horrible. It seems like it often is…
    But my biggest sad was and is 31. I lost my brother, my only sibling. It was six years ago and I am still pulled under by it.
    One of my brother’s friends died last Friday (I don’t have the details, but he took his own life) and I am feeling very raw. I didn’t really like this friend very much, but my brother did. They did ROTC and were in the Army together. My brother was his brother too.
    His big sad must have been overwhelming. Sometimes all the talking in the world can’t fight the darkness. At some point the drugs are making your broken body just sleep your life away anyway…
    I know the kinds of thoughts he probably was thinking. It is hard to argue when he was not wrong.

  • I’ve had my share of big sads, but today is not a day I want to dwell on them. These days I’m having big happies, and even when something bad happens I am able to weather it. I am thankful to God, my surgeon and my oncologist I didn’t die of breast cancer 16 years ago and have been grateful for every bonus day since. I’m probably terribly annoying to others, but I’m having a wonderful life.

  • I had 3 Big Sad periods. The first was 7th/8th grade, like the entire rest of the universe, when people were mean to me and I in turn was mean to people I had the power to hurt and we were all very very very miserable.

    The second was just after I turned 16 when my beloved, darling Papa (my grandfather) unexpectedly took his own life. Our entire family crumbled and I was broken for a very long time after that. It will be 20 years ago next month, and while I can talk much more normally about suicide these days, I’m still very sensitive to the topic, especially people joking about it or talking about it flippantly (i.e., “If that politician wins the election, I am going to shoot myself in the head! I’d rather be dead!” My husband, while a bit tipsy the other night, said something along those lines. I reacted…poorly. I didn’t even realize until he was apologizing and mentioned that he knew that was a terrible thing to say to me in particular that it was true, that I am still very raw about the topic of suicide and probably always will be.).

    The third Big Sad was when I was almost 21 and my longtime boyfriend who I thought was going to marry broke up with me when I did not expect it. I know now that it was a good thing, but at the time, I did not want to be awake anymore or participate in life. I had two very wonderful friends who were my roommates who go me through the initial very bad darkness, but the cloud hung around for another 2 or 3 years. Probably in part because I healed enough to develop a crush on another guy, who was not interested in me at all as anything other than a friend (though he has been a wonderful friend these past 15 years), and then he started dating my very best friend right before she and I moved to a new town where I didn’t know anyone but her and we’d already signed a lease to live together. And I was starting a job that I ended up working at and hating every single day for 2 years (crying-every-morning-before-I-went kind of hate). Our friendship has survived – that wasn’t the only rocky time in our friendship and we’ve made it through them all, but I was very depressed during those years.

    In the case of every single Big Sad period, all that has helped is time and perspective. Therapy and/or drugs probably would have helped too, but I never sought either out.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    This is why you are such a wonderful writer. You write this about yourself:

    “I felt that I had stories to tell. I felt no one was listening. I felt misunderstood and while I was articulate and bright and could SAY A LTO OF THINGS about how I was, explaining my misery in depth did not help me change it or climb out. ”

    and when I read it I think: “Yes! That is me! That is exactly what it felt like for me.”

    I have done some things to fix my unhappy, but I have not done enough yet. I have not been able to get my stories out onto paper the way that I wanted to. That I want to. I have been trying and then I tell myself “who do you think you are?” and “you are stupid” and all of those things we tell ourselves. I read the first pages of your novella “My Own Miraculous” and I felt that delicious tingling that I get when I start to read something that draws me right in, and at the same time I felt hopeless. How can I ever hope to write something so accessible and real and fascinating in just a few sentences, much less a whole story? The answer: I can’t because I can’t be you and you are already being you. But can I be me?

    As to your son. Just because you weren’t intuitive to yourself doesn’t mean that you won’t be with your son. That Mama-Son bond is pretty strong, and you will help him in ways that you can’t even imagine yet. My son (only child) is a senior in college now, and he tells me that I am a tremendous help to him when he finds himself fraught with anxiety or other feelings that he can’t put a name to. He says that the biggest reason is because “I get it”, and it helps him to know that I understand having those crazy feelings even if I can’t fix them.

  • My saddest year was July 2012 – April 2013, when my then-11th-grade son’s brain exploded and he had to first quit band, which was HIS LIFE, and then school altogether while we scrambled to find meds that would make him want to live, or at least not want to die, and be able to function as a human being. How I came out of it was: we found the meds. We figured out a way for him to graduate high school early and start attending community college. He stopped wanting to die. I started seeing a therapist, stopped eating grain, started eating more healthy fat and protein (paleo diet) and then I stopped wanting to die, too. So YAY for not dying, and neither my son nor I am/are sad anymore, at least not all the time. But man, that year SUCKED.

  • My saddest year started in 2010 when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and continues today, unfortunately. She passed away only 5 months after being diagnosed, and then a year later my best friend of 23 years passed away as well. Needless to say, I’ve been having a lot of feelings about all of this. I’m MUCH better than I was in the beginning, but I am most definitely a different person than I was “before” – a sadder, more bitter person, as much as I try not to be.

  • Sarah

    I had a somewhat nasty 5th grade, but not any worse than the usual. My terrible, awful, very bad sad was 8 years ago, after my son died. He and his twin brother were born at 26 weeks. When they were 7 weeks old, Ben developed a serious blood infection that his tiny body, a talented doctor, a team of amazing nurses, and state-of-the-art medical equipment could not beat. I never truly considered killing myself, but I used to wish that something very sudden and painless would happen to me and the people I loved best so that we could stop being on this earth and be in Heaven together. It was two years later that I started coming out of it and realized that, hey, I was really super depressed and should probably have been on medication!

    8 years later, I am in a much happier place. But the anniversary of his death is this weekend, and I know that it will be difficult, as it always is.

  • My sad years were most of high school, there were a few good moments but I was so caught up in my own narsistic world I missed so much. I was no fun to live with and I ran around fast and hard. I lived many of my 20’s like that too..what did I think would happen, how did I get so foolish.
    My own children seem to be much better than I was at balance. One daughter worries me, she is just intense and sometimes angry, so angry it’s scary.
    Wow nothing like a nearly 2 am cry fest to make you feel crazy. Xoxo.

  • There’s a lot that goes wrong when you live in a small town and everyone knows everyone else. I still shudder at the memory of getting my first period in school, a huge red poppy blooming on my bright yellow shirtwaist. Never wore THAT dress again! And isn’t it sad that awful news bolts through the ground into everyone’s consciousness, but good stuff may never arrive?

    Still, the worst time, the darkest, was my involvement with a violent alcoholic abuser. I related to BACKSEAT SAINTS on a molecular level. By the time I found my way out of that darkness, I had the self-esteem of a shrub. A spindly, under-watered, terrified shrub. In gravel. Prozac, time, a change of religion, and my glorious son helped me climb out of the pit. Finding my love makes me appreciate how very dark things really were, but once that darkness is a part of you, it never really leaves.

  • Shannan

    Hm. My biggest sad was probably 2008-2009. I had a long-overdue falling out with a close friend; my best friend moved across the country, and my father, who loved to do ridiculous magic tricks with my 8yo cousin and to tell long, rapturous stories about sandwiches he’d eaten fifteen years before, dropped dead in a pizzeria at the age of 58. I was devastated and had no support network. Two months later, my very Southern grandmother, who had built a passive solar house in the North Georgia mountains in the 70s in order to wait out the coming nuclear war <3 , was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal aortic aneurysm. I was grieving my dad and trying to take care of my grandmother and my mom while finishing my PhD. It sucked. I used to get in my car and wait until I was on the freeway and then just scream at the top of my lungs until I was completely wrung out, and then I would listen to Kansas. I would not go through it again, even though I like who the experience turned me into. I got to spend a bittersweet 14 months chasing my grandmother around the mountain before she died. I learned to laugh at funerals and not care if people looked at me weird. I made being a good friend a top priority and built a community of people who were completely there for me during my next big sad in 2011. I was a well-meaning person before all the suckage, but I wasn't overly invested in anyone else's well-being. After that particular big sad, someone called me a foul-weather friend. It is the compliment I cherish most.

  • Kat

    When I was 20 I had a big sad that culminated in 3 days in a bathtub. I just kept filling it up with warm water. I just felt so cold, and I didn’t WANT to do anything else. Eventually, I got out of the bathtub. It didn’t fix everything, and I still had a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere.

  • Leslie M.

    My biggest sad year was 2010–2011 when my husband left me for someone else and then I lost my house. I hurt so bad that it was painful to breathe. I regularly had the urge to just lie down on the sidewalk and give up. But, I had two little kids to take care of. The law would have gotten me if I hadn’t gotten them up, fed them, and gotten them to school each day, so I did. As long as I was up, I figured I might as well take a shower, get dressed, and go to work. I’m not sure what I accomplished, though. That year is enshrouded in pain and fog. For most of those days, I prayed about every 10 minutes. That was about the longest I could go without completely losing it. I asked for comfort and peace and the ability to forgive. Slowly, little by little, it happened. I also found a good friend who was going through the same thing and we emailed and IM’d constantly on the bad days. It was comforting not to be alone in my own head–and to confide that I still wanted the man who was causing me so much pain so desperately that I would have done almost anything to get him back. My friend was the only person who really understood that, but at the same time helped me to stay strong and not beg for reconciliation. I did the same for her. Therapy probably would have been a good idea, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there, if that makes any sense. Anti-anxiety medication made it so that I could eat and sleep. Time has helped me to see that year and those events more clearly, but sometimes in the midst of a bad time you just have to hang on. There’s nothing else to do, but that.

  • I thought I was the only one who didn’t recognize what I was feeling until I acted on the feeling. I also struggle to know what I think about something until I write about it. It’s like my brain uses my fingers to explain things to myself.

  • Linda J

    Throughout my life story there have been shocking events but when it comes to my biggest sad there is only one that comes to mind. I was in my early teens. My parents had just gotten back together, and that involved my moving from California to Missouri. From being able to walk EVERYWHERE to living on an acre of land on the edge of town. There were days and days on end where the only thing I left the house for was to go to school and that was horrible enough in itself. Somewhere along the way I ended up in the deep dark hole that was truly life threatening. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t live. I couldn’t function. I was so far gone even now 25+ I have very few memories of life, just the darkness. It was so much than darkness though. There was a black void in space that was my soul and that is where my mind was. I didn’t know anything about what was happening to me. The most vivid memory I have of that era is one night when I was all alone I remember getting the biggest knife from the kitchen, going to my room and sitting the in smallest most compact corner and I freaked out. I think that night is when I began a mental collapse. There was no therapy. My parents were older and they just chalked it up to me being a brat. They had a golden child in my younger sister and that is where their energy went. The turning point for me was when I tried to hang myself. It was in the closet and there was a mirror on the door. I believe my revival began when I saw my face turn purple. No one has ever heard me tell any of this. It took years and years to rebuild my mental self. It was years of just writing random stuff, then my dad died. I was 16. I was already on the healing side and the grief really wasn’t there. I was still healing and I just kept on writing. Eventually life took over and I was ok.

    My most sincere advise is that if writing is involved, ONLY read what is offered. Don’t go looking for the writing. Put the offer of help on the table. Don’t force it. The first therapist may not be a good fit. Keep looking if that is the case.

    Good Luck.

  • Laura

    My biggest Big Sad has definitely got to be this year (April 2013-Present). I’m 24, and I always thought it’d be a good year, but sadly, this has been the hardest year yet.
    The first boyfriend I had that I truly believed would stick around for a long while broke up with me at the same time as I suddenly acquired a chronic pain condition of the pelvic variety that is difficult to diagnose, treat, talk about, and conduct a normal life with.

    Dealing with doctors constantly who may or may not take you seriously, feeling weird about being the only person under thirty in the waiting room, having to give up certain foods and any chance of a relationship at the moment and submitting to tests and waiting games has taken a massive toll. I really, really, *really* want to be happier soon.

    All of that said, I found your book ‘Backseat Saints’ at a used book sale in Maine while on vacation, and it was glorious and *such* a necessary read! Once I got home I gobbled up Gods in Alabama and A Grown Up Kind of Pretty, and holy moly! Such interesting, fleshed-out female characters! Too many books that I studied in school are lacking strong female protagonists like Rose Mae, Arlene, the Slocumb women…

    A huge thank you from the Great White North for your books. I usually bring Backseat Saints with me to the hospital because, while I don’t have the stones to kick those doctors in the crotch the way I’d like, Rose Mae certainly does.

  • Beth

    My biggest Sad (to date, of course) is when my own dad died. I am sorry about this, because it may bring up Feels. I was 22, and he had a heart attack in front of me and my family and died almost instantly in a very public place. He was 51 years old, in good shape, and had passed a stress test a month before.

    I had perhaps the best possible relationship that one can have with a dad, and I am grateful, but 22 years is not long enough.