Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors Vol. 2

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors Vol. 2

The second volume of collected works written by veterans and family members of the US Armed Forces was launched in St. Louis on Friday, the 15th. In attendance at the evening launch at the St. Louis Public Library Central Branch (a beautiful building that has recently completed renovation) was military historian and writer John C. McManus, representatives of the Warriors Arts Alliance and the Missouri Humanities Council, veterans from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and their family members. Some of the contributors to the anthology that were in attendance read their pieces, or excerpts thereof. 

This collection of essays, interviews, poetry, and short fiction gives a glimpse into the experiences of the veterans during war time, their transition back to home life, and dealing with PTSD from both the veteran’s and family member’s perspectives. 

Submissions are currently open for the third volume, tentatively set for publication in November 2014. 


I have been chosen for publication in an anthology entitled Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors

I’ve also been honored with the invitation of attending dinner with other writers and members of the Missouri Humanities Council, as well as reading my entry of military-themed short fiction during the launch of the anthology at the Saint Louis Public Library, Central Branch on November 15th.  Afterwards will be book signings, and in attendance will be historian and writer John McManus. 

This is the second volume of Proud to Be, which more information can be found here

Warm Bodies: Book Review (and then some gushing) and Movie Comparison

I was fairly certain I would enjoy this book. I knew I’d at least like it. Following Isaac Marion on twitter and then finally getting to watch the movie adaptation of the novel led me to believe this was my kind of writer and my kind of story. I was only two pages in before all doubts were thrown out the window.
In Warm Bodies, Marion gives a story we haven’t read before and didn’t know we needed. His voice as a writer is entertaining and thought-provoking, allowing you to laugh while you ponder the state of the world. With interesting characters, descriptive narrative, and believable dialogue, Isaac Marion has written a truly enjoyable book, an intelligent and poetically satirical view of our sometimes inhumane humanity. 
It’s safe to say I love this book; and if Isaac can churn out more novels with his ingenuity and engaging storytelling, I’ll be a reader for life.

[Now comes the gushing]

GUYS. Guys. Seriously. Stop what you are doing and read this book. It’s the perfect time for it, because it’s now. I rarely will rate a book five stars on goodreads because it just seems unfair to all the amazing books I haven’t read that might actually be a five-star book and I just don’t know it yet. And who am I to call a book perfect?

But in all seriousness, Isaac’s voice and narrative has bumped him to #2 of my favorite writer’s list. The story is fun and contemplative, with commentary and soulful humanity of both the poetic and the real world cursing-like-a-sailor type. It’s a dynamic blend, and thoroughly enjoyable.

As for a movie comparison, this is by far my favorite novel-to-movie adaptation (I think; my mind is drunk on the book still having just finished it, so I might be biased). I really loved the movie. Nicholas Hoult’s voice over narrations were fun, and the cast gave brilliant comedic performances – Rob Cordry was hysterical. Where the movie could have veered into a ridiculous zombie-love story and lost Isaac’s message along the way, I believe they did a fantastic job keeping his overall storyline intact, producing a great adaptation that can be equally as loved as the novel and unspoiled for the readers.


Book Review: The Buddha and the Borderline

[I posted this on my mental health tumblr and forgot to post it here so better late than never]

I read Kiera Van Gelder’s book, and in the end, I was so happy for her, and grateful that she shared this trying experience with us. 

Brutal in it’s honesty, The Buddha and the Borderline takes you on a woman’s journey from completely broken to coping with all the setbacks and personal battles in between. Using not only her own experience, but Marsha Linehan’s research coupled with Buddhist teachings, she explains Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Buddhism’s core to break down the oft ignored and highly stigmatized Borderline Personality Disorder into understandable elements with goals to achieve as you strive toward wellness.

Instantly triggered by the book, I wasn’t sure if I could handle the graphic detail this early in my recovery (or remission, whatever you’d like to call it). But moving past the initial shock at how straightforward Kiera was going to be, before I could worry too much about the triggering imagery on the page I found a kindred spirit – someone who understood; I wasn’t alone.

This is why her memoir is so powerful. She lays out her tale shamelessly in an effort to take you along for her ups and downs, relapses and enlightenment, and it works. Reading this book I feel understood, hopeful, and empowered as I saw so much of myself in her. Although it doesn’t squash all my fears about my own memoir being put out into the world, it does make me proud of the advocacy I do participate in and makes me want to do even more when I’ve gotten a little better of a grip on myself. If helping others is what Kiera set out to do (which I’m sure it is), she’s succeeded. One of the hardest things about being borderline is feeling empty and alone, and when you read about someone else fighting the same fight as you, feelings of validation and community comfort you.

If you think you can handle triggers because you’re doing well (I had to read in increments because I’ve had a rough couple of days – caused by nothing from the book, just anxiety and paranoia and dissociating), I suggest you do what I did. Pick up this book with a highlighter and go through it. Highlight the things you feel too and things you want to remember. I believe Ms. Van Gelder’s book would be a very positive influence on anyone who needs to see someone’s journey to the other side of the borderline.

The Media and Borderline Personality Disorder [Possible Triggers]

I was working out in my basement today, listening to my music playlist while reading the Closed Captioning on CNN. I usually avoid news media as I find it extremely biased no matter what network you get it from, but Robin Meade is by far the most tolerable choice in the morning. As every day for the past months, they were talking about Jodi Arias’ trial, which I along with everyone else, am completely over and glad it’s coming to an end. But what was said this morning nearly made me fall off my treadmill.

I had seen a few days ago that they were now claiming Jodi Arias has Borderline Personality Disorder, which made me roll my eyes. Then today, they said that her ability to lie easily and change who she was definitely pointed to BPD.

Enraged I breathed deep and kept walking, powered by anger, fuming at this “reporting” by CNN and the claims being made in the courtroom. An article in Psychology Today covered the subject, and pointed out how the media blames everyone with odd behavior who commits an atrocity with Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder where harm is directed at the self and patients are not considered homicidal.

Borderline Personality Disorder is not a joke; the millions of people who live with the disorder are faced with blows in all directions from stigmas of mental illness. As a disorder of emotional instability, it only makes it worse that courtroom psychologists and reporters stamp people who have been accused of terrible crimes with the disorder, making those who actually have the disorder become extremely distressed and question – “Am I capable of this?”

In CNN’s mock-jury, one “juror” when asked to describe how they felt after all the posturing answered “suicidal.” This has aired at least twice in the past hour. The stigma of mental illness is so common that someone who could say “exhausted” or “bored” on a major news network will say they feel “suicidal” commenting on the length of the trial of someone who is now labeled as a Borderline Personality.

All of this disgusts me. This year after challenging work and difficulty in learning to handle my emotions, I had Borderline Personality Disorder removed from my diagnoses as I do not meet enough of the criteria to be considered BPD – I am now in recovery, although I still fight through every day with the same issues I’ve battled over half my life. Borderline Personalities are assaulted with negativity online, in media, and in the real world, which only adds to their own low views of themselves [10% of deaths with those having a BPD diagnosis are due to suicide, as self-harm and suicidal thoughts are very common among patients and many times a daily battle]. It is sad that mainstream media would comment on a disorder that they obviously did no research on, and that a serious mental disorder is being used as a tool, as an excuse, in a murder trial. Whether Jodi Arias is innocent or guilty, I have no opinion on; but her alleged PTSD does not equal Borderline Personality Disorder, and what is being presented is not representative of us.

Role Model

For Psychology class, we had to write about a role model. I was trying to think of one, especially someone who has impacted me recently. As I went over people in my life, I realized there was one out there on the internet that had impacted me more than anyone I personally knew for her bravery, positivity, and honest humanity.

So Debbie, this is for you:


“Within the past year, I’ve found a role model in a blogger named Debbie who speaks out about Borderline Personality Disorder. She posts about her experiences, people’s perceptions, specific events, living with the disorder, and treatments to get better. Debbie grew a following not only on her blog, but also on twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, where Healing from BPD has taken off as a positive  outlet and inspiration for people with the disorder. I’ve followed her for about a year, and have been able to take how she deals with her disorder and alter her therapy ideas to apply them to my life. Thanks to her, I (along with I’m sure a multitude of others) have been using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy practices to deal with anxiety and emotional upsets, reading her posts with a feeling of being understood, and feeding off her positivity. I’d been flailing in my attempts at dealing with my disorder for probably more than fifteen years (most of it undiagnosed or misdiagnosed), but in just the last year and a half, I’ve been working very hard and have changed just about everything in my life, especially how I am able to handle things. At the end of last month, I was placed into “recovery” from Borderline Personality Disorder (having it removed as my primary diagnosis as I no longer met the five of the nine criteria required for diagnosis) – a few weeks after Debbie was also placed in “recovery.”  She’s led me to be outspoken about my own struggles to help others with the disorder, and inform those who have preconceived notions about the disorder or place stigma on those with mental illness.
Thanks to Debbie, I was able to learn by observational process how you can live with the disorder and sub-diagnoses in a positive way and not let it define you. If I can help someone else with BPD to know they aren’t alone, give those with anxiety and panic attacks tips on how to handle situations, or just give people hope, then I feel as if I’m doing my job in passing along the positivity that she has given me.”
Thanks, lady. Hoping to spread positivity my own way and keep moving forward through the hard days, letting myself enjoy the good ones.