Welcome Author Jack Rollins
Jack was born and raised among the twisting cobbled streets and lanes, ruined forts and rolling moors of a medieval market town in Northumberland, England. He claims to have been adopted by Leeds in West Yorkshire (the setting of his horror story Anti-Terror), and he spends as much time as possible immersed in the shadowy heart of that city. Fascinated by all things Victorian Jack often writes within that era and his period gothic horror works include The Séance and The Cabinet of Dr Blessing.
1.What is your mental health issue?
For about 7 years I have slipped in and out of periods of clinically low moods, high levels of anxiety and presented problems with anger management as a result of this.
On reflection though, I know that it has been more than 7 years. When I was first diagnosed as suffering from depression and anxiety, one of the doctor’s questions related to thoughts about harming myself or ending my life. He asked if I have such thoughts at all, once a week, several times a week, or every day.
Being asked openly like that, I realized that almost every day for something like 10 years at the time, I had thoughts that the world or my family, would be better off without me. The thoughts were fairly fleeting and I never did anything about it, but they had become part of a daily thought pattern, like thinking: “Is today too much? No? Coping OK today, well you don’t have to do it today, but when it gets too much, you know how you can get out of this.”
At the time of my diagnosis, my daughter was about 7 years old, and I was living away from her, seeing her once every 4 weeks or so. I knew I would never get rid of myself, because I wanted to see her. I want to see who she grows up to be, but that is me in my rational, calm moments, telling you what I know to be the truth. My family has extended since then, so things are really positive and the suicidal ideas have diminished almost to the point of not existing.
Back at the time, though, if I wasn’t living for my daughter, I would sometimes think, “I’ll have to see The Dark Knight when it comes out. I can’t do it until then. Oh, well now I have to see that new Bond movie, so I can’t do anything until then.”
That is going to sound so stupid to some people. Some might even say I couldn’t have been that depressed or suicidal if I could keep going for such trivial things, but that’s the point. I didn’t want to die. No matter what worked, I’m just glad that something did. I wanted to enjoy the things I enjoy, but I had allowed this ritual of checking if today was going to be the day, to creep into my thinking.
Anyway, with the depression abated fairly well, I just have to keep on top of my anxiety and work at keeping this panic attacks at bay!
2. How long have you been writing fiction? Tell us about your career so far.
I’ve been writing fiction for about 18 years, but only in the last four have I been really pushing things.
In 2010 I self-published Dr Blessing’s Curse, Or, The Baby In The Bell-Jar, which has grown into a series of novellas and a collection: The Cabinet of Dr Blessing, with Dark Chapter Press. I released another novella last year, The Séance: A Gothic Tale Of Horror and Misfortune.
I was also fortunate enough to be invited to write a piece for an anthology and so this time, unlike the works mentioned above, I wrote a contemporary piece (Dr Blessing and The Séance are all set in Victorian London), called Anti-Terror.
Since then I have had stories accepted into 2 more anthologies with more in the pipeline this year, and more Victorian pieces in progress.
3. How has mental ill health helped your writing?
Although I control some of the symptoms of my anxiety with some light medication, I know that I will be on those meds for no more than a year. I have been working hard with cognitive behavioral therapy, to change the way I think about myself, the world and other people.
Anyone in a similar position will know what I mean when I say: mind-reading people – I know they will want to fire me if I tell them this or if I can’t keep up with this; catastrophizing – I have to get this done, or this terrible thing is going to happen.
A lot of CBT is about reflection and it is true, I have never understood myself better than I do right now. As a result of that, I have a better understanding of the motivations of others. This enables me to lay out the complexity and motivations (or mixed motivations) of characters pretty well.
4. How has it not?
Unhelpful thoughts have often been a large cloud looming over me, blocking creativity. The problem is, that creative outlet is what creative minds need in order to find balance.
The very thing that will make me feel better is not working. The blank screen is still blank.
The cycle of that can be pretty crushing. I have ways of working around that, though, and those methods are helping me to stay clear, creative and better still, more prolific.
5. What advice do you have for other writers with mental health issues.
Don’t be afraid that you’re alone. You never are. I’m so lucky to have experienced what I consider the narrow end of the wedge when it comes to mental health conditions. All the same, I was afraid, I was embarrassed, I was opposed to medication, until I realised that unless I could trust people and seek out help, I was going to lose everyone close to me.
If you are offered counselling, take it. I always had mine over the phone. I didn’t want group sessions, or face to face meetings. I wanted to just get it off my chest to a person who had no vested interests and who could help me cut through my bullshit without judging me.
In the meantime, stay active. If the blank screen starts getting to you, switch the computer off for a day or so, read something you will enjoy, then pick up your notes, or a printout of what you were working on and start getting back into the swing of your own work. Before you know it, you’ll need to buy more notebooks and that Word doc won’t know what hit it!
One of Jack Rollins’ horror stories.
Book Description: A gothic Victorian chiller from the author of the Dr Blessing Series
Albert Kench is summoned back to London from his travels in Australia, and is shocked to find that his sister has suffered horrific mental and physical damage.
A man of science and progress, when Albert is told that Sally attended a séance prior to her collapse and has been touched by otherworldly forces, he believes there must be another, more rational explanation.
Albert learns of a man who claims mastery of the dark arts, who may hold the key to Sally’s salvation. Albert sets off in search of answers, but can he emerge victorious without faith, or will he be forced to accept the existence of a realm beyond the world around him?
“The Séance is a fantastic tale… This will creep you out big style.” – Nev Murray, The Ginger Nuts of Horror.
Contact Jack Rollins
Twitter ID: @JackRollins9280
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Rollins/e/B005O13E0S
If you are an author/writer who experiences mental health issues who would like to share how this impacts you professionally/personally, then please click the following link to download The Mental Muse questions and instructions. Then, get them back to me using MENTAL MUSE ANSWERS as the email subject header. I’ll be in touch.
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