Mental Muse: The Mental Health Advocacy Meme for Authors invites writers who experience mental health issues to share their answers to five simple questions. Find them (along with more information on this meme) HERE. I went first in May 2014, you could be next.
Welcome Caitlin O’Connor
Caitlin O’Connor searches for truth in fiction, and drags her characters through hell to find it.
A proud eccentric who aspires to be omniscient, she enjoys listening to music, trying to understand physics, and admiring unusual works of art.
She lives in South Africa with her son and a malevolent lovebird that requires daily libations of blood.
The Mental Muse Questions & Answers
What is your mental health issue?
I was diagnosed with Depression as a child. I also suffered from intense social anxiety and rages. I’m a lot better now than I used to be, but it still gets to me sometimes.
How long have you been writing fiction? Tell us about your career so far.
Writing became a serious hobby around ten years ago, but it’s only recently that I decided to publish my work.
How has mental ill health helped your writing?
Artistic expression has always given me an outlet for my emotions. I used to draw when I was younger, but now I write. I favor flawed characters, and I’ve found that my own mental health issues make it easier to crawl into the dark places of my characters’ minds. Writing emotional scenes when I’m depressed often enriches my prose.
And how has it not?
I push myself way too hard. This is something which I believe traces back to a childhood belief that I could be normal if I just tried harder. I’ve learned to look after myself enough to avoid burning out, and I’ve become pretty good at holding off panic attacks, but I struggle to escape the feeling that I’m broken on a fundamental level.
What advice do you have for other writers with mental health issues.
Knowing yourself is key to managing mental health; from there comes a greater ability to care for yourself. This is an illness like any other, and it can often be treated so don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek help.
Check out Caitlin’s New Adult Fantasy Novel
Blurb: Descended from humans and a vanished race of elemental beings, only the Awakened know the truth about our world. Only they can hold back the fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga—shadow creatures born from an ancient betrayal.
However, the Circle of Awakened is incomplete without the Child of Heaven: a human destined to Wield the Spirit element. Before she can Awaken, she must die.
Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be completely crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.
Tragedy strikes when one of the Guardians is killed, and ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the Circle’s quest for justice. She’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for the people she’s come to care about.
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 this link to download The Mental Muse questions and instructions. Then, get your answers back to me using MENTAL MUSE ANSWERS as the email subject header. I’ll be in touch.
Want to discuss an issue anonymously with a forum community of other’s in the same boat?
Thank you Caitlin, for being this month’s brave & bold mental muse!
And thanks to all readers for your continued support.
*Join us in our fight against stigma.*