Cover Design by Rebecca Hamilton
Young teen Richie Lyons is having an uneventful summer, playing games with his friends. He even has a birthday on the way. However, his uneventful life is shattered when he wakes up, on the morning of his thirteenth birthday, with a list of names pounding through his brain. A list that contains the names of those he cares about most. As if that wasn’t enough, he keeps having a recurring waking dream of a fire that is threatening to take the life of his mom and sister.
Richie must fight to understand this recurring list and the visions he is having. Are they prophetic, foretelling an actual occurrence, or a waking nightmare threatening his sanity? In addition, what does the list have to do with the newest local ministry and the strange pastor who came to Richie’s door?
The more Richie discovers, the less he understands.
When Richie finally begins to understand, it may be too late for himself and everyone else that he cares about.
There is one thing Richie knows for certain.
He may have to grow up much faster than he ever wanted to grow, because there is something very wrong with his visions, and there is something frightening about the list of five.
The Li5t of Five will release September 29th!
| || |
J. Scott Sharp has been writing for much of his considerable life, but only just now decided to take it seriously at 47. This makes him a little crazy. At least his wife Marti and his two dogs, Sumo and Tnur think so.
He has his Associates degree in psychology, which qualifies him for nothing except understanding what you're thinking. At least he likes to think so. He also thinks he understands what you're feeling, but that's a whole other problem.
He lives in Arizona where he splits his time between watching TV on DVD, working, and writing. His hobbies include stage and close-up magic and reading until his eyes won't stay open. Closed eyes make it harder to do stage magic, but he tries.
He is the author of short stories Not Even There, Three Blackbirds, and Cold-blooded
The List of Five is his first novella.
"Suicide" is such a heavy word. It weighs on my heart and past, anchoring me to the present. It reminds me of what I've been through and where I've come from. I know that I can continue on, because I have, even through the darkest times.
I have depression—and I always will. It's one of those things that run on both sides of my family, like breast cancer, only we don't talk about it as much. We talk about how many women in our family have struggled with breast cancer and how we should all get mammograms, but we never talk about how we also struggle with anxiety and depression. No one ever suggested that I should see a therapist if I start feeling overwhelmed.
Instead, society has led us to believe that if your mind is sick, you are crazy and worthless. In reality, many valuable members of society have depression
. J.K. Rowling, a talented author, has depression. Actress Uma Thurman and singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow have depression. Even Abraham Lincoln suffered from it! Why, then, do we shove this subject under the rug?
I think that suicide is a symptom of depression, and if we only took better care of each other, we would lose less amazing people. In some ways, my depression has made me a better person. I am more sensitive to others' emotions and stronger mentally after everything I've been through. I have wanted to take my life in the past, but made it out of those dark times thanks to the support and love from my family and friends.
The worst thing that can happen to you when you're depressed is to feel even more alone. Sometimes, being alone can be a good thing, but when you are hurting so much inside, you might not know how to reach out. In 2008, I created a pen pal support group for people with depression. The project was wildly successful, and hundreds of letters and emails were sent across the world. By reaching out to each other, we all became less alone.
During this week, I ask you to do one simple thing: smile at strangers. You never know when you might light up someone's bad day. Make yourself available to those who need to talk. If you're struggling, reach out. You are not alone.
There is always someone who cares, whether it's a trusted family member or friend, or a licensed practitioner who can get you the help you need.
Let's start a conversation about mental illness.
Elizabeth Barone writes New Adult drama with grit—fiction that focuses on the things that twenty-somethings deal with. Her novels, short stories, and serials explore themes such as depression, addiction, and other real-life situations. She aims to start a conversation about mental illness with her second novel, Crazy Comes in Threes
, due out in December. Elizabeth was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2004.
When she is not writing, Elizabeth enjoys playing The Sims 3 and Plants vs. Zombies, embroidering, and watching Indianapolis Colts games. She lives in Waterbury, Connecticut. Connect with her on her website
, or chat with her on Twitter
I want you to remember one thing:
Statistically, you will feel better.
I know it’s a weird thing to say when talking about depression. When talking about suicide. It’s the kind of thing people will tell you and you’ll smile, and nod, if you still can, and you’ll ignore them. It sounds trite. Impossible. Well, humor a nerdy psych major for a moment.
That’s right, psych major. That doesn’t mean I have all the secrets. That means that when I was depressed, the cry-every-day kind, I knew what was going on. I knew I had the symptoms. I knew the average length of a depressive episode. And I knew that I would probably have one again. Most of all, I knew all the things I should (and I use that word in the most glib sense) be doing. Get regular sleep. Go out and do fun things. Eat regularly.
Ha. Ha ha ha. Knowing what I should do didn’t make it any easier to get out of bed. Or eat regular meals. Or stay asleep for longer than four hours. And I wasn’t even down in the darkest of it. Wretched as I felt, I never wanted to kill myself. Never wanted to be dead, passively, to fade away like something already gone.
So how can I say, “You will feel better”? Because I know it’s true. Statistically. Maybe it’s silly, but it kept me going during the lowest point in my life. Nothing stays stable forever. No matter how low you are, you will have to regress to the mean, bounce back to average. Not in a day. Not in a week. But maybe in a month, or a couple of months. You have to, because just as happiness fades to sadness, sadness must fade back. Math doesn’t lie.
I told you it sounded silly. Wait? Do nothing? Expect to get better? Of course not. Rage. Tear pages from your journal. Run until your legs give out. Sleep and cry. Try medication or therapy and do those things we know can speed up recovery. But always, always remember that nothing lasts forever.
Not even misery.
And whoever you are, I love you, I hope for you, and I pray to something unknown that you find your own hope. You cannot be replaced. Statistically, you are unique. And you deserve to find contentment. Even if it takes a while.
I'll admit that I procrastinated big time in writing this post. I knew it was going to dredge up some pretty bad memories, ones I have pushed down deep. But, I agreed to do it because I know my story might help someone going through the same things I did. And if it helps just one person, than all my discomfort is well worth it. I asked to remain anonymous not because I am ashamed of my past and the story I'm about to tell, but only to spare my family the pain of reliving it.
I was a military brat who spent my teen years overseas in Germany. For my 18th birthday my friends took me out to a club and bought me many, many drinks (it was legal there). Before then I drank occasionally so I didn't think anything of it at first, but after several rounds I realized I was beyond drunk. The loud music and the crowded room made me feel overly warm so a "friend" suggested we go outside to get some fresh air. We had hung out before and I trusted him so I didn't think anything of it at the time.
When I stood up to walk outside, even more of the alcohol hit my brain and I could barely get one foot in front of the other. I even had a few friends outside ask if I was okay as I stumbled down a set of stairs, only to be reassured by my "friend" that he'd take care of me and they needn't worry. That was about the last coherent thing I fully remember. I kept blacking out and after coming to a few times, realized that I had made two huge errors in judgment. First, I had allowed myself to get way too drunk, and second I had trusted the wrong guy. You see, when you are as plastered as I was, there is no fighting back or saying no. Only half-hearted attempts at pushing him away, because as much as your brain is screaming no and stop, the alcohol has robbed you of your voice and your ability to stay unconscious.
When he was finished with me, he just redressed himself and said, "Let’s go back inside" as if nothing at all had just happened. By then, many of my other friends were starting to wonder where I had disappeared to and come looking for us. I found my best friend and headed to the bathroom where I told her what had happened. We sat there for what must have been an hour while I cried as she held me. She tried to convince me to go to the hospital and report it, but I was still drunk and knew rape had stigmas attached to it so I refused.
Fast forward a few days and we go back to school, where the guy actually tried to strike up a conversation with me in the halls like nothing had happened that weekend. It started a huge fight between him and a couple other male friends of mine, who by now had all heard the story. The next thing I know the school nurse, the cops and the guidance counselor are involved as the rumors had hit the school office. They called my parents (without my permission I might add) and told them what supposedly happened.
You see, I hadn't told my parents yet. I didn't want them to know, I didn't want anyone to know because I was ashamed and blamed myself for being stupid, for being drunk, for being too trusting. So then, I had to sit down and tell my parents everything, which was mortifying. Then, I had to recount the story over and over again to the cops (all males at that). It was as if they wanted me to say it again and again in case my story changed somehow so they could catch me in a lie. They didn't believe me. As the lead detective put it, I hung out with a few kids that had been in trouble here and there. He actually told me that it wouldn't have happened if I had picked better friends.
Because I had waited so long to tell an adult, it was too late for me to take the morning after pill. A few weeks later I found out, I was pregnant. As I began to struggle with what I was going to do, many of my friends quit hanging around or calling. They say misery loves company, but the company really doesn't love the misery. I found out quickly how many true friends I had. Then mother nature made the tough choice for me that I just couldn't bring myself to make. I miscarried at a month and a half due to stress. I had already blamed myself for the rape, so it was easy to tack on the guilt of the loss.
Each day after my birthday, I sank deeper and deeper into a dark abyss that I didn't think I'd ever climb out of. The school was great about letting me leave classes if I needed to, removing the guy from any of my classes, etc. But I still had to see him in the halls and he even got to participate in my graduation ceremony on the honor guard, even though he wasn't a senior. Seeing him every day just made my depression get worse until finally I hit rock bottom. I had decided I didn't want to live anymore. I thought my life was over anyway. Before that night I had grand visions of "saving myself" until I was married, and in my twisted darkness I figured now no man would want to ever marry me. That I had been used up by losing my virginity.
I started going through my things, I cleaned my room so no one would have to do it when I was dead. I thought about all the ways to do it, which would be most effective, which would be the least painful, the whole nine yards. I wondered if anyone would miss me, other than my parents. And even though I knew they loved me, I was in such a dark place I thought they'd be better without me and the shame that I had caused them. And no one knew about any of it. I put on a mask for the world, I'd smile and pretend I was fine. I even lied to the shrink they made me talk to.
Then two separate things happened that changed everything for me. The first, our class had a guy commit suicide and I saw how it affected not just his friends and family, but everyone in the community. People who didn't even know him, grieved for him. The second, an unexpected friend reached out to me. He was willing to listen to me when no one else wanted to hear about my struggles. He became my constant companion for months, and he didn't want anything in return.
I still struggle with depression from time to time, and have many dark days where I wonder if I should just end it and be done with it. But now I realize that it would be a permanent solution to a very temporary struggle. I know now that my parents would be devastated, and that more than anything has kept me here. I also found an outlet for my emotions, writing. I pour all my dark thoughts and emotions and fears into my writing and it helps.
If you are feeling like there is no hope, know that I've been there too. It doesn't last forever, things do get better. Reach out to someone. Volunteer somewhere. Find an outlet to express yourself, whether it's writing like me or drawing, painting, making things, anything. Find something you enjoy and are passionate about, then pour your heart into it. But above all, just remember you are not alone. People care, even strangers.
When Jess mentioned her blog dedicated to Suicide Prevention week, I didn't feel worthy to write anything for it. I mean that not in a self-deprecating or even mocking sort of way. I was just afraid that anything I could possibly have to say on the subject would either sound belittling or ignorant.
As it happened, today I received an e-mail with a few compliments on my work. It made my day. I was so happy I did a thirty second dance party (for Grey's Anatomy fans). And I kept thinking of how something so little, so easy and so simple can go such a very long way.
And there you have it. The single most important reason for me - and hopefully others - to participate in this Suicide Prevention and awareness campaign. Because this isn't about whether I understand your reasons to see this world in a bleaker light. It isn't about having 'been there, done that, bounced back from that'. Maybe I don't need to understand what made anyone think that whatever else might be next, whatever it is that awaits us after this life, could only be better than the one we have. (Me, I'm not so sure of that, by the way.)
If I've learnt anything through my own tough times (which feel very unimportant in the light of this week's theme, but they were a ball-and-chain to me) it is this: it helps to talk. It doesn't even really matter who you talk to, or what you talk about. Start with the easy stuff. The silly things. The little every day things that bug the crap out of you. Once you can trust the other person enough, the rest will come out, because it has to. And it will feel just that tiny little bit more bearable once you've said it. Once you've told someone how you feel and why you feel that way. And maybe you'll tell them again. And again. And again.
You can talk to the guidance counselor at school - because that is what they do and what they're there for. That helped me, at the time. Just being able to get things off my chest to someone who, in my case, didn't know any of the other people involved. It helped me sort out the madness and chaos that ruled my head. And best of all: it cured me, finally, of that nagging feeling of responsibility, where I thought that I had to fix things. It taught me that they were never my things to fix.
But it doesn't have to be a professional at all. Maybe there's someone among your friends - or someone who ought to be among your friends - or a distant relative, a neighbor, a friendly face, anyone who might surprise you and turn out to be a great listener. That is what you need most of all. You need someone who listens to what you have to say, even if they don't understand. You need someone who won't judge, but who might be able to ask the right questions. I don't know. But talk.
I have no idea if these words will have any effect. I hope so. I know that writing down your own thoughts can be liberating to a certain extent, too. It'll definitely make you more eloquent in voicing all those complicated things that are washing through you on a daily basis. But a quiet and patient notebook isn't a real substitute for a quiet and patient listener. And they are out there.
We are out there.
In theory, it's one small step, even if through the lens of reality it'll look like a giant leap. But this is the first step. And its yours to take.
So take it. Take charge, take control, take that one step.
Find someone to talk to.
"Please understand, we wouldn't be saying this if we didn't feel like this is
what needs to happen."
"What if I say no?"
"We have the ability to force it."
That was just part of the conversation I had with my 10 years old daughter's Therapist and her Psychiatric Doctor's Assistant on the evening of June 29th, 2013.
It all began with an episode that quickly spiraled out of control and ended up with my daughter, who was diagnosed as Bipolar in 2012, being voluntarily admitted by me, her Mom.
You know, the one that's suppose to protect her and keep her safe.
My beautiful, talented, little girl, begged to be taken to the Psychiatric Hospital the evening before. Although she had never been, she said she needed to go. I on the other hand was terrified at the thought . All I knew about Psychiatric hospitals was what I saw on TV. But, after four hours filled with threats of jumping out a window, screaming, crying, running down the street and lastly threatening to hurt her sibling, we made the trip. Five hours later we were sent home, exhausted.
The next day, I was cautiously hopeful the storm had passed as it had before. Standing in the bathroom not 10 feet from my daughter's bedroom, I was coloring my hair. The grays seemed to be coming faster these days. I heard a noise, almost a cough, I thought my daughters Acid Reflux was causing her trouble. She had developed Gastritis as a result of all the emotions her Bipolar brought her. That morning she was quiet but remorseful for her episode the night before.
She asked me early that morning , "Are you sure you love me?"
I replied, "Yes, I will always and forever love you."
"But, how can you love someone like me?"
"Because, you are my daughter, and you bring me so much joy."
A few seconds later, she poked her head in the bathroom door. She looked upset.
"You are going to be mad at me."
"Did you throw up on your bedroom floor again I asked?"
That had happened two nights before because of the acid reflux.
"No. I can't tell you what happened."
"Yes, you can, it's ok."
My daughter has an amazing support team in her Therapist, Psychiatrist and family. Her therapist and I both thought she was going through some preteen moodiness. The weeks prior she had started spending most of her time in her room. She no longer wanted to hang out with me. She had to be constantly having a friend over or going to a friends. Being idle, agitated her. She was still engaging with her friends so we thought it was nothing serious.
Back in the bathroom doorway, my daughter lets her hand drop for her neck and the tears start flowing.
"I am so sorry Mom," is what I hear but, I have tunnel vision, there were angry red marks and what looked like broken blood vessels on her neck.
She responded, "I tied something around my neck and pulled as hard as I could for as long as I could, then I got scared."
This couldn't be real. My beautiful, talented, funny little girl, hurt herself?
I told her it was ok. I asked her to put her shoes on, I called my father quickly and said we are coming over. I didn't know what to do. I needed time to think but she needed away from the situation. By the time we got to my Dad's 20 minutes later, she was out of the car showing Grandpa her round-off she had been working so hard on. I was confused. I called her docs office they said bring her in at 4:00.
4:15... please understand we wouldn't be saying than if we didn't feel like this is what needs to happen. My daughter had just told her Therapist that she had a plan to kill herself, that she would hurt her brother, that she didn't feel safe going home because of what she might do. She told them she wanted to go to the hospital. Imagine...being 10 and knowing, you needed to be someplace to keep those around you safe.
My daughter spent 4 days in the hospital. I visited her every day, twice a day for the hour that they allowed. One of the most powerful moments for me was when she was admitted and was on the other side of the glass door about to go to her room, she mouthed to me,
"I am so sorry for doing this to you."
She knew she needed to be there and was more worried about how I would be.
We now have a safety plan posted in a few places in our house that lists the things she can't do, such as hurt herself or anyone else or to be in her room with her door closed. It also lists what she can do, call a family member, listen to music, and call the Crisis hotline. We have a plan. It's been two months and she is doing really well.
When I asked her why she tied the scarf around her neck, she said
“to get rid of the pain in my mind."
She is fragile and moody at times. But, she isn't her Bipolar, or her attempt at hurting herself. She is the bravest and strongest person I know. The changes tell us when our loved one is hurting. Our loved ones sometimes tell us when they are hurting. And me, her Mom, I was reminded by someone that I did protect her and keep her safe, because I was willing and strong enough to let her be admitted and cared for by people that had the skill to and ability to monitor her every moment until she was better. But, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
During this Suicide Prevention Week, I ask that you watch closely.
I was only ten feet away.
That you love those with mental health issues. And most of all, remind yourself that as a family member or friend, you have the strength and obligation to support and love someone that is struggling.
To those that read this and are struggling, you are loved and you can be strong and you will feel better, if you ask for help.
~A Proud Mom
Today is the "official" Suicide Prevention Day.
And the day I have chosen to write to you myself.
To send support and love to others, an organization known as To Write Love On Her Arms began the tradition of spending today (and much of this week) by literally writing love, on their arms. If there is one thing I've seen this week by reading blogger posts, it's that our ghosts are not so different. Write love, spread love, share a picture of your love below in the comments!
A year has gone by and I hope you’re still here and reading this.
More than anything, I hope you’re here.
I hope that in the last year you’ve found something that helps, or eliminated something that didn’t. I hope your heart remains intact, and that you’ve stayed up far too late to watch the stars. I hope you’ve eaten cake for dinner, fallen in love with a new song, and been kind to someone you didn’t even know.
My wish for you is that you’ve found moments of peace. Whether it is in writing, drawing, singing, dancing, collecting obscure rabbit shaped oven mitts, or simply being more content in your own body. I hope something has been stirred within you and has made you take a leap outside your comfort zone.
Since a comfort zone is often just a polite term for a self-imposed prison.
My dreams for you are that you seize happiness, with both hands, every time you get the chance. I hope that you never forget that you alone can change your world whether it is with a plane ticket or simply a new outfit. I hope you understand that you are here for a reason, and you might not know that reason for another forty years.
I know it’s frustrating, but the day you find out…there will be no better feeling in this world.
I hope in the next year, you go some place you’ve never been before. I went to Florida since last we met, it was a sixteen-hour drive, and I almost burst into flames from all the sun. Yet, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat because fifty years from now I’ll still remember the laughter, the worlds smallest hotel bathroom, and how the moon reflected off the ocean, turning the night into a shimmering Wonderland.
I want you to know you cannot make lasting memories in purgatory. And one day when you’re old and grey you will realize memories are all you have, but if you do it right, they will be enough.
Speaking of heartbeats, remember they are painfully finite.
In the next year, make amends. Love your parents. They are people who can get as lost as you do sometimes. They might not have found their reason for being here yet either.
Sometimes it is easier to love someone than understand them.
But you should try.
In the year to come, read good books. Study if you must, but rifle through library stacks to learn. Fall in love with words, for in them you will find a friend and thus never truly be alone.
Never forget that at least one person remembers this past year fondly because you were in it. When you find yourself in a dark place, think of the things you would have missed if you’d been gone.
Then think of all the amazing things to come.
Life is painful, hard, depressing, and dark, I won’t deny it.
But it’s also beautiful, unexpected, enduring, and so much lovelier and so much more amazing than we give it credit for.
Until We Meet Again, Remain Ever The Warrior You Are,
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDE PLEASE CALL
OR CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE
September 8-14th is Suicide Prevention Week
Why am I telling you this? What makes this week so much more important than the other 51 weeks of the year.
The answer is...nothing.
Yet we choose this week, just as the newness of Fall approaches, to come together and to celebrate life.
That every single life is priceless to the universe, to the future, and to at least one person.
This week, I will feature blog posts from people who have been on the cusp of suicide.
Who have wanted nothing more than to have the pain of their thoughts stop.
Each one of them is a survivor
And so are you.
I've always said books have played a large role in saving my life.
And therefore I have compiled a list of free e-books.
If you don't have a Kindle, you can download the FREE reading app HERE.
It works on nearly every device you can imagine from your phone to computers and tablets.Take a book. Heck take them all!Let them remind you that everything is possible again.And check back here, every day, to comment, spread your story, and spread the love.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDE PLEASE CALL
OR CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE