Saturday, September 24, 2016

#HoldOnToTheLight, OR Why I NEED a Semi-colon Tattoo

Yes, I have a blog. Yes, I'm awful about keeping it updated. My author page on Facebook is even more neglected if you can believe it. But, that's not why you're here. My good friend and fellow (and far more talented) author Gail Z. Martin asked me to take part in #HoldOnToTheLight without knowing how much the cause meant to me. 

My birth father died a suicide on Labor Day in 1983. I never knew him, because he had sense enough to give up custody of me in the divorce when I was 2. However, everyone who sees his senior picture or any other photos say I look just like him, which I regard as high praise. He was a severe schizophrenic who did manage to get a degree in English and Russian Literature in between hospitalizations. He grew up like I did, on a mill hill in the upcountry of South Carolina; just a bit smarter than most of his classmates, bitten by a notion that being a liberal would be more fun than just falling in line. He went to Wofford, like I did and unlike me, had a breakdown. He married my mom, had me, and after another year, they divorced and he went to a mental hospital for the first of many stays. 

In 1988, I met my father's twin brother. I was in a bad place, like most teenagers. And I was primed to unintentionally follow in his footsteps. I was a bit of an outcast in high school, too smart for my own good, hyperactive, oversensitive, a Democrat in the heart of the Bible Belt, and bipolar, though I didn't know it at the time. I wanted attention, or something. I decided to cut my wrist and took 3 of every pill in the medicine cabinet and waited for my folks to get home from work. Thankfully, my dose was low, my blade was dull, and my folks got home on time for once. I was fine but my folks decided I needed professional help. I got diagnosed as severely bipolar, with more depressive tendencies and was medicated. Now I want to get a semi-colon tattoo on my scar. Right there on my left wrist. To remind me that the pause was only temporary and that my story has continued.

Now I'm a storyteller, published author, husband, son, uncle and godfather (in no real order). I work at a job I'm good at for too little pay and too much stress. I still have issues with  my manic depression and stress management. BUT I use my writing, my friends and family, and time in the woods to cope. Because I've seen the dark side up close and I don't like it. I have many many reasons to live, even in bad times. AND SO DO YOU.

Never be afraid to talk about how you feel. If you see me at a con, grab me if you need to be talked off the proverbial ledge. Find me on Facebook and message me. You are loved by someone, even if you don't think so in the heat of the moment. Never forget that. You not being here could lead others to not have the fullness of life they deserve. Suicide is the purest form of selfishness there is.

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to


Kathryn McGovern said...

Well spoken. It takes a lot of courage to share such a personal story -- I'm sure it will help others more than you know. 💓

Dianna said...

The semi-colon is a brilliant symbol and a great way to start this essential conversation. I'll be getting one too, to remember all the times I thought about taking the dark road out.

Unknown said...

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Thank you.