Category Archives: Questions for an Author

Questions to an author: Molly McHugh P2


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-molly

Hello world, Let’s continue with the second part of our interview right? You can refresh on P1 right here

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?

    No. I wrote it how I wanted it to be, played a bit. And though it does have a nice creative style and feel that many (not all!) have commented they enjoyed, it was a bit crap at the start. I was too full of myself, too thrilled with getting it finally done (much was written in notes 20 or so years earlier and saved in email). It needed a lot of editing (I did all editing myself) and it needed to be filled out with more detail.

    I recently even did a minor update with a few things that needed to be fixed and added in a couple of resources. Just want it to be of value to whoever takes the time to read it. And for it to help someone heal their suffering. Give ideas of things that may help.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

    No. A few were very kind to check out the earlier version (and honest enough to tell me it needed a ton of editing!) but that was it.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?

    I had a bunch of notes I had written years before and saved in my email. It just felt right to do it, and I was ok being public as my son was older. First version I put up on Amazon as a kindle book took maybe eight months to complete. Updated that a little and then published as a paperback book via Createspace maybe six months or so later.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    I shared as much as I could. My blog is full of more info on a ton of topics that didn’t fit into the book. And my way of learning and connecting with others, helping to affect change. Speaking out abou the overdiagnosing and overdrugging, etc. I learned not too long ago about the death of children who are erroneoulsy being given BP diagnosis. So sad. They have health issues, but no, they should not be on psychotropic medications. The doctors fueling this new targeting of children – some have been sued after the child become completely disabled or worse, dies – should be in jail is my line of thought.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging, business etc?

My bipolar blog I mentioned above – a much different voice than most of what is out there.

My freelance writing business – info here:  I’d love to help someone write their memoir! Special discount for mental health focus 🙂

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

On Amazon here as a paperback and kindle book.

Thank you very much Molly for answering my questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

Any questions for Molly or ideas for my questions to an author series please leave them in the comments! Thank you for reading; Mind your Mind and take good care of your mental health.

Questions to an Author: Molly McHugh


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-mollyHello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I am as you must have noticed, doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences.

I have done a modest review of Molly’s memorable memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too. 

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:

    Sure. Born in U.S., youngest of five kids, mom a nurse, dad (after 4 years in WWII) owned own insurance biz. Very athletic (probably saved me from having worse mental-physical health issues), soccer in college, diagnosed Manic Depression freshman year after a psychotic break and hospitaliztion. Normal middle class kid. Loved animals, loved nature, loved being active. Did well in school. Always in one sport or another. Had close friends, the first boyfriend, first kiss, pajama parties, dance parties, prom night… plus some other things I will refrain from mentioning. Lol.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with this audacious title?

I had a FB group for e-book authors, and I asked for feedback on my book title. One of the earlier ones was “A Brain Gone Awry”… everyone hated it. I of course, thought it was brilliant. Ha! More ideas for a title not that great according to my helpful ‘more experienced writer’ critics either.

Then someone told me I had to be more clear, and that folks want to ‘solve a problem’. So I realized my gift to share was to focus on BP-1 (the classic Manic Depression) and to talk about the alternative care that I did over the years that helped me. And helped me not be on psych meds – which is huge. Most folks want that. Hence the title about BP-1 and how to thrive.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. Going from the assumption therefore that you are surviving and thriving, what is your take about mental health?

I am doing well. I’ve suffered – and still do – like anyone who has to deal with these issues but have had many wonderful things in my life as well, so am thankful.

My main issue is that the ‘Chemical Imbalance’ theory used to put folks on drugs has to end. Sure, these meds can help someone suffering with an epsiode of illness (bipolar is episodic in general – with normal periods of functioning) stabilize, get back in control, but are very harmful with long-term use. And no – there is no such thing as an identifiable imbalance they correct. They affect brain chemicals (like anything you ingest into your body) but are neurotoxins with many distressing side effects and create new ‘illness’ issues i.e. side effects.

Mental health is a huge term. It would take a long time to write my thoughts. But the main issue for me is to identify underlying causes of the symptoms someone is experiencing, if possible. And then search for ways to treat. I still deal with quite a bit of fatigue… but not severe, debilitating depression like I had in my younger years. God that was awful. And the improvement is from learning about and treating some of my unique health issues (thyroid, allergies, detox from toxic exposures, etc). Others can do this too.

  1. Did your diagnosis help or hurt your mental wellbeing in the long term?

What an excellent question. I’m not really sure how to answer this… as I had no ‘choice’ in being diagnosed. I didn’t read a book and think ‘oh, this is me’ or spend a bunch of time in therapy then get told I was bipolar. I had the classic onset with a manic episode in late teens and was hospitalized. And no, I was not doing cocaine or any recreational drug that caused it.

A diagnosis is just a label describing symptoms, is one way to look at it. I kept it pretty under-the-table from my outer life as much as I could when younger. But I had to have treatment – had severe depressive episodes and mania. So in that respect, it was needed I guess. Though I fought for other ways to be well and learned much, and healed much on my own with regular docs – what I share in my book.

I can say if I had bought into the ‘I have a chemical imbalance and have to take psych meds’ for life nonsense I would be dead by now. No question in my mind. And also I would not have had some of the amazing experiences I’ve been fortunte to have: college degree, healthy baby, well paid professional work, rasing my son as a single Mom, travel the world, etc. All of this while not on any psych med(s).

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceived stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?

    I definitely have experienced stigma (personal relationships, being treated differently, fewer job opportunities) – was forced out of a four-year university program due to knowledge of my medical history. Stigma is real, and I am not sure how it can be changed.

    I had a fair amount of emotional cruelty too – the “tough love” approach is how some describe it. To deny what it really is. When I was severely ill, living on the street, wealthy family with multiple apartments unoccupied didn’t intervene. I spent Christmas in a homeless shelter miles from everyone else secure and safe in their home. Of course it was my fault I had become ill, my fault I was forced out of college then crippled with student loan payments, my fault I’d somehow not fit into the cultural norm everyone felt comfortable with, my fault I was raped, my fault I was mugged, my fault I somehow didn’t miraculously emerge a rock solid twenty-something making tons of cash.

    At it’s essence, stigma is really a form of emotional cruelty. And there’s plenty of cruel people in this world.

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about motherhood with a fragile mental health like yours?

Fragile is a bit offensive of a word… though I know you do not mean it that way. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Surviving what I’ve survived I look at as an inner strength, something in my makeup that no one will ever take away. It is a part of me and will be when I leave this earth. I’m vulnerable in ways some others are not, but not fragile. And never have been.

I loved being a mom and was like many other single moms. I was on no psych meds, never hospitalized, worked for many years, eventually went on disability but still worked to provide a better life and opportunities for my son. We lived and traveled abroad, he is bilingual, has had a ton of amazing experiences.

The only thing that is very different about me – that really would not be noticeable to others – is I have to keep stress down. Limit social time. Had to focus on my son, staying well. Most don’t have as much of those concerns. But most haven’t Manic Depression with a history of psychiatric hospitalization either.

It was always on the back of my mind that I had to stay focused and be careful not to trigger any severe episode. For the most part I was successful. No parent is perfect. My son was raised with more love and caring attention that many children are.

P2  – the conclusion of this lovely interview comes up tomorrow so stay subscribed lol & Thank you

Interview with Pamela Spiro-Wagner Author and Mental Health Advocate P2


Hello World, without much ado we continue with P2 of our interview started yesterday. It is Mental Health Awareness and my goal is to advocate with fresh content every day of the week my own mental health permitting 🙂

2017 MHM Horizontal Banner Image

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about your relationship with your twin sister today a few years after the book has been published?

Twelve years after DIVDED MINDS first came out, I have no relationship with my sister except in memory. I love her as my sister but I do not like her.

  1. How have you been coping with your mental illness and yet still been able to function at times enough to write and publish?

I do not believe in the concept of “mental illness” any longer, only in mental suffering. And I do not believe it is anything but calling people names when you label them bipolar or schizophrenic or anything else. I cope when I do, well, and when I dont cope I dont. But like anyone else I have my up times and I do what I do as well as I can. The medications are the real problem, disabling me and most people far more than we can possibly know. All the supposed symptoms of schizophrenia I believe can also be induced and are mostly induced by the antipsychotic medications. So how do you even begin to separate out which is which???

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? Not that I recall… No one particular book influences me but I must have read thousands of books. I tell anyone who wants to write to read, read, read, everything you can get your hands on, that way you will not be overly influenced or copy someone else when it comes time to write your own book.

  2. Did you have a writing mentor? No I never did.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why? The last one was difficult to write because I did not know where I would end it and how…and how to assess the present with an eye for the future is hard. Also to wind up a book I had spend almost a decade writing felt devastating. How to sum up all that in one half a chapter was not easy.

  1. How did you deal with that?

  2. Which was your favourite poem and why? I still like the first one and the last one in the book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS… But I have no real favorites, My latest poem is usually my current favourite.

  3. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?

    My notes please: Pammy didn’t have an answer for this question

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published? I wrote a memoir by myself that took ten years, then when my twin and I rewrote it to make DIVDED MINDS it took 3 years. Publication from start to finish took 2 years.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?

Read memoir, first of all. if you do not like to read memoirs, it may be that you wont want to write memoir. But you probably can not write a decent memoir if you do not read it either.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I really mean it when I say I no longer believe in diagnoses for mental illnesses, whether it is schizophrenia or bipolar illness or any personality disorder etc. I do not even care if someday they manage to find an anatomic or genetic “cause” or abnormality that “proves” that there is such a thing. You know, there are all sorts of genetic variants that happen in people but we choose we how we see it; nothing makes normal or abnormal until we define it that way. We have made up a category of behaviors and description of an experience called schizophrenia and defined it as a bad thing for so long we have forgotten that it was and is not always thought of as bad everywhere, nor must it end badly, except when we treat it badly and with medications! If we treat schizophrenia with medications we know almost for certain it will become chronic by definition. Look at the research. No one knows what schizophrenia is nor who really needs or would even slightly benefit from medication. Most antipsychotic medication does nothing good in the end but make people sicker…I mean this. All for very dubious benefit and no chance of cure. Medications harm people directly and deeply even with just the side effects, which are legion, ranging from terrible disfiguring movement disorders to loss of sexual function and desire, loss of all pleasure in life, to loss of teeth due to dry mouth and so. Would you want to take a chance on any of these because doctors have nothing better to offer you? Or would you too want to eschew medical care and try something that at least truly does no harm?

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

My first poetry book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, can still be bought from Cavankerrypress.org and my newest poetry book which includes my art LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS will be published in late May 2017. I try to keep my blog going at http://pamelaspirowagner.com

  1. Where can your memoir be found? DIVIDED MINDS can still be bought from Amazon.com but also used copies can be found and you can order it from any bookstore.

Thank you very much Pammy for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects. Kindly drop any questions you have for Pammy in the comments section and please do not hesitate to respectfully share any opinions on this interview too…

 And before I go to her bio, please do not hesitate to visit Pammy’s Blog for more on her writings and mental health advocacy

Pam’s Awesome Profile

An artist, writer and poet who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for decades, Pamela Spiro Wagner attended Brown University from 1970-1975. She later went to medical school for one and a half years, before being hospitalized for the third time for psychiatric care. In 2010, she was also diagnosed with PTSD due to trauma resulting from deeply inappropriate and punitive use of seclusion and restraints in psychiatric hospitals.

  Wagner won First Place in the 2001/2 international BBC World Service Radio Poetry Competition, judged by Nobelist Wole Soyinke. In 2005, she co-authored, with her twin sister, a psychiatrist, DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia, which won the national NAMI Outstanding Literature Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award. Four years later,  Ms Wagner’s book of poems, WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS was published. Several poems won  honorable mentions at New Millennium Writings and two were short-listed for the Bridport Prize in the UK. Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesSunday Magazine, the Hartford Courant, and Tikkunamong other places.

 Doing art under the name, Pamwagg, Ms Wagner was part of a group show in Hartford, Connecticut in 2011, and had two solo shows, one at the Otis Library in Norwich, Connecticut in 2012 and then at the Wethersfield Library in Connecticut. Two paintings and two poems appeared in the Collective DreamArtsMagazine in 2014. In June 2017, her art will be on display at the Hooker-Dunham Gallery in  Brattleboro, Vermont.

Despite experiencing much adversity in her 64 years, including the decades-long diagnosis of schizophrenia, Wagner has also been lucky enough to have had four life-changing miracles along the way. The passion to write poetry, starting in 1984, and then, quite suddenly, to take up art in 2008 at the age of 55, were just two of those miracles.  She currently resides along with her cat, Beanie Baby, in Brattleboro, Vermont, in northern New England, where she disavows all labels, including those of any mental illness.

 Wagner’s books include: DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia (St Martin’s Press, 2005)

WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, poems (Cavankerry Press, 2009)

LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, poems and art (Green Writers Press/SunDog Poetry 2017)

At the end of this month, I will round up with a summary post of advocacy and my take on the different interviews and opinions and all – please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to be featured on my blog during this month (Mental health related only)

This interview is the longest post I am doing on this blog I promise… don’t unsubscribe please

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Interview with Pamela Spiro-Wagner author and Mental Health Advocate P1


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Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: And yet we all have minds, which minds could go ill and if poorly managed the illness runs a life time.

Mental health awareness is a call to the imperativeness of taking care of your mind just like you will do your body. It is equally in my opinion a call to demand an equal treatment of those with a mental illness just like those with a physical illness. I know this is an ideal!

And so here we go: Hello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I also intend to feature authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences. An author to me is anyone who has written and published their writings be it on or offline, via a blog, magazine, book or etc.

My first author to be interviewed in this series is a dear friend and one old enough to be my mum actually. I clicked with Pamela Spiro Wagner around January 2014 via my blog. We have been friends since then and she is the only person from the US I met through the blog and have had the honour of meeting in real life.

I have done a modest review of her epic memoir on my blog, as co-authored with her twin sister, and have also read some of her poetry. Pammy did my portrait even though hospitalised, and it took 3 visits spanned over 6 – 9 hours. It is among my most precious possessions. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her life journey, especially that to become this published author she is today today mindful of her Schizophrenia diagnosis.

Divided Minds
Pammy and Lynnie: sweet twin

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:

I am an identical twin, the older one, and the slightly bigger one at birth. Pigeon-holed as stoical even in childhood, I was given the message, often voiced aloud, that I did not need anything and that I did not have feelings. My twin was given the opposite message, by the way. Nevertheless, my childhood was relatively uneventful until 6th grade when 2 things happened. First President Kennedy was assassinated, which changed my life in terrible ways: this was when I started hearing voices telling me that I was evil and that I had killed the president. Then a couple of months later I had a very traumatic accident while skiing. I broke my leg and lay on the freezing ski slopes for hours waiting for rescue. When they finally brought me down my leg was first set without anaesthesia, which I endured, as I knew I had to, without making a sound. Then only hours later it was set a second time. This time, the surgeon clamped a mask of anaesthetizing ether gas on my face but failed to initiate the air intake valve, in effect suffocating me. I tried to resist, because he was killing me, and was restrained. The last thing I heard before I passed out was him saying, “Oh my god, I forgot to turn on the gas…” Then all went black. I told my parents nothing about either of these events. Why? Because of course I was stoical and did not need anything. And because I also knew in my heart that no one would believe me or take my struggles seriously. Nevertheless, these things – believing I had no right to feel, hearing voices and the trauma of my accident, deeply affected me all my life.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?

Our publishers chose the name, DIVIDED MINDS, which was a title they had used before with success. We had nothing to do with it. Alas, our original title, which I had chosen and always prefered was SOLO FOR TWO.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. I read that schizophrenia affects 1 out of 100 Americans; what’s your take on that?

Well according to most statistics this holds true, pretty much world-wide, the 1 in 100 persons being affected by schizophrenia. But you know, I doubt the validity of this number. And I doubt it because it is really a matter of opinion and nothing more. What is schizophrenia? Can anyone tell me? It is not anywhere in the brain that one can point to and despite the lies we have been told , it is NOT a chemical imbalance or some overproduction of dopamine. No one HAS schizophrenia, , not the way you have malaria or measles. It is a matter of what you say and do that in the opinion of another person makes them judge you as psychotic and out of touch with reality. I do not in fact believe that a person with schizophrenia in the USA would be accounted as schizophreinic or “crazy” everywhere, not in say, India or Africa … and so forth… Times change, definitions of madness change. That does not happen with malaria or measles, does it? Because judgments change and opinions change so notions of so-called mental illness change too, but usually facts do not.

  1. How did you get your diagnosis and how have you fared since that diagnosis?

I was first informed of my schizophrenia diagnosis when I was about 28 or thirty, but that was the first time I was told any diagnosis at all. I had been hospitalized several times before then and as early as 18 but literally no one had ever spoken to me about diagnosis. This doctor came right out and told me, “You have schizophrenia”then he said, “You dont have to end up on the back wards if you take your medication, properly, and for the rest of your life.” Then he started me on Mellaril (Thioridazine), which I took at higher and higher doses and along with doses of Thorazine (Chlorpromazine) as high as 1500mg for years. These did not keep me well, not by any means, despite the medications I was hit with more and more frequent stays in the hospital. Knowing what I know now, that antipsychotic medications do not work and only increase the tendency to relapse, I would not say that the decision to put me on Mellaril was the best thing he could have done for me. In fact, I would say that it is possible that the diagnosis itself was the worst thing that could have happened to me, or the best, depending on how you look at things. Life is life and depending on where you are in your journey, things can seem like a mistake or a miracle. To me, now, despite my take on diagnoses being wrong and just name calling, I nevertheless believe that what happened to me at that point in time was possibly the best thing that could have happened. I do know it was inevitable and that it happened for a reason. And that things that subsequently occurred because of it have all led me to where I am today…And where I am today I would not change for the world.

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceive stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?

I was never once put into four-point restraints until I was diagnosed and then they tied me to a bed with my arms stretched above my head and shackled to the bed posts and my ankles shackled to the lower bed posts and kept like that for three full days. Later I learned from an aide that the doctor told him “schizophrenics” do not feel restraints the way normal people do…they do not suffer the way WE do.” I did not know what to say to that. This aide had heard me beg and beg him to let me free and knew how I had suffered, so how could he make such a statement? It confused me terribly. Later on, they put me in restraints to punish me and knew perfectly well that I suffered for it, and I know they enjoyed hurting me. I did not know a thing about schizophrenia before I was diagnosed and little really after it except that people would talk about “crazy people” and make fun of them, but NO one was ever so crazy to me that I did not understand them. I am a poet, and I know that people sometimes have to be understood the way you understand a poem, not taking every word literally but just taking their words in whole, accepting them with your whole heart and mind and body, and knowing that you “grok” them. No body has ever been so psychotic to me that I did not “get” what they meant fundamentally. They just speak in poetry not prose.

PS: If you have read this far… wow thank you… P2 tommorrow, as Trevor Noah says on the epic Daily Show: So Much News So Little Time

Questions for an Author: June Whittle author of Deep Within My Soul…


ask-the-author-answers-edition

Hello World, this is the first of what I hope to often do: Profile & Interview and help promote New memoir authors! Why Memoirs? Because that’s the genre I write and it’s still a ‘shy’ genre especially, in my corner of the globe – Africa. My first author to be interviewed and profiled happens to be a dear friend and sister in Christ. I fell in love with the first of her blog posts I stumbled across – yes on the very night I was fumbling around trying to start my own blog! Her post titled «Am I a blogger or a … almost made me give up before I even started; and to think she’d been into blogging a good while? But then, that post ended on a note of so much hope – yes she was – yes I could become one too if I wanted and kept at it with faith.

This is what I have also gathered from reading her maiden but oh so soul searching memoir: shared from deep within her soul and titled just that. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her journey to become this published author today. It ain’t easy I can tell, been there and still go through there, but she will agree it’s worth ever step of the journey…

Note: The post is way longer than my usual posts, I didn’t want to leave any area out and didn’t want to do a P1 & P2… I think whoever reads through the end will love it. 

june-whittle
Deep within her eyes… can we see?

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
  • My name is June Whittle. I was born in Jamaica and relocated to the UK to join my parents when I was a teenager. It was tough leaving my grandmother (who raised me) and my sisters behind. I had to readjust to the climate – it was very cold – and the way of life. The culture in Jamaica was very different to that in the UK. Jamaicans are bubbly, carefree, happy-go-lucky people. I was used to sunshine, loud car horns, a variety of colours, fresh home grown food and other cultural activities. The day I arrived in the UK, it was grey, quiet and everyone looked moody. I was sad.

Anyway, I continued with my education in the UK, started relationships, (some were abusive) worked in various fields and gave birth to my daughters. I became a mature student in 2007 and went to university to complete a PGCE teacher training course to become a teacher. Afterwards, I taught in further education colleges and met some wonderful people along the way. In 2012 God told me to quit my teaching job and write books. I gave up teaching in 2013, stepped out in faith and started a freelance writing career.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
  • Well, I knew I wanted to write about my life, but coming up with a title was hard. Then one day “Deep Within my Soul” popped into my head. I knew straight away it was the right title for my book. You could call it divine inspiration.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. I heard Oprah Winfrey say Love doesn’t hurt; what’s your take on that?
  • Love is a beautiful thing. It’s not meant to hurt, but it does hurt if you end up with the wrong person. I believe it depends on what we mean by love. Although my partners and I thought we loved each other, it was a dysfunctional kind of love because we didn’t love ourselves. Therefore, our love wasn’t whole. It’s hard to give 100% of what you haven’t got. So, instead of the joys of love, I mostly experienced the pains of love.

  1. Did the love in your relationships hurt from the start or something happened down the road?
  • In the beginning, it was absolutely wonderful. When you first meet a man or woman you go through the honeymoon period where everything is beautiful. During that period, they can’t do anything wrong. In other words, you don’t see their faults because you’re on cloud nine and consumed by the love feelings. That’s how it was for me too. But, after a few months (when the honeymoon period wears off) he started to look at other women and became obsessed with them. That’s when he started cheating and our relationship changed. From then on problems crept in.

  1. Can you tell who was to blame and what you felt about all this then?
  • I think he was to blame for the fact that he couldn’t keep himself away from other women. But I also blame myself because I was shy, naïve, insecure and didn’t know how to satisfy him. Looking back now, I see myself as very immature and I didn’t know anything about relationships. However, some people might say that’s no excuse for him to cheat on me. He took it far, and chatted up my friends in front of me. This led to verbal and physical abuse, plus lack of trust and many heartaches.

  1. I read a lot of poems about Love in your memoir, and yet you were going through so much pain! So how did you find it writing about love while living pain?
  • Although I was hurting, the only way for me to find peace in my heart was to write about the love I yearned for. I wrote a lot of poems about my broken heart. Those poems came from deep within my soul. I suppose I was trying to touch their hearts with my words, although I didn’t show them the poems. It’s like I was living in a make-belief world. I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t get it so, I created my own world where I was safe to write what I wanted. Writing poems kept me sane. It was my lifeline as I poured out my painful feelings on the pages in my notepad.

  1. Do you think there is an ideal time frame to wait before moving from one abusive relationship into another relationship we hope not to turn out as sour?
  • It’s extremely important to heal from an abusive relationship before going into another relationship. Otherwise, you will carry the toxic junk with you. The toxic junk is a combination of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and sometimes hate. When you carry those negative things in your heart, sooner or later they will surface and mess up your new relationship.

Imagine buying an old car that hasn’t been serviced or taken care of. It’s got lots of faults but you can’t see them. Eventually, the car will start to give you problems. On the other hand, if you buy a well looked after serviced car, it’s less likely to break down on you. Plus, you will get a smooth drive and it will last you longer than the one that wasn’t maintained properly. Likewise, not servicing your heart, mind and soul after an abusive relationship will have disastrous consequences on a new relationship.

  1. What’s forgiveness got to do with healing?
  • Forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to heal properly if you hold unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is like a chain around your heart. It squeezes it tight and tighter till it drains your emotional and physical energy. As long as it’s living in you, real healing cannot take place. This includes healing of sicknesses as well as your mind.

A friend did a project with some primary school children recently about forgiveness. She gave them a heavy rucksack each, to carry on their backs. Some said they didn’t mind as the rucksacks were quite light. However, after carrying them on their backs for a while, they became heavy and weighted the children down, causing them to feel uncomfortable and unable to walk properly. That’s what unforgiveness does. It drags you down and affects all areas of your life. Nonetheless, when you forgive, you let go of all toxins and your body will feel light and live again. Painful memories may linger, but will no longer be a problem. That’s when you know that healing has taken place.

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
  • No. Although this is my first memoir, I didn’t base it on style, presentation or content of other writers. This is mostly because mine has poems so it’s different to other memoirs I read. I went with my gut feelings when writing. But, formatted it correctly to meet the requirements for uploading to Kindle for the eBook, and Create Space for the paperback. I followed their guidelines.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?
  • No, I’ve never had a writing mentor. I took two creative writing courses, many years ago and a copywriting course in 2012. That helped develop my writing skills, along with reading books about writing.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
  • It was the first chapter where I summarized a little about my story. While writing, old painful memories came back and made me tearful and sad. I also felt negative emotions such as anger, resentment and unforgiveness. I was surprised because I thought I had dealt with those emotions. Clearly, they were still alive in my heart. I wrote about it in chapter 11 – “Finding Hope, my Testimony of Healing”. It’s amazing how we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve done something, when we haven’t.

  1. How did you deal with that?
  • Well, first I talked to God about it and asked Him to take away those feelings. I felt better afterwards. However, I still had more work to do in that area. So, I repented and prayed from my heart to forgive my abusers for deep healing to take place.

  1. Which was your favourite poem and why?
  • It’s False Love. It was one of the hardest poems to write because it was written out of an extremely painful experience. Nevertheless, it was my favourite because that poem started off my writing experiences. From that poem, other poems followed which helped the healing process of writing to release toxic emotions.

  1. I read two real life excerpts in your memoir, was this to add to the veracity of abuse as a phenomenon or to show the resilience of the human spirit?
  • Those real life excerpts were to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. The abuse these two women suffered were extreme, although diverse. The first example was a vicious form of domestic abuse. The second example was of a teenager being raped by her uncle plus other cruel types of abuse. However, both women decided to forgive their abusers for the sake of their mental health, peace in their lives and more.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
  • While writing, I did research about forgiveness and discovered there is a connection between unforgiveness and sickness such as cancer, arthritis, heart problems and other stress related illness. I also learnt that extra healing was taking place for me as I was writing my memoir. By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt free of any excess burdens that may have been clinging to my heart.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
  • It took me nearly one year to write because I kept starting and stopping. I changed my mind a few times because I was nervous about telling my story to the world. But my daughters and close friends encouraged me to do it. Also, because God told me to write it in the first place, I didn’t want to disobey Him. The self-publishing process took me nearly a week. The technical formatting part of it was rather challenging.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
  • Yes, I think if your story can help others from the lessons you learnt, you should share it. Life is full of pitfalls, some good and some good. There are many lessons along the way. However, not everyone learns from their experiences. But those who learn have gold nuggets to share with others in the form of memoirs. If you can help even a handful of people struggling with the issues you came out of, it’s worth writing your stories. Your story can change another person’s life for the better. Another word of advice, make sure you have supportive people around you. It’s important to get as much encouragement as possible to boost your confidence while you write.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
  • I want to give you the information you need to add value to your lives. My blogs and memoir are not just about me. They are to inspire, encourage, educate and motivate you. I love when you contact me by email or leave comments on my blogs advising me what I can do for you in future blog posts. Or, how you take away something positive from my writing. This is always my aim. Feedback is extremely important to me. So, please, always tell me whether I’m providing value or not.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
  • I plan to open up my two blogs, Miraculous Ladies and Arise Single Christian Mummies for guest blogging in 2017. It’s time I share my platforms with other aspiring or professional writers out there. I also intend to hold workshops related to my memoir. I included writing prompts in the last chapter. I want to take it further and hold small groups or one-to-one workshops to help women write away toxic emotions that’s keeping them captive. In addition, “Deep Within my Soul” is book one of a series of inspirational memoirs based on exclusive and beneficial relationship life-lessons.

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

Thank you very much for answering our questions June. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

Dear readers, please feel free to drop any questions/remarks/observations you may have in the comments section, thank you for reading along.