A few months ago I attended the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat in Leavenworth, Washington. It was my second writer's conference, but that didn't make me any more confident in my writing ability. I was going for the sole purpose of learning the best way to go about writing a memoir. I needed advice on structure, voice, publishing, and most of all, I wanted to learn the secrets to becoming a better writer.
I had no idea that I would leave Wild Mountain more inspired, more motivated and more excited about my writing than ever before.
But those weren't even the best things that came out of the retreat.
I met intelligent, forward-thinking, fun-loving, witty writers who I feel incredibly fortunate to know now, to be able to call them friends. Real life friends. Their friendships were by far the greatest take-away I could have ever asked to receive through spending a long weekend surrounded by nature in all its glory.
I learned a TON at Wild Mountain, and it took me what felt like a month to digest it all. I got home and began to work on applying what I had learned. I reached out to my new writer friends for editorial guidance and encouragement. I came out of the closet about my illness. It felt liberating, not having to hide anymore.
I was encouraged by several people from Wild Mountain, to submit to an online anthology being created by the wife of one of the instructors. I was intrigued. After reading what it was all about, I was pumped to contribute. I was positive I wanted to be a part of her project. The hardest part was finding time to write it all out. I knew my piece would be long and I had a hard time figuring out what to keep and what to cut, while still showcasing in detail what I went through when I was diagnosed and how I was able to pull through the sadness and intense anxiety over my illness to get to where I am today.
It took longer than I anticipated, and I kept emailing Laura to tell her I needed just “one more day” which she always granted me graciously. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and it’s my hope that it sheds some light on what it’s like to be hit with a mental illness out of nowhere. To live a year of your life in darkness, not able to care about the next day because this day is too heavy to carry. To keep fighting until one day you realize that everything is okay. That today isn’t scary anymore because of all the tools and resources you’ve accumulated over the years. The tools and resources which help to keep you healthy and alive and enthusiastic about the future.
That’s where I am right now. I know that there will be plenty of waves ahead of me in life. I just feel as though I’ve finally realized that I can surf.
My piece went live this morning on It's All In Her Head. If you have a chance to read it, I’d love to hear your feedback. And if you know someone who might be inspired by reading this piece, please share. Thanks so much and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!