Lifting the Veil (a note from Stephani)

Some of you may have wondered why I’ve been having to move back release dates and why I haven’t had as many books coming out as usual. I always replied with the same answer, that I’ve been sick or in the hospital. That was true, but I never share the reasons for my hospital stays, other than when I had my gallbladder out. That one was true and I don’t care what people say about how it’s such an easy surgery. It hurt like hell and threw me for a loop for a while. Now is the time where I’m going to lay it all out and share with you one of my biggest secrets. All the other reasons I’ve been in the hospital was because I was having mental health issues. I tried to hide from it, tried to ignore it, but late one night it finally exploded in my face. So, I went to my bedroom, woke up my husband and told him that he needed to take me the ER. While I was there the doctor if I had any thoughts about self-harming to myself. Although, to be fair, I don’t think it’s fair for a doctor to ask writers that question. We all know that we have the idea of what would be the perfect murder, the perfect jewel heist, bank robbery…. Well as soon as I opened my yap off to the mental hospital I went. Let me tell you, those places are not fun at all. You do have some great staff, but there are plenty who are lazy and just go through the motions. It was my stays at these hospitals that inspires me to write Pretty Little Word in a Bottle. When Robin Williams died, there were so many people called him a coward and being selfish for leaving his family behind. What they don’t realize is severe depression has a nasty habit of slithering through your mind and making you believe and think things that aren’t even remotely true. I should know because I suffer from severe depression, anxiety panic disorder. It’s to the point that I have trouble being out of my house at times. Malls, movie theaters and other places where large groups of people gather can send me into a severe panic attack. Sometimes, I even go into an attack if I lose an article of clothing and can’t find it. In other words, the simplest of things could make it so I have a very bad day. There was one acceptation, however. To my surprise I found that the only crowd I can stand is the one from GRL I’ve been friends with some of our wonderful group for several years. I, also, that you would all make a point of being there for me. There are days where the depression kicks into high gear and all I can do is stay in bed and watch TV all day. Very often it will make my fibro act up and ever bone in my body will ache and set off my migraines. All of which had made writing a near impossible act. I’m not telling you all this, so you’ll feel sorry for me. It was because of a conversation that took place at a convention.  There was a writer who was talking about her latest release. She treated the male MC in her book with contempt because he had tried to commit suicide with his gun. Instead of dying, though, he lived, because, “he can never get anything right.” The comments left me so numb with shock that I didn’t even bother to tell that if he shot himself in the direction and in the position that she described, that there was no way the MC would have survived. I didn’t even manage to get out that one of my uncles had committed suicide and I still am very sensitive about the issue. I loved my uncle dearly and he was neither a coward or just seeking attention. He had just been so overcome by his disease that it had finally overpowered him, making him do something that never would have considered had he been in a stable state of mind. People fail to realize that depression has a way of hunting you. Even though one can feel it coming, there is nowhere to hide or no way of avoiding it. I often liken severe depression to a parasite that makes you a prisoner in your own body. Once it gets inside you, it branches out through your brain, making you think things that are totally untrue and irrational. In short, it changes who you really are and makes you a totally different person. After I cooled down a bit I decided that I would educate people a little bit. Maybe if I do so, it will be one tiny step in making the subject of mental illness less taboo or at the very least, help others more understanding.
  1. Depression is a disease, just like diabetes, asthma or even a common cold. It’s not contagious, it’s usually passed genetically. It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain and there is not one magic pill that will cure you. Each person is different, so the doctors have to spend months, if not years, finding out what combination of pills will make you stable.
  2. You don’t have to be sad to have depression. I know that may sound weird, but it’s true. I have a comfortable life. Great, family and great kids. Yet, while I may be smiling on the outside on the inside I am suffering.
  3. Which brings me to another point. Even though I have this condition it doesn’t make me a coward or weak. It just adds some road bumps in my life here and there.
I have heard people describe how depression feels like to them in several different ways. However, there is a music video that I feels really shows how it is to live with depression. It’s in such an obscure way that many who have seen it misses the message, but it’s there if you look closely enough. I’ve posted this song on my FB page many times. Now that you’re all in on my secret, you’ll know why.      
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30 Responses to Lifting the Veil (a note from Stephani)

  1. Caligirl says:

    HUGS TO YOU MS. STEPHANI

  2. christie says:

    Depression is not a pinic. I am a registered nurse and suffer with depression and fibromyalgia. I have worked with mental health/behavioral health system for years. Your right the system is broken and the world needs to take its blinders off. No one that suffers from this is a coward… In fact from my own personal experience and helping others thru this very tricky maze I believe that we are survivors and the strongest people in the world because we fight something that can’t be seen. My heart and support is with you.

  3. Kim Whaley says:

    ((Big hugs)) I know several friends who suffer from depression; some are on medication, some are not, and all have individual ways of dealing with it. All I can do for them hug them and let them know I’m here if they want to talk. It’s a difficult process, and I want to let you know I understand and sympathize. You and everyone who has it are not cowards, just people dealing with a different reality than you want. I love your writing and you should beat the depression with a big stick so you can keep writing. 🙂

  4. rhonda says:

    i am so sorry you are going thru all this , just keep hope in your heart and don’t give up . you are an admired and talented woman and have much to offer your friends , family and fans . you may not believe it , but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is a beautiful place to be once you make your way out of what is troubling you .when I was 20 , I tried to do a bad thing , and I have been on mood enhancers ever since , and they do work with a combination of therapy and meditation thrown in . peace and love sweetie

  5. Amber Kell says:

    *hugs* I know how much you struggle. Just remember you can contact me if you need to talk 🙂

  6. We’ve talked before. You know I love you. Always ask for help. It’s here and waiting. Take care of you first.

  7. Kaity says:

    I, too, have fibromyalgia and suffer from depression. At one time in my life, I did think, very seriously, about ending my life. If I didn’t have my mother and brother, I probably would have. But at the same time, I was thinking they would be better off without me. Depression has no rhythm or reason. What seems reasonable in that state, would not seem reasonable while fully aware of ourselves. Luckily I now have a fantastic doctor that monitors me and has given me the medication and support I need to fight this. Make no mistake, depression never goes away. But you can learn to control it.

  8. recs5664 says:

    So very sorry to hear what you’ve been suffering through. I can relate to a lot of it. Back in the spring of this year, I was horribly depressed and no one around me saw it. In a way, I wasn’t even fully aware of it either. I didn’t realize that I was getting sicker and sicker until it was too late. By the time it reached critical, I had developed osteomyelitis (a spinal infection). I spent a total of 3 months in either the hospital or a rehab facility re-learning how to walk at 50 years old. Then I had to have a back surgery to fuse two vertebrae and place steel pins in my back. It all started because I was too depressed to care about myself. I’m so glad that you recognized the need for treatment and sought it out. It’s often “too much trouble” for a person suffering from depression to do anything about it.

    Thank you so much for your very articulate and informative post! I wish more people realized that depression isn’t something you just “get over” and that it is a true disease that must be treated but may never be “cured”. I’ve been on anti-depressants for quite a number of years but found out the hard way that they can lose their effectiveness once your body grows used to a certain dosage.

    Please keep on top of things and it would be a tragedy to lose you – for your family and friends – not to mention your multitude of fans.

  9. Janice says:

    Thank you for sharing.
    A lot of what you shared I have been going through
    I’m not alone now I know for real cause you don’t know me
    Thank you very much
    Still love your books.
    Do what’s best for you
    Hugs and more hugs

  10. kristophorios says:

    Hugs….thanks for sharing.

  11. Donna says:

    I suffer from on-and-off depression, and I have a pretty damn good life. A mother that loves me unconditionally, a boyfriend that keeps me stable, dogs that think I might as well be God… Years ago, I was thinking about killing myself and was cutting. My dog smelled the blood and started wigging out, whimpering and yelping and trying to climb into my lap. At that point I thought that if my dog could freak out that much about some blood, my mom would probably be more upset if she found me dead. So basically, my dog saved my life. A few years later, I went to my best friend’s house to find the yard taped off with crime scene tape. He had shot himself in the head, and they were trying to verify it was suicide and not murder. Depression is a serious thing, and anyone who doesn’t take it seriously or can joke about it, they are lucky that they don’t realize just how horrible the situation can really be. You are one of my favorite authors. I know it’s hard to see when depression is clouding everything, but just try to remember that you have a lot of love going your way–your family, your pets, your friends, your peers, and your fans–and a lot of people would be very sad if we lost you. <3<3

  12. Jayne says:

    Thankfully you have a support group, an not just the doctors but the important ones – family and friends. Keep vigilant and strong even during the hard moments.

  13. jessbuffett says:

    I can’t begin to imagine what you must go through personally, but more than anything it proves what an amazing person you are. Thank you for sharing your story. I love someone very much who suffers from the same disease. I told her about your post, about the comments of support you have received and she smiled, a real smile. You did that, so thank you.

  14. kywordweaver says:

    This is such a struggle for so many people and you’re right that so many people just don’t understand. I’ve dealt with depression and other mental illness and I know how difficult it can be just to function on some days.

    Just know that you have friends.

    ::Hugs::

    Kylia

  15. pointycat says:

    Hugs. I’ve had depression for a few years now, it’s better than it was but still unpleasant. Sending best wishes.

  16. Kerry says:

    I know how you feel just remember that we all love you

  17. romanczukc says:

    I suffer from depression and fibromyalgia as well. Some days are just a chore to get through. Hang in there. You have a lot of people who love you and care about you.

  18. Meg says:

    Thank you for bringing to light this disease. Even if only one person seeks help because you shared with us this knowledge thats a good thing. And know that your stories brighten my day, and I’m sure many others as well.

  19. Sissy Hicks says:

    Stephani, I wanted you to know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Your books are my escape from the real world, without them I would be lost. You take all the time you need for yourself and your family, we (your loyal fans) will be here waiting. Thank you for your honest and openness with us take one day at a time and all will be well. Many blessing to you… lots of love always

  20. Beautiful, beautiful Stephani, you are one of THE bravest, and inspiring people I have seen in a while! YOU ARE NOT A COWARD, nor are you weak, you have a debilitating disease that can bring you to your knees and I am SO proud of you for stepping forward and telling your story, you are a beautiful inspiration and the more you and others speak up, the more we educate everyone else!! My own story is very close to yours, I am a 43 year old gay man, I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s and things like a person’s sexuality and mental health were not spoken of, my mental health issues started right before I started high school (bit I’ve always been a quiet and introverted person), I had NO friends, belonged to no cliques or groups and quite often was bullied and the butt of everyone’s jokes, I started avoiding everyone and would sit outside of my next class room waiting to enter the class to avoid interacting with others or even going to the lunchroom!! It became so bad that I eventually dropped out of high school in my senior year, my family and I then moved to Washington state (where I still reside), I was 18, things went from bad to worse for me, I had so much anger in me that it scared me at times, I was angry with EVERYONE, I was severely depressed (and suicidal), as well as manic (I only discovered much later that that had been going on for as long as I can remember), I was hearing voices and just so many other things!! I was unable to keep a job, I had no friends, no outside activities, nothing as an outlet and it was only getting worse as I got older, don’t get me wrong I did manage to accomplish a few things, I got my GED, I managed to go to tech school and graduate with two certificates of completion, and was able to go to work for 3 1/2 years, but I found myself drawing further and further away from public!!

    It’s very hard to deal with people and situations when all you want to do is withdraw into yourself and curl up and die and unfortunately most people just don’t understand and some people are outright mean about it, often times it “aw, that just quirky old David, just ignore him”, or “you’re such a drama queen”!! You couldn’t be further from the truth!! About seven years ago things started taking a slight upswing, I quite my job and got myself on disability and at THAT point I started going to a doctor and my local mental health center and let me tell you, that was very illuminating, my psychiatrist diagnosed me as Bi-Polar (with rapid cycling tendencies, this means I have a manic (it is just what it sounds like) episode, followed by a bout of severe depression, several times a month!! I was also diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a host of other things, but the most telling of them was Agoraphobia, it all made perfect sense, skipping school, withdrawing from public, unable to work, all of it, I was shocked!!! I’ve been on medication for 7 years now, yes I’ve had set backs but I adapt to them and I am honest with myself and my doctor, if it’s not working I tell my doctor so we can work on it!! Things have been changing slowly for me, trying to get back on my feet, then I get slapped with a huge setback, my mom has several falls and now is unable to walk, and then my dad’s health declined and he passed away three years ago, things have been rough, but I am starting to see glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, after my sister and I have been taking care of both my parents for years, we now have ALL of us kids are helping out and my sister and I will be enrolling in school in January 2015!! There is hope, things do get better!! TALK to people, ask questions, get help, it’s worth it, life is too short!! Again, thank you Stephani you’re a wonderful inspiration, thank you for telling your story!!

  21. Caligirl says:

    BIG HUGS TO YOU ALL

  22. Sophie Martin says:

    I know I’ll probably be repeating what many people already said, but one more voice to the choir cannot hurt, right? So, yep, what you wrote sounds awfully familiar. I have been struggling with mental illness ever since i was a kid. Up to this point I am not sure exactly what is it, as every doctor who treated me diagnosed me differently. But the last couple of times i landed in hospital it was for deppression. It was horrible and i am still really freaked out every time i feel it coming back. But there were few people who did realy help. Not with medicine however, with their support. There was the one doctor who told me to ressolve some issues i was struggling with. It gave me strength to deal with my ex-realationship. Then there was one friend who helped me distance myself from my family’s problems. He made me see it wasn’t me who should deal with all of their problems but themselves. And then there was the other friend who was always there for me when i needed him most. He probably saved me from doing something stupid more than once.
    Now i know how to recognize when i’m getting worse and i know i need to act to prevent my mental health from decreasing rapidly. Most days I’m just normal everyday person you see on the street, but then something will happen and I’ll “go crazy” as I call my attacks for lack of better description.Still what I meant to say is, more often than not I can stop myself from getting worse by reading. A made up fantasy world helps me distance myself from the real one, gives me time to calm down and see things in a new light.
    I am a big fan of your books and you may be sure that they helped me deal with my issues more than once.
    So be proud of what you do. Be sure you help people and we would all miss you if something happened. Find strength to fight the disease and keep on living!

  23. ana says:

    Hello heaven, I will understand perfectly well since I have suffered this terrible disease and I also know that there are many stupid people out there who have no idea how hard it is to live with the disease, much less overcome. I just want to give my support, do not forget that your followers are here to what you need or want, we were glad wonderful family that you have and that you are a unique and amazing woman because despite your illness we always give joys and incredible stories despite your suffering. I also owe a lot though because I already overcome my depression if it is true that I have some low passes days and when I read your books again and again and it brings me joy.
    sky I wish you well, my thoughts are with you and I sure get over it. Thanks once again for everything, you’re wonderful.

  24. Laurie P says:

    Oh Stephani, I also have depression and anxiety/panic attacks, along with fibromyalgia and migraine headaches. And at times I’ve wondered if I should say something to get the help I need since I don’t have med insurance and at times can’t afford the meds I need.

    And when I heard about Robin Williams, my first thought was like most peoples, but then my dark depression side slapped me upside the head and made me remember that with the crippling pain, emotional and physical, that wouldn’t most people try anything to get away from it? That until you’ve been in that dark space, you don’t understand. So I do understand.

    Just always remember, we all love you. And I am always here for you.

  25. Tracy says:

    Hugs to you and your family. Your stories are a bright spot for your fans and I hope our words can return some of the joy your characters bring to us.

  26. Lisa says:

    I suffer from depression, and have been through times where it was severe. My Dad passed away back in February and I was strong for my daughter who is 9 as I wasn’t sure how she was going to handle it. I made myself believe I could just put on hold my feelings of loss for a while and concentrate on her. Unfortunately we all know it doesn’t work that way, and I think I made more issues for myself by doing this. 4 days after I buried my Dad, my 13 year old beagle needed to be put sleep. I held her while she died, but OMG I lost it in the vet office. The vet knew about my father passing, so at least I didn’t seem like a complete crazy person. The vet insisted I sit in the break room and called my husband. It was very nice of him as he could have just ignored me and give the bill. After that, for the next two weeks I was barely able to get out of bed. I had my meds increased, but anti-depressants aren’t like antibiotics, they don’t work right away. It takes up to 3 weeks for the new dosage to fully take effect. All that said, I fully understand (as well as everyone else who loves you) that it is a time intensive process. Writing comes after you have taken care of yourself and your family as I am sure they are affected by this as well.

  27. Jackie R. says:

    I also suffer from depression. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going from day to day is my niece and nephews. This is not an easy disease to have. I hope you know that the loyal followers you have will always support you in any manner needed. Make sure you take care of yourself first and foremost, that is the most important thing. As for people who use the word coward, they are truly ignorant of the havoc that can be prevalent with this disease.
    Hope everything gets better soon and you are feeling good.

  28. I can’t even imagine how difficult is live with a disease that eat you from inside and nobody can’t see it. I’m too young e maybe too inexperienced, but I believe that you can win this battle. I wish I could help, cause you gave me so much happiness with your books, and I wish I had a way to help you! The only thing I could do Is say how important your work is, how amazing you must be, to realize such unbelievable work. My english is terrible like you can see. But you must know that you have a large group of brazilian fans and if one day you wanted take your family and run to some place, know that Brazil is opened to receive you with open arms.

  29. stephanihecht says:

    Thanks for all your comments. I am so lucky to have such amazing readers. *hugs*

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