Breaking the Cycle of Defeat

Snowy ridgeLast week, I was meeting with some friends when I got interrupted by an emergency call. As I excused myself to take the call in the other room, I heard one of my friends say quietly, “Poor Sarah, she never gets a break.”

My initial reaction on hearing this was to smile and think, “Yes. Someone gets it. Someone understands just how sucky things are for me. How sucky they have been and how unlikely they are to improve.”

It was nice, this feeling of solidarity and support, something I frequently don’t get enough of some days.

But a moment later, it hit me. I don’t want to be that person. The person for whom nothing ever goes right, the one that can’t ever catch a break.

Now mind you, I deeply appreciate my friend’s support. She’s been a staunch ally in my corner for the last several years now: being there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, surprising me with the perfect Make My Day gifts in the mail, believing in my writing when I’m ready to chuck the whole thing in the trash and get a second job flipping burgers… It is not her sympathy and support I mind. I mind needing it.

I won’t lie. It’s been a rough couple of years. I’ve been hit hard financially, physically, emotionally, you name it. Creativity tends to dry up in rocky ground, so one of the things that brings me the most pleasure in life has been one of the hardest to maintain. My productivity went from roughly a novella a month to a novella a year. I went from struggling with depressing circumstances to being outright depressed–and the very fact that my circumstances weren’t going to change made it hard to snap out of the cycle. Not to mention I’ve always taken my health for granted and now I can’t do that any longer. I’ve been forced to accept far too much in the last few years as being the ‘new norm’ for me.

dear-whatever-doesnt-kill-me-im-strong-enough-now-thanks-614a9This inner loop has been playing in my head these last few years that whispers once a person reaches a certain level of ‘down’, things just continue to spiral out of control, as though I were a stalled airplane and had no choice but to plunge to the ground. I’ve seen this play out with enough other people in my life that it’s hard to believe I’m not caught in this vicious cycle myself.

But along with that feeling of “No, I don’t want to be that person”, I’ve had other inklings that perhaps what I need more than anything is an attitude adjustment. I’ve been trying to locate an article I read some years ago on the dangers of focusing on what you don’t have rather than what you do. I wish I could find it: the gist of it is that by dwelling on the things you lack, you create a mind-set whereby you never get the things you do want. I’m not talking about The Secret or any mumbo jumbo like that. To be honest, I frequently have trouble with the concept of positive thinking or trying to make yourself believe something that is frankly impossible. If I don’t feel sexy, or powerful, or successful, no amount of self-talk is going to persuade me otherwise.

Still, the last few weeks, the BF and I have been watching some quirkly little movies. Always his choice, and I’m learning to trust his judgement. The first one was About Time, which I wrote about here. More recently, it was The Giant Mechanical Man and last night, Chef. None of these were blockbusters. In fact, you may not have even heard of them. But there seems to be a running theme about decent people like you and me living their lives as best they can, not really knowing what they want or how to get it until they find the one person that makes it all make sense to them. Nothing about their lives outwardly changes until they change how they think about themselves. There isn’t any magic, or super powers, or explosions. It’s just people discovering there is more to themselves than they thought because someone believed in them.

Then there was today’s Twittascope. Now, I’ll be the first person to tell you that I frequently mock Twittascope, using it as a guideline to do the exact opposite of whatever it recommends, yet there was something about this that resonated:

If you’re always fretting about the scarcity in your life, you’ll never feel the abundance around you. Prosperity starts as a state of mind.

success2I am conscious of the fact that when I put my mind to achieving something, it happens. The fact that I rarely believe in myself to the extent of making this happen all the time is beside the point; when I do believe in something, I’m unstoppable. So here is my formula for breaking the cycle of defeat. It might not work for you–I fully believe we all have to find our own Patronus spells to ward off the Dementors in our lives. But here are mine:

  1. Stop focusing on what you don’t have. Concentrate on what you’re grateful for. I know, sounds like your typical pop psychology clap-trap, right? Only there is some truth to this one, at least for me. When I stop focusing on what is lacking in my life, and truly sit down and give thanks for what I’m grateful for, it changes my thinking. Maybe you have to dig deep to find something. Maybe your ‘somethings’ aren’t the kinds of things most people think of when they are looking at the markers of a successful life. But there are things in my life I wouldn’t trade for anything: not financial or creative success, not public accolades or a secure future. Someone who gets me, who believes in me, who makes me feel worth knowing? Worth more than winning the lottery.
  2. Stop focusing on what you don’t have. Picture what you want. Imagine it in great detail a few minutes every day. This truly has worked for me, but only when I was very specific in what I was looking for and hoped to achieve. Telling yourself you’d like to lose weight or write a best-selling novel without a specific for either is a pipe dream. Make it real. Make it count.
  3. Stop focusing on what you don’t have. Stop focusing on what other people DO have. Stop comparing yourself to others! Sure, maybe you don’t write 4 or 5 novels a year, but you know what? Maybe the person who does has made sacrifices you don’t know about to do so. Maybe that person doesn’t work 50-60 hours a week, and isn’t trying to take care of elderly parents and raise kids at the same time. Or maybe they do. Whatever. They are not you. Maybe someone else has launched a terrific series just when you were sitting down to write something along the same lines. Does that mean your ideas have been blown out of the water? Does that mean no one is going to be interested in your Vampire/Space Cowboy shifter stories? No, it does not. No one is going to write Vampire/Space Cowboys the same way you are. I would strongly suggest if you move forward with that project that you not read the competition, simply to keep your material fresh and original in your mind, but the truth of the matter is if there is a market for vampires and cowboys in outer space, then there is room for more than one set of stories on the subject. So someone you like and respect has written an awesome series about FBI agents, or treasure hunters, or ghostbusters? That doesn’t mean your stories won’t be loved and cherished by readers. PUT THE WORDS ON PAPER. Worry about your audience later.
  4. Stop focusing on what you aren’t. Remind yourself what you are. There’s a reason why certain heroes and heroines resonate with you. Something about those characters speaks to you, and they wouldn’t if you didn’t value their traits and attitudes. Embrace them. Accept the things you like about them as the things you like about yourself. You’re not as different from them as you think. They are just further ahead on the same path as you. Borrow their strength until you can find your own.
  5. Stop focusing on the number on the scale, the image in the mirror, the ranking on Amazon, all the little ticky boxes of success as we’ve come to know it. Remember that so many industries make their money out of making you feel bad. It is in their vested interests for you to fail, to be miserable about yourself, to buy that self-help book, or this diet drink, or that product to try to make you feel better. That is not who you are. You are not a number on a scale, or the thickness of your hair, or how many books you’ve written/sold in the last two months. You are not the joint that is going to cause you pain the rest of your life, or the disease that robs you of so much joy. You are the stories you have to tell. You are the person your dog looks up to with love in his eyes. You are the person who laughs during an unexpected downpour, who can honestly be happy for a friend’s success, who the kids will call when they get locked out of the house in the middle of the night. Do you know what pictures I like the best on Facebook? The pictures of my friends wearing something that makes them feel good about themselves. That’s the look I want–the one that says, “I look smashing in this, don’t you think?” And they do, every single one of them. They look fabulous because they feel fabulous. I love the pictures people share of their kids in some moment of pride because the love for their children (or pets, or grandkids) shines through their posts. This is also who you are. You are the person who loves.

It isn’t easy to break the cycle of defeat. Lord knows I struggle with this more often than not. But I am not going to accept it. I’m not going to bow down to it, and nod sadly and say this is my lot in life. I will go down fighting, and then I will get up again. You’d better watch out for me when I do because I’m gonna come up swinging. ūüôā

 

 

 

The Difference between Being Depressed and Having Depression

Sad Man_flickrLike many people around the world, I was shocked and heartbroken over the news that Robin Williams was found dead in his home yesterday, probably as the result of suicide. It’s well-known that this brilliant actor and comic genius had battled substance abuse problems and severe depression for most of his life, and yet the news still stunned. It was as though someone punched you in the gut and you’re struggling to take the next breath as you process what just happened.

The outpouring of sympathy has been huge. Robin Williams’s work has touched the lives of so many people and nearly everyone I know had something to share about a favorite memory. One of the things many people have said was how sad it was that a man who brought so much laughter to so many people was in such pain he felt he had to end his life. Many people expressed stunned disbelief that a man who had accomplished so much and was beloved by many could take his own life. For many others, this was not as senseless as it would appear, however. Not for anyone who has ever truly suffered from clinical depression.

I make that distinction here because I truly believe there is a world of difference between being depressed and dealing with depression. They are two entirely different beasts. I’ve posted about this before, and discussed it a bit further last night on Facebook, too. For many years, I’ve lived with depressing circumstances, but 99% of the time, I would not consider myself as having depression. Being discouraged, yes. Disheartened, disillusioned, frightened for my future, exhausted by my present–all of these things. But there have been times when I slip into real depression, and believe me, it’s completely different. You can have a fantastic life–a successful career, people who love you, the respect of your peers–but when you are depressed, it is all dust and ashes. Not only does it feel like nothing you do matters, but it feels as though nothing will ever matter again. You look at everything you’ve achieved and think it is utter shit. People tell you otherwise–they tell you how brilliant you are and how much they love your work, and you simply don’t believe them. You don’t believe them because you know your work is crap and that everyone around you is so much better at what you want to do. All you can think of is the times you’ve failed:as a professional in the workplace, as an artist, as a lover, as a human being.

You look at the people who love you and you think they are only there out of pity. You can’t enjoy the things you love–just looking at them brings you to the brink of tears. You mourn the loss of things YEARS before that loss actually occurs. You beat yourself up for every failing, real or imaginary. You truly see no point in continuing to try. You can’t muster the energy to connect with friends who love you no matter what. You know you should get help but you can’t overcome the inertia of your depression. Why?¬† Because it tells you that nothing will make a difference, and that you will always feel this way, and worse, that you probably *deserve* to feel this way.

But here’s the important thing: DEPRESSION LIES TO YOU. You cannot, must never, ever listen to the lies it tells you when you are in the darkest moments. You aren’t utter shit. The people who love you do so because you are YOU–the person they love. And this black cloud hanging over your head, constantly misting lightly with misery, won’t last forever. Depression is as ephemeral as Marley’s Ghost in A Christmas Carol, and could just as easily be a bit of bad beef or a transitory biochemical imbalance.

For many people it is completely biochemical, for some it is deeply ingrained self-loathing reinforced by negative life experiences; for others it is a combination thereof. I’ve seen it onset as a result of trauma, due to illness or surgery, due to birth control pills, or just simply just because. I lived with people who were depressed and I thought I got it–but I didn’t *really* understand it until one day I slipped off the tightrope myself. The important part is to recognize it for what it is (as J. K. Rowing so aptly depicted them): A Dementor that will suck all the joy right out of you. You need to find your own Patronus spell to combat it–and it’s different for every person.

Many artists struggle with depression, and I think it may be more common in the creative/artistic personalities because the very thing that allows our imagination to take flight in wondrous, marvelous ways is the same that can bind ourselves with chains that drag us down.

Fellow author Elin Gregory had this to say about depression on Facebook (reposted with permission):

I feel it’s like having a broken leg in your brain. If someone put a lovely cuddly puppy in your arms you’d smile sadly and think “best not get too attached, they only live about 12 years” and you feel that’s perfectly reasonable. Then there’s also an internal commentary that’s saying ‘could you be any more pathetic?’ and piling on the guilt and self loathing. But unlike a broken leg with a nice big cast covered in drawings of dicks, if you’ve got the right sort of friends, so nobody will expect you to run upstairs or a marathon or whatever, depression doesn’t show. There’s nothing to indicate that the barista who smiles as she gives you your coffee woke up this morning and thought ‘dammit I didn’t die in my sleep’. The only thing to do with it is to keep on carrying on because one day you hope it will go away and you can start enjoying life again.

Autumn H_resizedI can completely sympathize with her words here. I find myself saying, “This will be my last horse. This will be my last big dog. When the cats go, I won’t get any more.” In part because I’m conscious that I am getting older and I need to be thinking of scaling back but in part because I’m not sure I can take the heartbreak of little losses anymore. Of wasting the years that I have with my beloved pet right there in front of me crying over the losses to come. My dog doesn’t say, “Hey, my muzzle is turning gray and I’ve got cataracts, I’ve only got a short time left with you.” He says, “Can we go on a walk now? It’s stopped raining! Well, okay, maybe it hasn’t stopped raining but we can walk in the rain, so can we go on a walk now? It will be fun!” But that isn’t how I see things sometimes.

I would highly encourage everyone to read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. This blog post isn’t about depression per se, but it is about having an invisible illness and having to choose how much energy to expend on specific tasks on any given day. “You don’t look sick” is something many people with depression hear all the time, and I’ve found the post to be an excellent explanation of what living with a chronic illness is like.

My good friend Finn Wightman, the author of such insightful pieces as A Letter To My Son on Consent, had some illuminating things to say on the subject of depression when soccer phenomenon Gary Speed committed suicide in 2011.

I was on twitter when the news broke, and his name became the top trend almost instantly. In the first hour, when no cause of death was known, the tributes were¬†fulsome¬†(as well they should be). Then the confirmation came that he had taken his own life. Tweets took the expected turn: “we saw him yesterday afternoon – he wasn’t depressed!” “He didn’t look ill!” And of course, the¬†perennial¬†favourite, “he had everything, why would he take his own life.”

He did, he had everything you would think a person could want in life. Everything. So if that’s true, how much uncontrolled despair must have¬†overwhelmed¬†his mind that night for him to decide the world would be better off without him?

We think we’ve come so far in the way society understands mental illness, and then we see the open, honest, unfiltered thoughts of individuals and realise we haven’t come far at all. Why can’t we see that something desperate must have been going on in his mind that night?¬†As someone who lives with unipolar disorder, takes medication to control it every day, and has suffered through suicidal thoughts and desires in the past, the comments that failed to understand were deeply upsetting. Then came the abusive, critical comments calling him a coward and a fool. That was the point that I decided it was better if I turned off the tv and got off twitter. I felt triggered, and was shaky and weepy for most of the next 24 hours. In fact, it’s upset me so much that I had to let it out of my head somewhere.

It’s scary enough to see how cruel and quick to judge the public are when they’ve never been there themselves. It’s worrying that there have been a plethora of campaigns, newspaper articles, books and¬†TV¬†programmes aimed at expanding the public’s understanding of mental illness, and yet so many can’t grasp that mental states are still physical states, and that the illness part of mental illness is not something to be shrugged off by an act of will. Asking what a person ‘has to be depressed about’ makes as much sense as asking a diabetic what they¬†have¬†to ‘be diabetic about’. It’s not something we chose; it’s something we manage.

So why did Gary Speed’s tragic death shake me (and a number of fellow sufferers) up so much? It’s because he had ‘everything to live for’. It’s because he smiled and laughed and joked on my TV screen and then went home to his family and their beautiful house – and then the black dog came in the night and not one jot of the everything-he-had-to-live-for could fight it off.

It’s the chill of recognition that shivers across you. You’ve come home at the end of a day that was soft with smiles only to find yourself suddenly in the dark. You’ve sat under the same roof as everyone you love and wondered if the world wouldn’t be better of without you. So far you’ve fought the black dog off by daylight – ¬†although some nights it’s been a close run thing.

Then you wake up one morning, turn on the news, ¬†and you’re confronted with the awful truth of living with a mental illness: a lot of us don’t survive. And you can’t help but wonder what was the final straw? And you can’t help but think ‘will the night come when that voice inside that says, “the world would be a better place without you” will be too loud to ignore’? And most of all, you feel a leaden dread in the pit of your stomach.

Because if it can happen to Gary Speed, with Everything To Live For, then why not you?”

Sad Silouette_pixaby public domainAt the time that she wrote this, I was one of the people shaking my head and saying, “But he had everything to live for!” After I read her post, I got it intellectually, but not emotionally. Not until someone I care deeply about looked at me with all expression removed from his face and said, “You don’t understand. It’s not about what you have. It¬† doesn’t work like that.”

Even then, I didn’t really get it until I found myself in that dark pit for the first time. I get it now. I wish I didn’t. Moreover, I wish with all my heart that the people I love didn’t have to struggle daily with battle not to give in to the voice that lies to them. I don’t want to lose anyone else.

Depression is a Dementor–And It Lies to You

Sea WallI’ve been reading a lot about depression lately. Many of my friends suffer from it, and for months on end they struggle with simple tasks like getting out of bed and going to work each day. Others are not affected to the point of being so dysfunctional, but it does impact every waking moment. It prevents them from fully enjoying their lives, their achievements, and the company of their loved ones. Because of the lies depression whispers to them, they sabotage themselves both professionally and personally. Still others manifest physical symptoms with their depression, experiencing chronic, crippling pain which only makes getting through each day even harder.

For years, I’ve lived with depressing circumstances: a down economy, bills that needed to be paid, creeping health issues, and a house that was falling down around me and no resources to repair it. My situation was depressing but I wasn’t depressed. Exhausted, yes. Discouraged, yes. But not depressed.

Somewhere in the last year, however, I’ve lost my balance. I’m no longer walking the tightrope of depression. I’ve slipped off the wire and am mired in the muddy trough beneath. Believe me, there is a world of difference.

Black dog CampaignWinston Churchill used to refer to depression as a black dog that followed him around–and though he was not the first to use this imagery, he was probably one of the most famous people to employ it. If you Google the words “Black Dog” and “Depression”, you will find hundreds of links to books, articles, and blogs about the topic by this reference. There is even a website called The Black Dog Institute aimed raising the awareness of depression as a medical condition–dedicated to illuminating this crippling condition shared by so many people.

Churchill was probably bipolar. He was aware that he had a medical problem, but this was back before there were medications to treat this disease. His historical consumption of alcohol and nicotine is believed to have been in part an attempt to self-medicate, though certainly studies have linked depression and substance abuse. Yet despite these known facts, Churchill is regarded as being one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. Another famous person with depression was Abraham Lincoln–and yet no one in their right mind would say that neither Churchill or Lincoln had any impact on the lives of the people around them, or that they failed as leaders of their respective countries. Chances are, however, this is exactly what their depression probably told them at some point in their lives.

Because that’s what depression does to you. It lies. It tells you that you are worthless and that your best achievements are only flour paste and paper beside everyone else’s Faberge eggs. Worse, it tells you that things will never get better–that you will always be sunk to your hips in black mud, dragging pounds of it with you where ever you go, never being able to get ahead, make it to solid ground, move on with your life. Not only does it lie, but it makes you forget. You forget that you have people that love you for who you are, despite your perceived failings. That you have accomplished things of worth, that you are a valued employee. A good daughter. A loving son.

When I look back over the past year, I can see now that I was already bogged down in the early stages of depression, but I didn’t recognize it until now. Let’s face it, life has been tough for all of us lately. Sometimes it isn’t until things start to ease up a little, when the yoke doesn’t chafe quite as much, that we can appreciate there is more to our weariness than the effort of making ends meet.

I’ve been this tired before. I’ve worked these kinds of hours all of my professional career and yet at one point, I was writing the equivalent of a novella a month. My writing output dropped by at least 70 percent, however, and I was deeply unhappy with the work I was managing to produce. It was only then that I realized that this was depression talking, not me. It was depression telling me that I am burned out on my job, burned out on being compassionate, of giving most people around me the benefit of the doubt. Depression telling me that if I hadn’t been so kind, so quick to see the other person’s side, that I wouldn’t be in the financial straits that I am in right now. Depression telling me that it will never get better, only harder, that I am doomed to work up until my dying day with no respite in sight, or until my health completely breaks down. That I will never be more than a mediocre writer and that I should forget about hoping that one day the writing will allow me to work a little less hard at the day job.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people who cannot take medication for depression. Believe me, I’ve tried. After four attempts at various points in my life with different classes of drugs, I’ve experienced every severe side effect in the book, including thoughts of suicide when I wasn’t having them before. After a recent “Brittany Spears” weekend (so named because the medication I was taking caused emotional blowouts, including a strong desire to hack off all my hair with a pair of pinking shears), I’ve decided that I will not attempt medication again. I am still functional. I am more functional with my depression than I am on medication. My black dog of depression seems to be a lot gentler than most, anyway. I think of it more as Eeyore.

Which means I can manage it. If I get enough sleep, if I watch what I eat, if I get regular exercise. If, if, if. These are things that are easy to say and hard to implement when you can’t sleep because your entire body hurts, or you are too bloody exhausted to exercise because you just got home from a 10-12 hour workday and you didn’t get a lunch break and you didn’t get any sleep the night before. Hello, vicious cycle. However, failing to plan is planning to fail. If my only recourse for getting better is self-treatment through diet and exercise, then I have to implement these things.

So this is what I’ve learned from my own Eeyore of depression.

Snowy ridgeDepression is a Dementor. J.K. Rowling created Dementors in the Harry Potter stories as dark creatures without souls that feed off the happiness of people. They caused depression and despair in anyone they fed upon, eventually reducing that person to an empty shell, stealing their souls. I can’t help but wonder if Rowling herself has had some experience with depression because I can’t think of a more apt description. Depression sucks all the color out of your life, leaving you with a bleak, gray existence and no memory of it ever having been any different. It tells you it never will be different and that you should just go belly up and give in to it. It lies. Remember that. It lies.

There is a spell to ward off Dementors. Ah, see, the most powerful weapon you have against depression is your own mind. Your negative thoughts are your enemy as well. I’m the first to say that for many people there is a biochemical component to depression and for the love of God, get on the right medication. There are many, many forms of medications out there. Because one doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean none of them will. I am probably the exception rather than the rule when it comes to medication.

But in my own battles, I’ve found that the very mind poisoning my thoughts against me is the thing in the end that can save me too. In the world of Harry Potter, there was the Patronus spell to ward off Dementors. I find it interesting that it is a complicated spell that requires, at its core, that you concentrate with all your might on one single happy memory. I think one of the keys to fighting depression is to find your own Patronus spell. Your own Spirit Guardian to ward off your Dementor, your black dog, or your Eeyore, as the case may be.

I love the movie Labyrinth. It’s the sort of film you can watch again and again and find something new each time. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie comes near the end, when Sarah, confronted by the Goblin King in a bid to keep her as his prisoner in his world, begins quoting from a play she’d been rehearsing at the beginning movie. During the course of the film Sarah has grown from the willful child who could not understand the meaning of the words she was trying to memorize to a strong young woman who has experienced loss and hardship beyond her limited world-view. Now the words make sense.

 

The part where she tells Jareth “You have no power over me” is a moment of revelation. And that is exactly what we need to tell depression. Every day. We need to stare it in the face, back it up against a wall, and tell declare, “You have no power over me.”

Do it. I can’t explain why, but it helps. There is magic in such words.

The third lesson is tougher. Ashton Kutcher recently made an acceptance speech that went viral because he took the opportunity on winning his award to thank his fans and tell them three very important things: that opportunity always comes with hard work, that the secret to being sexy your whole life is to be smart and compassionate and thoughtful, and no one out there who built a better world for themselves was any smarter than you are–they just went out and did it. It’s a great speech–I encourage you to stick it out past the screams of the teenaged fangirls and listen to it.

But here’s the part Kutcher left out. It is perfectly possible that you will do everything right: that you will work hard and apply yourself, get a degree, enter the workforce, give 150% of yourself to your job–and you will still wind up unrecognized or unrewarded. Because you know what? Being compassionate and doing the right thing might allow you to look at your reflection in the mirror without cringing, but not necessarily garner respect in the workplace. You can do everything right and through no fault of your own, wind up living in a crappy little house with no possibility of retirement in sight, having to pick and choose which bills to pay when.

Maybe you had a medical crisis that wiped out your savings. Maybe you chose to take a lower paying job so you could stay close to your aging parent. Maybe you had to choose between corporate advancement or being the best father to your child right now. The truth is it possible to give it your all year after year and still have nothing to show for it.

redbud resizedSo take your happiness where you can. Remember too, that success is an ephemeral term. Don’t let your measure of success be defined by other people. The view from the ridge behind my house is mine, even if I don’t own the land associated with it. Remember too, that sooner or later, spring always comes again. Winter is not forever.

Remember too, that when you are battling depression, it is okay to protect yourself. Cut off ties to toxic people, those who cannot understand what you are going through and try to batter you into ‘picking up your chin’ or ‘get over yourself’. I believe that someone who has never experienced depression is incapable of completely understanding it–but I also think that even among people who *do* know what it is like, when they themselves are not depressed, it is hard for them to get what you are going through. Remember your real friends though. The ones that stand by you through hell and back. You don’t the energy to thank them? Try. Some days they may be the only lighthouse in a sea of bleak fog.

You can’t deal with angsty television shows where your favorite character might get killed off next week? That’s okay. You only want to read light fluffy stories that are pure escapism and you know how they’re going to end? That’s okay too. There will come a time in which you are emotionally stronger and you find you want to read or watch something more challenging.

Until then, I’ll be writing my light, fluffy, escapist, HEA stories as my own form of therapy–and I will be delighted to share them with you. (Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy!)

The Boys of Summer400x600Sarah Madison’s stories might occasionally make you cry, but they are guaranteed to have a happy ending. If you’re interested in a mysterious M/M romance with a paranormal, then check out the Sixth Sense series from Dreamspinner Press. Book 3, Truth and Consequences, will be released soon!