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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Quirk [Series] Review: Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

Author: Veronica Roth ~~ Series: Divergent
Release Dates: 2011 - 2013 ~~ Sources: gift, local used bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books
WARNING: Spoilers are tagged are below.

About Divergent from Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves...or it might destroy her.

PREFACE:
I remember when Divergent was the new cool-kid-on-the-block for YA lit. I recently finished the last book, and, having heard how many were not satisfied by the ending, I wanted to put my thoughts out there because I seem to be among the minority who loved the trilogy from beginning to end.

WRITING:
Roth is one of those writers who is able to say so much in seemingly few words, so her prose never feels bloated or descriptions unnecessary. While her writing is direct and uncomplicated, she has the ability to punch you in the gut with certain passages, making them beautiful without changing the overall style.

SETTING:
The atmosphere of dystopian Chicago existed easily in my mind, even before the film came out. In addition to Roth's good use of description, her style of writing aided in creating the stark, gray landscape of the Divergent world, as well as the times certain aspects of it contrasted against each another. As the world got bigger with each book, Roth's world-building didn't lag.

CHARACTERS:
Tris is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. She is good to the core, tortured over what happens to her and those around her, extremely brave, and in the end, true to herself above everything. Over the course of the first book she grows and changes, becoming the kind of person she wanted to be. The second and third books show how far she is willing to go in order to save and protect those she cares about and to make the world a better place. Her bravery and courage are inspiring, as is her will to go on despite so many losses.

Four, or Tobias, as he is known by both names, was a character I liked throughout the first two books and, while I didn't exactly like him less in the third book, I didn't really enjoy being in his mind. Like Tris, he agonizes over things that have happened, but more than anything his family's dysfunction and his own fears are what he thinks about most. Unlike Tris, he does so to the point that it incapacitates him. It causes him to make decisions that, were he less reactive to his past, he wouldn't make otherwise.

There is a whole slew of characters that appear with Tris and Four throughout the trilogy. My favorite among them is Christina, Tris's friend and fellow Dauntless initiate. I also enjoyed Uriah, a Dauntless born, and though I can't say I liked him, Peter, another Dauntless transfer, was an interesting character to watch because you were never sure what he would do.

While there are a handful of characters who could be termed 'villains' in this series, really, the culprit underneath it all is human nature. Fear of change, mob-mentality, greed, prioritization of control/power over everything else - all of these things contribute to the tribulations that Tris, Four, and their friends and family go through. Some of the villains were, however, pretty convincing. The first, while I understood her point of view, I was completely disgusted by her methods. The second was a bad apple that was occasionally on the right side of an issue, but, even after everything that happens, he wouldn't change his ways. A third made some big mistakes but was ultimately redeemable. The last one was rather sneaky because he truly believed that his methods and outlook were objectively good, despite being completely bad and unfair.

COOL STUFF: [Here there be SPOILERS!]
When I first heard that readers were hating the last book, Allegiant, and that there were two POVs where the other two books had just been told from Tris's perspective, I figured out the main ending event pretty easily. So in that way, I was spoiled for what was coming. However, unlike the majority of readers, I thought Tris's death was not only perfectly reasonable, but a beautiful piece of writing.

From the first book it was clear that Roth was not going to pull punches. I'm a sucker for books with action, but I was shocked when Edward lost his eye and when they pulled Al's body from the chasm. I was shocked when Tris had to shoot Will, and when both Tris's mom and dad die practically in front of her. But I was less shocked when Tris risked her life trying to pull Four out of the attack simulation. And later, when she turned herself in to Erudite in Insurgent, it made sense, because that was exactly who Tris had become.

So when Tris risked her life at the end of Allegiant, it was no surprise. True, she did it to save Caleb, who was one of my least favorite characters ever because he was a spineless jerk, but it was exactly what Tris would have done. She'd already shown, several times, that she was willing to give up her life for others. I don't see how it could have ended any other way. Sure, Tris would have survived, but she would have been living with the guilt of her brother's death and feeling like a coward for the rest of her life. I, for one, am glad she stayed true to herself.

One thing I was not expecting was for Tris to survive the death serum. I loved that she believed she would survive it and then she did. I think that, though being divergent outside the city wasn't supposed to mean much, it showed that Tris really was special, even beyond what everyone expected. I feel like her surviving the death serum, doing what no one else could, was a metaphor for her making the choices no one else would.

Another thing I enjoyed, that I pretty sure a lot of Tris+Four shippers did not, was how Tris and Four fought a lot in the last two books. I thought it felt realistic, considering everything they were going through. Couples in the real world fight plenty without having to deal with what was going on the Divergent world, so it made complete sense that the two would have major issues as things got worse. It made me respect Roth immensely.

VERDICT:
While reading Veronica Roth's trilogy wasn't always comfortable or easy, it was an experience I enjoyed and that will have a lasting impact on me. The writing made the world come alive, Tris was a character I will love forever, and the lengths Roth went to to tell a good, meaningful story make her one of my favorite authors. If you couldn't already tell, I highly recommend this series.


Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Reading Challenges Summary Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my challenges summary!

Goal: Listen to 75 audio books
Total: 25
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Saving Raphael Santiago (The Bane Chronicles #6) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare
Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu
What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl
Until I Die (Revenants #2) by Amy Plum
If I Should Die (Revenants #3) by Amy Plum
 Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
One False Move (Myron Bolitar #5) by Harlan Coben
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
 Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd


 Goal: Read 12 books with titles relating to 12 keywords
Total: 11
Status: Not Completed

The Keywords/Books:
WILD: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
DARK: The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
FOREVER: The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams
NEVER: none
AND: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
GRAVE: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
ME: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
SHADOW: Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
THE: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe


Goal: Read 12 books with themes relating to 12 motifs
Total: 12
Status: COMPLETED

The Motifs/Books:
Around the World: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
Award Winner: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Fairy Tales: Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis
Short & Sweet: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Mystery, Murder, & Mayhem: Prep School Confidential (Prep School Confidential #1) by Kara Taylor
A Long Journey: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis
Assassins, Warriors, & Rebels: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Alternate Reality: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Book to Movie: Austenland (Austenland #1) by Shannon Hale
The Witching Hour: Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
An Oldie but Goodie: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
That's a Wrap: The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass


Goal: Read 40 TBR books
Total: 23
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk


Thanks for visiting!



2014 Reading Challenges Summary Part 1

First things first, 2014 was a horrible year for me. My whole life suffered, including my reading. Even so, I wanted to sum up what I did read for the year, even if I didn't complete most of my challenges. Hopefully 2015 will be better!


Goal: Read 110 books
Total: 60
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Saving Raphael Santiago (The Bane Chronicles #6) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
C. Auguste Dupin Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Very Bad Things by Susan McBride
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker


Goal: Read at least 1 classic
Total: 3
Status: COMPLETED

The Books:
C. Auguste Dupin Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe


Don't forget to check out Part 2!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Celebrate THE BODY ELECTRIC and WIN!


Hey quirks!

Beth Revis is not only a YA Author extraordinaire, but she also does some amazingly fantastic giveaways, and to celebrate her book THE BODY ELECTRIC, she's having her biggest giveaway yet!

THE BODY ELECTRIC is a YA sci-fi novel set on Earth, but in the same world as the Across The Universe trilogy. It follows a girl name Ella Shepherd (<---is that a Firefly reference I spy?) who has a gift for dreams and memories of other people thanks to some futuristic technology. She does good, helpful work, BUT, as any Across the Universe fan will tell you, there is always a TWIST when it comes to reading a Beth Revis book!

I'm excited to read this, though I want to finish the ATU trilogy first (I'm way behind on my TBR books). If you find it interesting too, you can purchase the book and a dollar of every purchase will go to charity program that creates beehives in developing nations. You can also enter the huge giveaway and win THE BODY ELECTRIC, along with a bunch of other books! To read up on the book, check out the synopsis below and be sure to visit Beth Revis's blog HERE for more info and to enter the giveaway! Good luck!


From Goodreads:

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quirk Review: Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

Title: Persephone ~~ Author: Kaitlin Bevis
Series: Daughters of Zeus ~~ Release Date: 07/6/2012
Source: author
FTC Disclosure: I accepted this e-book free of charge from the author and received no compensation for my fair and honest review.

From Goodreads:

There are worse things than death, worse people too

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.


PREFACE:
I received a review request from the author, Kaitlin Bevis, and decided to read and review Persephone. I enjoy stories related to myths, especially Hades related ones. It took my a long while to finally get around to reading it, but I was glad once I did.

WRITING:
The writing felt a little weak in the beginning, but after a couple chapters everything settled and I was completely pulled into the story. There was the right mix of emotion, description, and action, meaning I read through the book pretty quickly.

SETTING:
The real-world setting wasn't that interesting (except the flower shop - I love flower shops so maybe this is just a me thing), but once we got down into the Underworld, I loved it. Seeing the Underworld through Persephone's eyes and learning how Hades rules it was different from what I expected and it was cool and interesting.

CHARACTERS:
For the most part, Persephone does not take crap from anyone. She's stuck in a weird situation and resents it but tries to make the best of it, but she is no doormat and I loved that about her. I enjoyed her drive to find the truth and fix her broken world.

Hades was a nice surprise. I was afraid the marrying-Persephone-without-her-consent bit meant Hades was going to be your typical old-world misogynist or something of that nature, the the opposite was true. I liked how, despite seemingly starting to have feelings for Persephone, he tries to keep his distance because in his view, despite being a goddess, Persephone has only lived for sixteen years, and I appreciated that. Persephone doesn't start to fall for him until she see's what kind of person he is which was a nice change from a lot of YA.

I loved the secondary characters that populated the underworld, especially Cassandra. They all seemed to be fully fleshed out and had different jobs and roles to play in the "life" of the Underworld. Persephone's mom, Demeter, was a bit of a pickle for me. She obviously loved her daughter but she was the secret-keeping kind. I enjoyed the tension the mother-daughter relationship brought to the story.

Boreas was a class-A creep. His past was completely cringe-inducing and I don't even like thinking of him now.

DOWNSIDE:
The only thing slightly off about this story, besides the bumps-in-the-road I mentioned before, was the end of the book. The resolution felt too quick and easy for how dastardly the villain was.

VERDICT:
Despite a couple hiccups, Persephone enthralled me and had me dying to spend more time with the characters. After finishing this book, I immediately went and bought the second book, Daughter of Earth and Sky, and read it in a day. If you love myths and strong heroines, this book (and series) is for you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

From Where I'm Standing [16] - Roadside YA Tour

It's been quite a while since I've gotten to go to a book event, but on Friday the 24th I got to attend the Nashville stop of the Roadside YA Tour! It was held at Parnassus Books and featured four amazing authors: Tessa Gratton, Natalie C. Parker, Bethany Hagen, and Julie Murphy!

Traffic was horrendous in Nashville so instead of visiting some places before the event, we (my mother and I) decided to go straight to the bookstore even if we were going to be extremely early. It worked out though and we got great seats.

The moderator was the amazing Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal, and she did a great job. She asked fantastic questions and got the authors talking easily, making this one of the best panels I've ever seen.



So much was discussed that it's hard to recap everything, so here is (in short) what I learned:

L-R: Courtney C. Stevens, Julie Murphy, Natalie C. Parker, Bethany Hagen, Tessa Gratton

Natalie C. Parker is a BAMF. Not only is her day-job title incredibly long (like a paragraph) and she is crazy-smart, she's also fun and witty and sweet. I've been following her career since 2011 when I participated in her Call Me Icarus critique project, which was really enlightening for me, so I've been looking forward to buying her book and seeing her for quite a while. She even recognized me (by my name because we were both Parkers).

Julie Murphy is a woman after my own heart. So much of what she said about her life and writing process connected with my own and it was encouraging to see her success. Her sense of humor felt so much like mine and I loved how she had woven some of her own life experiences thematically into her book.


Bethany Hagen is multi-talented --- librarian, author, mother, and 3-time karate black belt. I loved how she spoke on the legitimacy of the teenage experience, and she also had some great writing advice: keep writing no matter what, because your Moment may come when you least expect it.

Tessa Gratton is scarily intelligent, and she's still as hilarious as the first time I saw her. Her writing advice was not only the funniest (because of how expressive she is), but it was also my favorite of the night: if you don't love what you're writing, you're DOOMED.


If you get a chance to see these authors in person, I highly suggest you take it. It was worth the trip and even my non-bookish mom, who's never been to anything like this before, had a great time. You can find links to the Goodreads page for each book below. Happy reading quirks!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

For Fun [4] - Spooktastic Reads!


Hey quirks! In just a couple of weeks it will be Halloween, so to get in the mood for the spookiest time of year, how about some spooktastic reads! Below is a list of books I've been reading this month, as well as some all-time favorites that are just the right amount of creepy. Share your spooktastic favorites in the comments!


Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
Messages in blood, faces in mirrors, disembodied voices, and a myriad of other horrors haunt Mara Dyer. I recently re-read the first book and then the second book in a handful of hours because they are SO GOOD, so you get all the spooky you could ask for in a very awesome story, and the final book comes out on November 4th!  I <3 M.A.D.N.E.S.S.


The Revenant and The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Sonia Gensler is one of the most under-hyped authors, and I can't stand it because her books are not only intelligently written, but they are spooky and mysterious and perfect escapes into the (half-fictional) past. She weaves together history and the supernatural so well that you feel like these things could have really happened, and I fly through her books. Luckily, we'll be getting another one (this time contemporary!) next fall!


Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson
Ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts! Also mysteries, murders, and heart-wrenching tragedies! I love this series, except for, you know, when Maureen Johnson is ripping my heart out. Okay, I love it then too. I can't wait for The Shadow Cabinet, which doesn't come out until next February.


Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In an effort to diversify my reading, I wanted to read a book that was translated into English. I have had some of Zafon's books on my TBR, but they are series books that weren't currently available from my library, so when I stumbled upon this YA standalone, I jumped on the chance to read it. I had no idea what I was getting into, but this story is beautifully written but supremely creepy. If it were made into a movie, I don't know that I could watch without my covering my eyes at several parts. It's like a Spanish mash-up of Frankenstein and Phantom of the Opera, set in mysterious Barcelona and I loved every second of it.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I love this book. It is so weird and mysterious and Gaiman-y. It follows a boy named Bod, who grows up in a graveyard and is raised by a various cast of non-living/non-human persons. It starts out being strange then moves to spooky and then hits some action that has you feeling like you're running through the tombstones alongside Bod, and it is so much fun.


Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
I could have easily put several of Duncan's other books on this list, but this one is creepy from page one and holds until the very end. Supposedly a movie is in the works for it and if so, that is one scary movie I will be seeing.


Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga
If you like more danger thrills than supernatural chills, Barry Lyga's series about a boy raised by a serial killer is probably for you. These are totally contemporary and read like dark mystery-thrillers, exciting and creepy (especially when Jasper's dad is involved), but with that YA twist.


The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
 
The short stories of Poe are some of the creepiest ever. I have a hard time deciding which is my favorite (though I'm partial to "The Black Cat"). Add in the fact that he is credited with creating the mystery genre and it's easy to see why he's one of my all-time favorites. As for The Phantom of the Opera, this one I came to read after loving the movie version, and while the film is full of drama, the book takes up the crazy and creepy to another level, making it a lot of fun to read.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Of Fever and Dreams

There's been a lot of talk in my neck of the woods about babies. Of my best friends, one has an 18-month-old, one has a six year old and one-year-old twins, and another is seriously contemplating starting a family sooner rather than later. I've even done some babysitting and spent more time lately with tiny humans than ever in my life.

And I'll admit it - I've had some Baby Fever over the past months (and it wasn't just me; The Hubs got a fair dose of it too).

But then I found out that one of my blogger buddies cleared that first big publishing hurdle - she got an agent. As I was reading her blog post about the experience (which you can find HERE), a feeling came over me that I didn't expect.

I didn't want a baby. I wanted a book - a book with my name on it.

In fact, I want a book way more than I ever thought I wanted a baby.

That may make me sound like a horrible person, but it's the truth. I'm not ruling kids out, I just want to become an author more than I want to become a parent. There are a multitude of factors that went in to me even contracting Baby Fever, but they are a little mired and weighty, so suffice it to say that in these past months when my depression got so bad, I lost myself a little and was looking for things that might help bring me some hope for the future. But being a mother was never a dream of mine. An eventuality maybe, but not a dream.

Being an author is my dream.

Since the Baby Fever has broken (and my depression is well in-hand thanks to the new meds), I feel the certainty of that dream. Not the certainty that it will happen in the way I wish it (because I have no control over that), but the certainty that I want it to happen and will do what is in my power to make it happen.

And now, without looking for it, I find that I have hope to spare.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For Fun [3] - The Darkest Minds Fan Cast



Hey quirks! I was super excited to hear about a director being selected for the adaptation of Alexandra Bracken's novel The Darkest Minds, so I decided to do a fan cast.

Please be warned I read the book two years ago so I'm going off my memory and images of fan art, and I'm only including the main four and a fifth I thought it would be fun to cast. Also, I did not consider the acting skills of these people (some of which I haven't even seen), just their general look and vibe (and the knowledge that Hollywood can make anyone look like a teen).

What do you think? Who would you cast for The Darkest Minds movie?
 

Ruby:
You know her from:





Liam:
You know him from:


Chubs:
You know him from:




You know her from:






Clancy:
You know him from:








And don't forget the final book in the trilogy, 
In the Afterlight, comes out next month!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Refuse To Let It Kill Me | World Suicide Prevention Day 2014


On July 27th of this year, I had the biggest breakdown of my life. For the two weeks following, I was completely suicidal. My family was scared. I was scared. I went to work, unable to concentrate on my job but thought instead of the different methods I could utilize to carry out what every cell in my body screamed for.

I hadn't been that close to death in seven years. Even so, I didn't really want to go; I just didn't want to be in pain any longer. It's hard to describe a pain that is caused internally and cannot be seen - not by a blood test, not by an x-ray, maybe a brain scan, but I don't know of any doctors who have actually shown a depressed person what their pain looks like on a chart or film.

Drowning isn't a strong enough analogy for how I was losing myself. Maybe drowning in lava, but without the instantaneous death, just the searing, never-ending pain filling my chest and my throat and my head. Then suddenly I was out of the lava but back in the deep end of the ocean, my soul and mind charred and fragile but heavy as a planet. I learned early on how to hide my disease, so the masks went back up and off I went to work, my brittle self flaking away with every breath and no one noticing except those who already knew.

Then on August 11th I woke up, and the second my eyes opened, I felt different. I don't know what it was. My brain has had a mind of its own - quite literally making me feel how it wants me to feel - since I was ten. Since I'd been prescribed my latest medication, I never missed a pill, and I hadn't missed any of the previous prescription either, but that hadn't stopped the disease and the stress of my life from eating away at me. But despite this, that particular Monday dawned a little brighter than the fourteen days preceding it, so I clung to that and didn't let go.

A couple weeks ago my doctor suggested I try a new medication. I shrugged and agreed because it couldn't hurt. That bit of hope I'd grasped was nearly gone, and I didn't want to go back to those suicidal two weeks. In the past, a new medication meant feeling ill and strange for up to a week, then feeling better, a little clearer in the mind, a little less heavy around the shoulders. Eventually though, it also meant relapsing back into my depression, a depression that scored a 20 on the depression scale my doctor uses (meaning severe major depression).

Eleven days ago I began taking a daily half dose of this new medicine. The initial weirdness was strong in those first three days, but by day four, I didn't feel like myself  - the self that has been severely depressed for a decade. But now it's day eleven, and my improvement has been incredible. Yesterday I had a follow-up with my doctor and instead of scoring a 20 on the depression scale, I scored a mere 2.

I relate all this because I survived my disease this summer. I'm not done fighting it, but by grasping at whatever little bit of hope I could and getting help from those that loved me and from others that wanted to help me, I've made it to a place I never, ever thought I would be. I'm still cautious about the new medicine, but people around me already see the difference, and I feel the difference, so I'm staying this course for as long as it works.

I know most people who have never struggled with depression and anxiety find it hard to believe that something so invisible can be so devastating. For those of us who struggle with it, we know what it is like to be exhausted by having to take a shower or having to answer the phone. Our work suffers, our relationships suffer, people call us lazy and pathetic, we're told we don't have a real disease like cancer, or that depression isn't really a mental illness but just a phase.

And we can't prove them wrong if we aren't around to do so. I am done being quiet about what I have been through. In places like Twitter and here on this blog, I've felt that I can be more open about it, but on sites like Facebook where my internet life and my physical life intersect, I've said very little. But no more silence or veiled posts. I've always liked the mantra "Fake It til You Make It", but for those of us with depression, we are usually only able to "Fake It til We Break It," the "it" being ourselves. No more faking it.

I have severe major depression.
I have recently been suicidal.
I have smiled at you when I wanted to cry.
I have laughed with you when I wanted to die.
I have said, "I'm great," when I really meant "I'm in hell."
I am now on medication.
I am doing better.
I refuse to let it kill me.

Please don't let it kill you or anyone you know.

I have been acquainted with people who have committed suicide, and if one thing kept me alive while I was suicidal, it was knowing that the relief of my pain by suicide would be the cause of so much pain for those I left behind. You don't always know what you mean to the people in your life or how many hearts you will break by your decision. So go ahead and believe me when I say it will be more than you think.

You and your story matter, and I truly believe the motto for TWLOHA's 2014 NSPW campaign: No One Else Can Play Your Part. If you are struggling, talk to someone. Anyone. Let it out and then get help. During my breakdown in July, the only thing keeping me from breaking apart and tearing the whole house down with me was the fact that I had my husband holding me so tightly that I could do nothing but breathe. Sometimes it takes that; sometimes it only takes a listening ear.

All of us, those with depression and those with the luxury of never experiencing it, can do something to prevent suicide. Spread the word. Be the listener. Ask for help. Hold somebody's hand. We all matter.

If you would like more information on depression and suicide prevention, please follow the links below, and please share. Whether you think you do or not, you know someone struggling with this. Show them that you are on their side.





an interactive (non)fiction about living with depression

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