Thursday, December 19, 2013

Then vs. Now

Here are the stats:

*27 Book Publishing Contracts
*9 Books out
*4 Amazon Bestsellers
*1 Memoir (self-pubbed)
*Several successful blogs
*Mentoring writers
*Mentored by the likes of Tom Sawyer (Emmy winning shower runner for Murder She Wrote), Rich Ridings (actor from the television series, Highlander) and Grant Wilson (from Ghost Hunters)
*Awards from Preditors & Editors, Moondance International Film Festival, NYC Midnight Madness Short Screenplay Competition, and 2013 Fright Night Film Festival Best SciFi Screenplay Award
*Graduated from therapy to case management and asked to speak before the Board of Directors at the Mental Healthcare Services where I received my treatment

That's now. That's December 2013. Let me tell you about then, October of 1999.

In October of 1999 I moved from Kentucky to Texas to be closer to the film industry with my best friend, and co-screenwriter in crime Missy Goodman. And then? In October of 1999 I was fast losing my grip on my sanity.

Missy and I had traveled to Austin, TX for the AFF. Austin Film Festival. Known as one of the toughest, yet most prestigious screenplay writing competitions we entered what, at the time we thought of as a brilliant screenplay. The only thing it proved was that Missy and had figured out the 3 Act structure. Which was very important. But as far as creative brilliance, well Missy and I know better now. LOL.

The signs of bipolar disorder were all there. Crying jags, I once cried for 8 hours straight down there. I couldn't take care of myself. I mean we're trouble bathing. Trouble cleaning house. Trouble physically getting out of bed. I threw things. I said things I'm not proud of and when I was first diagnosed I had no compunction about screaming and yelling and I treated the one person I had in my corner down there horribly. I made the Exorcist look like a walk in the the park. At work I locked myself in the bathroom and cried on three separate occasions. My dreams of the New York Times Bestsellers List and winning awards for my screenplay were fast going up in smoke.

My year living down in Texas was like an adventure in some ways. But it was a turbulent year marked by my fight to get stable. For the first six months down there we had no furniture. We ate spaghetti 5 nights a week and hot dogs the other two. It got to where I went to bed hungry and woke up the same way. None of this helped me in my fight to get stable.

But let me tell you what I did accomplish through the help of an underfunded and understaffed Texas healthcare system. I wrote a script. I wrote a novella. Both bad in every sense. But the important thing is, I wrote them. With Missy's help and few other angels we auditioned over 500 people including the great Vicki Jones whom we would have the great pleasure and honor to work with later on another project for You're the Reason. We found out what it was to go without. We experience Christmas without a Christmas tree. Missy was blessed with parents who sent her a package full of goodies and my mom enabled us to stay down there a bit longer by covering rent one month. Thanks to angel named Patrick, I don't know where the boy is that we worked at the movie theater with, but he enabled us to have a great Thanksgiving feast. We learned that men looked at porn on the internet on the internet. And that people like Myra Hutton believe the mentally ill have no place in the workplace, (but that's another post for another time). Thanks to her direct treatment of me I suffered a second breakdown before coming back home to Kentucky. BUT thanks to Anthony Casebeer we got to take a draft of You're the Reason to our favorite actor, Maurice Benard, well, one of my favorite actors, who also battles bipolar disorder.

Suffice it to say it was a long, hard road back. Filled with a lot of therapy, psychiatrist appointments, blood tests, and medication. Yes folks medication. For me it is a key component in my stability. I know there are those out there that frown upon it, but you don't have to be scared of it or ashamed of the fact you're taking it. But that's another post another time.

So, when I thank Missy, she was there, right by my side, and she still is. She was truly angel sent from above. She comes from a great family. Harold, Neshea, Shannon, Jessica and I have all been especially blessed by her presence in our lives. She has a kind and nurturing nature which can be tested at times, but she is a loving best friend family member. She's also writer for this blog.

Pamela Turner has been great too. When I'm depressed and need to get out, or schlepped to doctor appointments, or my medication paid for she has been fantastic! I love you Pam, couldn't do any of this without you. She too is a writer on this blog.

You'll learn a lot about me through this blog. As you will the other fabulous writers bravely and courageously joining me in talking about their journeys. Whether coping, just beginning, or living with it, they all have something valid and unique to add to the conversation.

Staying balanced on the see-saw of life,

Amy

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Through a lot of hard work and a lot of support from others this was made possible. I did not get there alone.

      Delete
  2. Yes, it is a see-saw, Amy, and thank you for writing about this. For some of us it is easier than others psychologically and in other ways. Some of us need our meds and even with our meds, the road and the journey are not easy. God bless you and your friends and the best to you this holiday season and in 2014. Signed . . . a fellow MIU Author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John. And God bless you and your loved ones. May you have a great holiday season.

      Delete
  3. Writing through, around, with, and despite a condition that would debilitate most others is a success story in itself. Thank you for sharing the journey with us.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Tanja, all of my friends here are just like me, brave and courageous in sharing their stories with everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so inspired-always-by you Amy! Thanks so much for inviting me to take part on this blog. Depression, bi-polar, and other mental illnesses aren't easy to talk about, much less live through. But, I think it's therapeutic to talk about it, to be real and open about it, and hopefully our stories will encourage others to step into the light and face the world despite it all.

    ReplyDelete
  6. :Standing Ovation:
    I am probably one of the worst people to ever talk to about emotional and behavioral issues. I prefer to throw them over the rails and send them to Davy Jones locker than to deal with them directly. I am a bastard often when it comes to mental disorders as well...let's not get me started.
    HOWEVER, I say this with the best intentions for you Amy...
    You have made this Pirate very proud to read your story...to read your triumph over something that most people just belly up and roll over...quit...stop trying.
    You my friend, are a shining example of courage under fire...commitment when there was no hope...and at your worst, you became your best.

    Well done Amy, may your story lead by example to some of those out there...who just find the quickest route to fail...perhaps now, they will be inspired to rise to their greatness.

    Just promise me you will keep going...don't stop and next convention road trip, I would be PROUD to have my booth next to yours...
    Sincerely,
    Logan Guinn
    Capt. Blacklotus Logan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had great friends, a mother and a father who rallied around me, and a relative who knew the path I was on. I hope those who fight these same battles should be as fortunate as I.

      Delete
  7. You will help a lot of people by sharing your journey, both the good and the bad. Fight the good fight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, that is why we started the blog.

      Delete
  8. Amy, I admire anyone who can keep writing through the torment of mental instability. I hope your writing provides you with a release. Best wishes and much success to you for 2014

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amy,

    A lot of us have difficult journeys of varying types (unfortunately, mine is more financial than anything), but sometimes being stubborn and persevering is what it takes for us to get where we want to go. I wish you great success in your writing, and in life. And, Happy Holidays!

    Stan (MIU author)

    ReplyDelete