Date: 9/16/2015 3:13 PM EDT
Today we have a special guest, author Brian Kirk. Brian writes delightfully dark, unsettling stories. He's had several published in various magazines and anthologies, and his debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July. It is a frightening look at the world of mental illness and guaranteed to keep you up at night.
My debut novel, We Are
takes a close look at the world of mental illness. This is not
only a subject I find fascinating, it’s an issue I personally face, having
dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) all of my life.
Most people associate OCD with repetitively obsessive
behavior. People wash their hands ten times before leaving the house, have to
flick the light switch fifty times when entering a room, or must make sure the
fibers on a rug are all facing north. Otherwise… Well, nothing. It’s a
compulsion without any clear impetus. Logically one knows they won’t die if the
water doesn’t sound a certain way against the drain.
While many people have that form of OCD, I don’t. Mine manifests in body ticks, inescapable
thought loops, chronic anxiety, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell
you. But in no way debilitating, thank God.
I’m not trying to sound like the suffering artist here, or
that there was anything supernatural at play, but my OCD spiked to previously
unprecedented levels when I began writing We
again, a story about mental illness.
I began having severe panic attacks, which I’d never
experienced before. My thought loops became increasingly negative and
emotionally destructive. I spiraled into a deep depression that wouldn’t lift.
For the first time in my life I found it difficult to write.
The words clunked off my fingers, they didn’t fit together well. My brain felt
like it was caught in a fog. The ideas that emerged seemed meager. More than
once, I was tempted to quit.
Fortunately, I didn’t. In fact, I feel that writing the book
is part of what helped pull me out of that state. I rationally knew that what I
was experiencing wasn’t real. The negative thoughts were lies told by the
disorder. The writing only appeared poor through the window of my warped
perception, the ideas paltry to my depressed mind.
And I didn’t want that lying, marauding prankster to get the
best of me. So, I said, “Screw it. Who cares if I write a bad book? I won’t be
the first person to do so.” And I kept going. Slugging words through sludge.
I wish I could say that one day the clouds parted during a
particularly profound scene and my depression lifted. No, writing, along with
other life changes, including medical assistance, lead to my recovery. Which
I’m happy to report continues to this day.
But writing through the darkest parts of that period proved
therapeutic in a number of ways. One, it proved that I could do it. That I
would not quit writing no matter what. Two, once my perception normalized I was
able to see that the story was far better than I feared at the time. You cannot
trust the warped perception of depression, it lies. That was a valuable lesson
that I can apply the next time I find myself in a depressed state. And, three,
it resulted in a story that rings truer than it may have otherwise.
While authors are able to write from viewpoints outside
their own, there’s a deeper quality that comes when one experiences something firsthand.
Part of me feels that this trial was the price I had to pay to write the book I
desired to write.
Good thing my next book is about an author who becomes a
bestseller, falls even more deeply in love with his wife, and makes a ton of
To be honest, this wasn’t a subject I wanted to talk much
about. I’m sometimes afraid that by thinking about it, it could happen again.
Ultimately, however, I feel that it’s important to talk about it. I know
several other writers who face the same struggles, and have been helped by
knowing they’re not alone.
There’s a stigma attached to mental illness that we need to
abolish. 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of mental illness each year. It’s
time we stop making the subject taboo, and start looking for proper solutions.
My debut novel, We Are
, is part of that burgeoning conversation. I hope you’ll check it
out. Here’s a brief description along with links to the online retailers where
The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental
He is the
hospital's newest, and most notorious patient – a paranoid schizophrenic who
sees humanity's dark side.
Luckily he's in
good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his
protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a medicine that returns
patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to
emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been
unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don't have fangs or claws.
They look just like you or me.
And for anyone interested in striking up a virtual
friendship, please connect with me through one of the following channels. Don’t
worry. I only kill my characters.