After my first appearance on the Write or Die Show last year, I have been counting down to when I could come back on the show. Talking with Randi on camera and off is a very natural and fun experience. She really does a great job of cultivating a space where her guests can delve into their experiences with mental illness and being a writer as deeply or as casually as they’d like without judgment. This is especially important and special to me as someone whose work focuses on themes of trauma and healing. Frankly, Write or Die Show is becoming a little reward for me after finishing a book!
For those looking for a serious coping strategy, one of my heavy hitters is from a clinical psychologist and tarot reader Jessica Dore. When you’re in a really f*cked situation, ask yourself, “What would I do if I could accept this?” There are times when we’re in such an upsetting and debilitating situation that all we can do is fixate on how awful it is. “Why is this happening?”, “This can’t be happening”, “What did I do to deserve this?”. It’s all part of the denial stage of grief. We can’t force ourselves past that stage, but real life doesn’t always wait. Asking ourselves what we would do if we could accept what was happening was real gives us an out, a sense of control. Maybe you’re still in that denial stage, but now you’ve imagined a version of yourself that isn’t. You can move forward and do what needs to be done. Remember: You’ve dealt with some sh*t before, and you’ll deal with some sh*t again. You’ll always make it out the other side.
If you’re into the kind of character-driven stories where characters find themselves in more than a few of these kinds of situations, check out my Queen of Magic series!
The Write-or-Die Show is a podcast and Youtube channel where we openly discuss mental health, the truths, the difficulties and strategies to cope. My last appearance was on the One Woman Fearless Virtual Summit. In this episode, I talk about my choices and mental health challenges, body image issues, as well as how I was able to cope through suicide with depression and find self-love. Through listening you could also feel inspired to begin a process of self-reflection and healing.
Seeking Mental Health
We started by talking about my personal experiences with mental health. I am a huge advocate for seeking a therapist or a counselor or any mental health professional. This is because there have been many tough situations I faced including marriages that did not work. I went through a phase of trying to fix everyone else’s situation and pouring my all into everyone else so I felt drained and it lead to a lot of anxiety and depression. I had rejection issues, abandonment issues and self-worth issues. I had to go back and relive my life to uncover where these issues came from.
I remembered my first mental health therapist. She was the very first one who said to me “Kimberly, I’m sorry you went through that” after hearing my story. I just broke down and cried and she gave me the release and sense of fulfillment that I needed to understand that some things were beyond my control and not my fault.
The host commented on how we tend to think these horrible things happen because of us and we are depressed because of the belief that we are the horrible person or we are what’s wrong with the situation. But that is not true. It is not your fault, sh*t happens and it is all about how we internalize it.
“I am not responsible for anyone else’s behavior or actions done to me but what I am responsible for… is how I react, how I behave and the things that I do.”
Confronting Suicide with Depression
The host spoke about how her brother passed away from an overdose and her mom would always blame other people for it. His life wasn’t easy but it was still his choice to get the drugs. He never made the choice to seek mental health and seek a therapist. When the host had suicidal thoughts as well, she had to make a choice to either listen to her brain or seek a therapist.
I have also had suicidal thoughts that were about to become a reality. I had the knife in my hand thinking that no one understands this hurt and this pain, and this life was not worth it. I was ready to end it but I had the choice to question whether I wanted to deal with the actions and behaviors of others and the pain it brought me. But at the end of the day, there had to be a better way through because pain, hurt and disappointment are natural things that happen, but at the same time, we are going to have to be able to cope with it.
The host asked what lead up to it and what made me put it down?
It was everything. Including the ending of a relationship that I poured so much of myself into. I also felt the pressure of being so responsible for my children’s success, their future and feeling like I was not doing enough. I felt the pressure was just unbearable to deal with. It was very scary for me and hurtful.
The host commented that suicide is not about wanting to die, it is about the pain and not knowing any another way to make the pain stop.
I recalled the event with the kife in my hand. I remembered the look in my little girl’s eyes and she grabbed my hand saying “mommy NO!”. Even when I let it go and got in the car, I cried out to God who I depend on everyday and said:
“Lord I need you to help me, I need you to give me the strength, I know you already feel and see what i’m going through, I can’t do this, I really need you.”
I had to completely surrender to my higher power. It didn’t end there, it had to be a process. I had to start building my spirituality with God…
My name is Jeremiah Ukponrefe and I made an appearance on the write or die show speaking about my experience with depression.
Being on the show was outside of my comfort zone, but also a positive experience. I have not spoken publicly about my depression before, but simply talking to another person made it easier.
My main strategy for treating depression is staying busy in all areas of my life and finding balance. For me building an active social life, and getting out of the house is essential, to the point where I find being out of the house for a minimum of five days of the week is effective. There are multiple ways of doing this, it might mean going to a concert or through an exercise that requires other people like boxing or soccer. My happiness is often the culmination of multiple things, not just exercise or socializing, but a consistent effort each and every day to be better.
Another thing to note is that it will never truly be perfect. There will be slip-ups and bad days, and I remind myself that at no point will I ever be at my best moments forever, the same way that my lowest moments will not always be the norm, and through trial and error it becomes easier to find what works for the individual.
My book Hive is available now, the novel is about a world where an alien invasion occurred that humanity nearly defeated, and what happens when it turns out that not only is the alien not gone, but it holds far more secrets than humanity originally believed.
More on me can be found at my social media links and to find my book Hive it can be found at Amazon or my website
For updates on my upcoming book Finite the second book in The Arcane Volumes, or for a free preview of Hive join my email list by going to my website at www.jeremiahu.com
Being on the Write or Die show was my VERY first podcast appearance of all time. VERY exciting for me, indeed!
My name is Samantha. I go by Sam and use she/her pronouns. I’m from Welland, Ontario and a current resident of St Catharines, ON. I am a mental health warrior, a survivor of addiction, and a fierce advocate for and lover of people. I hope you’re feeling well today, whatever that means for you.
Some super important things we covered in this episode were Borderline Personality Disorder, which is something I live with, and the 9 different traits associated with it:
An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
Ongoing feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
In the show we also talked about relationships and I’d like to take a moment to explain a little bit about how BPD caused problems for me in mine.
Because I entered teen years/early adulthood with this very powerful fear of abandonment, I had this tendency to latch onto guys who weren’t the greatest for me because, as we talked about in the show, being with someone was better than being single, or so was my belief at the time. Because I was soooooo afraid of rejection, I was constantly seeking a long-term permanent relationship, and sometimes that didn’t lead me to the greatest outcomes. My takeaway for you is this:
If you are deeply afraid of being alone, you are NOT ALONE. There are so many of us who live with these deep feelings everyday. There are ways to maintain and keep connections with fellow humans without abandoning your self-respect, your dignity, your value, and without changing your personality. Often the most genuine, authentic and fulfilling relationships are the ones where you DON’T have to give up any of these things.
A relationship will not save you. No one is more capable of taking care of you the WAY you are. ONLY YOU can meet your needs for care, compassion and love in the way that you need. If you have NO idea how to do any of these things, again you are NOT ALONE here. It takes time, it’s a process, and you matter enough to go through that process. Your first step can be making that call for therapy if that’s something you think might benefit you. It can be following certain people on social channels for inspiration and motivation. It can be just getting out of bed. That is OKAY! You matter enough to show yourself some love! I am a firm believer that we all have that deep love inside of us, that maybe we need to learn some tools to access it, and that’s okay. That love is always there when we need it. But it cannot come from someone else. Of course, it’s wonderful to be loved and supported and I am in no way suggesting you rid yourself of people who love you, and who love you well. Support is KEY. My point is that no one can help us, take care of us, and love us better than we can because no one knows our needs more than we do.
I mean I could go on and on about this for a long time, but I also want you to enjoy your day. So! I’m so honoured and SO PUMPED that I got to be on this incredible podcast, with an incredible leader having incredible conversations. It was a gift to be able to share parts of my story in a safe, open, welcoming space. Thank you Randi-Lee for everything you do! You are inspiring.
If you, like me, have a hard time dealing with difficult emotions, might feel like you want to get therapy but aren’t sure, feel like you might rely on alcohol or other substances a little more than what feels good for you and want to talk about it with someone, I invite you to reach out to me! I’m more than happy to walk you through a thing or two and provide you with some resources, should that be what you need. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
When my oldest son was born 10 years ago, I checked in with myself during those first few weeks for signs of “the baby blues.” I never got it. I was exhausted, but happy. Especially in the beginning, when family came to help and friends dropped by to visit, life was like a new adventure. Then the months started to drag on. I was home all day managing all of the housework that comes with a baby, and of course, taking care of the baby himself, and not sleeping. Even when the baby slept, I could not. I tried to explain to my doctor that something was wrong, but she dismissed my concerns as that of a typical new mom.
I would wake up at 3 am to some real or imagined baby noise and not be able to go back to sleep. Night after night, I tossed and turned. The bags under my eyes grew bags of their own. Words that I knew slipped beyond reach. I would take any opportunity just to lie down. I spoke to another doctor. She told me that being tired would not kill me. I’m pretty sure that’s not true—how many car crashes are caused by exhausted drivers?
I actually fantasized about crashing my car and being taken to a hospital where they would give me drugs that would help me sleep for days. Eventually, I got help. I worked with a therapist and got to the bottom of the issue—post-partum anxiety—and learned techniques that I still use for falling back asleep if I wake up in the middle of the night. I also learned the importance of taking care of my own mental health deliberately and not stopping until I find the right person to help. I really appreciated the recent opportunity to talk about my experiences with postpartum anxiety and my writing with Randi-Lee on her podcast Write or Die. Every time someone talks about their mental health struggles openly, the stigma and shame get a little smaller until maybe one day, they will disappear entirely. Writing is my self-care. I have a book and a short story currently available on Amazon, Manfluand The First Time in Forever. Thanks for checking out my work!
Opening up to a stranger about personal and private health conditions, especially those that carry a stigma, is the easy part. Randi, allowed me to talk and she understands what I’ve been through as she has experienced the same. If my story can help others become stronger and motivated and even break through the dark cloud, then I’m happy to share my private issues. What I found the hardest about this experience is pressing that share button. Do I allow my family and virtual friends to watch this, to know the other side of Karina Kantas? To see the tears behind the smile. To open up the door and allow them into my issues. There are some that I wouldn’t want to watch the podcast, and I doubt they would be bothered to click and watch or listen. But it’s scary to put yourself out there to the public, but the only reason I do is in the hope that my story can help someone.
When I’m feeling low, like I have been these last few days, I keep in mind, that once I come out of this dark cloud, I’ll be happy again. There’s no reason for me to feel sad or cry as I have been. I just know it’s just that time of year. I’ll keep myself busy and surround myself with family and wait it out.
If you told me two years ago that I would write a book and be participating in a youtube interview about that book I would have told you “no way”. You see, I believed that because I hadn’t mastered life, no one would want to listen to me. I wasn’t famous, I wasn’t a celebrity. I didn’t have it all figured out just yet. That is what makes the Write or Die Show so special. It celebrates people who have had life challenges and now are seeing the other side of what can be possible in life.
Speaking to Randi-Lee was like sitting down and having coffee with a friend. She reminded me of why I wrote Conquering the Undertow in the first place. Life can be so much more than just existing, moving from one day to the next. When we stop questioning life, and instead just accept that this is how it is, are we living life or is life just happening for us?
I believe one of the best things you can do is observe how you relate to yourself.
● Where in life do you settle for a fine or ok experience? ● What physical symptoms do you just deal with as being part of your body? ● Do you accept all emotions as useful or feel disappointed in yourself when you feel sad or angry?
My best coping tip is to slow down and ask yourself how present you are being. When you walked home did you stop and notice the people around you or were you too consumed with your own thoughts. Stop and really taste that sandwich choosing to only focus on the hot bread in your mouth. I suffer from anxiety so I know this can be difficult but you need to train your brain. Stop running and take in the sunset. Feel the blood flowing through your veins.
When I started Amazing Limits, I hadn’t even the clue if it would come to completion. Even More came after 12 Amazing Limit’s ( 1 for the original 12 disciples in Jesus’ Ministry). After Pentecost, 3000 were added to the church on that day, and as such, Even More to today, hence the name.
Today, I sit with copious idea’s forward how to advance this pictorial nonsense; However, I do not feel IT IS nonsense. Amazing Limits and Even More, are just a guide to my hope in Christ through the real madness that is everywhere right now.
To describe it any other way would be wrong: Amazing Limits and Even More are my Love letter’s to Christ and my Family.
Both Amazing Limits and Even More, hope to bring about the change in hearts of people around the world.
The opportunity to write and create has been a passion in my recovery. Being able to openly talk about my disability candidly has been very helpful. I encourage other Author’s and even aspiring writer’s: Pursue your dreams, and put your will and life into the hand’s of Christ. What ever your heart’s yearn toward, Jesus Christ can make it happen.
What has occurred because of this interview, essentially flipped me out of my own defeatist attitude. I fail when I fail, not because who you are what you say or you do. Those are identity issues that don’t fall on my conscience any further. If god can forgive Me, I can forgive me.
Try and narrate your life in 26 mins or less. It’s hard, fun enjoyable and rewarding.
I had the pleasure of being invited as a guest on the Write or Die Show several months back. It was my first interview about my horror trilogy (Preternatural), and was also going to cover some very sensitive and extremely personal topics concerning mental health. So I was nervous as a cat walking into it, but Randi ran the entire thing so well, that I felt completely at ease. I opened up quite a bit and was as honest as possible, which was made so much easier with her encouragement. I think we actually spoke for an extra 30 minutes beyond the actual interview, and both had a blast.
I also really want to emphasize that the things said during my interview are my lived experiences. I am not claiming to be an expert of any kind, but hope that my experiences can be of use to others. Even though Randi and I joked a bit, we did so to create a warm, inviting environment to discuss my mental health struggles which included PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, alcohol and drug abuse, etc. Having been through my own journey, stemming from an upbringing centered on stigmas about the topic, discouraging mental health services, and being taught to just ‘act normal,’ I know how hard it can be to change your mindset. But I encourage anyone who thinks they may be having a mental health challenge to reach out and talk to any of the multitude of appropriate professionals for the proper treatment options. Mental health is a very critical part of overall well being and everyone deserves to feel their best.