truth

Anxiety and the Writer

I figured it was time for some real talk. About that thing that no one seems to want to talk about: anxiety.

It's real, it's stressful, and it's overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like it wins the battle. But it doesn't have to win the war.

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The Beginning

When I started on this book journey over a decade ago, I never knew what would come. I just knew I wanted to write a book, and, though I had no clue where to start, I somehow did. It was a long journey, but I finally got to the point where I wanted to release my book.

So on June 1st, 2018 (has it only been two months??), I announced my book release. I was so excited (and still am) and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Little did I know things would start happening, that very weekend.

I freaked out.Like crying, near panic attack freaking out.

Fear, anxiety, the constant what-did-I-do mantra that swirled through my head sped up my breathing, made my chest tight, consumed my thoughts. My husband, being the amazing man that he is, talked me down, calmed me down. He was, and still is, my rock. I'm convinced I couldn't do this without him.

I wish that was the end of it.

My Journey

Nearly every weekend since (I suspect that this is because I work on book stuff the most on the weekend and that's when I try to tackle the hard stuff), I've had some form of a panic attack. I even had two in one weekend (and even two in one day). They're scary, overwhelming, frustrating, annoying, and make me feel like I'm the only writer in the world who doesn't think they could ever get a book out into the world.

But I'm not, right?

I know I'm not. Despite what my brain tells me in the moment, the highlight reel I see on Instagram isn't the whole story. Because mine isn't. I don't want to show my weekly panic attacks, the too-many-times-to-count crying sessions that leave my eyes puffy and red and my throat dry. I only show the happy things, the things that I'm convinced everyone wants to see. Who wants to be depressed? The world is depressing enough as it is.

So that's why I'm writing this post. To show that we're all human, that what you see on social media is rarely the whole story, and that we all struggle. Sometimes it's depression, sometimes it's anxiety, sometimes it's a host of other things. Mental health is important and is lacking in our incessantly busy, constantly distracted culture.

But There's Hope

And that's the other reason I'm writing this post: you don't have to struggle alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are those of us — the ones that you probably see with a smile on Instagram — who struggle like you do. Who think that they couldn't possibly make their dreams come true. The ones that don't see sometimes how they could manage another smile.

Don't get me wrong: the smiles I put on social media are real. I love my life, and I love my online community. But that's not really the point.

The point is that life is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes we don't think we can keep working on our dream. Sometimes anxiety seems to win.

But it doesn't have to.

We keep going. We keep trying. We never give up. We look anxiety right in its vicious, angry eyes and tell it that we are stronger, that we are better than what it says we are, and that even though it might seem like it has won the battle, we will win the war.

WE. WILL. WIN. THE. WAR.

<3 Melissa

P.S. If you are struggling with mental health issues and need help, please reach out to someone. You may email me at any time, or connect with me on social media. If you are contemplating suicide, please, PLEASE know that there are people, like me, who care about you. If you need immediate, 24/7, free help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to taken as medical advice. I merely wanted to offer a free resource to those who need help, and to reassure them that they are not alone. You are not alone.

Meet Grady McGready: A Character Profile

Up next in my character profiles series is Grady McGready—Kayla's love interest and pretty much the best fictional crush EVER.

He's just like Kayla in all the right ways and just different enough to keep things interesting.

Here are some inspo pics I found for him...

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Clearly not the same guy, but still...he only has a beard when he's been out in the rainforest for like a week, so I figured a clean-shaven one would be good too...

In The Secret of the Codex (releasing August 28th, pinch me!), Grady McGready comes on the scene just as Kayla's about to make an exciting discovery. They've seen each other at work—they work in the same department at the University of Central Florida, after all—but they've not interacted much. So when Kayla invites him to join in her discovery, just the two of them, sparks start to fly...

Grady is perfect for Kayla in all the right ways, and this fact becomes clear throughout their journey. He grounds her when her world is crashing down, he holds her when she needs to be held, and he doesn't push her when she needs time. I wanted to write the perfect guy, but one who stills has flaws. Because #reallife.

And #mushymoment: I hadn't met my husband when I wrote Grady, but I tell him often that he's my Grady—perfect for me in all the ways that matter. Somehow I feel my heart knew someone like that was possible for me—so I wrote Grady in anticipation of my husband.

Told you it'd be mushy. <3

Grady's a little complicated, too—but unfortunately we don't get to delve as much into his backstory in book 1 as we do Kayla's. But a little mystery is good, right? I'm sure we'll all find out more about him as the series progresses. (Book 2 is currently underway!)

So what do you think? If you've read the free excerpt on this site, how does my description compare to what you pictured in your head?

Until next time,

<3 Melissa

P.S. If you haven't signed up for my email list, why not? I'll send you the first 3 chapters of the book as a thank you, and you can meet Grady for yourself! Sign up here!