This Is Me: A Writer With Mental Illness. I Am Not Ashamed.

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When I was young, there was only one thing I knew for sure. I knew that I didn’t want anyone to forget me, so I carved my name in stones and left pictures in walls. This was the only thing I knew about myself until a year ago.

I was never one person. I never knew who I was or who I wanted to be. For as long as I can remember, I was who I needed to be to the person in front of me. As any child does, I feared I would never belong, so I did what I could to feel accepted.

Of course, we’re all confused at a young age, but you always hear stories of people growing out of it. That didn’t happen for me. When I reached my mid-twenties, I still had no idea. Once again, I took a breath, placed the mask on, and went out into the world hoping that I would have everything figured out when I returned home. It wasn’t until I realized that I wanted to be a writer that I started on a path of self-discovery. I truly believed I was a lost cause until I picked up a pen and started writing my first novel. I immersed myself in a world that felt comfortable. I got to know my characters until they became my friends. Then, they became my family. However, even after it was finished, I was still confused. I thought, “Am I a writer? Do I write stories that people will want to read? Am I smart enough for this?”

When I reached my late twenties, I realized what made me write so well. Sure, I was creative, and I love telling stories that change people’s perspectives, but there was something else. Something that made me a good writer. My mind was sick.

I denied my sickness for many years. I always knew it was there, but I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know what to call it. I was unable to explore the colors of my personality because the colors were lost in a blackness that I didn’t know how to escape.

I fought it for years until I began to delve deep into my own mind. I started reading, researching, and writing more often. I explored my sickness so that I could understand it and apply it to my art.

Most would say that I am glorifying my sickness. I guess in a way I am because it was the acceptance of it that led me to understanding who I was as a human being. Without it, I don’t think I would be have been able to write some of the most human stories I’ve ever written. I was able to swim in the emotions of my characters. I embraced their pain because it helped me through my own. My sickness made me feel things so very deeply to the point where the only way I could soothe it was by creating characters that would be surrounded by it.

I write stories for a living, so I can still cling to the hope that I won’t be forgotten. My mind is sick, but it’s who I am. The day I accepted it was the day that my writer’s block broke and the stories began to unfold. I wrote story after story and idea after idea. I made words into art because it was the only thing I could do. Closing my eyes and watching the gears move until my words were twisted and shaped into a beautiful ending was what I looked forward to.

There are days that I wish I was normal. I wish I could wake up with a smile and leave the house like everyone else, but I don’t have that luxury, so I escape through my stories and speak to my characters. At least I know they’re listening.

My mind is sick, but it’s who I am. I can’t change it, so I use it in the only way I know how. I accept my sickness for what it is, and I accept that I’ll always have it, but maybe it will help me write something as beautifully devastating as the life I have been given.

Written By Monroe Starr

Bio: Monroe Starr was born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1987. Her given name is Brittany Weekley. She began keeping a journal at an early age, and then later went on to publish her first poem at the age of fifteen. In 2016, she published her first historical fiction novel, "The Secret Life of Thomas Commons." She has written several short stories, novels, poems, songs, and novellas.

Twitter: @MonreStArr - Instagram: @monroestarr1987 - Email: monroestarr1987@gmail.com