Zebulon Leon Summers

“That’s my normal, Annie. Wouldn’t you rather have normal than anything else?”

Meet Zebulon Leon Summers. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms: “Positive” symptoms are psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms may “lose touch” with some aspects of reality. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
  • Movement disorders (agitated body movements)

Negative symptoms: “Negative” symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include:

  • “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
  • Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
  • Reduced speaking

Cognitive symptoms: For some patients, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include:

  • Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)

Zebulon “Zeb” Summers has been schizophrenic since he was seventeen, and he can’t recall what it means to be normal. The voices come and go, and so do the hallucinations, but he truly believes that Dr. Embry can help to completely heal him. Sometimes, somewhere in his brain, one of the voices that he assumes is his own thoughts (though he can’t be sure) claims this is a delusion that fits him better to the diagnosis.

Despite his terrifying hallucinations, he has a positive attitude when he can. He is a practicing Christian, though the church doesn’t truly understand what he goes through.

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Jonathan Scott Brown

“David, in the moment you don’t just think of reasons you want to die. You also fail to see a reason to live.”
Meet Jonathan Scott Brown. He was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. What is Major Depressive Disorder?
 
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.
 
A cushy life as a child prodigy didn’t help Jonathan learn how to survive on his own. Despite having a PhD and being qualified as an emergency room physician at the young age of twenty-five, depression overtook him and he tried to commit suicide after a particularly hard night. He was rushed to the hospital when he was found by a neighbor.
 
He was sent to Dr. Embry and diagnosed with serious depression. The good doctor hasn’t really ever come out of it, though he hasn’t attempted suicide again. He works the emergency room some nights, along with the normal patients he sees three days a week.

David Trent Jennings

“I don’t hate any of you. I just don’t like people. People scheme and have agendas for everything they do. Even if they’re nice to you, they usually want something.”

Meet David Trent Jennings. He’s been diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder.. What is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Schizoid personalities are introverted, withdrawn, solitary, emotionally cold, and distant. They are often absorbed with their own thoughts and feelings and are fearful of closeness and intimacy with others. For example, a person suffering from schizoid personality is more of a daydreamer than a practical action taker.

David doesn’t really hate people, but he’s not too fond of them. After what happened with his father and his mother, his personality fractured. He has all the typical schizoid signs, but the years of therapy has helped him to be a little less emotionally frigid. He tries very hard to take an interest in the world, and he has done so by attaining a psychology degree.

Despite his best efforts, David still doesn’t trust anybody he hasn’t analyzed and deemed nonthreatening, and even then, he isn’t too sociable with them. He doesn’t have any close friends, and his only companions are his cat and his dog. He loves his pets, and he enjoys not being threatened by them. They don’t reject him, and they get along and behave very well.

He started seeing Dr. Embry years ago, before he’d gotten his degree, and he sees no reason to stop. Jasper Embry is one of the few people he trusts not to betray him, and, though he tries to keep their relationship doctor/patient, he is the closest thing to a friend he has.

Blind Ride

Up. Down. Up. Down.

As a child, would you be dared to do it? To be strapped into a cold, unfeeling contraption and be taken on a wild ride. Up…up…up…then down! Down, down, down the steep drop only to be dragged back up. There would be a loop just to make it interesting, but you had seen the whole track before you’d gotten on. You knew it would stop, and you could brag to your friends that you were no chicken! That you had dared to ride!

Can you see it? Can you see the rollercoaster of your childhood? Yes? Now, do me a favor. Before you even get to the park, close your eyes. They’re glued shut now. There’s a coaster there that you’ll be on for the rest of your life, but it will constantly change, and there’s no peeking!

You don’t remember when it started, when you were guided into the seat to be strapped down. The click of the restraint is so soft you don’t recognize that it’s locked in forever. You don’t realize at first that it won’t go away, not even if you scream or get sick of the ride. Because you no doubt will. You will want off eventually, but there’s no way to get off.

That is the world of my bipolar disorder.

My particular brand of bipolar disorder is fast and intense. Up. Down. Up. Down. Throw in a loop to keep her guessing. And that’s within the space of a few hours. Most people get ups and downs that last for weeks to months. Mine can last less than an hour before I’m thrown in a new direction.

I’ve seen that some people don’t believe in what I have. They don’t believe that bipolar can be that fast, that it’s only a part of my personality and not a chemical imbalance. It’s impossible for bipolar disorder to be like that. My response? Meet me.

I go up and down, with the added bonus of social anxiety and other delightful surprises from Apsperger’s autism, a very high-functioning form of the condition that is no longer recognized as separate from high-functioning autism.

I am very open about my bipolar. I am very open about my Asperger’s. I see no reason not to be. It’s disconcerting to actually be the one on the ride. The observers need at least a little warning of why I get very quiet then start shouting random songs, why I stubbornly try to talk about one subject, whatever my current Aspie interest is.

I still can’t tell how high I will go up, how low I’ll go down, how long it will last, or even which one is next. I’m sure that on this side of heaven, it won’t go away completely. But, I can hope it’ll get better. Just live one day at a time. That’s all I can do.

Original Planned Outlines

The first book didn’t go the way I originally planned. Here is an old outline I found about how it would go. Needless to say, it changed.

  • Filynora’s problems are introduced. Her mother is gone, she acknowledges that she is different from the other girls in her village but she has no confidence in herself, she is threatened by the boys.
  • Her strengths are acknowledged. She is an amazing archer, outshooting all the boys and most of the men in her village. She has a special relationship with Elementals. She has learned to take care of herself and is very self reliant.
  • Filynora leaves her farm to find her mother, releasing all the animals, except Ember who refuses to leave her.
  • During her travels, she meets various dark creatures, whom she escapes with varying degrees of closeness, with Ember helping her.
  • She gets wounded and is saved by an Elthinor, a shy Elvin lad who has as little confidence as she does.
  • He is running from his past in his own village and they hesitantly begin to travel together without talking much.
  • They run into more problems and discover a clue to Filynora’s mother.
  • While tracking the creatures further, they meet a Dwarf, Valtrak, who saves Filynora’s life, and he joins them, tired of his boring life in the caves.
  • They track the creatures down where a massive fight ensues.
  • The creatures are all wounded in some way or another and Filynora’s mother is saved.
  • They start travelling back, but a couple days in the creatures return and attack during the night and kill her mother.
  • Outraged, Filynora follows them back to a major city and is confronted by many dark creatures in the streets.
  • With Elthinor, Valtrak, and Ember beside her, she declares that she will take down the dark masters who rule the humans.
  • She is branded a dangerous rogue and traitor and a bounty is put on all of their heads.

And here is the original outline for the second book. I didn’t bother to do one for the third book, as the first two didn’t go as planned.

  • Tensions rise between the four members of the group from the rising chill and lack of sleep from being wary of attack from the Vampires or Naga.
  • They skirt around the Centaurs only to be captured by the Dwarves and taken in to be slaves for the noble Dwarves of the city.
  • They meet Valtrak and Filynora befriends him.
  • Valtrak shows Filynora where the scroll is and gives it to her, against the rules of the Dwarves.
  • Filynora convinces Valtrak to help them escape and the get out of the caves and make their way towards the Satyrs in the deep west mountains, where the clue pointed them to, Valtrak trailing them for a few days before revealing himself to them after an attack.
  • Filynora and the others are received by the Satyrs, who have a backwards way of life from all the other races. They have a very matriarchal culture, and are glad to give Filynora and her friends as long as she keeps them in check.
  • They meet Pinnathir, a young Satyr lad who falls in with them while they stay the winter with the Satyrs. Filynora, Nolan, and Gabrithon receive swords forged by the Satyrs.
  • As spring breaks they stumble upon the fourth scroll, which contains the miracles of Jesiah and his death.
  • The next hint points them to the Human capital city of Shadowlyn, more specifically the ‘heart of the city’, which is the fortified castle in the middle of the fortified city. On their way they meet a human boy at nineteen years of age named Jaiden. Nolan immediately distrusts him.
  • They head there and make a plan for Nolan and her to sneak in.
  • Deep in the castle, Nolan turns and shows his true colors. He has been spying on them the whole time and is himself a Strangeling, half-human, and half-Dwarf. He reveals many secret abilities of Strangeling, like their strength and their enhanced abilities, and he also reveals that he had been raised strictly for the purpose of destroying the Strangeling that would defeat them.
  • Filynora is wounded and runs and hides. She is found by the help and tended to. After a week of hiding, she decides enough is enough and leads a revolt of Centaurs, Satyrs, Elves, and Dwarves and breaks out.
  • She breaks down at camp before talking to the group of people she had saved, and discovering the most influential Elf is her father.
  • She is branded a dangerous rogue and traitor and a bounty is put on all of their heads and Filynora decides they will need to attack the city to get the final scroll and fulfill the mission she was given, and in order to do that, they will need help.

Original Ending of I Am the Way

Here is the original ending of what turned out to be the first book. I wrote this while going off the sketches for what Valtrak and Elthinor were going to be before they became who they are, so the vast majority of book one wasn’t written yet. Enjoy it. 🙂

 

“Mother! Get up!” I shouted desperately, shaking her shoulders.

“Filynora!” Elthinor exclaimed as he and Valtrak hurried over to me.

“She won’t get up, Elthinor! Tell her to get up!” I told him, tears burning down my cheeks.

“Filynora, stop shaking her,” the Elf said quietly.

“Tell her to get up!”

“She’s not getting up.”

“She has to! We have to go home!”

Valtrak grabbed my shoulders and tried to pull me away, but I fought him. I didn’t understand why mother wasn’t getting up. This was just a joke she was playing. It had to be. I shook her harder as thunder sounded in the grey sky. Elthinor grabbed me around my waist and gave a hard tug. Their combined strength finally pulled me away from my mother.

The truth hit me hard. She wasn’t getting up. She was gone. I froze for a moment that lasted forever as I stared at her bloody face then I began screaming. And screaming. And screaming.

Chapter

Elthinor and Valtrak were covered in dirt. It was so thick in Elthinor’s hair that it almost looked like human hair. They were placing rocks on the fresh grave to keep the animals out. I stared at the churned earth that now held my mother’s body. There were no more tears left in me to cry and my throat was too raw for me to speak.

They were tired. That much was obvious. They’d had to hold me to keep me from hurting myself in my pain. Once I had calmed down, they dug the grave for my mother without my asking them to. Elthinor placed the last rock on the pile and stretched, grimacing from what I could only assume were muscle cramps. He walked over to me and sat down beside me, wrapping a comforting arm around my shoulders.

“Fily,” he started, gentle and soft, and for the first time in my life I didn’t hate that nickname. “I…I can’t imagine what you’re going through. To lose your mother like that, right in front of you. It must be devastating.”

“Stop,” I said quietly. “Don’t do this. I can’t handle it right now. I just want to sleep.”

Elthinor watched my face for a moment then nodded. “If that’s what you need. Ember, come here boy.”

The Kindle Wolf came quickly, whimpering and nuzzling at my face. I pet him slowly and he lay in my lap as Elthinor set up my bedroll. He led me over and pulled it snugly up to my chin. He and Valtrak bade me goodnight and I immediately fell asleep, emotionally exhausted.

            I was sitting on a rock beside a stream, wearing a long sleeved black dress with red edging the sleeves and collar. A strong, gentle hand was placed on my shoulder. I refused to look at him, but it didn’t seem to bother him.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“She’s dead. She’s gone,” I said, my voice hollow.

“I know.”

“She said she knew you.”

“She did. Your father told her about me. She was a very brave and lovely woman.”

“She called you Jesiah.”

The man’s voice held a smile when he spoke. “That is what they know me as. I rather like the name.”

“Why did she have to die?”

“The same reason you all must die.”

“And what reason is that?”

“You shall learn that later, child.”

            I was silent for a while, letting my misery overcome me. A question came to my lips without thought in my desperation.

“Is she alright?”

“She will be.”

            That simple answer gave me a hope I’d never felt before. I finally looked up at him. He smiled lovingly at me.

“I want revenge, but that’s not the reason I have to go after them, is it?”

“No.”

“I have to go after them because what they’re doing to humankind is wrong and somebody has to stop them. I have to go after them because they’re evil and they’ll keep doing this until somebody stops them. I have to go after them because they’re trying to get the Elves, Dwarves, and other races under their command, too.” I paused for a moment. “I know I have to, but I can’t,” I admitted. “I’m too scared.”

He watched my face for a moment. “You don’t have to. You could go home, rebuild your farm.”

            I was immediately confused. I thought for sure he’s want me to go after them. If he was a part of my mind like Elthinor said he was, he was a part I had no control over.

“But I thought-” I began then cut off. “Why are you doing this?”

            He just smiled.

I looked down and thought about the two options for a moment. “I don’t know. I’m still scared, but that won’t stop them. I can’t just go home,” I decided suddenly. “It wouldn’t help the problem. And the Aswangs will come back for me. I have to go after them.”

There was a look of pride and joy on Jesiah’s face that made me feel good. “Good choice, my child.”

I was staring up at the brightening sky. I sat up, feeling well rested and knowing what I had to do. I stood and packed up my things and waited for my friends to wake up. After about an hour Valtrak stirred. He sat up and looked at me worriedly.

“Filynora?” he asked hesitantly. “Are…are you alright?”

I smiled. “I will be. Get up and pack. We’re going after them.”

He looked worried, but did as I’d told him. His movements woke Elthinor, who gave me the same worried look before getting up and packing as well. I handed both of them some bread and we ate in silence. Both of them were still looking at me with nervous expressions on their faces.

“Fily,” Elthinor began, then caught himself. “I mean, Filynora-”

“You two can call me Fily,” I told him quietly. “It’s not insulting when you say it.”

“Oh…Alright then, Fily, are you sure about this? Revenge isn’t really the best idea, especially against such dark enemies.”

“It’s not just revenge. They’ll keep doing this to others. We have to stop them.”

“You’re not just talking about the Aswangs, are you?” Valtrak asked.

“No,” I said shaking my head. “We’re going after their leaders.”

“Their leaders,” he said blandly. “The ones that rule over the entire human race with an iron fist. The ones that easily defeated armies in combat. The ones whose servants can beat us.?”

“Yes,” I said resolutely. “That is exactly who we’re going after.”

“Did that man tell you to do it?” Valtrak asked uncertainly.

“His name is Jesiah, and he didn’t directly tell me to do it. He gave me a choice. He almost always gives me a choice. The one time he didn’t, he was warning me.”

I realized how true that statement was. No matter what I had done, he’d always given me a choice to go on or go back. And each time he had been proud of me when I went on.