9 Ways to Normal Editing Fundraiser

I’m still trying to raise funds for a professional edit for my mental illness novel(la). The self editing is going well, but there’s only so much I can do alone. Please, if you can give anything toward the goal, it would help.

https://www.gofundme.com/9waystonormal?pc=ot_co_dashboard_a&rcid=ab85d3aed090460ab7bb425a5d0be430

I would also appreciate if you would share the campaign on your social media with the hashtag #9waystonormal.

Thank you in advance for helping me, whether by donating or simply sharing the campaign with others. More updates soon!

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Excerpt of ‘9 Ways to Normal’

I have decided to post an excerpt of my book to give all of you a sample of what is to come with this story and to whet your appetite for the rest.

“There’s an experiment that we want to attempt with you, mostly for scientific purposes, but perhaps it will make you some new friends. The sessions will be once a week on Tuesday afternoons for two months. You will be paid well for your participation, and I will oversee all contact within the facility. Do you agree?”

Session 1

            Doctor Jasper Embry wrote on his clipboard, keeping an eye on the corner where Zacharias Adams stood. The large man would have appeared menacing to anybody who wasn’t acquainted with him, but the doctor knew better. The dark eyes were locked on him, and he nodded to reassure his patient, who didn’t relax. Instead, his attention went to a tall, thin man as he walked into the room, his gaze sharp and slightly hostile; he didn’t even grace Zacharias with a glance.

“Dr. Embry,” he greeted, his British accent clipped and neat around the edges. “I hope I am not too early.”

“Not at all, Christopher!” Dr. Embry said, shaking his head. “Just go and settle wherever you like. I brought a few books for you to read. They’re over on that table.”

Christopher strode over to the books, perusing his options, then picked up one that took a Ph.D. in psychology to understand. Zacharias watched the man sit down and flip through the pages, recalling looking over the books just a few minutes earlier. He’d mentioned to Dr. Embry that the words scrunched together, stringing letters around in unpredictable patterns, all while in neat little rows that scolded him.

“You should be able to read! You’re old enough to read, stupid!” he’d muttered to himself with a pained expression.

The good doctor had listened with a compassionate expression, placing his hand on the broad shoulder to comfort his patient. The large man shrugged him off then meticulously arranged the books as they had been before retreating to his corner. The dark-skinned male always did best when he could watch first, just as he had been taught.

“Study the situation first, Zach. See if you can figure out where you stand before going forward and saying ‘hi,’” his best friend had told him during one of their sessions.

Preoccupied with watching Zacharias slowly puzzle through his thoughts, Dr. Embry didn’t notice the teenager with fiery hair until she was in the middle of the room looking around with pursed lips. Her gaze seemed to skip right over the large man in the corner, just as Christopher’s had. Which is good, Dr. Embry thought. Gives him a chance to see who he’s going to meet.

When Zacharias shook his head, indicating that he didn’t want to be announced, Dr. Embry turned to greet her. “Flora, how are you?”

The girl shrugged, and the doctor scanned her almost too-thin, yet well-muscled frame, noticing her face was guarded. When nothing else was said, she strode to the side of the room with no furniture and began to do some of her martial arts stances, her katas flowing effortlessly. The psychologist focused on his large, silent patient again, noting that Zacharias was interested in her smooth movements before the sound of more footsteps caused his head to rotate back to the door.

The large man wilted in disappointment when, instead of his friend, a man with wild black hair walked in. He regarded the room suspiciously, muttering to himself as his eyes darted around, as if he were looking for something. His face contorted and a short, surprised noise escaped him when the psychologist touched him.

“Shh, easy, Phin. Easy. It’s only me,” Dr. Embry said. “How are you feeling today?”

The man spoke in a low, frantic voice, leaning close, as if afraid somebody else might hear. “Ting says he’s going to kill me, and Zee Zee thinks I should kill you, Marti is trying to mediate, and you look like you’re going to hurt me!”

“You know you’re hallucinating?” the doctor asked.

“Somewhere in my mind. It’s hard to tell what’s real, but I’m trying to be calm,” came his shaky reply.

“I can tell, and you’re doing well. Just go curl up in that chair over there, listen to your music, and breathe. We’re waiting for a few more people, then we’ll get to introductions.”

While they had been talking, two more teenagers walked in, a male and a female. The pudgy, almond-eyed girl yelped as she hit a table, rubbing her sore leg while her equally pudgy twin laughed.

“Lyle! Lilly!” Dr. Embry exclaimed, sending the twitching man away to a chair. “Good to see that you’ve made it.”

“Mother said to tell you that pickup’s at seven this evening,” Lilly said, refusing to meet the man’s eyes. “She’s going to take us to the horse ranch tomorrow and we have to get enough sleep. I get to see Shadow and Starlight and Frenchie again! Frenchie was so little the last time I saw her, but Mr. Marvin says she’s grown a lot! I’ll get to feed her and ride her around the yard! She’s a blue roan with such a pretty coat, and I’m bringing a carrot just for her!”

“Sounds like fun,” Dr. Embry said with a nod. “And you, Lyle? Learn anything new?”

Lyle kept his eyes on the floor, just as his sister had. “I saw an old Pontiac Firebird today,” he said, then began listing the details.

The doctor nodded politely, his attention focused on the door even as he tried to seem interested. He nodded in greeting when a young man appeared. Cheeks pink, the slightly overweight man was reluctant to interrupt the conversation, and he ducked his head. He slunk by the doctor and the twins, hiding his face behind a book when he was looked at by Christopher, who promptly ignored him again.

Dr. Embry managed to interrupt the eager description of another old car that Lyle had seen two days prior, sending the twins to a table. They pulled out paper and pencils then lost themselves in their own worlds. The doctor went over and patted the newest arrival on the shoulders, leaning down to whisper to him for a moment.

“Thanks for coming, Alex. You okay?”

A nervous smile was all the psychologist got in return before another man strode in. He was clearly older than most of the others, besides Christopher. He was lean with startling blue eyes. Dark rings surrounded them, and he looked exhausted.

“Devon!” Dr. Embry exclaimed. “I’m so glad you made it! Did you work last night?”

“Got about four hours of sleep between the end of my shift and when I needed to leave to get here,” the man replied with a yawn. “I’m here, though.”

“Excellent! Go lay on the couch, try to rest. We’re only waiting for one more person.”

Five minutes later, the doctor was talking about the contents of the book Christopher was reading with his oldest patient, glancing up on occasion to check on Zacharias. As far as he knew, nobody had seen him. As he was considering whether or not to coax the large man out to socialize, more footsteps rang out.

Zacharias man announced himself loudly to the skinny male that walked in, and the rest of the patients looked over, surprised to see him and wondering how long he’d been there.

“Josh! You made it here!” the dark man stuttered, dashing out of his corner to his best friend and bouncing in place in excitement.

Joshua smiled, patting the taller man’s arm. “Yeah, Zach, I made it. Had to finish my shift at the restaurant then ran home to change. I see you made it all right. Take the bus?”

Zacharias nodded emphatically, struggling to produce the words he needed that would convey his jumbled mess of thoughts.

“Seventy-two had a tire lateness-thing but three-seventeen came and took us off to Poppin’s, where God cried, but I didn’t dry too slow, and…and…”

The man faltered when he realized that everybody else was staring at him. His dark face darkened further in embarrassment, and he looked away, anger etching into his sharp features.

The new arrival glared at everybody else as he spoke carefully. “So, your bus was late because of a flat tire, so another was scheduled to come and pick you up?”

“Yeah,” Zacharias muttered, glancing over at his friend. Dr. Embry observed the group, reaching for his clipboard.

“The bus dropped you off Popinjay Park, where you got rained on, but not too badly?”

“I’m dry now. Short walk here and the red man made me sign something. I couldn’t…you know.” Zacharias gestured in front of him in a vague manner, but Joshua understood.

“Red man?” Alexander asked.

“That would be Reggie, wouldn’t it?” Lyle asked, his tone absent.

“He is wearing red today,” Lilly agreed. “Red hat with a stiff brim, long red coat to keep out the wind with two sets of fourteen buttons, one column fake. Dark slacks with a stain on the left knee, probably from coffee, and dress shoes buffed to perfection.”

“He was in a rush this morning and he forgot to send in that pair of pants for dry cleaning, so he had to make do,” Dr. Embry replied as he took notes, barely glancing up.

“He made me sign something, too,” the half-crazed man said, his fingers drumming on his thigh. “I couldn’t concentrate over the voices, so I didn’t read it.”

“It was a statement saying that you consent to this study,” Christopher said, looking over all of them with distaste clear in his eyes. “It was a release of information to the group, and it listed the days that we’re to come in and interact as a group, the days we’re to have our brains scanned, and the days where we come in one on one and talk about our group experiences.”

“Brain scan?” Flora demanded.

“Yes, Flora, you signed permission for brain scans,” Dr. Embry said. “You will do activities while being scanned that will show us where your brains light up so we can know how they’re different than other people’s.”

“But I have a normal brain!”

“Then why are you here?” Christopher asked, his expression cold.

 

This is the end of the excerpt. What do you think so far? Eager for more?

If you are, and you would like to support getting this book edited and published, please donate to my GoFundMe. You can give here.

Suicide

I’ve been close. Closer than I’d like. And a big problem is that I think about it almost every day. Sometimes it’s more positive: “I can’t wait to get to Heaven!” More than half the time, it’s more negative: “I can’t do this anymore.”

With my Bipolar Disorder and Aspergers and now possibly seizures, it seems like too much most of the time. I’m so sick sometimes, with blank fits and laughing fits, then my mental illness raises its head, with mania, depression, and mixed episodes that drain me emotionally. The stress has even come into my sleep, with dreams where I scream and cry the whole time. I wake up from those almost-nightmares exhausted.

I want to kill myself a lot. It’s hard to admit this to so many people. It’s hard to say, and it’s hard to hear, I know. I’m so tired. I just want to go home to be with my Lord and my God. I want to see my grandfather again. I want to meet my other family members. I want this pain to stop.

Sometimes it gets really, really dark. Sometimes I consider self-harming, though I don’t like pain and it’s hard for me to even think about it. I haven’t yet, but the darkness isn’t going away. It only gets stronger and stronger, deeper and deeper. Mania doesn’t lift the darkness, it only distorts it. I’m so tired. So very tired.

And most people don’t understand. One of my friends continuously tells me to read the Psalms when I’m depressed. Reading the Bible does help sometimes, but other times I just can’t bring myself to pick it up. I’m so tired of living sometimes. I want to go home. Everything is just so exhausting.

Sometimes I”m happy. Sometimes I can’t imagine ending it all. Most of the time, I just can’t stand it. I have reasons to live, and I realize that most of the time. But as I wrote in my book on mental illness: There’s lots of reasons to want to die while your down there. But when you are down there, you don’t just think of reasons you want to die. You also fail to see a reason to live.

Sometimes, I’ll admit now, I fail to see those reasons. I usually reach out for help, but I might not one time, and one time might be all it takes.

If you’re suffering from suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. I know it’s hard, but the Suicide Prevention Hotline is reachable at 1-800-273-8255. I just hope that I can keep reaching out. Sometimes, I’m just not sure anymore. 😦

Lyle and Lilly Thompson

 

            “We have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism,” Lyle continued, pinching and rubbing his earlobe. “I am interested in science and math, and my sister likes art.”

            “We do schoolwork, and we are good at what we are interested in,” Lilly added.

Lilly and Lyle Thompson are on the Autism spectrum with Asperger’s. What does that mean?

Individuals with AS and related disorders exhibit serious deficiencies in social and communication skills. Their IQ’s are typically in the normal to very superior range. They are usually educated in the mainstream, but most require special education services. Because of their naivete, those with AS are often viewed by their peers as “odd” and are frequently a target for bullying and teasing. They desire to fit in socially and have friends, but have a great deal of difficulty making effective social connections. Many of them are at risk for developing mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression, especially in adolescence. Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders should be made by a medical expert to rule out other possible diagnoses and to discuss interventions.

Lilly and Lyle are twins who were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the same time. They both face similar problems, but in different ways. Lyle is the typical loner who only cares about his interest at the time. Lilly craves connection with people her own age, but is bullied because of her differences.

When they were offered a spot in group, their parents were skeptical, but after several assurances from Dr. Embry, they finally allowed it. Fearing their children are too young to be exposed to others who are different, despite them being in high school, they are torn between letting them grow up and keeping them protected.

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.

Truth

I have read Randy Alcorn’s Lord Foulgrin’s Letters and its sequel The Ishbane Conspiracy so many times I’ve lost count. Something that I’ve always been bothered with is the fact that they felt a missing piece of themselves, that they knew they were looking for Something and Someone great. I have never felt those longings. I have a theory on that that I would have to share.

When I think back, age didn’t matter. I think I was five, because it was before my parents’ divorce, so we’ll say five or six to give us a little wiggle room. I don’t remember much. I don’t remember if I was reading my Bible. I don’t know if I watched Storykeepers, which is a television show about the lives of early Christians in Rome. I don’t have any idea of what I was doing before this happened. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the story.

I remember crying harder than I’ve ever cried before or since. I was on my knees by the window that was to the side of the foot of my bed. And I was praying. I remember saying ‘please’ a lot. I was crying and saying something like, “Please, God, forgive me! I know I don’t deserve it! But please! Forgive me!” And I honestly believe he did.

Fast-forward through my life, and I got into things I shouldn’t have. I was reading things I had no right to then started writing them when other people weren’t giving me what I wanted. I was lost…or was I? Was I a lost sheep? Or was I a sheep that had just strayed?

When I was sixteen, my bipolar disorder surfaced, and it is BAD. I hardly have any normal periods. To top that off, we found out that all my life I’ve had a type of high-functioning autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. But something else happened when I was sixteen. I started writing a book. That book turned into three, and I called it the Lost Scrolls Trilogy. My father had prayed for me to use my writing as a good thing. He didn’t know what I was writing, but he wanted me to use it for the Lord. And I did.

The thing that gives me pause is, throughout all my life, I’ve had certain things that stuck with me to this very day. But that day at the foot of my bed, while I was on my knees, seems so out of place. I believe God claimed me then. That is the only thing I can think of that would produce so many tears and so much impassioned pleading.

And something else is that I was only FIVE! For so long I have wondered why I didn’t have a moment that I knew that I was His, well and truly, and oh-so-fully. I think that I do have one, and it isn’t forgotten as I have thought to myself that it might be. I think I was five years old when the good Lord showed me my sin, and He took me to my knees so I could, in a very childlike way, confess my sins and ask for forgiveness. It’s only sad that it took sixteen years for me to realize that.

As one of my characters in my book states, “The Great Shepherd finally caught me, Fily. I was a naughty little sheep, but he forgave me and is bringing me to the rest of the flock.”

And ain’t that the truth?