LifeRantsStream of ConsciousnessWriting

Altered Perceptions

Altered Perceptions is an anthology of great authors, donating their work to help author Robison Wells, who’s crippled by debt, caused by his mental illnesses.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to the Altered Perceptions project via a discussion on reddit.  I’ve written a bit about my struggles with depression and about my choice to support a crusade against the stigmas of mental illness.  It’s a topic that’s near and dear to me because of how utterly pervasive and oppressive these illnesses can be and how they can wrap their claws into every aspect of your life.  Mental illnesses are not understood by most people – the amount of times I hear someone saying they’re depressed because it’s raining or their favorite TV show was cancelled is ridiculous – and a lot of people tend to think the best cure for a mental illness is to simply “get over it” or “just be happy!”.

Source: http://www.akimbocomics.com/?p=573

It’s not that easy.  In fact, it’s not easy at all.  I spent a decade of my life letting depression run every little aspect of my day-to-day and I came very close to ending it a frightening number of times.  To this day I still can’t pinpoint the exact causes for my depression and anxiety but have, as I detailed in my previously-linked post, learned to embrace and deal with it and use those negative feelings to fuel me to achieve better for myself.  Not everyone is in a place where they can do that or have the support systems I had or can see the light at the end of the very long, very dark tunnel.

Depression and mental illnesses as a whole are so dangerous because they vary in terms of severity and even definition from person to person.  They can quickly morph into more agonizing conditions and defy easy classification.  There’s no chart equivalent to a “you have nausea, have vomited, and have diarrhea – you have the flu!” diagnosis.  You describe your symptoms in degrees and each illness shares the vast bulk of them.  Treatments range from therapy to pills to completely turning your life around and what works for one person doesn’t work for another – in my case, medication only masked my symptoms and kept me aware I still had them, which created a strange disconnect of emotions and personality for me from which I’m still actively recovering.

The Altered Perceptions campaign is to help a fellow author, Robison Wells, with his severe mental illnesses: panic disorder, agoraphobia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  I read the short summary of the campaign and understand 100% the struggles Robison is facing and how earth-shattering they are to someone suffering from mental illness.  There’s been days I wanted to write and simply couldn’t because I felt it was a waste of effort when I should instead be focusing on making money through more lucrative means.  I also struggle with financial difficulties, but they thankfully never played too big a role in my depression.  I definitely know how they could for other people, and it’s a frightening thought to imagine myself weighed down by them, as well.

I also hope the Altered Perceptions project overshoots its goals so as to meet its wish to set up a foundation to aid writers suffering from mental illnesses.  This is extremely similar to what I’d like to one day accomplish, so I’m desperately hoping the project meets this goal as it would benefit many others who struggle from things I’ve struggled and continue to struggle with.

So if you have a bit of spare change, consider supporting the project and, through it, Robison.  A number of great and well-liked authors contributed some fantastic work as perks, so there’s an awesome reward for those who can contribute.  And if you can’t, for whatever reason, at least take the time to reach out to those you know who suffer from mental illnesses and let them know that you’re there for them – as someone who has been on the receiving end of that before, sometimes all it takes are a few supporting and caring words from a friend to make the sunlight shine through the clouds, if only for a moment.