Q1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was a reporter and columnist for 8 years with a daily newspaper in Northern California before I went on to graduate school to study Shakespearean drama. I'm the C.O.O. of iPinion Syndicate and also a regular contributing writer at Elite Daily. I pay the bills, however, by teaching. For more than 8 years I have been teaching writing classes at Southern California colleges, including UC Irvine. My wife and I just bought our first home (a condo) in south Orange County, which we share with two hyper dogs, a lab and a husky. I love hiking, reading, and traveling back home to Northern California to visit family and friends.
Q2: When were you first open about your depression (anxiety, suicide attempt, etc)?
I was never officially diagnosed with depression. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Being on the anxiety spectrum is also partially responsible for my experience with male anorexia. I wrote about that for the online site Elite Daily: http://elitedaily.com/life/like-live-anorexia-nervosa-male/1160264/
However, though I have never been diagnosed with depression I chose to write about a time I was depressed. This is because, as those who understand mental health issues realize, depression and anxiety can be chronic, chemical-imbalance issues, or they can be shorter term experiences. My experience with GAD and OCD appear to be life-long; my experience with depression was limited to the story I recount in the anthology.
Q3: How has your writing helped your recovery?
It was actually really fascinating. I wrote about this particularly dark period of my life during a time when things really couldn't be better. I currently have a wonderful work-life balance and a stable, loving relationship with my wife. So mentally stepping back into that ordeal was quite interesting to say the least. As an anxious guy, I was initially worried I would get caught up inside my head, but the opposite ended up happening. I found myself letting a lot of the bad, nasty stuff sort of float away. And I think the metaphor that I ended up using in my essay to express that (though the metaphor is also literal; I did to that crazy thing in the essay) came to mind quickly and naturally.
Q4: What do you hope readers of Shades of Blue learn from reading the essays contained in the book?
While not everyone lives with an ongoing mental illness, nearly everyone will succumb to depression at some point. The death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of something or someone tremendously dear to a person, can bring about a very profound and relatable desperation for just about anyone. For me, that period of time was my divorce. I'm hoping perhaps my personal essay will connect with others who went through this common experience.
Also, I hope to help folks less familiar with mental health matters see the nuances that exist in mental health issues. A person can have panic attacks but never have an anxiety disorder. It certainly doesn't make the attack any less scary. And a person can be depressed for a period of time without having certain brain chemistry changes common to those diagnosed with "depression." But the symptoms overlap in real and oppressively powerful ways. It's important that we view mental health issues on a spectrum and avoid generalizing.
Where can people find you on social media? (Twitter, FB author page, Instagram, etc)
On Facebook they can find me at https://www.facebook.com/dilacio. That's the primary social media platform I engage with.