Novelist, Essayist, Educator and Mother
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a novelist—my debut novel, The Unprotected, which is a psychological thriller that explores infertility and postpartum depression—was published in April 2017. I’m the mother of two wild young women and a quirkily endearing old lady mutt. They hold my heart in their fingertips and paws. And I write personal essays and teach creative writing at The Muse Writers Center. I live at the beach but am most at home scrambling up and around the mountains. At 38-and- a-half I’m still contemplating my first tattoo.
2. What was your first experience with mental illness?
During a road trip with my two best friends from high school, Em, the oldest and by far the most responsible of us had a manic episode. Her medication and all of our parents were 500 miles away. I was 17 and terrified as my friend, the captain of our soccer team, became unrecognizable to us all. If this could happen to her, it could happen to any of us. There is some dark comedy in my being surprised a decade later when I was served a daunting side of anxiety with the birth of my daughter. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), which include Post Partum Depression, can and do happen to anyone, one in five new mothers.
3. Why did you want to be part of the This Is My Brave Women’s Mental Health Summit?
In literature, anything goes, right? We can write about nearly everything. There are no taboos left, except for mental health. How can we worry about maternal mental health when there is a helpless newborn dependent on a new mother to fulfill its every need? I want women to know that you don’t have to be or act or look blissed out every second to be a good mom. Bringing life into this world, fostering and sustaining that life while keeping yourself afloat is no joke. New mothers, suffering and sadness and fear aren’t necessary conditions of your new life.
4. What inspires you to be mentally healthy?
My children, my family and my work. I still have a lot more to say on the page and many more summits to ascend. Meeting the page and fitting in vigorous exercise are two of the best things I do every day for myself and everyone I love.
5. What do you hope the attendees of the event will walk away with?
A good friend of mine recently remarked, “We all wear too much concealer, don’t we?” I think we most certainly do. Part of the life-long love song I’m penning for my daughters is an honest account of motherhood. The happily-ever- afters we peddle (complete with pastel bows and strollers) are dangerous. Mothers and babies both need care and rest and support so that they can build a lifetime bond. You can still be the best mom, even if you got off to a rocky start.