Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Authors, readers, and bloggers are uniting again his year to fight stigma, spread mental health awareness, and support the prevention of suicide. To encourage participation, we're giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day t-shirt to one lucky winner.

Two kinds of stigma continue to persist: public stigma and self-stigma. Public stigma occurs when other people view a person with a mental illness in a negative way. Public stigma feeds into self-stigma when people with mental illness internalize the negative talk they hear from others.

Well-meaning people say things like, "Suck it up," "Choose to be happy," "Turn that frown upside down," or "Focus on your blessings," as if mental illness were a mood, a frame of mind, or an attitude that can simply be overcome at will.

Often, people who suffer from mental illness blame themselves instead of seeking help. Just as a diabetic needs insulin, a person with mental illness may need treatment.

People who contemplate suicide don't want to die; they just can't fathom how to live because they are so miserable. They can't see past their pain and misery, and they see no point in going on.

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, "Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds."

IASP explains that "[e]very life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behavior. Suicidal behavior includes suicide, and also encompasses suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide."

If you're contemplating suicide, please don't do it! Instead, seek help. You might be suffering now, but you never know what tomorrow brings. Reach out to a friend or family member. See a doctor. If that doctor doesn't help, try another. Please don't give up.

If you're in crisis, please reach out to the toll-free hotline in your region. You can find your hotline here: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/.

If you are grieving the death of a victim of suicide and need help, here are resources that can help: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Postvention/National_Suicide_Survivor_Organizations/.

If you suspect that someone you know may be contemplating suicide, please reach out. We often hesitate because we're afraid we might make things worse by saying the wrong thing. According to IASP, "Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it."

Warning signs to look for include severe anxiety, agitation, hopelessness, rage, feelings of being trapped, a strong urge for vengeance, engaging in risky activities, excessive alcohol and/or drug use, withdrawing from people, trouble sleeping, and dramatic mood changes.

THE TOUR

Book lovers from all over the world have joined together to share their stories and spread mental health awareness. Please follow this tour guide to find our posts and to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 t-shirt:

 

P.D. Workman, Author

Triple A Book Blog

Jessica Burkhart, Author

Here Is What I Read Blog

Crossroad Reviews

Jazzy Book Reviews

Book Corner News and Reviews

I Love Books and Stuff Blog

Luv Saving Money

Debbie Manber Kupfer, Author

Ash Ineski, Author

Allie Burton, Author

Book Butterfly in Dreamland

Sara Crawford, Author

Tawdra Kandle, Author

Quinn Loftis, Author

Kat's Indie Book Blog

Day Leitao, Author

Steph Weston, Author

Lanie Bynum, Author

L.B. Carter, Author

Holly and Mistletoe

Eva Pohler, Author

 

THE GIVEAWAY

From September 1-10, enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day t-shirt. There are lots of ways to enter below--choose one or all. You can also tweet daily for extra entries. We'll email the winner by September 11th.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

1. On September 10th at 8 p.m. your time, light a candle to remember all those we have lost to suicide and to represent the hope of preventing suicide. People all over the world will be participating. You can send an ecard in 63 different languages to invite others to participate. Find the ecards here.

2. Purchase a Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 for $20. For every shirt sold, five dollars is donated to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Order yours here.

3. Spread the word about this giveaway, to encourage more people to read our posts and tweet about overcoming stigma. Use the share buttons at the bottom of this post, and

Click to tweet: #EntertoWin a $50 #giftcard and #Tshirt while fighting #stigma and spreading #mentalhealthawareness for #suicideprevention #WSPD.

 


Friday, January 24, 2020

PokemonGO Safari Zone

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1DxHdX2sIjWHOCzu_WU7WB-uhbLEbafUZ

Ahh, I am so excited!! I’m going to my first ever PokemonGO Safari Zone in March!  

Last June, I was lucky enough to attend GOFest in Chicago, but Safari Zone seems to be a lot more lowkey without the insanity and pressure of GOFest. 

I’m super excited to be able to add Chatot to my Dex. That’s not a mon I would have been able to get, otherwise. 

I’m crossing my fingers for good weather, too! We shall see. It’s St. Louis at the end of March sooo who knows what kind of weather we’ll face! πŸ˜‚

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

SOKY Book Fest

I'm sooo excited to come to Louisville in March for the SOKY Book Fest! The full author lineup will be announced in February, but if you don't have plans on the weekend of March 20-21, come see me.

Here's the link and I'll blog about my specific events when they're announced. Oh, btw? Louis Sachar is going. Yeah, That Famous Author. So if you're eh on coming to see me, definitely go to see him! :D

Hope everyone is having a great New Year so far.

xoxo

Friday, September 27, 2019

Halloween comes to AC Pocket Camp & gaming rambles

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1BWfJcdCLL2uUNBJwsc6tKy9wPCIVFH1I

I’m in such a spooky mood that I started playing Pocket Camp again just to trick out my camp for Halloween. 😁

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ITRO83nOMBTihFZOcV4g_ThSSLR3BCu6

Except since this morning, I’ve added this fab top hat to my ensemble.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1g2VtNi0JzJlaf8OQp8aOqz7NRMVQEoGr

Just too cute! Does anyone else play Pocket Camp? I’m psyched for Animal Crossing for the Switch coming in March 2020, I believe. I don’t own a Switch yet, but the Switch Lite looks pretty great. I want one for the new Pokemon game coming next year, too. Lately, I haven’t been gaming aside from games on my phone though. I play PokΓ©mon GO daily and Pocket Camp on and off in spurts. I played PokΓ©mon Masters a ton when it first came out, but not nearly as much recently. Mario Kart Tour dropped yesterday and that’s fuuun! 😍 I’m kinda obsessed with it. I've linked my account to my Facebook, so if we're FB friends then I might just see you on the racecourse. 


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Happy fall, y’all!

I’m so, so glad it’s fall! πŸ‚πŸŽƒ Finally! Well, sort of. This part of Tennessee is going to have record breaking heat the first week of October. Yup, we’re gonna spend six days in the upper 90s, so it will feel more like July than fall. 

Smh. 

But that hasn’t stopped us from getting in the fall and Halloween spirit around the house! 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=13v5GtqUtK6ha9G7wOvuZFqJH4wgvEZHDhttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1CqMxkMIn6oB5ziBhAkFjjJEJRVZFDsGH

The decorations are looking pretty spooky! 

Oh, and Halloween isn’t complete without the family skeleton, Fred. It’s a running prank from now until Halloween that we set him up and try scare someone or outdo each other by sticking him in creative poses. Here’s his first look . . . 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=18EqvTbjHhQaBbk-PCCoxYfV6I54trAdo

Happy first week of fall, indeed! πŸŽƒπŸ‚πŸŽƒ

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019 and The Writing Barn

I'm thinking about it! NaNoWriMo was how I wrote TAKE THE REINS and several other books of mine. But I also owe Agent Josh edits on a tween horse book, sooo that really needs to happen soon!

It really feels good to be back in the swing of things. I had to take some time away from social media and the writing world, but I'm slowly immersing myself back in all bookish things and it feels great.

Oooh, also! I'm teaching two online writing classes via The Writing Barn starting in January 2020! The classes are HOW TO WRITE MG AND YA THAT SELLS and PUBLICITY AND MARKETING: ALL THE TIPS YOU NEED TO SELL 1.5 MILLION BOOKS. Anyone can sign up, but space is limited!

I hope everyone's fall is off to a great start! If you want to re-add me as a buddy (NaNo wiped the old forums), my new username is "jessicaburkhart."


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Why I Stayed


(Warnings: mentions of addiction and suicide attempts.)

“Jessica Burkhart is an author of tween and teen books. She loves all things pink and sparkly.”

Those were constant lines in my author bio. Plastered on 1.5 million copies of my books. My readers sent me glittery gifts in the mail. Loved discussing Twilight and all the sequels with me. Knew that if something was pink and sparkly, I needed to know of its existence.

However, my private, personal bio read: “Jessica Burkhart is an author of tween and teen books. She loves all things pink and sparkly. She’s also dealing with depression and anxiety.”

But how do you tell that to the kids who idolize you and want to be you? That love and adore that version of Jessica Burkhart? The Jessica Burkhart who’s cheerful and sparkly?

I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell anyone. I was too afraid that if I did, I’d lose them and the career I put sixteen plus hour work days into would be gone. After all, I was living my dream—I had a Brooklyn apartment, a steady job that I loved and I was making it. No one would believe that I was depressed, would they?  I didn’t know what to do, so I began taking benzos. Then, I tore a tendon in my elbow from writing (Yes, seriously!) and started on painkillers.

By 2010—just a year after my debut novel came out—I was a full-blown addict. I thought of pills as pretty poison—they helped me feel “pretty” which meant feeling nothing. They were “poison” when they’d start to wear off.

The bottles said to take one fifth of what I took every six hours. I’d wait four hours if I was being especially good that day. Most days I’d go three and a half hours. But that makes a bottle of 150 pills run out really fast. So fast that my life revolved around where and when to get pills and when and how to take them.

It was all I could plan for in my life. I had it down to a science: always have one or two doctor appointments scheduled for every eight days max. I carried a notebook with me to every appointment that helped me keep track of what I’d told which doctor. I’d gone from crafting stories in fiction to creating lies for my own life to help me score. The notes filled an entire mini-notebook.

It took so much time to keep my stories straight. I had to make sure I didn’t go to the same doctor too often and I had to keep looking for different doctors and pain management clinics. It was exhausting and the fear of running out of pills was a constant. It happened a few times and the hallucinations, gut-wrenching vomiting, sweating and the other withdrawal symptoms I experienced were more than enough to keep me up at night worrying that one day, I wouldn’t be able to score. I was trapped in a loop that would keep me prisoner for almost seven years.

I needed help to get clean and I didn’t love myself enough to get that guidance. My life had become an ongoing cycle of pills. So many handfuls of pills a day. Pills crushed into fine power and put in my morning green tea. Sometimes, I was too lazy to even crush them, so I’d dump the full pills into tea, stir and wait for them to break down in the scalding water. That was just my dose of painkillers. Benzos were next. Rinse and repeat for lunch. And dinner. Snack time pills were chewed and swallowed.

Sometimes, I’d wake up a couple days later from a post-benzo and painkiller dose so heavy I shouldn’t have been alive.

Pills were fuel to my depression and anxiety. With pills, I didn’t have to feel. Which is why I thought I was happy for so long. Then, when all of that crashed around me, I took more and more drugs to “help” my feelings of sadness and loneliness. What I couldn’t see then was that without getting clean and dealing with my mental health struggles, I’d never be okay. I was going to die with my then one true love: pills.

It was only a matter of time. My parents had found me unconscious once and I knew I’d terrified them, but I wasn’t ready to get help. On one of the worst nights of my life, I walked in front of a car in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Somehow, the driver managed to swerve and avoided hitting me. He honked and screamed, though and when I finally crawled into bed sobbing later that night, I ended up looking at kittens on a local rescue’s Website. Why? I can’t remember.

Soon, I had two kittens in my tiny one-bedroom apartment. I loved them fiercely. Bliss, a grey and white tabby, had a hip fractured and I taught her to walk. Bella, my muted orange and white, was a one-eyed sweetheart. I bonded with both of them, but what Bella and I had was special. She was like a dog—she wanted to be with me everywhere and didn’t care if I was going on a trip on the subway or sitting on my porch—if she could be in my lap, she didn’t care.

And before I knew it, I realized that yes, I wouldn’t stay alive for myself. But for them? For Bella? For the pirate kitty who sat by or on me while I cried over hallucinated cockroaches and who watched me hurl lamps or books into walls when I just didn’t know what to do anymore, I could do this basic thing of staying alive. Both of my kittens became cats as they watched me exist with my addiction and mental health struggles. Then, one day, I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't just exist. 

I went to rehab for the painkillers and got counseling. Hours and hours of counseling. And, soon after that, I was able to start to tackle the things in my past that led to my depression and anxiety spirals.

A year later, I started working with another doctor to come off benzos. That was a bitch. I won’t even lie. I’d thought coming off painkillers was hard. It’s been over two years, though. I know with certainty that I’ll never touch pills again.

The longer I’m off drugs, too, the more things come back. From my personality to my memories. I’m feeling things again. Some feeling suck, they really do! But I’ve learned how to cope without taking a pill. I’m able to feel happiness, too, which I could feel before, but it was muted. Through a haze of drugs that felt as though there was a Plexiglas wall up between what I could feel and what I wanted to feel.

I lost Bliss, my tabby, at the end of 2017 to a freak heart condition. Bella passed away in April 2018 after a short battle with cancer. They were each only five years old. It never crossed my mind, though, to go back to pills even in the darkest months after Bella’s death. See, the vet said she’d had cancer for a while, but had kept her symptoms very well hidden. I will always believe she stuck around long enough to make sure I was good—that I was clean and able to live—before she finally showed me that she was sick. She’d taken care of me for long enough and she could finally go. And, because of her, I’m here to stay. I still have dark days and I fight with my anxiety on the daily. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to keep being honest and open about my struggles with mental health and addiction.


My readers have stuck by me since I’ve started talking about my mental health struggles. I wish I would have come forward with my stories earlier, but hey, I’m doing it now.

Speaking of now, my current bio reads: “Jessica Burkhart is an author of tween and teen books. She loves all things pink and sparkly. She’s passionate about speaking out about the importance of good mental health.”

Thank you so much to Eva Pohler for including me on this World Suicide Prevention Day campaign. Please check out the rest of the stories that will be posted over the next several days.


Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Authors, readers, and bloggers are uniting again his year to fight stigma, spread mental hea...

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