Last week NAMI-CT’s Fairfield Affiliate hosted an informative and inspiring Legislative Social – over 100 in attendance, including about a dozen state legislators, all there to hear about programs and services that help those affected by mental illness live fulfilling, purposeful, hopeful lives. I wrote about it here as well, on my Mental Illness in the Family blog.
My point there, as expressed in my comments at the meeting: don’t let the success of these programs and the amazing young adults participating in them lull you into a false sense of security that continued funding is not necessary. It is. Oh, it is. In this climate of budget cuts for the look of the bottom line, never forget that treated mental illness is always way less expensive than the cost – financial and emotional – of untreated mental illness. Keep funding what works!
Two new e-mails from people – formerly strangers but now BBHV readers – surprise me with their stories.
One comes forwarded by my audiobook publisher Spoken Word Inc — “Thank you so much for posting about the book, Ben Behind His Voices.My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia last year and my whole family doesn’t really know how to help. I ordered it for my nook last night and finished it this morning. Absolutely heart wrenching but extremely informative. I am buying a copy for my mom today and think it will help. Thank you again!”
Another comes directly to me: “I want to thank you for changing my life. I read Ben Behind His Voices in a day and a half on my Kindle. My child was diagnosed with schizophrenia four years ago. Our lives were turned upside down. You put my thoughts feelings and words on the pages of your book. You have given me so much hope and insight into my situation. You understand.”
My hopes for our story – that it will touch others – are starting to become real. That makes all the hard work feel worthwhile already.
And we’ve only just begun. Official book launch party tonight, and here I sit in my overalls writing blog
posts. So glamorous! In a few minutes I leave to pick Ben up from work – and, after that, he has homework to do. This all sounds so wonderfully normal. After this summer’s “symptom reoccurance”, I remain especially grate for these ordinary miracles.
And there’s another surprise: Ben has decided he wants to go tonight to the Book Launch Party. Really? I never expected this. “I want to support you, Mom,” he says – and I am heartwarmed by this as well as – I admit – a little nervous about it. One week ago, in an interview with Katrina Daniel of Womenetrics, I said :
Womenetics: What’s your relationship with Ben like now? And, what is Ben’s reaction to this book about his life? Kaye: In recovery for eight years now, Ben continues to rebuild his life. He has had a few setbacks, described in the book and in my blogs (here and at Healthy Place) but that is often part of the recovery. Right now Ben has a job, is making the dean’s list consistently in college as a part-time student, participates in family activities, and never forgets anyone’s birthday. We love each other a lot, and he loves his sister, new brother-in-law, stepdad, and the rest of our family, and we all get along very well. One of the best signs that Ben’s treatment was working was the fact that we stopped arguing.
(As for his reaction) I’d say “guarded.” Ben gave me permission to write the book, he gave me permission to use his poetry, as long as I changed his name in the book. I also think there is part of him that is proud that his story might help someone else, but right now, like many in his young age group with schizophrenia, he lacks insight into the reality of the illness. In other words, he doesn’t think he is “sick.” But he is really proud of how far he has come, and he credits the fact that he has not used any marijuana for years. Continue reading Official Book Launch, and hope for its messages→
After six years of writing, rewriting, hoping, polishing, editing, believing, and picking up the pieces more than once – Ben Behind His Voices is real. The official birthday is this Thursday, 9/15/11, but it has been shipped to Amazon customers already and this week I actually saw it at a Barnes & Noble bookstore!
OK, I admit I was looking for it. I was 30 minutes early for a recording session in Norwalk CT, so saw the B&N and thought “hmmm…I wonder?” and went hunting. And there it was. Face out, yet! Featured Title in the Addiction/Recovery section…(really? OK, whatever. I’ll take it)
Seeing the book there, for real, was an amazing feeling, kind of like finally meeting the child you’ve nurtured in your womb for nine months. Wow. This was different from receiving my handful of author copies in the mail last month. I knew where those would go. Now, I see that each book will have a life of its own, a life that is now beyond my control. Who will buy these?, I wonder. Who has downloaded it onto their kindle? I’ve already begin receiving e-mails from readers I have never met. I got one last night that said, “I want to thank you for changing my life. I read Ben Behind His Voices in a day and a half on my Kindle…I can’t thank you enough for your courage, and for your showing me how to cope and be positive. ” After I read the rest of her e-mail she no longer felt like a stranger. My biggest hope for the book, for the audiobook as well, is that it will, indeed, take on a “life of its own” as any child must – and reach the people who will be touched, comforted, inspired, educated or simply gripped by the story. I have heard from readers in Canada, the UK, Brazil, and all over the U.S. And we’ve barely begun the journey.
Watch for the audiobook, coming this week, if you have a long commute. Wow. This is happening.
Laurel House stands as an amazing example of what can happen when those diagnosed with mental illness receive the respect, support, and opportunities they need. Please take a moment to visit their website to see what they do, and read some amazing stories.
I spent a wonderful afternoon last visiting touring Laurel House, and was so inspired by what I saw. This quote from their materials sums up what they do – and what is, still, so sorely needed for others who have not yet found a place like Laurel House.
“Laurel House restores hope by giving people a chance to regain what they have lost: employment, education, housing, companionship, health, ties to their community. Self-respect.”
Laurel House is based on the “Clubhouse Model” that is, thankfully, a growing field – but still greatly in
need of support. My hope is that Ben Behind His Voices will help spread the message that recovery is possible, and that the costs of such support for recovery far outweigh the much more expensive cost (financially and emotionally) of untreated mental illness. (over $100 billlion yearly in the US alone).
I’m in the process of recording the narration for them. Previews soon! As a voice talent, I blog about the process on my voiceover blog. We’re in full speed mode, since the audiobook is slated for release the same day as the book’s official launch: September 15, 2011. Look for the audiobook soon on Amazon and other outlets – but in the meantime the print version is shipping now from Amazon – and I just noticed they are promoting a special price right now on Amazon for BBHV.
Now – the book launch party! Laurel House in Stamford CT – an amazing resource in that area for those with mental illness – is hosting an awareness raiser on September 20, 2011 (Tuesday evening) and I will be the featured speaker. I’ll read from my book, sign copies, and there will be lots of good food, drinks, and info about Laurel House at a great location in Norwalk CT. Want an invite? Continue reading Book News! Audiobook Release, Book Launch→