After self-publishing this week my second ebook, an older story I’d first written at the beginning of this year, I’ve returned to working on the story “Never Be Ashamed.” The raw emotions in this work, much more primal, deeper, more sensitive than those I put into the flashbacks and recounting of Darren’;s childhood abuse in “Love, Lust, Sex, and Education” bring me to the very knife-edge (my seemingly favorite phrase to describe the razor sharp divide between two possibilities) of how I feel.
While Darren’s psychological, emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse has strong references retold by him to the girl he’s rapidly forming a strong, intimate attachment to, they are distanced, remote, past yet have rawness to them. When Lexi, one of the female main characters (MCs) in “Never Be Ashamed” talks about her rawness, it’s in the now, the immediate, the currently experienced. I intentionally did this to dig deeper than I’ve done before with my characters. I’m making the sensations and emotions they feel so visceral, so close to the skin, bone, flesh that they make the reader’s mind have no other option but to experience them.
When I discuss aspects of mental health symptoms in this third work that I have in progress, I do so without any attempt to make it fluffy, soft, comfortable as I did somewhat in my previous two self-published works.I’m not doing it to shock, not intentionally. I’m doing it to show how it feels to manage such symptoms in real time. Sometimes my character Lexi makes good decisions, sometimes not. Sometimes she knows she needs to dial down the intensity, sometimes she effectively says fuck it and adds fuel to the mania fire.
Lexi is a powerful character who doesn’t yet know really how powerful she can be. She doesn’t know that despite her agony and ecstasy of her mental health diagnoses, she’s her own personal superhero (not a spoiler, but so you know, she’s not a superhero). She doesn’t know that what she thinks is her greatest weakness turns out to be one of her most potent strengths.
She’s the person I wish could exist when someone handling the symptoms of bipolar type I (mania and depression poles) must face the extreme sensations of emotions but finds out that the depth of feeling allows them to see into the struggles of others with great empathy and understanding. Bipolar isn’t a weakness, not really. It’s a name we give a diagnosed condition that can also mean someone has the ability to deeply feel what others feel and thus can honestly say, “I know exactly what you’re going through.”
In the first few chapters Lexi’s mind is going all over the place, just like mine did before I had any meds, counseling, or positive coping strategies. She has sex hunger, the wanton lust to just be a sex addict and live off the emotional high of pure sexual pleasure, especially from climaxes, orgasms. She wants to do Kai in such dirty, kinky, wicked ways. She’s flipped out on her sexual obsession with Kai and basically wants to fuck Kai’s brains out not long after Kai saves her from a bad situation.
These pulsing emotions are figuratively laying upon the skin and for my work of sci-fi fiction flavored erotic romance, they literally exist in the form of energy gossamer that flows across the skin in color and intensity based on the strength an tupe of emotions. What adds to the depth is that Kai clearly is an alien. Lexi is clearly an Earth girl. Kai know her people have that ability, but Lexi is the only human she is aware of that can shape and mold emotional energy to her will. While fancy sci-fi flavoring at a glance, it’s also a metaphor for how deeply her emotions flow and how powerful they are when she’s not receiving treatment for her symptoms. It’s a fucking mess. I intended it to be that way. I want to show the reader exactly what it feels like in the brain of someone, like myself, when the symptoms are minimally managed, if at all.
I make all of it feel as raw to someone without the symptoms as it does to the person directly experiencing them as someone with a bipolar type I diagnosis but isn’t being treated for it. I want the reader to feel the nightmares, the agony, the twisted thoughts, all of it, so they can appreciate the struggles an individual goes through just to live a day from beginning to end.
As I’ve also ramped up the intensity of the abuse described in this story from previous ones, all in the name of raw honesty, I’m likely going to provide trigger warnings as well as advisement that readers may want to take breaks from reading this work as an important item of self-care. I have to do my own self-care as I write because I feel the scenes as I write them because I’ve been where Lexi has been, to a greater or lesser extent. I know the majority of those feelings first hand. I feel them again as I write them down as the experiences of my characters.
It’s a labor of love and a drive to move the story authentically, with a sci-fi flavor in it as well, to be real. I even discuss the topics of stigma, othering, ostracizing, excluding, discriminating, and otherwise harming those who have mental health diagnoses in our human society but with a species who embodies so many of humanity’s worse character traits. I have a great desire to hit the themes of mental health head on and make social commentary while writing a story I want to tell with characters who aren’t typical tropes. It’s not going to be a story that others have written.It’s going to be raw, primal, bestial, animalistic, instinctual, emotional, different.
I’m not certain of the timeframe to completion right now. The story has so many things I’m working on. Its also a work that I’m not going to rush because I want to get the arcs and plots done right, not fast. I want to make my commentary fitting for the scenes and the greater aspects of the story.
Take care as I share some of the scene details on Twitter as ways to promote the work and characters. It gets gritty. It gets so very raw. It’s a force of nature in some ways as I write for authenticity. If you need to pull back and chill, that’s fine. Take care of yourself. You’re in for a brutally honest, real ride…