I wanted to write a quick post about how and why straitjacketwriters.com exists.
I love reading and writing, and I’ve had a deep interest in psychology since I was a teenager. When I was fifteen years old, my sister was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and chronic depression. Not long afterwards, my mother was also diagnosed with chronic depression. At one point in my twenties, I began shutting down mentally and finally reached out to a medical doctor, who put me on anti-depressants for a short period. Later I would come to realize that it was a combination of several internal and external factors that led to that, but that’s a story for another time.
Throughout my life, I’ve surrounded myself with people who are good people and good writers. It never ceases to amaze me when these people, who I tend to view as successful and well-adjusted, suddenly open up and talk about some of their struggles with mental health-related issues. Its definitely a mixed feeling: on the one hand, I’m sad for what they’re going through, but on the other hand, I’m relieved to know that I’m not alone. My friends go through these things, too.
I also have a passion for reading and writing, and with social media booming and many public figures getting Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts, I began following some of my favorite authors.
In college, I took a class on sociology and learned about Occupational Prestige. Politicians, movie stars, professional athletes, and famous musicians all scored toward the top. More blue collar jobs, like factory line workers, scored much lower on the “glamour” scale. Despite what ABC’s Castle would have you believe, authors were a few steps below rock stars. Some are successful, some famous, and some could even be considered wealthy. Professional authors are people who, in my mind, really have it together! There are a lot of people who fancy themselves writers out there, but few who actually follow through with it and have the discipline to keep going, and fewer still who stick with it long enough to get published. I mean sure, there are the Stephen Kings out there battling addictions and still publishing, but those are far between, right?
Maybe. As I followed a number of writers and cartoonists, I started to notice a slight trend. Some of them were bravely writing about experiences and admitting that they dealt with certain types of mental struggles on their personal blogs. They were exposing their inner thoughts and pains, and letting people read it. And you know what? I respect the hell out of them for it. It makes me like them even more, and want to support them by purchasing their books and products. It helps me realize that just because I might have bouts of depression, or suffer from an anxiety disorder, doesn’t mean that I still can’t pull things together and accomplish my goals. Again, it helps me feel like I’m not alone.
Its not easy to admit some of these things. Mental sciences are so far behind physiological medicine, both in terms of not being recognized until just in the last two hundred years, as well as in breakthroughs. If you tell people that you’re struggling with these issues, there’s a chance they’ll label you as “crazy” and move on. Twenty or thirty years ago, writing an earnest, heart-felt letter about your disorder and publishing it where everyone could read it could have been a career-ender. Instead, writers hid their feelings, crammed their personal problems deep down inside, and became drug addicts and alcoholics via self-medication.
Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet, as a society or for many of us, individually. I’ve talked to published authors who want to write and talk about things going on in their lives, but they’re too afraid of how their agents or publishers will view these things to make them public.
That’s where Straitjacket Writers comes in. The name of our blog is a little tongue-in-cheek, but that’s by design. We don’t want people to think that we take these things lightly; if anything, its the exact opposite. However, we also feel that by poking a little fun at ourselves and even our own problems, we can provide a little more relaxed experience.
Our first official author post “Nucking Futs,” published under the pseudonym “Penelope Pinprick,” is a great example. I hope there will be many more to come, from her and others. I hope that by writing these blog posts, it can help the writers work out their thoughts and feelings. I hope that by reading these posts, the audience can realize that even people who are successful and have accomplished some major goals can be related to. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built a comic empire with heroes that showed they had weaknesses, and needed help from time to time. I hope that the masked (and unmasked) authors on these posts can inspire people as well.
Thanks for reading!