I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t had a struggle with mental health personally at some point, or knows someone who has, if only fleetingly. With a family member who is bi-polar and suffering from social anxiety disorder I am fascinated by the subject of mental health and am delighted Michelle Balge is staying in with me today to discuss this very subject.
If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.
Staying in with Michelle Balge
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Michelle. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
This evening I have brought A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety. This memoir features my darkest, happiest, and most embarrassing moments. I’ve chosen A Way Out because it is a book for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing mental illness, knows someone going through their own challenges, or wants a better understanding of what it’s like. We all have mental health and it’s so important to take care of it.
(Absolutely right Michelle – and sometimes I think we take good mental health too much for granted.)
What can we expect from an evening in with A Way Out?
What you can expect from an evening in with A Way Out is an outpouring of emotion. Whether it be tears of joy, tears of sadness, laughter, or anything else you may experience, I aspire for the strongest reaction to be hope. In this memoir I do talk about suicidal thoughts, as these thoughts are part of my experience. They are raw and honest, but balanced out with material that is less dark.
Here is an excerpt from A Way Out:
This program was changing much more than just my fear of people. It was altering my entire outlook on life. My depression and social anxiety were so closely related that they would often blend into each other. They were both fueled by my negative thoughts. Always spiraling me into the depths of despair. I needed this program to finally get me out of this purgatory I was stuck in. To change the years of built up negative thoughts that were the crutch I leaned upon. To tear down the wall I had built up that kept me from living my life. I was creating a new me. A more confident, happy, content me.
(I’m sure there are many who can relate to the purgatory of poor mental health Michelle. Yours sounds a fascinating journey.)
What else have you brought along and why?
I have also brought along the poem I wrote that gave me the title for my memoir. I wrote this poem before having any intentions of writing the book, but once my memoir began, I knew the title of this poem would be the title of my book.
A Way Out
I’m consumed by darkness,
there is no way out.
No way out of my mind that traps me.
No way out of this despair that overwhelms me.
No way out of this life.
What can I do when the tears run out?
When the only solace is hoping I will fall asleep and not wake up.
But I will wake up.
Not from choice, but from life.
The life I don’t want.
The life I don’t deserve.
The life where nothing is wrong but me.
Where I pray to someone I don’t believe in,
just in hopes this will end.
But it doesn’t.
Day by day, night by night,
I get through it.
It is difficult, the hardest thing I have ever done,
but I get through it.
If those who say they love me actually do, can I do this to them?
Can I risk hurting those I love?
I push the feelings of wanting to end away,
even if it’s till the next morning or in a few days.
The feelings won’t last, they are not forever.
What is forever is what means most. Family, friends, love.
I will fight my way out of this pit,
this pit that sucks me in every chance it gets.
I will find and develop the right tools to help me,
that will help to pull me out.
The journey will be difficult, impossible maybe.
But I did it.
I went through the journey and survived.
I crawled out of the muddy pit of my seemingly worthless existence.
I now see value in my life.
I see more light in this world, in me.
The darkness that literally and figuratively consumed me is gone.
Don’t give up.
Please don’t give up.
There are people who love you, people who care.
Some day one of those people will be you.
That’s wonderful Michelle. I understand that A Way Out will be published tomorrow so huge congratulations and good luck. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it.
A Way Out
What do you do when you’re trapped in your mind? When you can’t escape the feelings of depression and fear?
A Way Out gives a raw, unfiltered look into the life and thoughts of a young woman, Michelle, experiencing severe depression and social anxiety. Social anxiety plagued her since her early youth, hindering her most as a young adult. She began having suicidal thoughts in her early teens but didn’t perceive them as being abnormal. This eventually evolved into a deep depression. Her social anxiety and depression fueled each other, creating a grave cycle of negative thoughts.
Michelle is able to share her experiences in a way that allows others to go along for the ride with her: the highs, the lows, and the amusingly unexpected. It artfully conveys Michelle’s journey through mental illness and toward mental health. Beyond the haunting honesty, A Way Out delivers heart, humour, and hope.
About Michelle Balge
Michelle Balge is a mental health advocate, web designer, and animal lover. She has won awards thanks to her dedication to mental health, and has spoken about her experiences to students, the community, and professionals in the field. Michelle holds an Honours BA in Sociology with a Concentration in Critical Animal Studies, and will receive a Web Design Graduate Certificate in June, 2018. She was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, with a taste of city and small-town life.