Tag Archive | non-fiction author

Happy 1st Birthday to If I Could Tell You How It Feels

One year ago today my second book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels was published. It has been a wonderful year of new connections, and opportunities. I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction that my books have been a source of information, relatability, and comfort for survivors of trauma, someone living with a mental or chronic illness, a professional working within the mental health industry, or someone simply interested in learning more about the intricacies of living and thriving with PTSD.

If I could tell you how it feels was the internal mantra that I used in my early days of therapy. Even though I yearned to share with friends and family how it felt to live with a past full of abuse and neglect, I couldn’t say the words.

The painful memories and shame of my trauma were palpable. That shame kept me from exclaiming, “I’m a survivor!”

I felt the safest hiding behind the mask of what I thought was “normal.” One day, in answer to my friend’s question of how it felt to live with PTSD, I wrote a poem and risked the vulnerability of sharing it with family and close friends.

Soon writing became my way of expressing how it feels to try and cope with, relate to, and safely express my feelings. What I couldn’t verbalize, I found I could write. I can confidently say that writing was the light from the darkness of PTSD. It still is!

I never, in my wildest dreams knew the world of connection that awaited me from writing both my memoir, Untangled and If I Could Tell You How It Feels. Not only have I connected with survivors and mental health professionals, but I also have connected with many interesting people from all walks of life, and with varying interests from around the world. I’m a better person because of all these connections. There are some people I’ve met that have changed my life. I’m grateful and humbled every day when someone buys my books, reaches out to me through email, my blog, Facebook, or writes a positive review on Amazon.

To the wonderful followers of my blog, your support and encouragement for my writing have been amazing. You have definitely been instrumental in my book sales and in helping spread the word to your own blog followers.

Happy Birthday to If I Could Tell You How It Feels!

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Thank You to the Never Give Up Institute

A Huge Thank You to NEVERGIVEUPINSTITUTE.ORG for including both Untangled, and If I Could Tell You How It Feels on their resources page.

Never Give Up Institute is a fabulous organization, founded by Alexis Acker-Halbur that helps people understand how unresolved stress and trauma can cause illness, increase financial difficulty, and keep you from living a meaningful life.

Alexis Acker-Halbur’s book titled Never Give Up is incredibly powerful and validating for anyone who has faced devastating physical illness, trauma, and loss. More than a self-help book, Alexis brings her own experiences and vulnerability into each chapter. Never Give Up is both relatable and validating for people who have been through trauma and/or serious illness. Part spiritual, part self-help, part memoir, Never Give Up is very inspiring.

Check out and give a follow to the nevergiveupinstitute.org blog at http://nevergiveupinstitute.org/my-blog/

http://nevergiveupinstitute.org/2018/03/resources-trauma-healing/#comment-2613

A Little Interview

Thank you, Vinny, at awesomebookpromotion.com for this short 4 question interview.

Featured Author Alexis Rose

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Hello!

My name is Alexis Rose and I live in Minnesota. Besides writing, I love to be with my family and friends. I unwind by practicing yoga and spending time outside. Besides writing, I have a part-time marketing job for a couple of wellness centers and teach beginning writing classes. I have two cats and a wonderful emotional support dog that help me write every day.  Sometimes it seems like a zoo around here.

At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

I have always had a fascination with books. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read!

Writing came into my life purely by accident. I had never written anything more than letters or birthday cards, until seven years ago. A friend of mine wanted to know what it felt like for me living with PTSD. Because it’s such an invisible illness, she was at a loss on how to support me. At the time, I was unable to verbalize what it felt like to anyone, let alone to myself. I went home, thought about what I would like to say, and I wrote my first poem.

After showing it to her, she told me I had to start writing. I showed the poem to a few other friends and was invited to collaborate with a couple of artists, using my poetry paired with their artwork.

Three successful inspirational books later, I had developed a fierce love of writing. I took the chance to write on my own without a collaborator. Two years ago I published my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph, and this month my latest book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels was released.

Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read? Who Inspires you in your writings?

I don’t really have favorite authors to read. I’m a fairly equal opportunity reader. I love to give new authors a chance as well as the authors who have been around for a long time.

I read a lot of books on mindfulness. I absolutely love reading historical fiction. I love an author who does their research. I have a pretty good BS meter and don’t like a lot of filler in a book. I’m a person who will sit down with a book and escape into the character’s world. I simply love good books. I read both non-fiction and fiction at the same time. It makes both sides of my brain really happy.

Tell us a little about your latest book?

If I Could Tell You How It Feels is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I write about the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. I write with vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

Whether you are a survivor, someone living with a mental or chronic illness, a professional working within the mental health industry, or you are simply interested in learning more about the intricacies of living and thriving with PTSD, this book will provide new insights and an appreciation of this invisible illness that affects millions of people around the world.

This book is a labor of love for me. My main intention is to begin to break down the stigma of mental illness, especially bringing awareness to PTSD. So far the response has been really good.

 

 

 

 

Connect with the Author on their Websites and Social media profiles

Alexis Rose’s Website

Alexis Rose Facebook Page

Now in Paperback; Thank You for the 5-Star Reviews

If I Could Tell You How It Feels, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats.  I’m filled with gratitude that the book has caught on so quickly. In a week’s time, we already have some 5-star reviews that I wanted to share. Thank-You so much for reading and giving such wonderful reviews!


5.0 out of 5 starsA Thoughtful and Authentic Glimpse into Living with PTSD

With incredible insight and eloquence, Alexis Rose helped me see more clearly the intricacies of living with PTSD. Her thoughtful and authentic descriptions of the challenges in her daily life gave me a glimpse into the complexity of this disease that affects so many people around me right now. I appreciate the beautiful artwork that compliments many of her short essays – and how it adds another dimension to her important messages. Alexis Rose has certainly found her voice – and this book is bound to help many others find their voice as well. A great resource – Bravo!

A beautiful book that is filled with writings, poems, and pictures/images that describe the author’s experiences with language that is so descriptive you can often not only understand, but also get an idea of what it can really feel like to face some of the challenges of PTSD. It is a fast read, that you can do from front to back, or in snippets when you are needing something uplifting and hopeful. It is a book I will definitely buy a paper copy of in order to be able to have it on hand and within easy reach so I can pick it up when I am needing a little pick me up myself.

 

Thank you for reading, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, my life journey with PTSD

Why I Write

I’m in the (almost)  final steps of getting my next book ready for release. My final edits should be here this weekend. After making those edits, sending the last pages to my beta readers, having my proofreaders take a go at it, and meeting with my artistic collaborator I believe I will be ready to release it out into the world this January.

My movie-writing partner and I are in the pitching phase of selling our screenplay. We are getting little nibbles from production companies and receiving lots of support, to keep going. That continues to be a wonderful experience. We have learned to grow very thick skin while trying to stay in a beginners mind and keeping our sense of humor.

As I sit at my desk and reflect over the whirlwind of the past two years. Releasing Untangled, emerging from the shadows of silence, blogging, speaking to groups,  pitching a movie project, and now preparing to release another book, I ask myself, Why do I write?

When I speak to groups and open it up for questions, I’m almost always asked, what made you write a book, or have you always been a writer? The answer to both is, “no!” I never wrote anything beyond copy for ads or random newsletter articles for my jobs before 2011. I didn’t keep a journal, never was a huge letter writer, I really never gave writing a thought.

When I began therapy my therapist suggested that I journal. Most of us have been told by our therapist’s to journal our thoughts and feelings. I despised journaling. I would become so emotional because often, the pages looked like one big opus for wanting to end my life. I would literally tear up the pages after I wrote them, despondent because I couldn’t separate my feelings from what I wanted to write about. It was all emotion and no substance, no thoughts, no depth and it felt destructive. So I refused to continue to journal.

But, I found myself writing emails to my therapist and we would talk about them at our next session. It was becoming evident that I was looking for a way to write down my thoughts. My therapist went to a conference on PTSD. At the conference, he learned that when clients journaled on a keyboard, (not pen and paper) that it was easier for them to keep journaling. The act of using a keyboard was incorporating bilateral stimulation which helped put some distance between the terrible trauma and intense feelings and they were able to keep writing longer. That made perfect sense to me, so I began to use writing as a healing tool.

Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. At first, I strictly used it for bilateral stimulation. I would write and send what I wrote off to my therapist. I started to find that I was able to write down what I couldn’t say aloud.  At first, I think it provided distance from having to use my voice, but then I found it actually gave me a voice.  When I still couldn’t speak a truth, I found if I read it out loud to my therapist, that I was speaking the truth.

Eight years after that first assignment to journal on a keyboard, I have written four books, have a number of published articles and enjoy engaging on my blog. I reflect on writing from a different perspective. Now, I write because I love to share what I’m thinking, feeling or musing over. I write because I’ve had feedback from others, to help give them a voice, to put feelings into words that they may be unable to describe. Writing is a way to be seen and heard, especially by a group who suffers from mental illness and are often marginalized.

I write because I will no longer be shamed into silence. But, I also control the volume of my voice. I want to be effective in destigmatizing mental illness, invisible illness, for me, PTSD. I know that I’m a quiet word of mouth writer. It fits my personality. I love the writers who are more vocal and speak with confidence and often, they know the volume of their voice and can reach a much wider audience.

I write because it fills my cup, it satisfies my creativity and it keeps me connected to the world. I care deeply about what I write and share, hoping that the connection between us continues to grow. Sometimes that starts with a simple written word.

Why do you write?

 

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

 

 

2nd Draft Jitters

Yesterday, I completed the second draft of my new book and I have the, “what-if-NO-one-reads-it jitters.” I get this way every time I write a book. I was like this, with the poetry books I collaborated on, and I was convinced no one, except my close friends and husband, would read Untangled.  Gratefully, I was wrong! Untangled, has grown some beautiful little toddler legs and is selling nicely each month.

I belong to a writers group, and I know the angst of releasing a book is a mixture of excitement, fear, and hope. The excitement of sending your work out for the world to read, the fear of rejection and the hope that your words will touch someone, and perhaps, that moves them to recommend the book to another, and the chain reaction of selling your book begins to unfold.

I play a lot of mental gymnastics with my book sales and what I deem successful.  With the poetry book, I set a goal of selling 250 copies. If I sold that many then I would feel okay. That many sold and more, and I did feel okay, then I allowed myself the luxury of getting my beautiful lotus tattoo. I continue to set goals for Untangled. I have reached all of them and more. I’m blown out of the water by the response.

So why is it so hard for me to call myself a writer and author? Is it because I do not see my books on the best seller list? Is it because I haven’t entered it into book award contests and therefore don’t have stickers to put on the front cover of my book? Or is because I’m a self-published author and don’t have a big publishing house logo on my cover? No, none of those are true.

I have many, many friends who are artists. Many are painters, photographers,  writers, or awesome crafters. Many of them, like myself, are their own worst critics.   Perhaps that keeps our egos at bay and keeps our creativity flowing.

I have no answers as to why I have the 2nd draft jitters. Well, I have a little bit of an inkling. The 2nd draft now goes to my very competent editor. She is red-penned ready and so am I! Of course, the thought of having to do a 3rd and 4th draft is not enticing. The dread of the editing process is what has stopped me from moving forward the past few months.

I’m ready to shake off the jitters, go to my aerobics class and sweat for an hour and know that I’m one draft closer to releasing my next book.

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

A Finished Manuscript

Two years ago today as my fingers were steadily typing out the words flowing from my brain, I stood up, heart beating like a hummingbird, started doing a dance to the tempo of the sound of the keyboard strokes and exclaimed, “I think this is the last paragraph.” My memoir was done. A huge milestone, an incredible accomplishment.

When it was published a few months later (after the grueling editing process) I set a goal to sell a certain number of books in two years. I am 13 books away from that goal. I’m so excited. When the book release anniversary date comes around, I will update you if I made that goal. But this close to reaching that goal on this very special day brings back that wonderful feeling I had when the manuscript was completed.  Thank-You, to all of you who have read Untangled, told your friends/family to read it, and shared it on your blogs. I continue to be humbled and full of gratitude for the incredible support and positive reviews.

Enjoy, the Introduction from Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

My body is streaked with sweat and dirt from my desperate search to find safe shelter. I’m barefoot, in a grimy torn t-shirt and shorts; my hands and feet caked with dirt. My hair is filthy and matted. My mouth is dry; I can smell and taste the gritty dust that hangs in the air. I sit down on a curb at the side of the road, and I know it’s over.

I’m unbelievably weary, all my energy spent in the act of sitting down. I’m devastated…emotionally, mentally, and physically, and the worst of my wounds are invisible. My eyes fill up, but no tears fall. I can only sit amid the rubble, trying to trust the safety of the gray, silent sky.

Six years later, the scene has changed. I’m no longer living in fear of the tangled web of sadistic people who use threats to keep their victims terrified and questioning their sanity. I feel grateful. The therapist that I call my Sherpa is sitting next to me. He’s listened to and witnessed my entire story, and never deserted me. He understands my journey and sometimes shares my grief. He’s helped me honor my resilience; taught me the value of telling my story and the importance of just sitting with my truth. So we sit here together, quietly resting in that truth.

I’ve fully remembered and told the story of my first twenty years, of surviving the abuse, neglect, abandonment, and fear. I’ve left behind those who terrorized me. I’ve untangled myself. My courage has set me free, and now nothing can keep me tied to the past. I can truly live today with blinders off and eyes wide open.

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

March

It would be interesting to have each of my siblings describe their experience of the week that my father died. It was the first time since my sister’s wedding ten years earlier, that all four of us were together for any length of time. And yet, there we were, keeping a five-day vigil at my father’s hospital bedside.

It was fascinating and frightening to watch my father move through the stages of dying. He was quite lucid as he called each one of us to his bedside and asked permission to die. He didn’t ask for forgiveness, or apologize for hurting us; he just wanted permission to die. As the doses of morphine increased he began to go in and out of consciousness.  He was seeing and talking to his deceased family and his beloved cat. These were all ghosts to us, but they were real and comforting to him. For two days before he died he held conversations with his mother, who had been killed in the war when he was seventeen years old. Eventually, he spoke only in Hungarian, his first language.

He struggled to die. Part of that may have been the morphine, but he seemed to have a need for closure with certain people before he could let go. The day before his death, a steady stream of people came and went, said their goodbyes, and he fell into a deep sleep.

Once he drifted into that sleep state, we were told that he would probably die within a few hours. We opted to stay in the hospital that night and wait. Each of us was dealing with our father’s death in our own way, and nobody was talking to or comforting one another.

Once a year while we were growing up, my father had made us sit in a line on the couch and recite, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” while he took pictures. Waiting for word of his death we seemed to be recreating those moments, sitting in a row staring blankly into space.        

My sister Lucy loved my father with all her heart. He was always her daddy, and she was grief-stricken that he was dying. She spent a lot of time in his room feeling an otherworldly connection to him and reporting many sightings of his mother. My brother, Thomas was filled with guilt for never living up to the rigid standards that my father had so often reinforced with his fist.  Thomas’ mix of guilt and grief was making him angry and contentious. Adam hated my father too. He could never live up to the impossible standards that had been expected of him either. He was distant and off in his own world; silent and withdrawn.

I felt a lot of ambivalence about my father dying. I had watched him struggle with three rounds of chemotherapy and had seen the disease ravage this once very powerful man. I didn’t want him to suffer any longer, but at the same time his suffering was the only restitution I would ever extract from this man who had abused me since I was a baby.

When I moved to Minnesota, he and I had spent countless hours together. He taught and then quizzed me for hours about national and international politics. He spent a lot of time telling me his life story.  He seemed anxious for me to learn his past so that he wouldn’t be forgotten by his future grandchildren. My father’s entire family was killed in the Holocaust and he carried immense survivor’s guilt. It was confusing for me. He was unbelievably abusive to me and yet I felt compassion and respect for his life story. I would have preferred to feel a neat and clean hatred and disgust towards him.

Early the next morning, the rabbi on the hospice team came into the room to talk to the four of us. Rabbi Lyon had spent many hours talking with and comforting my father during his extended hospital stays. The four of us siblings were exhausted from lack of sleep and the endless waiting. The air was heavy with grief, confusion, and boredom. The rabbi told us he wanted to relay a few words from my father to each of us.  I had an instant distrust of this man when I met him, and that day, chills ran down my spine when he began to speak.

He stopped first in front of my brothers and told them that my father loved them very much. He knelt down to my grieving sister, took her hands into his and began telling her how much my father loved her, how much my father spoke of her and that he himself would be there for her in her grief.

Then he walked over to me and without a moment’s hesitation said, “You are our tough little shit, and you will be fine.” He walked away. I felt three things simultaneously: hurt, rejected, and a profound sense of dread.

excerpt from my memoir Untangled, A story of resilience, courage and tripumph

 

Effects of PTSD on my family and friends

I’m going to be presenting at a conference in February on living with courage and resilience with PTSD. While working on my presentation, I began thinking about the effects this illness has had on my friends and family the last seven years.

One of the reasons I continue to write and share  is because my PTSD symptoms still have a pretty good choke-hold on me and I want to bring awareness to complex PTSD and what it feels like to live with it every day. As with many mental illnesses, PTSD can be fairly invisible on the outside. The shift in my functioning once I couldn’t repress my memories any longer was pretty dramatic. But physically there was no altered appearance. Often with such a sudden onset of symptoms in an illness we expect to see changes on the outside. Most of us, are used to seeing the physical manifestations of being ill (a pained look, a limp, weight loss, pale)  my friends and family were having a hard time understanding what was going on with me.

I had always been the master of wearing many masks, and deflecting any conversation away from me, always with a supportive smile for everyone, and a reach out to me if you need something demeanor. Never, expressing a need for the same kind of support of my own. But when I couldn’t hide my illness any longer, my friends wanted to reach out and help me. I couldn’t help them, help me because I didn’t know what I needed. All I knew was that I was going crazy, and there was nothing anyone could do to help me. I didn’t need food, company, or phone calls. I needed someone to stop the madness inside of me. One day, while haveing breakfast with a friend, she expressed her helplessness at not knowing anything about PTSD and asked me “what does it feel like inside?” That question stopped me for a moment. I couldn’t find the words to tell here or to explain it, so I wrote a poem (My PTSD) and that was the beginning of sharing some of my writing, but more importantly, it gave me a safe and effective way to share with others and help me begin to understand in a fairly objective looking way how PTSD affects me on a day-to-day basis, and how the symptoms changed my way of living in the world.

My symptoms include (not limited too) flashbacks, concentration issues, becoming overwhelmed and my brain shutting down, not being able to make choices, anxiety/depression, hypervigilance, and sensitive to the triggers that start the whole shebang of symptoms. We use the term, triggers, triggers everywhere.  Like a lot of people, I’m triggered by anniversary dates and other events, but because my situation was so pervasive and went on for so many years, in so many places often regular outside noises can initiate a flashback. The wind can blow a certain way, or fireworks, or a car backfiring, even the moon can bring on flashbacks. Ugh!  right?!? But those symptoms and my reaction to them often involve my family and friends to recognize what’s happening and patiently either wait or help me through them. For a rock of a person, who never needed any help in any situation…well, you can imagine how discombobulating that can be for myself and others.

Unfortunately, my symptoms have left me with the inability to work. I went from having a wonderful career with the fringe benefits that provided me with some semblance of  comfort for the future and the ability to provide for my family to  only being able to work about 2 hours a day…on a good day. I simply can’t concentrate, do more than one task without interruption and my startle response can be off the hook sometimes.  The one thing that doesn’t seem to be damaged is my ability to use my higher level thinking skills. I have been fortunate to be able to continue to help with marketing ideas for small businesses, and help with recruiting efforts. And also, I’m able to write and have the desire to talk about this topic in public.  As long as I’m careful and don’t push past the point of my brain shutting down, I can recover and have a pretty good day. If I do push myself then I can be down for the count for several days in a row. It seems as if my symptoms (depending on the time of year) can start a chain reaction, so I needed to learn to work within my deficits. This isn’t easy or comfortable for me and because I’m still pretty new at learning how to work within my symptoms, I can find myself becoming frustrated and angry at my PTSD! Honestly, most days, if I’m going to be honest, I am VERY angry at my PTSD. But then I settle down and think about what I want for my life and try to rest and reset.

At the beginning of my PTSD symptoms, my family was just as confused and upset as I was.  No one knew what was happening and everyone was handling it in their own way and alone.  Our once “the Four of us against the world” family unit had deteriorated into everyone for themselves in a ship that was sinking faster every day. It was a shift in our family dynamic that none of us ever expected and we didn’t know enough at the time to get help for the family unit.

My symptoms have definitely affected my family and they still do today. I went from the grounded beacon to becoming almost totally dependent on them. I have been able to maintain a “mom role” and thank goodness my children are now in their twenties, but it’s difficult to know that my daughter is not only my daughter but one of my caregivers. She is the one who can tell right away if I am having a “bad day.” Among other things, she knows where I can look on a menu so I don’t get overwhelmed by choices, she can tell if I am in over my head and can tell if I’m triggered. My son, who I think had the biggest problem adjusting because mom wasn’t mom anymore, has grown into taking the responsibility of managing anything that is concrete and sequential. He’s a teacher by profession and he feels best when he can problem solve a problem for me. My husband has been wonderful and supportive and picked up the slack when I couldn’t. But our dynamic has changed too. He often sleeps in another room because my screaming nightmares, wake him up. He has to get up at 4:30 am for work every morning, so it’s imperative that he gets his sleep. But that has had a huge effect on our marriage. These are just a few examples on how PTSD symptoms have affected my family and friends.

It’s all okay, and it’s all not okay. My family dynamic has changed, and that happens. When you are the reason for the change it’s a slippery slope from feeling like a burden to feeling like this is what happens in life and we adjust.  I also want to be honest when I speak and write on living with courage and resilience. Like any disease, PTSD doesn’t just affect one person, it affects all those in your life who care about you and love you. It’s something I’m aware of every day, it’s something my family and my close friends are aware of and it can be an uncomfortable, but never dull life. I’m sure if asked, my family may pick dull….but maybe not.