Why I stopped writing my Memoir to Share my Anxiety Story

For most of 2016, I had no choice but to spend every waking hour adjusting to my new normal after losing most of my mobility due to complications with my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It was certainly nothing like what I had planned for the year and at first, I thought that life as I had known it was gone forever. In many ways I was right, it was gone forever, but it also opened the door to a part of me that I had always known was in there but never had the time, courage or circumstance to bring out. Hours upon hours every day in bed gave me the unique opportunity to start to write, and I soon found my voice and my space to tell my story.

A very long and complicated story that is going to take a while to take apart and put back together again into chunks that make great books which are easy for people to read and get something out of. After ten months of hard and often emotionally painful work, I had written enough for two full-length novels (which I hope will come out this year some time). But when I got to the part where I talked about the thread of anxiety and panic attacks that had run through a decade or more of my journey, I stopped there.

When I sit down to write every day I generally let my fingers and my soul tell the story for me and I look forward to seeing what comes out. I had got the anxiety bits out in a few days of hard writing but in the week or so that followed and I sat down to write each day, my soul and my fingers stayed on topic and never moved from it. They kept going back and back to the anxiety and panic, and I realized then that I was supposed to stop there for a reason. When you live in a story day to day, week, month and year to year, it is so easy to get lost in the bigger picture and to forget how hard we worked or how much we achieved.

I had battled hard with anxiety and it very nearly consumed me completely. As anxiety and panic attacks merged with some of the serious side effects of my as yet undiagnosed genetic condition, the cocktail of symptoms from both made it even harder to separate them. Serious issues were chalked up to anxiety and dismissed, while some of the scarier effects of the anxiety were wrongly treated as life or death situations. The whole mess created even more fear and confusion which of course only fed the anxiety.

My journey through so many failed attempts to solve my anxiety as well as my medical issues was a long and painful one which ultimately led me to break point, where I literally landed up on the floor of the church foyer across the road begging for help. Thankfully the poor stunned receptionist who had no idea what to do with me remembered that a trauma counselor was on call and phoned him immediately.

Next door to the church was a library and between the kind advice from the retired counselor and the medical books on the shelves, over the next four months, I began to put all the pieces of information together that I needed to turn this all around. And in the end, I eventually did. I won! I beat my anxiety permanently.

I realized two things as I was writing all this; that I don’t want everyone to have to buy my novels in order to get what may help them with their own anxiety, and that the anxiety thread is way too important to squash into a single chapter among dozens of other things. And so was born the idea of a short (less than an hour) book that tells the stripped down version of how I beat my anxiety and the tools needed to replicate it.

And so was born the idea of a short (less than an hour) book that tells the stripped down version of how I beat my anxiety and the tools needed to replicate my success. I am still going to tell all the other stories, but until then, The Lion and the Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety, will be available on Amazon Kindle from the 8th of January 2017. You can sign up here to get an email as soon as it is out as well as when it will be out in paperback, and other exciting news:

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Book “It’s Mah Eeds”

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It’s official, I have now finished draft one of book one in the four book series…. “It’s Mah Eeds” will hopefully be out by this time next year.

Huge Thanks to NaNoWriMo for helping to make this happen … I was hoping to do 60 thousand words by the end of November but I hit just over a hundred thousand (which includes about 30thousand words of book 3) … (book 2 is already done, just waiting for book one).

Now starts the editing part, which I am guessing will be done by Feb some time. My January is booked up with loads of wedding prep so I’m aiming at editing this baby by the end of this year, but if not it will likely be Feb some time…

img_8760If you would like to be on the mailing list for updates no more often than monthly, then just comment your email address below and I will add you, or email me on jenniferpeacocksmith@gmail.com

Thanks so much for your support already and I look forward to the next leg of the journey!!

A Week of Milestones:

This has been a huge week for me. I know that these milestones are nothing huge for many out there, but for me they mark some steps that I thought I would take forever to reach.

In no particular order I made my 100th post on my Chronic Illness Blog today, I just need one more follower and I will have 50 followers, which I have no idea whether that is great stats or terrible but an average of a couple of posts per new followers can’t be that bad can it? I started (and won) my first NaNo WriMo and have have only 800 odd words left to write to make it to 100 thousand brand new fresh words in three weeks. But more importantly than that, that is one brand new book that I had no idea about last month (77,000 words) and then I’m well into the second brand new book. Mind you, between my dyslexia and autocorrect which hates me with a passion, the editing once this is done is going to be  nightmare! I don’t think anyone is going to see me for years, just trying to get through the editing. But anyway, the fact that I will no doubt never win a NaNo again, this is how it has worked out this year.

I’m super proud of all of that plus my first The Mighty article went out this week and I am sooo excited about being accepted as a contributor. I applied to write for a much smaller publication a few weeks ago and and they turned me down, so I’m feeling a little chuffed that the bigger guys said yes.

I sound as though I am counting but not I’m not really, NaNo counts for me and I have absolutely no idea how many followers or posts I have on this blog, I only know about the other one because it popped up when I turned on my computer, saying congrats on the 100th post.

img_4715So anyway, this post is just a simple brag and babble in between NaNo and life and getting ready for Christmas. I am extremely thankful that we have decided to forego Christmas this year and go away for a couple of weeks of writing instead. Woohoo! Happy writing everyone!

#NaNoWriMo2016 Day 8:

I know that it’s not for every writer, every year, but I am loving this NaNoWriMo business and I am thankful that my story is just flying out of me. It is just working for me in the here and now. I also love the style of writing that I have chosen for this book which is not something that I am hugely familiar with.

Basically a few months ago I was asked to write a chapter for a book that was going to be published next year. They only needed a single chapter from me, a single piece of my story without any need for context, characters or details that would complicate things. They just wanted my experience in it’s most raw form. As is (or as it was).

This was a new way of writing for me, but it really opened something up in me as I was able to ignore everything but the experience itself without having to explain anything. I wrote in the first person for the first time ever which is very differently to how I usually write. I was so chuffed with the outcome and I am very proud of it, but before I could send it in the project was cancelled. I was so disappointed as it was a fabulous opportunity for me to get my work and my name out there and it would have been my first published work. But at the same time I was pleased that I hadn’t already sent it in so that someone else had it and without a book!

So as I was pondering on how to find another similar project as it was so specific, it dawned on me that I could actually write a whole series of similar stories about my journey with my condition. Instead of expelling a whole bunch of details and a long boring story, I could simply write it as a series of essays that take the reader deep into my experiences on my journey. It doesn’t really matter who was there and who wasn’t. It doesn’t matter how the medical system of the time worked or why we were in the particular country that we were at the time.

All that matters really is how I felt and what I went through. I could list all the things that happened to me or I can write a much shorter list and go much deeper into those experience. I can take the reader deep into my most significant and interesting experiences so that they know how I felt and how scary it was for me.

My condition is multifaceted and the way that I was often treated varied massively from those specialists and doctors who tried to leave no stone unturned, those who apparently just couldn’t be bothered and to the other end of the scale where they were not only neglectful but on occasion abusive and took advantage of me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.04.50 PMI love the saying that “Writing is easy, all you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed!” There is so much meaning in that for me. It shows how costly writing is emotionally and that it is actually really hard. But what I find harder is to sit down and write something about which I know nothing. I find that if I sit down and spill my guts and tell my own story, it just pours out of me. The writing is the easy bit, but it hurts my heart and soul.

Who is Jennifer Peacock-Smith?

 

Author PicJennifer was born in South Africa in the late sixties, into the worlds of apartheid, feminism, and strict religion, to parents struggling to find their own place in the world and to make a difference. Lost in their battle to be different, better, “cleverer” than those before them or around them, and her mother’s fight to break moulds, little Jenny fell between the cracks. Born a girl instead of a boy, bubbly instead of serious, fun and talented instead of academic, everything about her was “wrong”.

Neglect doesn’t always look like dirty or starved or diseased or beaten. Neglect is chronic and often invisible. In a small bubble entirely cut off from the rest of the world, scrawny little Jenny’s voice, squashed by her parent’s need to find their own, is swiftly silenced, again and again. However, her shine refused to die and survived within her as a spark, a fighting spirit, and a sense of hope that defies logic.

It took her five decades, six countries, multiple diagnoses, and ultimately a physical and emotional collapse for little Jenny to successfully find her voice, to thrive, to get the medical and psychological care she needed, and to begin the journey to a place of sanity and peace. Her story is one of crushing loneliness and isolation, but more than that, it’s ultimately a story of resilience, hope, and redemption in ways that she could never have imagined.

Jennifer, a mentor, counsellor, artist, and now a successful author, writes for various blogs, The Mighty, and other public spaces on neglect, emotional abuse, anxiety, disability and chronic illness. You can find her on most social media platforms under @JPeaSmith (see below for direct links to all these places and more).

Jennifer is the author of “The Lion and the Peacock” and the first in her epic story “My Africa My Home – The Fault in the Family Memoir Book One”, which is available on eBook in your preferred Amazon country, including (but not limited to USAusUK, and Canada

From Jennifer:

Jennifer is my name, Peacock-Smith is my pen name as well as a very special family name (you’ll have to read the book to find out where it comes from but that’s not out as yet, it’s coming though!)

If you’d like to receive not just free, but exclusive updates, photos, and otherwise unpublished books, for free, then sign on for my “big news only” Newsletters (I promise I won’t spam you! I only send them when something important is happening) then click HERE.

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith
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