Something super exciting happened this week: I published my new book, Choosing Life! This is the third book I’ve published in the past three years and will complete the Changing Ways series that I’ve devoted my life to since I was seventeen.
For those of you who don’t know my story, I started writing in eighth grade. It began as a half-assed attempt to please my then-therapist, who was constantly suggesting coping skills for me to try, but it quickly became something much more. I was deeply entrenched in my eating disorder at that time and struggled to talk openly about what I was going through. But when I wrote, I felt like a weight had been lifted of my chest. Writing became my voice during those dark and scary years when I was very sick. It basically saved me.
I continued to write as I got better. What began as journaling and poetry transitioned to short stories which then became longer stories and finally novels. I knew for a while that I wanted to write a book that encompassed my experiences but it wasn’t until the summer of 2017 that I got serious about it. I spent that entire summer writing, then continued to work diligently during the schoolyear whenever I had free time.
Changing Ways is a contemporary YA story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Grace who turns to restricting food and self-harming to cope with the pressures of adolescence and her dysfunctional homelife. She’s eventually admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she’s forced to come to terms with her mental illness and by doing so realizes that the only way she’ll get better is if she commits to recovery. I finished writing Changing Ways in March of 2018 and self-published it through Amazon that September. One year later, I published the sequel Breaking Free, which is a continuation of Grace’s story but focuses more on her recovery and learning how to navigate life after treatment.
Choosing Life is the final book and rounds out the trilogy in a way that, I hope, will satisfy my readers. The story follows Grace, who’s now seventeen and one-year in recovery from an eating disorder, on her journey to navigate the ups-and-downs of recovery and overcome new obstacles to achieve her long-term goals. And, like all of my books, it’s largely based on my personal experiences with mental illness.
When I published my first book, I was really scared, like I’m sure anyone who’s putting themselves out there would be. But being published has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me and has opened the door to opportunities I never imagined I’d have, including book talks, podcasts, and even TV interviews. But the best part by far is hearing from people who have said that my books have actually helped them with their own mental health or helped them understand loved ones who are struggling. And in sharing my story I’m helping myself too. I’ve grown tremendously over the past few years, and I owe a lot of that to writing.
Choosing Life is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version. I hope you’ll check it out; it would mean the world to me.