Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Lorraine Pestell

As I said earlier in the week, I decided to allow this controversial post on my blog. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone. Please be polite and respectful in the comments section as I will be rigorously patrolling them. Please welcome Lorraine Pestell.

Thank you, Jen, for the opportunity to appear on your blog.  I’m also an indie author, with four of my six-part contemporary fiction serial “A Life Singular” released into the big, wide world.  The final two will be finished before December 2016, to see the story finish in the present day.

Lorraine Pestell serial

Although I’ve always loved reading and writing, having developed a deep respect for language structure and the written word’s power to move us in so many emotional directions, I never held any grand ambition to publish until the late “noughties”.  I have suffered from chronic clinical depression and anxiety since my early teens, later being diagnosed with compound Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a violent marriage and a series of other challenging life events.  Throughout these dark times, I learned to use writing as therapy and soon found it to be the only place where I could truly be myself.

If there was a catalyst that lit my inextinguishable publishing fuse, I suggest it was living through a bullying spree by a manager at my workplace who systematically destroyed the spirit of anyone who saw fit to challenge his autocratic, heavy-handed leadership style (if indeed it even deserves this term…).  During this period, six effective and well-regarded IT professionals – myself included, if I dare – were driven to resign due to the toll this man’s behaviour took on our mental health.

What has become apparent in my lifelong battle with a suicidal mind is that such sociopaths and narcissists are attracted to those of us whose resilience is already undermined by mental illness, since we present as the ideal candidates for manipulation.  And we, despite every effort to thwart our irrational instincts, insist on standing up for fairness to the detriment of our wellbeing.

We normally associate PTSD with returning armed forces personnel or emergency services workers who have witnessed horrific situations.  However, there are just as many sufferers of long-term psychological damage inflicted by people in positions of trust in everyday life, often in supposedly loving relationships.  While many abusers are deliberately malicious, some do not even intend to abuse us.  Similarly, an abused person may remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated simply through a lack of knowledge.

It was with this pervasive ignorance in mind that I turned my stream-of-consciousness romance of 1.5 million words into a serial of six novels, in an effort to destigmatise mental illness and encourage as wide an audience as possible to learn more about the global scourge of mental illness.  The World Health Organisation estimates there are 350 million people in the developed world at any one time suffering from depression-related symptoms, and up to fifty percent of the general population will experience mental illness during their lifetime.

Set largely in Melbourne, Australia, “A Life Singular” tells the story of a handsome, smart and successful rock star, scarred by a violent childhood and driven to champion the eradication of abuse in relationships from his high-profile, celebrity platform.  The main themes running through the books are the importance of making the right choices and the vital role played by the ability to give and receive love and support in protecting our happiness.

Part One begins when Jeff’s wife is fatally shot by a bullet meant for him.  Facing into a whirlwind of public grief and anger at Lynn’s death, he begins to write the famous couple’s autobiography in an effort to aid his children’s recovery by showing them that they came from pure love.  Parts Two, Three, Four and Five continue the journey back in time from when the couple first met, and takes readers all over the world while reliving Lynn’s own education about PTSD and how to live with someone so deeply scarred.  Part Six (eventually J) takes us into the future and hopefully to a most unexpected ending!

I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t mention my writing’s other overriding goal, which is to advocate for the right to die.  I committed suicide in April 2003, only to find I had also been unsuccessful at this!  A friend who couldn’t sleep after a cycling accident read my goodbye e-mail at 2am, drove to my house and called an ambulance.  As someone who had been dying to die for at least twenty years by this point, I hope you can imagine how angry and disappointed I was to still be alive; not to mention having to face my devastated parents, who flew 12,000 kilometres from London upon hearing the news…

Consequently, I promised not to make another attempt on my life until they had both passed away.  This has left me in no-man’s land for the foreseeable future, which is why I’m devoting every spare minute to writing my life’s work, in an effort to eke out an existence until this great day finally arrives.  And I won’t be sending any e-mails this time. J

Society has come to terms with determining the right for unborn children to die (whether we believe this is right or not), and it is also acceptable to kill people when others’ lives are put in danger, such as police faced with a perceived threat.  Through voluntary euthanasia movements around the world, it is even becoming more acceptable to choose a peaceful, dignified death over debilitating terminal illnesses and the resulting deterioration in quality of life.  How many times do we hear bereaved relatives describe their loved one’s death as “a blessed relief”?

Why then is it so shocking and “wrong” to wish to die when there seems no avenue to happiness?  I describe myself and my books’ protagonist as “terminally ungrateful”, since this is the label I hear most often when I broach this sensitive topic.  It’s my sincere hope that my own family will view my demise as “a blessed relief” too…

And this debate is timely, after the recent air disaster over the French Alps, when it appears a mentally-ill pilot selfishly destroyed another 161 lives in the process of achieving his suicidal goal.  Without for a moment condoning this man’s actions, I fantasise about jumping in front of every single train that rolls into the platform at either end of my working day.  The addiction is inbuilt and at times particularly difficult to control.

If we, such desperate people, had a legitimate option to end our suffering, countless innocent and presumably happy people’s lives would be spared.  This message comes through loud and clear in my books, and I hope my voice can nudge popular opinion on this difficult topic.

Sales proceeds from my serial go to two Australian non-profit organisations assisting disadvantaged young people with their education.  Purchasing the books via my website (http://ALifeSingular.com) maximises the return to these charities.  If you prefer to buy through Amazon, the US store links are here:

A Life Singular – Part One:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Singular-Part-One-ebook/dp/B00I2CQAX4/

A Life Singular – Part Two:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Singular-Part-Two-ebook/dp/B00HAVJEMC

A Life Singular – Part Three:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Singular-Part-Three-ebook/dp/B00LLB9LIO

A Life Singular – Part Four:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Singular-Part-Four-ebook/dp/B00UQTH1EI

Part Five is scheduled for completion in December 2015, and Part Six twelve months after this.  I really hope you enjoy reading about Lynn and Jeff’s spectacular journey.

Thank you very much again, Jen, for allowing me some space on your blog.  Best wishes from a sunny autumn morning in Melbourne, Australia!

Thank you Lorraine for joining me today and thank you, Reader, for your comments, shares, likes, and favorites. Find more information about the non-profits Lorraine’s book royalties go to at their websites:

http://www.svp.org.au/

http://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/

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12 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Lorraine Pestell

  1. Oh wow… When Jen said this was going to be controversial she wasn’t kidding. When she mentioned “the right to die” I assumed she meant someone with a physical illness wishing to end their suffering by euthanizing themselves with a doctor’s help. This will be a long reply…. sorry in advance.

    I support that 100%; the way I see it is: If we can decide to end a beloved pet’s life for them when WE decide they’ve had enough. This is another life we’re talking about, one that cannot express their pain or sorrow, or verbalize their wishes; then WHY do we deny a human who is suffering from cancer with no chance of recovery the same humane treatment? The human is sentient, in pain and able to verbalize a wish to die and society selfishly keeps them alive. (presumably to make money from continued health care expenses) It is inhumane.

    However, I never considered mental suffering in my thoughts on the subject. I cannot wrap my brain around the calculated determination to end a life as you described it in this thread. I’ve never felt this for myself. I hope you’ll change your mind and find something or someone that will change your mind.

    I have always told held the belief that: no matter what it happening now, it will end. It’s temporary… a town on the road-map of my life maybe even a stopping point but nowhere to settle down and accept. There’s other towns, more sights to see… people to meet and places to go.

    I lost my father when I was 25; he died at my feet very suddenly. I was traumatized, and I don’t remember much about the time afterward. I was bullied in school, I was poor, and I mean draw from a creek because they turned our water off for nonpayment kind of poor.

    When I was 11 someone attempted to pull me out my bedroom window while I slept; thank God I woke up and screamed for my dad. I had a stalker who terrorized me, I was 17 at the time and they never caught him; I moved to another state. When I met my husband years later and became intimate with him I discovered I may have some other issues buried deep in places I don’t remember.

    After I had my first ob/gyn exam the doctor told me I am scarred but I don’t know how it happened. I can’t sleep with my husband’s arm around me because I panic in the night and have woken up fighting him. I don’t like people touching me; hugs can cause anxiety to soar. I can’t sleep with the windows open; my husband sleeps between me and our bedroom door. Even my husband of 25 yrs does not have my absolute trust. I’m afraid to go places alone, I’m afraid to talk to people online, they could be psycho stalkers.

    In short; I’m afraid and I hate it. But maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time fearing that someone would take my life that I can’t imagine voluntarily ending it. I’ve held onto it for so long. My life may not be perfect but I still believe that things can get better. But not if I killed myself, that is only my POV; what’s right for me is not right for others. To some death is making things better…

    People think of illness as something that can be cured… hence mental illness can be cured. They’ll try all sorts of drugs and therapy and etc to try and help first. I think while your idea for assisted suicide for non-terminal illnesses is, in theory, a valid one, but you’ll have an uphill battle on it. There are so many people who are temporarily going through situations that might make them suicidal; there’d be conditions and hoops to jump through. If the case is made for an assisted suicide of this nature, they’d have to regulate it so much that I am not sure anyone would benefit in the long run.

    I’ll cut this off now; I’m interested in the books. I hope you find some happiness and peace before you decide to make any permanent decisions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that any kind of assistance in this case would have to highly regulated to the point of it being ineffective. At the same time, I’ve known people who killed themselves and I knew how terminally unhappy they were and I felt relief for them. It’s a hard issue to contemplate, much less discuss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After posting that I had some more thoughts…

        Its hard enough for us to accept the death of someone when we see the effects of cancer, or a car accident or whatever causes them to die.

        It’s even harder to accept when we can’t perceive any visible reason for death. That is why so many people wouldn’t accept this idea, only the people who (like you) see the profound pain and suffering will accept it.

        While I do not condone suicide or understand it… if you’re going to do it, I ask that you try to make it easier on those who love you and don’t take others with you.

        The german pilot for instance, he ripped apart so many lives. He didn’t have the right to do that; take your own life if you must but leave everyone else out of it.

        It’s not right to leave that kind of devastation behind. People don’t think about the issues suicide causes the family members or those around them.

        There are people who kill themselves out of guilt for not seeing the signs. For not answering the phone when they saw who it was because they were having a bad day and knew talking to the other person would make it worse.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I hate the comments section if the wordpress kindle app. I accidentally trashed this comment while trying to reply. Grr.

          I think there have been cultures and times in history when suicide was acceptable and even expected, but the utter domination of suicide=hell from the Catholic church during the middles ages and until now has set the tone for Western culture’s thoughts and ideas about it.

          Personally, 5 years ago, if you’d asked me, I could have given you a specific circumstance under which I would have killed myself and felt justified. Three years ago, I had my mind forcibly changed with the birth of my son. Now–well, my life is so full of love, I can’t even contemplate death in more than just abstract terms.

          To me, Lorraine’s life has intrinsic value. Without her friend, I would never have met her; the nonprofits she helps would lack the reward of her participation–even her art would have died with her. However, if the meaning her life has can’t overcome her genuine desire for death, it would be cruel of me to deny her that. Thank God I don’t live anywhere close. I would be required by the law here to report her intentions otherwise I would be an accessory to homicide.

          Liked by 3 people

    2. Thank you for taking the trouble to reply, and I can see you’ve been through some terrible experiences too, Kawanee. I’m glad you’re finding solutions to the lingering symptoms and have a supportive husband.

      I agree that depression can be temporary if we catch it early enough and can change our environment to one that’s supportive and healing. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do this, despite nearly 40 years of trying! I am confident in my choice, and have had my rationality verified by psychiatrists too 🙂

      I certainly don’t advocate people to leap for the bottle of pills at their first suicidal thought… That would be totally irresponsible, and there are hundreds of good resources available to people these days. I mentor disadvantaged teens who are going through tough times, and would never go near this topic with them. It’s a decision each individual has to come to him- or herself, without being coerced in any direction.

      I’d love you to read the books. More info can be found at http:ALifeSingular.com, and I’d love to hear your feedback too!

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have a book called Alleys and Broken Dreams (soon to be a series). It deals with reasons people are homeless… not just because they are lazy or drug addicts and the stereotypical reasons people assign to them.

        I’m trying to change the stigma attached to homelessness and mental illness as well. Alleys deals with a myriad of unpleasant things people turn a blind eye to and find it easier to just blame the homeless than ourselves.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. One final thought: I’d ask that instead of looking forward to this great day and spending so much time thinking about reason’s to die, spend some time thinking about reasons to live. Write down the reasons to live but only the reasons to live, try to write at least one everyday… write more down if they present themselves.

    When that day arrives, read those reasons before you take action.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve had to take a day to process the post, and think it over. I have a 24hour policy on any major subjects – to avoid kneejerk reactions.

    First off, I want to congratulate Loraine in finding an outlet for thoughts and inner processes through the written word…

    Next, I’m not going to offer any advice or direction at all, nor am I going to relate to you my own harrowing experiences I’ve undergone in my life – as I personally hold the philosophy that I may understand WHY you feel how you do, I can never understand HOW you feel. I can hardly understand myself and my own feelings.

    Then, I have a theory about mental illness – Comparing it to the likes of Aids or even Cancer… some of it just don’t have a remedy or cure – no need to stress yourself by stressing yourself. To live healthier does not mean you are healthy. It means you are taking control of your life as best you can, and there are no fail-safe measures to be taken. There are good days, better days, off days and bad days… I commend you again Loraine, for organising your thoughts in a manner that is conducive to taking control – even at the times when you don’t want to.

    So when it is all said and done, as you and others have expressed so elegantly, I will only give this one bit of information to you:
    If you ever need a cheerleader for your personal choices, for decanting your mental state of mind, for stirring your mood with a swizzel stick of life… Then look me up.

    I cannot know how you think, or how you feel, I cannot understand or come close to relate or associate with your inner workings… But I can put my middle finger up to the world while the other hand’s index finger point at you and shout:
    “SHE’S DOING IT HER WAY!”
    I won’t ask you to change your mind, but I will ask you to give those, like me, a sporting chance to celebrate…
    …. you.
    xxx Adri.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Adri, for your kind words and for the loan of your middle finger! I’m not sure how I feel about people whom I’ll never know celebrating me. As my protagonist’s teenaged daughter observes during the trial of her mother’s killer, “We’re all in a minority of one.”

      As you say, there is no cure for depression or other mental illnesses. All we can hope to do is control them, similar to physical conditions such as asthma, dementia, etc. It comes to a point where the controls are more burdensome than the condition itself…

      I hope you are doing it your way too! Best wishes, Lorraine

      Liked by 2 people

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