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.
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: