Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Follow Your Passion: A Merry Meeting

I bumped into an old friend and former colleague this morning as I was having coffee at Regular Jo’s at Tynemouth Market. The last time I saw Paul was in similar circumstances. He saw me one Sunday afternoon as I was sitting outside Starbucks near where I live. That was maybe eighteen months ago. I know our book High Tide, Low Tide was out, so it must have been after September 2016.

It was great to see him again today and we had a good catch up, sharing what each of us is doing these days, and checking in on folk we know or knew.

Paul left to follow his dream of working for himself at something he loves, and it is clear it’s worked out well for him. That was great to see!

On paper at least I’m doing much the same work as I was doing the last time we met. (As a matter of fact I have been doing much the same work since Paul left, which might be ten years ago now.) But I am not the same person I was then, and I can honestly say I am much happier since I started help shape the mental health initiatives we have going on within the company.

At the moment this is only a minor aspect of my role – I remain primarily engaged in the “techie stuff” of applications support – but the mental health side has transformed how I feel about “going to work” each day. It is something I am passionate about and want to develop further, with the ongoing support of colleagues and management. I think that came across to Paul as we were talking. It’s hard to hide the light inside when it burns so brightly, as Paul’s did when talking about his work and life.

So, it was a merry meeting: each of us “living the dream” and looking ahead in hope to wherever our respective journeys might take us next.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning!

 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Letters to Daniel

By Amy Leigh McCorkle

Dear Daniel Craig. This journey to wellness started long before that. But this leg of the journey started with a blog I used to tell my story and share an everyday look at what life with bipolar disorder looks like. So, Dear Daniel Craig was a confessional for me. I let it all hang out. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

I should note here I have not met Daniel Craig. And that, as far as I know, he has no idea I even exist. Still, the simple act of using my favorite actor as silent audience seemed to be final piece in a multi-pronged treatment plan. There was medication, group and individual therapy (still is), and the support of amazing caregivers. This blog, Letters to Daniel, soon took on a life of its own, and it made me actively advocate.

People responded in a big way. They reached out to me saying I was telling their story. Or that I was telling their loved one’s story. It didn’t stop there. I gathered the letters up and turned it into a bestselling memoir of the same name. On Amazon it hit number #2 in the USA., #3 in Japan, #4 in Canada, #6 in Australia and #21 in the UK; and the top 100 in the Netherlands and Germany. I then took the “greatest hits” and narrated the letters in a documentary of the same name. It went on to win awards on the festival circuit.

Then with my caregiver and writing partner I adapted the memoir to an award winning screenplay. We now have a producer in Cincinnati, Aaron Allen of Extreme Christian Entertainment, signed on. He is running a GoFundMe for the pre-production costs. My caregiver Melissa Goodman and I are set to direct.

The exciting thing is I attended Action On Film International Film Festival and there are two A-List Producers who are interested in Letters to Daniel.

Letters to Daniel tells the story of my journey to being in recovery from breakdown to my success as an artist. It is told through the prism of my friendship and writing partnership with my caregiver. It cannot be overstated how important Missy was and still is to my recovery. There have been other caregivers, but she was on the front lines every day for the twelve years we shared an apartment as friends. She didn’t run. She didn’t hide. She chose to be my friend in the darkest of days and when I’m symptomatic now she’s still my best friend and knows what to do.

This film has been a five year dream. To be on verge of making it is thrilling. To be on verge of it possibly going mainstream has been weird but really exciting. Right now we need the pre-production costs covered. That shows the big time producers we’re not just play acting.

I remember one night watching the Soap Opera Digest Awards. Accepting his award, Maurice Benard said to all manic depressives out there if I can do it so can you. I really to needed to hear that. My dreams seemed to be lost. But here we are. Eighty-six awards and several scripts and films later Missy and I are on the verge of something big, and I would have never gotten there without her.

About the Author

Amy Leigh McCorkle is a bestselling and award winning author, blogger, screenwriter and filmmaker. With 23 published titles, two successful blogs, and a myriad of scripts she has also directed the stigma busting Letters to Daniel: Breakdown to Bestseller and All In the Family. She makes her home with her parents and her four year old tabby Luke. In her free time Amy likes to follow the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Support Amy’s project at her GoFundMe page.

You can follow Amy on her blog, on Facebook (personal page | Letters to Daniel), on Twitter (@amylmccorkle), and on Instagram.

 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Let’s Talk about Talking: Three Conversation Types for a Mutually Caring Relationship

I am grateful to Vikki Beat for our recent conversation at Caffe Nero which led to me writing this up.

It’s no secret that Fran and I spend a lot of time talking together but it took a while for me to recognise that not all conversations are the same. Different people have different ways of talking, of course, but aside from that there are distinct types of conversation depending on what the people involved need at the time. Here are three distinct types we have found useful. I’d love to know if they resonate for you – or if they don’t! Let’s talk!

“My Turn, Your Turn.”

This is the type of conversation that comes most naturally to me, whether face-to-face (in person or on a video call), on the telephone, or in online chat. It consists of short alternating exchanges, one person speaking for a moment or two then letting the other take a turn. It works well (at least for me) where you are “shooting the breeze”, making plans, or sharing things on a fairly surface-y level. What I had to learn is there are situations where it isn’t necessarily appropriate or helpful.

“It Will Be Your Turn in a Minute.”

The “my turn, your turn” approach doesn’t work for Fran if she is trying to share something detailed or important. From her point of view, my wanting to speak every minute or so means I am constantly interrupting her train of thought. Once interrupted, she finds it next to impossible to pick up again.

This was especially so early in our friendship when Fran was in mania. It was hard enough for her to slow her thoughts to a pace and into an order where she could share them with someone else. She needed me to let her speak for a while without interrupting. Then I could take my turn, whether to comment on what she had shared, ask a question, or take things in a new direction.

This felt very unnatural to me at first – and I still find it hard sometimes – but I’ve learned that slowing things down like this (essentially conversing in short monologues rather than exchanging sentences) can be incredibly valuable whether you have difficulties marshalling your thoughts or not.

“I Need to Talk Right Now.”

There are times when we want and need to just let the words flow, to “dump” (although I hate that expression), to express whatever it is we are feeling or thinking without being interrupted, questioned, or judged. It is what Thich Nhat Hahn has called deep listening:

Deep listening simply means listening with compassion. Even if the other person is full of wrong perceptions, discrimination, blaming, judging, and criticizing, you are still capable of sitting quietly and listening, without interrupting, without reacting. Because you know that if you can listen like that, the other person will feel enormous relief. You remember that you are listening with only one purpose in mind: to give the other person a chance to express themselves, because up until now no one has taken the time to listen. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

This is important work and carries a degree of responsibility. As the listener you may feel any number of things: pain, hurt, joy, pride, love, anger. You might yearn to interrupt with advice and suggestions. It’s okay. You get to feel it all – and you get to keep it to yourself. Your input, suggestions, and opinion may be welcome later but right now your role is to be wholly present, to STFU, and to listen. It is NOT easy. At least, I do not always find it so. Persevere. It is perhaps the greatest gift you can offer another human being.

Vikki and I joked how maybe we ought to make some flags we can hold up to let the other one know what type of conversation we want or need. That might be taking things a little too far (though it would be fun!) but it is important in any relationship that both people can express what they need in the moment. As far as conversation types go this can be as simple as holding up your hand to indicate you’ve not finished talking yet, or saying “I need you to listen right now while I get all this out, okay?” Our ability to do this – and to accept that we still sometimes get it wrong – is why Fran and I work so well.

When two people are open and honest with each other and come together to share words, space, and time, it can be a truly beautiful thing.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

~ Rumi