Journeyman's Row
         Discovering tomorrow's future starts by discussing yesterday & today.
***  October 11, 2016  -  June 30, 2021  ***

Click here to edit subtitle


Just Before the Dawn, details

Posted on July 13, 2017 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In order to list a few more details about my book's final four of six stories, which were not posted publicly, I have decided to list the summaries of each story along with their completion dates for reference and curiosity seekers. The later date for "To Have Loved & Lost" is due to the fact that I heavily revised it after its original completion date in December of 2016. I also realize these summaries are not the greatest or official if used in the book when published, but they should pique interest for anyone curious to know what the stories will involve.

Just Before the Dawn ©

Six fictional short stories about adversity, courage, and positive mental health recoveries to inspire the hope for a better tomorrow.

By: Jim R. Irion

Lost & Found”  (November 23, 2016)

Charlie Chatmon, and his newly adopted pet cat Amaia, share a very special bond that can only be experienced through a beautiful imagination and a warm heart.

To Have Loved & Lost”  (May 6, 2017*)

A young couple were forever torn apart by a freak accident, forcing the fiancé-to-be to confront her pain in a most inspiring and heroic journey of healing.

… And Back Again”  (March 6, 2017)

After he begins to lose hope for his future, Joshua uses his sharp imagination and dares to tame the one thing that could kill him in the hope of finding a new way to overcome his mental illness.

Legs of an Angel”  (March 25, 2017)

A middle-aged paraplegic combat veteran adjusts to life after the military, but when Skobee is forced to face even more difficult adversity he finds a most unlikely hero who changes his life forever.

Gone, But Not Forgotten”  (April 16, 2017)

Despite putting countless miles between her and a mysterious past, a twist of fate will challenge Eliza’s aimless life and bring her face to face with what she has been running from in a test of true courage and intense emotion.

In Love & Fear”  (June 25, 2017)

When a chance meeting at The Ropes gym leads Rob and Dani to believe their first encounter was more than just a coincidence, one of them is unexpectedly forced into a showdown between love and fear that could either define or tear them both apart.

Happy 4th of July!

Posted on July 2, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome back and thank you for tuning in to the latest WWHY 100.4 FM broadcast of the Journeyman's Row radio show. I'm your host, Jim Irion. When I broke from daily blogging back on February 15th to begin the book writing project I now have finished, I figured I would jump right in head first and blog a dozen times a week. Now, I look back and realize from October 11th to today that I've probably written more in these last nine months than any other time in my life. So I think it is time to slow things down a bit.

Not that there isn't more to talk about or share. Oh there is plenty more for sure. On the other hand, because of possible opportunities with writing this month I am going to hold off on sharing details about specific mental health experiences until I see where those opportunities go. The reason for this is because I don't want to blog about the specifics here and for another avenue at the same time. That would defeat the purpose. I should know in the next two weeks and if I get the opportunity I will dish all the information about it here first.

Remember my post on the 25th where I mentioned how writing for me can sometimes be addictive? Such as right after finishing a story. Well, it almost lead to my writing a seventh story for this first book. The story would revolve around the theme of a father and son, plus the mother and daughter, coming to terms with the son's and father's relationship and mental health. Of the six stories I've written already, the one perspective I feel they lack is from that of a parent. In this story the main character would be the father and portrayed from mostly his point of view. However, a certain goings on here at the homestead reminded me of priorities I have been holding off on since the beginning of the year. I need to see to those issues first now that I have finished what I set out to write.

The number one priority is to obtain stable employment and begin making progress for moving out on my own. A local group of community support, Skills, has a new program to assist with employment. Being unsure due to my educational background and mental health issues, I had a chance to ask the program coordinator a couple weeks ago. To my relief, she said they had just helped someone who had a two or four year college degree. Excellent. This could be just the kind of help I need. Though, I wanted to finish my writing first and now I have. Although I am also seeking options to expedite a referral for psychiatric evaluation locally as well. I need to officially diagnose my mental health conditions for several reasons as I continue to progress further forward.

Now that I am done with "Just Before the Dawn"©, how often will I be blogging in general? To be honest, I do like the two-week updates on Sundays. I also want to write about non-update topics so between now and the next two weeks I will write a Famous Person blog post related to one of my biggest inspirations for writing fiction. Other than that, I hope to begin seeing progress with my mental health recovery, possible career opportunities, and if I am lucky making connections with contacts to seek out editing and publishing of my book draft. Until next time, thank you as always for taking time out of your busy schedules to follow along. More stuff to come in the next several months.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. Happy birthday America!

The draft is finished!

Posted on June 25, 2017 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Woohoo! Finally!

Well, ladies and gentlemen. As of around 4 a.m. last night I was able to wrap up "In Love & Fear"©, and therefore conclude the first major draft of my book, "Just Before the Dawn"©.

"Lost & Found"*

"To Have Loved & Lost"*

"...And Back Again"

"Legs of an Angel"

"Gone, But Not Forgotten"

"In Love & Fear"

Wow. I know it is hard to relate to all of you how it feels to write something when I haven't published anything yet, when I don't have professional writing experience. But believe me I worked hard over a total of about five months' worth of time to reach this moment. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself past a number of barriers, as well as facing challenges to achieving a level of writing I have never done before. All with scarcely any feedback and sustaining my progress with strong and mindful confidence that I can still do it. In order for this book to succeed and inspire as I hope it can I had to be as realistic as I could despite my modest writing skills. The strong realism also involved researching online to find out how to portray certain mental health conditions that I don't have, so I could do justice to those who do have them.

I may have a contact in the works for potential references with editing and then publishing, but there is something more important first. I'll need to seek out local mental health professionals to gauge how the realism in these stories should measure up to people who may read the book and have mental health diagnoses. This is so no one reads the book and finds themselves unprepared for what they read. The intent is to inspire, but also to be mindful of whether a person's symptoms may be triggered from the material and then finding a way to avoid those situations. I have never sought out editing for my writing. I have never published anything before. Yet, here I sit believing in these collective six stories with the confidence that I can do this.

With this in mind, I am going to blog next Sunday so I will save general updates for then. And would you believe not even a day after finishing the book I want to write another story. Addictive, isn't it? I can recall telling myself that I need and want a break from the highly refined fiction writing. Well, I am considering writing more stories for a future second book depending on how well this first one does. But that is another story. Time for a break from writing in general!

See you all next week.

Almost, almost

Posted on June 18, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Yes. Almost finished with my writing project's sixth and final short story, entitled "In Love & Fear"©. Since the last update I have pushed myself through finishing Chapters Three, Four, Five, and Six. As it stands right now (I literally typed the word write because I have been writing for so long), I am half way through Chapter Seven and very close to finishing the story. The way I see it there will be Chapter Eight to write and at most a Chapter Nine, depending on how the rest of the story unfolds. It will be done by the next update for sure.

Considering how long I have put off regular blogging in order to write this book, I have been thinking about taking two to four weeks off from blogging so I can have a break. After all, this is not paying money and neither is it a career. Just yesterday, I had a kindly friend check out my fifth story for feedback and critiques. He is a very talented writer himself and has already published several works, so I am very grateful for his insight. He confirmed that pursuing an editor of my writing before publishing would be a safe bet. He also gave me his opinion of the realism of mental health issues portrayed in the story, which made me realize this book might be best for people who do not have mental health conditions.

Given that I have added a fair amount of realism along with suspense, for some people who have mental health issues these stories might be a bit too strong. This is invaluable feedback because I have not yet been able to determine where the writing stands for what is appropriate by age group and mental health. I intend to seek out local mental health professionals with plenty of experience so I can determine if there should be an advisory provided with the book. I want to make sure no one is surprised by the reading and can find inspiration from it if it is something they are interested checking out. Although, finding an editor as the next step is anyone's guess because I literally have no contacts locally. Should be fun to pursue.

So, the final story will be done before two weeks and it could not come soon enough. The writing is taking me twice as long because of anxiety and stress of trying to resolve my living situation and occupational anxiety. A referral for a psychiatric evaluation to determine my specific diagnoses is soon to be in the works. Like I've said, I am very late in pursuing this so I want to make sure other people know to seek professional help sooner than I have. I may also have found an unexpected but vital community resource that can help me with my occupational issue. Finding not just a menial job, but a job I can move out and begin living on my own is and always has been my top priority.

There are those close to me who have been that, but I am still optimistic especially now in this past week having spoken with several mental health professionals who are realizing what my current situation is. Am I nervous about all of these issues and emotions? Darn right I am. Do I feel depressed being thirty five and only now pushing forward to resolve my issues with finding a career? I have, but my volunteer work and the many wonderful people I have been getting to know continue to keep my spirits up. I imagine there are people around my age in similar or worse situations and I can only fear if any of them are not as determined as I have been.

There have been several more suicides in the news I've read about, with one being local. The kid went to either the principal's office or guidance counselor twice, was not taken seriously, before he did what I wish I could've prevented. I am in mental health recovery and it matters for me to live for tomorrow because so many people need the hope that has been sustaining me. Our local HOPE Drop-In Center has been doing an outstanding job helping people in our community. An amazing job. There is someone I have befriended who is literally advocating in her own area of interest and making a name for herself. She is just a bit older than me and has been an inspiration for making it despite the issues she's faced.

Hope is out there and it is real. In the next several months my mental health recovery will enter a new stage assisting me with moving forward in my life. While I won't give every detail, I will share what is most important for other people who read this to know so more barriers and stigma to mental health recovery can be diminished. Let's do this. The next time you tune in for my latest blog post should be when I finish "Just Before the Dawn"©.

See you all then.

A modest update

Posted on June 4, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

A modest update yes, but a long and informative update for several important developments. First, since I blogged before the May Is Mental Health Month Conference I want to share how that went. While for my three speaking sessions I didn't have as many people as I would've liked, overall I think it went quite well. Before the Conference started, I got to talk with the legendary local newscaster Carolyn Donaldson. Recently, she took a position working for my alma mater Penn State University. Being an alumnus and former member of the local Alumni Society Board, I gave her my advocate card and explained all about my advocacy efforts since last year. To keep in mind, in the near future I do intend to pursue taking my mental health awareness journey to Penn State.

I was a little nervous for my first speaking session, but once the jitters went away I had no trouble at all speaking. I wasn't staring at my half-sheet pages of my speech and was able to emphasize all of the important details as well. No lack of confidence as well as making an impact with a number of audience members. In the first session, there were a couple of elderly women who loved the lighter moments in my speech, such as my fondness for desiring to find lasting companionship with the right woman. Nothing complicated about that pursuit. A third elderly woman came up to me after I finished and personally thanked me for what I had to share. For the second session, a mother and thirty one year old son approached me before my speaking time came up.

The son had Attention Deficit Disorder and other mental health issues similar to what I had explained when talking to them beforehand. At first, they were the only two who sat for the second session but several others came part way through. Afterwards during the question and answer segment, I was able to give additional information and positive hope to the son for pulling through what he had been dealing with to begin succeeding in his life. I applauded his mother coming and being quite acceptant of mental health awareness compared to my situation the week prior to the Conference. I told them both to keep the open-mindedness about these issues because it is important for any person to have someone to turn and talk to if things get rough. Having a parent who can be that in your life does help. If not, well, let's just say it is not as easy.

I also liked sharing the total of six sessions with my partner, Rebecca which allowed me to learn more about what she had been through up till now. Older than me in age and different symptoms plus coping mechanisms, she had much more success and experience seeking mental health professionals than my track of shying away because of stigma. Rebecca's detailed account of her experience with bipolar disorder was also very interesting. I do regret not being able to sit in on the other four speaker's sessions, particularly Kim and her three daughters who have autism. If everything works out with my situation, and it is a doozy, by next year I will likely participate as a speaker then too.

I will be pursuing speaking opportunities locally first, and hopefully from there word will get out about my advocacy work and interest others in hearing my story. As I said previously, I will not post the actual Conference speech because it is ideally suited for a live audience. So, even though no one I hoped to see at the Conference could make it, there will be other chances I assure you.

The next burning question on some of your minds probably is to know how my family has taken my first public speech. To paraphrase a way they said it, no I did not nor will I ever present myself as being mentally ill. That is an inaccurate term that only characterizes the negative about the specific mental health issues I have been dealing with. I prefer to show a more positive side. I will still say they are an unknown at this time but have indicated their dissatisfaction with my inability to find employment in general. In truth, I have not been looking as much as I could because I am trying to focus on volunteering, advocating, and searching for employment opportunities in the mental health field.

Around here though, specific areas of employment such as this are very hard to come by. I truly understand and take responsibility for not being employed right now. I am an adult, as I said in my Conference speech. I am thirty five years old. But in two days from now, on the sixth of June, it will be seventeen years since I graduated high school. Seventeen years of making weak or aimless career decisions and watching my will to live disappear before my very eyes. I have decided on working in mental health. The miserable fact is that once you are past twenty years of age, in my experience, it is very difficult to figure out and tap people in the community for career insight to make a decision. Imagine being thirty five. Yeah... It's rough, not to mention awkward as can be.

But there's always Walmart or McDonalds, right? The twisted thing about my career indecision and anxiety is that for reasons I haven't even begun to figure out my anxiety and depression worsen for menial jobs like those. Maybe it's because my Dad was a perfectionist and ended up raising me with the same traits to often be restless and unsettled. What I do know is that the day before I started blogging on here, on my thirty fifth birthday, I was at a crossroads. Allow my anxiety and depression to worsen to the point that I would probably, finally break, or do something about it and find my place in this life. Obviously, those of you reading this can see the choice I decided to make. The right choice. The choice not to give up.

For the last week since the Conference, my parents have been quiet about these topics following a contentious 'discussion' we'd had on our way home from eating dinner out. Their opinions of me talking openly like this, in an educated and mindful manner, particularly about my mental health is not something they support either way. Remember. Job, job, job. Maybe they, and one of my Aunts, will come around. All I know is that I am finally pursuing a future for my life since the summer of 1994 when I have done nothing but live in fear of where I belong in life as it is. Life is tough. Life is hard. Life's a you know what. That's life. I've heard plenty of excuses not to listen to someone who has legitimate and honest difficulty with their mental health.

Despite these difficult and stressful circumstances, I intend to continue pushing forward with my advocacy and to raise greater awareness about suicide, depression, and anxiety. One way I will soon do that will be by exploring and probably undertaking seeking case management and therapy. In a week and a half, I will pursue seeking proper and professional diagnosis of any mental health conditions I have from a psychiatrist. No, this does not mean I am crazy. No, this doesn't mean I have been self-diagnosing myself all this time. I am keenly aware of my symptoms and make sure with everything I have been sharing it has been while being mindful of the lack of a professional diagnosis.

This is an important and yes late step for me to take but very necessary in order to seek proper treatment with the issues I still suffer from. Although I am obviously late with this step in mental health, I encourage every one of all ages who do not know what they suffer from to seek the same professional diagnosis in order to know how to better deal with your symptoms. Knowing is half the battle, as the G.I. Joe mantra used to be. Find out for sure, seek the necessary treatment options best suited for you and or your family, and you will already be on a better path to a more stable living.

If this seems like a lot to process, don't feel bad. Definitely don't feel bad for me on my account. Contrary to some of the remarks my parents have made, practically every day I remind myself that there are other people out there in the world who have it worse, sometimes far worse than I do. I was practicing informal mindfulness before I knew that was what it was. I am here, now, and doing my best to do something about turning my life around. Not tomorrow or the next day. Yesterday.

This leads me to the final topic of discussion being an update on my writing project, "Just Before the Dawn"©. Where the bedevil am I with it, and the sixth final story "In Love & Fear"©? Well... The Friday after the May Is Mental Health Month Conference, which would've been May 26th, that contentious 'discussion' caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I was already behind at that point by almost two weeks, but managed to write a Prologue, Chapters One and Two, plus starting Chapter Three. After the drama passed, for the time being anyway, since Monday May 29th thank heavens I have been able to recover my ability to write again.

While I am seeking assistance with my mental health issues and professional diagnosis in a couple weeks, I have managed to finish Chapter Three and half of Chapter Four. I expect this to be the longest story of the six, only because I want the events and character development to come across naturally instead of being rushed. So far, this is paying off. Chapters Four and possibly Five will see the rich development of the main characters Rob Ilbay and Dani McGlynn, after which will begin the climax. The only singular detail I haven't yet quite figured out is how the climactic event occurs to Rob, but the rest is all set and begging to be written. The most important thing is that this writing project and later the book are still my top priority. When published it will fulfill the goals I have set about for it to achieve.

I know next to no one is supporting me, even if they don't know about this project, but I believe in the hard effort I've been putting into it. I have faith the hard work will pay off. Once I finish the writing I will then be free to pursue all kinds of career development and occupational ventures. This is just something deep from within my soul that I must do. So I will not give up on it. When you have the chance to read the book and each of the six magnificent stories I humbly believe higher powers of conscience have helped me create, you will believe in this too.

"Just Before the Dawn"©, will be a true call back to the good old tales from Aesop's Fables some of you may have read when you were growing up. The six stories will feature seven courageous yet challenged individuals who are faced with very realistic and difficult times in their lives. How they persevere through those hardships to the recoveries you will only discover when you eventually read them, will hopefully inspire you again and again. Have faith in me, in my advocacy efforts, and the goals I am working tirelessly to achieve. They will include employment, they will include an end to my career anxiety, and they will see me documenting this journey towards success for other people to believe in their own lives.

I am still here. And I am still very thankful for those of you who may read my writing here. The journey is not over. Not by a long shot. When I finish the writing project you will finally see what I have been working up to since October 11th. Thank you for tuning in. If I finish "In Love & Fear"© sooner than a two week blog update, I will post a brief blog announcing it as such. Until then, see you all on the 18th.

May Is Mental Health Month

Posted on May 21, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome once again for the latest updates on my progress to promote mental health awareness. In just three days, I will be among the five presenters at the local Blair County Pennsylvania "May Is Mental Health Month" Conference. The significance of this event for me is that May 24th will be the first time I have ever given a speech to a captive audience about my own personal experiences with suicide, depression, anxiety, or Attention Deficit Disorder. Yes. The first time ever, and I assure you not the last time. Before I begin I need to go back less than a week for a more challenging development.

The issue I am referring to is an important part of dealing with mental health awareness and is a topic I have not discussed yet. The main reason for this is because I had not confronted the issue personally. Now it seems I have, at least in the early stages. How to confront and bridge the gap between my parents and my mental health concerns. I won't assume whether this essential milestone has been either positively accomplished or negative, but at the moment it seems more towards the latter. Everyone who knows me well cares much about my wellbeing and my parents are no exception. I know they care more than anyone. But we have not had much in the way of a dialogue about mental health in recent years, so I knew this would be challenging. In fact, I am referring to it as such because the outcome is unknown right now.

As a result, my steady progress writing my sixth and final mental health themed short story, "In Love & Fear"©, has hit a brick wall since last Tuesday. If you read between the lines you will realize why. There is no loss whatsoever of confidence in or determination for me to finish this story. The book writing project, "Just Before the Dawn"©, is also about ninety percent finished as well. I will not let challenges to my maturation get in the way. Unfortunately, this setback already puts me behind at least a week when I had hoped to finish everything by the end of this week. Not to worry. I will continue to push writing and then finishing the final story before I resume regular blogging for mental health advocacy. I can only hope all of you are as patient as can be with my delayed progress, and I want to thank you those who have been supportive thus far.

Pretty much anything significant right now that happens in my life will cause delays like this to happen. Given my emotional sensitivity to car accidents, if my parents were in one I would be distraught the more severe the accident was. If there was a death in the family I would need to take as much as two weeks depending. But I will continue.

Whether my parents, and possibly more of my relatives, are reading these posts now I want to repeat what I have been saying all along. This rise in my advocating mental health, as I heal my own issues at the same time, is not a waste of time and it is not an effort to dodge looking for, applying to, or obtaining any form of employment. Read my words: I am not avoiding the absolute priority of securing stable employment. As I keep telling my critics, I wake up every single day with my life flashing before my eyes. The number one thing that I am reminded of first is that I need to resolve my career indecision, get a stable job, and move my butt out of this house. End of line. For anyone who does not accept the gravity of this honesty and truth, I cannot help you.

I only hope my family as a whole can trust that I am making positive progress on all fronts with mental health, since October and November. I know the clock is ticking and I am not getting any younger. How do I know this? Because I have been miserably suffering from Chronophobia which is a major part of what kick started my depression in the first place. That summer of 1994 is one that I will never forget. Neither will each day I get older and still live with my parents. I am ashamed to no end for still being here, even if my own flesh and blood parents are acceptant of my circumstances. On the other hand, I am far more positive, hopeful, and determined to finally resolve that issue now than ever. My career indecision is the toughest part of my mental illness and has yet to be resolved. Twenty three years I have been dealing with it. Two suicide experiences were caused, in part, by this. Believe me, tough love is not what I need right now and neither would someone not as mentally tough as me could handle it either.

Even though I haven't resolved my Anuptaphobia, I have managed to keep it at bay while I tend to the more important issues. I am making progress. I know I sound like a lazy bum or that I am living the life 'a Riley, but I am not. The one thing that has set me apart and kept me from being lazy-minded all this time is because instead of feeling lazy when I wasn't working I felt increasingly guilty about it. Yes, I've done part of my anxiety and depression to myself. On the other hand though, I cannot control anyone's actions but my own. So I don't know what to expect in the weeks and months to come. You all have my sincerest assurances that I will continue to do my best and give it the most as I have been since October and November. As soon as I finish, "In Love & Fear"©, I will post sooner than two week intervals to announce it here and on Facebook. Then I pray I can find a qualified editor and legitimate publishing company. I want this book out there so much it would take a freight train hitting a brick wall to describe the feeling.

As for the "May Is Mental Health Month" Conference, I am focused and mentally prepared to give my speech. For those interested in attending, due to the event structure I will be giving my speech three separate times during the Conference time frame. But don't just come for what I have to say. We have a most glorious and inspiring set of speakers whose presentations will make this year's Conference the best yet. I am a newbie, yes, but as I have been saying remember my name. This is not the last time you will hear from me. I read about singer and songwriter Chris Cornell's suicide just recently and had flashbacks to Robin Williams' tragic suicide. Starting this September, I intend to step up my game advocating much more boldly to fight suicide. Williams' suicide was enough. For every high profile or celebrity suicide, can you imagine how many regular people like you and me who commit suicide still and go unreported? This problem is not solved. The likes of social stigma and active peer pressure stand in the way but will soon get a fair opponent to match odds with them.


I know it seems as if I am facing a lot right now and I am buckling somewhat under the pressure. The measure of a man is what he does with power, Plato was quoted saying. I think the measure of me is how I face the coming adversity through the remainder of this year. If I pull through well enough, I should be in decent shape for the future. Hopefully. Pray for me though because we are all still human, after all. Thank you.

Once more unto the blog

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

... dear friends. Or so the former unto the breach quote goes. Welcome! Welcome back friends, relatives, colleagues, and future mental health advocates. Welcome. This update is brought to you by the hard working advocate, myself, and there is light at the end of this tunnel for I have an encouraging update to offer.

I am almost done with the story project, "Just Before the Dawn"©. At the end of April, I had finished the fifth slated short story in the six-story series. After the NAMI "Find Your Voice" Recovery Conference on April 20th, I hit a nasty bit of writer's block that kept me from even finishing the final story's first chapter. In fact, I have even since changed the story's name too. Well, the week after the Conference I set out to do a new type of writing that I cannot yet give information on. But if it holds out, when I do have the official information to update it should prove to be exciting indeed.

Which brings us up to this past week. I do want to get this project finished as soon as possible but without rushing the time and effort I need for the more formal fictional story writing. I also had looked back to the second story I had written, and last story I posted publicly, only to find that I mistakenly wrote in semi-non-fictional elements that I strongly felt needed removed. So, figuring this change of direction would help my sixth story I diverted my efforts to the revisions instead.

"To Have Loved & Lost"©, originally written and posted between December 9th and 14th, 2016, included state names, city names, racial identifiers, and nationality details I have excluded from my other four written stories. I realized I must have written it partially non-fictional (based on truth) and partially the intended fictional (inspired by truth) styles because I was writing it while blog writing at the same time. I clarified fiction versus non-fiction because I frequently get them mixed up. So, mentioning them both together I wanted to help all of you out. :) I discovered by January of this year that it was too difficult for me to write informal blog posts and formal, higher quality story writing which is why I stopped until late February when I stopped blog posting every day.

In order for this second story to be on the same level of anonymity and quality, I decided it would be easier to pursue revising it now while I try to resolve the writer's block since the end of April. The gamble worked and in two ways. I hammered through the revisions of "To Have Loved & Lost"© in less than a week, and just because it went so easily doesn't mean I revised less. I rewrote a decent amount of Part 6 as well as adding much smoother effort into the rest of the story.

While I accomplished that, finishing the revisions early yesterday morning, I also was fortunate to figure out what direction to take the final sixth story. These changes began with a new name, entitled "In Love & Fear"©, and still stars Rob Ilbay and Danielle "Dani" McGlynn as the main characters. What also changed was to add Rob being a volunteer fire fighter. Particularly in our region of central Pennsylvania, and perhaps others throughout the nation, there has been a worrisome shortage of volunteer fire fighters. I will include this issue as one of the underlying themes of the new story. But not just that.

I also read an article online right after the April 20th Conference in which a twentysomething guy had committed suicide because the anxiety and stressors from firefighting took their toll on him. His parents included much of the perspective, speaking on behalf of their son of course, and how he seemed completely fine but was really bottling up his turmoil while growing weaker on the inside to look strong to his peers and family. Ultimately, the poor guy took his life. A few of the details about him, which I will not mention his name, will be woven into the character Rob Ilbay. He will face similar challenges when being unable to save someone from a tremendous fire, and how that brings out a strong outburst of anxiety he didn't know he suffered from: intrusive thought.

How this will all come together is yet to be seen, but as of today I will finally begin slaving away at this final story. I know I have been guestimating an approximate time frame to be done with the writing, but actually doing it takes longer. For sure this time I expect to return to regular blogging by early or mid-June, barring occupational opportunities that come up. Have no fear, I will still be here. :)

On an even better note, in case you have not already heard this month is Mental Health Awareness Month. And on May 24th here locally, I will be one of I believe only four people chosen to speak about our personal experiences with mental illness issues. The planning continues to move forward and I cannot wait to give that speech. It will be the first time I have ever spoken publicly to a captive audience about my mental health. Yes, first time ever. I'll be killing a second bird with that stone by not being too keen to speak publicly in front of more than a handful of people. Not to worry. I have the utmost confidence and passion that I will do very well.

Between us, the eight and a half minute two-page speech I have written is sure to give much of those in attendance the goosebumps. Although, because I intend it for a live audience I will not be posting the speech here or anywhere else to be made public. So, if you are in the region of Blair County Pennsylvania, be sure to come to the "May Is Mental Health Month" Conference on May 24th. It is free and no registration is required. While I would really really wish that the entire county could attend, I should be modest and pace myself. I will reach many more people to inspire. Just not all at once.

When I manage to get "Just Before the Dawn"© published for sale, I already anticipate giving speeches related to that and the stories therein as well. I am also inquiring to return to suicide awareness and prevention initiatives in this area in a very strong way. So when September comes around, I hope to be a point of contention and loud voice of support at the local Out Of The Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All great stuff, so stay tuned.

"Find Your Voice" Conference

Posted on April 23, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome again for the latest updates and writing progress. On Thursday the 20th, for the most part the NAMI organized "Find Your Voice" Recovery Conference went really well. It was a new experience for me being around people from the community who share similar mental health issues, as well as being around so many mental health providers. It can be so easy not to see the wood for the trees. If you aren't stigmatized to keep to yourself about your differences from other people, or the mental health symptoms you do have, you still might not necessarily realize the bigger picture of details.

The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. Since November, I have seen and met with some mental health providers in this region. But even during the setup time for the first couple hours of the Conference, I still was taken aback by how many health providers who do deal with mental health. To see so many there even for a relatively small city like ours, it was an interesting treat. My hat goes off to everyone who attended. Though, you'll have to excuse the other unexpected reaction I had just afterwards.

I felt that not enough people from the general public were there and know exactly why I feel this way: my ambition. I don't expect every single person who would have been available to attend to have been at the Conference. There wouldn't be enough room in any building here locally to accommodate so many people. Crazy, right? But I couldn't help feeling a sense that in combination with all of the other important issues in the world, mental health awareness should be a priority too. Maybe even a little greedy that this cause should be in the national spotlight right now. I know I feel so empowered right now to create change and that I should pace myself. When the tide finally begins to turn against social stigma and mental health is taken more seriously, then maybe I will pace myself. :)

I would also like to thank the presenters for their invaluable contribution during the Conference as well. In particular, the key note speaker, Elisha Coffey, with whom I was fortunate to network and speak one on one during break periods. It was such a relief to share my advocacy efforts with someone so energetic, so comfortable and experienced with mental health, and to attend her presentation. I hope in the weeks and months to come I can gravitate towards similar pillars of the mental health community to begin discovering solutions for my career anxiety. Oh what a moment that will be when I finally tackle that most difficult of issues in my life. Before you know it, when I get my life on track I'll be hearing wedding bells and end up getting married.

Preparations are still progressing for the local May Is Mental Health Month Conference event, in which I will be one of three to four people giving speeches about our personal experiences with mental illness. May 24th for anyone in this region who is interested to attend. This will mark the first time I have ever given a speech to a captive audience about my personal experiences with suicide, depression, and mental illness. Yes, the first time ever. Although, I will not post the final draft of my speech here to make sure it is reserved for public speaking only, the speech is already eight minutes long and incredibly compelling. This speaking event will also serve as the beginning stepping stone hopefully into a path of career development. Coffey is but one resource I expect to network with in order to resolve my career indecision, because while I have been advocating and seeming to have a lot of experience, I am still in my own mental health recovery.

It will be such an honor also to be speaking with the other presenters for May 24th. I have been well acquainted with one of them, Crystal, and she has turned out to be someone I am beginning to look up to more for what she has been through. May 24th is just a date I can't wait for. It should be very exciting as that time draws nearer.

To wrap this up, since Easter Sunday I have finished "Gone, But Not Forgotten"© and it turned out to be what I feel is my best story yet. The main character ended up being so compelling, Eliza Oshii, I feel she is the best character I have ever written. On the other hand, the final sixth short story has hit writer's block to get underway. "In Love & Fear"©, which will involve more secondary characters, a new inner city setting, and a romance angle with the theme of anxiety-driven intrusive thought to serve as the antagonist. I will keep pushing forward to work out the kinks and write it hopefully to be finished by the end of May. By then as well I intend to rewrite chunks of "To Have Loved & Lost"© also, but my goal will still remain to be finished with the writing project before June.

I have also created a new Blog Category, called To Know Me Better, in an effort to organize specific blog posts in which I share mental health information about me personally or essential details about who I am.  This way, mental health professionals, potential employers, and the general public can go straight to these posts to get a good idea about what I've been through and who I am as a person.

Well, I want to thank you all once again for tuning in to WWHY 100.4 FM broadcast of the Journeyman's Row radio show. It won't be too much longer now until I resume regular blogcasting and I encourage you to check back again on May 7th for my next update. Take care until then and God bless.

This is no April Fool's

Posted on April 9, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Besides the fact that I don't like April Fool's jokes in the first place. Welcome back newcomers and fans alike. Welcome! Not as many new developments, but definitely updates on the ones still in progress. In short, continued progress with my mental health themed short story writing, as well as preparations for both mental health conferences coming up. So, let's dive right in shall we?

The NAMI organized "Find Your Voice" Recovery Conference is just eleven days away on the 20th, and I will be attending as well as volunteering during the entire event time frame. Preparations were completed yesterday, and I tip my hat to all those who gathered since November to help organize this conference. I have no doubt that it will prove to be jam packed full of valuable education and awareness material. Hoorah! Can't wait.

There has also been very promising progress with the May Is Mental Health Month Conference event as well. I will be one of three to four select participants presenting a speech about our own experiences with mental illness. Mine will focus on a condensed summary including the most important details about my prior twenty three years of experience with various symptoms, such as suicide, depression, anxiety, and social stigma. I have already given a presentation to the committee members and community support staff in one meeting, and one of them in particular said my speech gave her goosebumps it was so touching.

The deeper and more compelling a connection I can reach with them, with the conference attendees, my fellow speakers, and anyone speeches like this one in the future, the better. Twenty three years, or more specifically at least the last seventeen years being rendered indecisive with every career decision I have ever attempted to make including college. Seventeen years since high school graduation getting nowhere, yet looking perfectly normal on the outside and shunned by many with social stigma. This is the extremely difficult, risky, and challenging phase of adversity that I have yet to face.

I'm thirty five. Every day I spend not establishing myself in an employment position compounds much of everything else in my life. Yet, here I am. Defying my mental illness symptoms and beginning after all this time to finally push back against it. No, I don't want any undue sympathy. I just hope I make it. This May event speech draft will not be something I post publicly because I am tailoring it specifically for live speech presentations to captive audiences. This is why I intend to do future speaking events as soon as more become available. Now is the time to pursue those opportunities as well, and as they become official I will share the details with all of you here too.

Lastly, I am a little behind my intended schedule with the mental health themed short story writing, but I must say that the fifth story is turning out very, very nicely. "Gone, But Not Forgotten"©, starring Eliza Kusagi and her mysterious jaded past, is about to reach its climax moment. Earlier today I just finished the fourth of seven expected chapters, which means this next chapter will begin the powerful climax material. I intend to be finished with this story by mid-April, followed by either beginning the final sixth story or doing final revisions to the second publicly posted story.

"To Have Loved & Lost"©, has already been revised to omit racial identity details, numerous secondary character names have been changed, and more will come. I have nearly come to a decision to further omit State references and replace them with general location details, as well as additional revisions in order to shape the story more to fit anonymity and shape it more like the other five stories. These six stories are strictly meant to be fictional, with various elements drawn from real life, but to represent six distinct morality tales with mental health themes through all of them.

"Just Before the Dawn"© is my lifelong ambition not just to achieve a published written work but also to publish my inspiration from the childhood Aesop's Fables I remember years ago. These tales shaped the right and wrong that is most of who I am today. Being able to create my own fables with valuable mental health themes, is very important for me as I continue to move forward in this career field and advocacy efforts.

All in all, aside from some tension regarding my as of yet unresolved career issues, everything is going baby skin smoothly. Expect the next blog update to be posted on Sunday, April 23rd, and will include important details about how the "Find Your Voice" goes. See you all then.

Update and new developments

Posted on March 26, 2017 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, this should be an interesting blog post to offer all of you because I have several positive developments in the last two weeks to share. Despite still working on the employment career issue and anxiety holding it up, I honestly continue to flourish from the positive energy I've been creating through my advocacy blogging and short story writing. More so the story writing lately, but my fourth and fifth stories will turn out to be absolute gems thanks to this creative force for good. Allow me to explain.

First, I would like to thank all those involved, and the local NAMI Conference Planning Committee participants, who have worked hard to organize this year's Blair County Pennsylvania "Find Your Voice" Recovery Conference on April 20th. The energy and anticipation is so strong that it can be felt with our fingertips. As we roll into the final weeks of preparation, I encourage anyone who is local to this area to contact me or the NAMI PA Blair County office for information on registration. Trust me when I say that this event will be amazing, and I am really looking forward to volunteering all day as well as attending to learn as much as I can.

A new update I have for May, Mental Health Awareness month, is just as exciting to share and looks to be beneficial as well. I was offered and have accepted the opportunity to be one of four individuals to give a speech about our experiences with mental illness. As I pursue mental health trainings and ways to improve my advocacy skills, this gracious chance should prove to be invaluable on the stepping stone towards finding greater opportunities for helping people like me. I haven't done much public speaking and do have to be mindful of anxiety that could make it difficult to speak in front of a captive audience. However, I am eager and ready for the challenges as they come.

For twenty three years, and ongoing, I have lived under the influence of several mental illness issues. I am more than ready and willing to face challenges like public speaking anxieties on the road to inspiring more people. In October last year, when I made the decision to begin sharing and then advocating for mental health awareness, I accepted the responsibilities with taking this journey and I don't intend to turn back now. I have found my calling, so whichever challenges I may come up against will be bared by my resilience and determination. In less than an hour, I was already able to write a very compelling speech clocked in at under seven minutes rough draft. So, I look forward to refining it and giving my most inspiring presentation at the end of May for the speaking event. More details on that as they become official.

Since I have decided to attend rather than participate at the "Find Your Voice" Recovery Conference, this has allowed me to make my decision on when I will return to regular content blogging. The reason why I felt compelled to resume blogging by the end of April was in fact because of the Conference itself. Now that I have allowed myself more time and alleviated the unintended self-inflicted pressure, I have decided to continue short story writing definitely through all of April and as far through May until I am able to finish my sixth and final short story.

Recently, I began to realize I was having small burnouts when writing my third and fourth short stories due to this pressure I placed on myself. I made sure my writing quality and composition were not affected, but I don't want to rush my writing and risk the stories not turning out as good as I hope they can be. By giving myself more time, I ensure that these last two short stories will be of the best writing effort I can muster. I also hope I have been respecting all of you who continue to follow along with my advocacy, by posting these updates every two weeks. It is important for me to accomplish a lot in my life right now, and keeping my fan base at the top of the list will always be my priority.

Thankfully, yesterday I was able to finish my fourth mental health themed short story, entitled "Legs of an Angel"©. Earlier this week, I had a random inspiration for what and how to write the fifth story. I wanted to do another female lead character and work in themes of drug addiction as well as suicide. When I thought of what kind of character she would be, I also wanted to try a different approach of when to reveal her back story and past. So, this story, entitled "Gone, But Not Forgotten"©, will have much more mystery and subtlety to the main character than any other character I will end up writing. She will be a question mark until the right moment comes for her to open up in the story, which I hope will be adventurous for me to write as well as a challenge to write her well.

I expect two to three weeks to have this story completed after which I will begin the final sixth story, entitled "The Sum of Love And Fear"©. Again, if my short story writing takes me until May to complete I won't be rushing myself from here on out. Expect updates to continue until then on every two weeks, with the next blog post on April 9th.

Also, I want to offer my sincerest condolences for a best friend's loss of her beloved mother who unexpectedly passed away recently. She has been an invaluable person to talk to over the last three years, and I hope however she will deal with this sad loss that she knows everyone is here for her in this time of grief. Bless your heart. May you have the strength to get through this difficult time, and anyone to talk to about your feelings if and when you need someone to listen. Reach out to me anytime.