I'm taking a short break from my blogs. About a month. Have to catch up on things like computer maintenance, organizing files, researching publishing options for my book, Sooner Than Tomorrow - A Mother's Diary, personal correspondence, spending time with family and friends, and generally giving myself a mental health break. Your stories are intense and weigh heavily. I take long drives in the countryside several times a week to decompress. I'm always thinking of you.
The "Your Stories" blog is officially two years old. Starting from scratch, the blog is expanding at a respectable 150% growth rate on my website. In 2018, it's on track to reach over 20,000 readers in 75 countries including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. We even have a couple readers in Bangladesh and the Republic of Moldova. And then there's the added exposure on Facebook. Stories on my author page, where I initiate blog posts, are now reaching 5,000-7000 viewers per week.
Sooner Than Tomorrow is still a baby blog, but it's a place to get our stories about serious mental illness out there to people who have no experience or comprehension of what our families live through. It's a public platform to call out the criminal state of our mental illness system.
As I pause, I want to acknowledge the individuals who've shared their stories on Sooner Than Tomorrow in the first two years, some more than once. In order of appearance: Teresa Pasquini, GG Burns, Heidi Franke, Janet Hays, Mike Gaeta, Kendra Burgo, Sherry Hunter, Joann Strunk, Mary Barksdale, Gloria Hill, Craig Willers, Deborah Fabos, Lynn Warberg, Linda Olivia, Mary Enos, Karen Riches, Val Greenoak, Christi Weeks, Gilbert Anderson, Jr., Sylvia Charters, Robin Burton, Donna Que, Maggie McGurck, Debra DeLash, Tama Bell, Maggie Willis, Kimberlee West, David L. Bain, Patricia Gager, Marie Abbott, Sonia Fletcher Dinger, Crystal Burkes, Jeanne Gore, James Callner, Anne Schmidt Francisco, Laurie Lethbridge Christmas, Mindy Willers, Amy Kerr, Kate Schultz, Ray Maternick, Laural Fawcett, Nikki Landis, Laurie Lasmus Vogel, Margie Altman, William Vogel, Laura Pogliano, Janet Wood Asbridge, Diane Rainbowitz, Sandy Turner, Joe IV, Elizabeth Courtois, Deborah Geesling, Kevin, Frank Robbins, Joyce Berryman, Sheila Ganz, Cheri Van Sant, Andrea Turner, Donna Hairston, Judy Waldo Bracken, Ryan Reyes, Lynn Nanos, Ray Weaver, Ron Powers, Harriet B., Kecia Bolken Speck, Kathy Baker, Travis Christian, Mary Sheldon, Emma's Mom, Melinda Nichols Balliett, Rhonda Hart, Laurie Mendoza, Mary Irwin Butler, Alison Letterman, Jorge Fajardo, Nicole Finn, Donna Erickson, Tania Irie, and Gwendolyn Bartley. Thank you for being brave and speaking out.
I'd also like to acknowledge Facebook groups whose members have contributed stories to the blog: CCAC (Circle of Comfort and Assistance Community), Advocates for People with Mental illness, Parents and Advocates for Families Seriously Mentally Ill, Parents Blogging About Addiction and Dual Diagnosis, OCD and Anxiety Awareness and Resources Around the World, and National Shattering Silence Coalition. NSSC is a new organization that speaks out about federal, state and local policies that impact adults living with SMI (serious mental illness) and children and youth living with SED (serious emotional disturbance). I'm proud to be a member of the Steering Committee.
I'm hoping I'll find a few of your stories in my inbox (on this website on the Submit Stories page, or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org) when I return from my break. Your writing can be as informal as a post on Facebook, as intimate as a letter to a friend, or as angry as a rant to a newspaper editor. Your voices, real and raw, are what give your stories so much power. I'll work with you and help you edit your stories, if necessary.
As we head full-tilt into summer, I wish you relaxing days, mental illness successes, and comfort in knowing you're part of a caring community. Thank you for all you do.