February News Flash and other stories

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! I'm a little behind as Chinese New Year was February 3rd, but that's because I'm pretty busy. I worked on three new paintings these past two weeks. I posted them on Facebook and received some good comments!

The Art Studios to which I belong is planning an exhibit called "Visual Melodies" at the Unitarian Church from late April to May. I may be asked to give a talk there about my recovery from mental illness and my book. Also this month, I am speaking at an occupational therapists conference to over two hundred attendees about "how rehabilitation aided my recovery." I plan to use powerpoint and speak about my book. I am also speaking to pharmacy students and giving an author's reading at a Burnaby library in March.

On Goodreads, I met a fellow writer, Kevin Alan Lee, who lives near Vancouver. He also has schizophrenia and wrote a book about it. His book The Split Mind: Schizophrenia from an Insider's Point of View reveals not only his experiences but information about stigma, social problems and policies. Interesting comparison to say the least. His book will be released February 28th.

I've also been meeting indie writers on BestsellerBound and Goodreads. I asked if some of them were interested in entering the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest to win a publishing contract with Penguin Books. One fellow said the contract was regular boilerplate and nothing special. Another person said, she had entered before, but would rather let her book speak for itself rather than be based on a pitch for voting. So I learned that many of my fellow writers enjoy so much being the captain of their own ship, maintaining control over all aspects of their books: writing, book cover design, promotion and distribution. Self-publishing is the choice of many.

I'm the editor of Majestic, an online newsletter for Lit.org, a writer's forum. Recently, the forum changed ownership. The founder of the website has returned! So I'm curious what changes there will be to not only the forum but for Majestic. It's a time of transition.

I find myself obsessing about future outcomes and spending a lot of time on the computer. So my aim is to leave the house and do something different! Rome wasn't built in a day. Taking small steps causes less stress. Expectation shouldn't rule my thinking. I would like to have faith that things will work out. Things that don't, maybe weren't meant to be. But learning something or seeing the silver lining is beneficial.

Thanks to Laura Schultz for her 5 star review!

I met Laura Schultz on Facebook a while back. She is a psychotherapist, life coach and freelance writer. She is a delightful, positive, kind and caring person. She wrote a review of My Schizophrenic Life, which she posted on Amazon.com. A sincere thanks to Laura. Here it is!

A Compelling Memoir From a Courageous Young Woman
Most of us never think about the possibility that the world as we know it one day would suddenly ceased to exist almost overnight. And if suddenly what once was, appeared to be totally different, who could you feel safe with to explain strange occurrences that you either felt, saw or heard? That is exactly what transpired in the life of author Sandra Yuen McKay. One day she was a fairly happy, though shy young teenager dealing with issues that most young girls deal with such as school, friends, family etc. Seemingly overnight she heard voices of people she knew, speaking to her in ways that were foreign and threatening to her and made no rational sense, but she was unable to decipher what was real or not.

The author is able to adeptly explain in-depth what she saw and felt during the time she believed people were peering at her and developing unseen plots against her. Her vivid memories and feelings are so poignantly described that the reader feels everything that is occurring, in a deeply meaningful way. At first,no one was able to validate how she was feeling nor was she able to explain it to others in a way they could understand. So she felt more and more isolated and alone. Such is the plight of anyone who experiences schizophrenia or for that matter many who suffer from mental illness. The feelings of isolation and fear set in and it becomes difficult to trust anyone for help or believe that there really is anything wrong.

After suffering for many years and finally being diagnosed, she then endured the often unequipped system of treatment and various specialists who were often not as empathic as one would hope in order to help their clients recover in a warm trusting environment. Some even blamed her for not seeking help more quickly and made her feel more guilty and uncomfortable. This is part of the tragedy of living with mental illness when others who are supposed to know better, blame the victim. Though Sandra endured many challenges once within the mental health system coupled with the stigma attached to a diagnosis of schizophrenia--she never gave up her dreams of living a fulfilling life and becoming independent. And her family was a critical component in her road to healing, as they never stopped loving her nor gave up believing in her which greatly aided in her recovery. Her magnificent artistic ability helped to heal and propel her into a life that blossomed and evolved. She was able to trust again, marry a loving,supportive man and began to pursue her dreams.

This book is alive with Sandra's feelings and experiences documented in words that are genuine and heartfelt-- filled with love and hope for others who are still suffering from mental illness. But it transcends the world of mental illness as well by giving us all hope that no matter what we might have to deal with in life, we too, can learn to cope and not merely survive but learn to thrive! Kudos to Sandra for writing this wonderful book that is insightful and profound!