Category Archives: Blog

The Hunger Games, Depression, Suicide and Sexual Abuse in Science Fiction/Fantasy

Have you read, “The Hunger Games?” Depression, suicide and yes, sexual abuse are themes in this bestselling trilogy. What happens to children and adults after they face stresses that cause mental breakdown? And what can be done for someone who is in fact, broken? What about guilt and redemption? Because you know, for every abuse there is an abuser. Can an abuser be redeemed? How about a murderer or a pedophile?

That is what is extraordinary about sci-fi and fantasy: nothing is off limits. Sacred cows are shot, taboo subjects are explored and skeletons are dragged from the closet – often in an exciting and adventurous way.

These human failings and issues fascinate us. Yet why are they so difficult to talk about in real life?

Shaun Farrell asked what my book was about. I told him (off the air) that is was about guilt and redemption, depression, sexual abuse and suicide. He said, “Really?” and I replied “Yes, but I don’t want to tell my readers that!”

Why not? Because if you ask people if they want to read a book about depression, sexual abuse and suicide they would reply not only, “No!” but “Hell no!”

“Wolf Dawn” is a sci-fi adventure and dark romantic fantasy. But it also envisions a future where one world has found a solution to the injured mind, the broken spirit and disturbed soul. “Wolf Dawn” is controversial because these themes are controversial. At least they are when people actually talk about them in the real world – which, to be fair – they generally don’t.

“The Hunger Games” is a young adult sci-fi novel that confronts hard truths. Thank you Suzanne Collins for addressing controversial issues and making them popular! Due to her endeavors maybe in the future more people will feel comfortable discussing such taboo subjects.  We may deny it, and certainly most avoid talking about it– but mental instability due to trauma is here right now folks – and not likely to go away anytime soon.

Perhaps it is a matter of nomenclature. Depressive characters can just be sad or upset. Many protagonists doubt themselves or their sanity. Some have been tortured or abused. But whether it is called mental health issues, or just living life issues, most good books – whether they say so or not, deal with human shortcomings.

Hands up if you have experienced a depressed mood. Sleeping difficulties? Always tired? Feel worthless? Experienced any thoughts of death lately? One in ten Americans report they are depressed. Not you? Okay then, what about a family member, colleague or friend?

How about suicide? Know anyone who killed themselves? It is the tenth leading cause of death in America. These are actual deaths, of course, and under-reported due to both religious and social pressures. These figures don’t account for attempted suicides or what is termed, “deliberate self-harm.” Know anyone who is so traumatized they cut themselves? Or perhaps jump in front of cars? Or off buildings?

Every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. Happily this statistic has fallen by 60% since 1993. However, it is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today. That is 19% of Americans. This is also an extremely under reported statistic. What is the real amount do you think? Thirty percent? Forty? But even at two people for every ten, surely you know someone who is affected by sexual abuse?

These issues have always been relevant. They are underlying themes of many bestselling novels. But should an author advertise the fact? Humm. Perhaps not.

“Wolf Dawn” addresses these issues not unlike the Hunger Games does. People suffer. People break, mentally, physically and spiritually. Luckily the people in my world have real solutions to this dissolution.

But if you prefer, call “Wolf Dawn” a Science Fiction Dark Romantic Fantasy Adventure! I do.

Incidentally, there is no sex or swear words in these books and thus they are classified for YA, ages 12 to 18.  What the Hunger Games novels do contain is horror, graphic torture and death. I myself suffered a bit of sleep disturbance with the violence in them and I used to nurse in jails! So here is a question for you: What do you suppose it says about a society that feels it is wrong for children to see a swear word or perhaps making out – yet okay for those same children to read the details of gruesome death and torture?

Susan Cartwright is a Registered Nurse. She has worked numerous areas including jails, emergency departments, and psychiatric emergency.

50 Shades of Grey

Yes, I have read this series. I try not to miss anything with world wide appeal. As a professional in the mental health field I had a slightly different take on it however!

As a romance story, it is interesting enough. Not a prose powerhouse, but definitely amusing. I feel happy that the author has made the subject of BDSM a topic of discussion. I firmly believe that all things should be able to be discussed, and madness to a very large degree comes from having to keep compulsions, interests, and obsessions secret. The problem I had with this series is the misinformation in it.

The story, in my opinion, demonizes BDSM (Bondage, Discipline Sado-Masochism) the term for those who like dominance and submission in the bedroom. The protagonist, Christian Grey, is portrayed as a messed up sexual predator with a dungeon full of scary sex toys. The story implies that Mr. Grey prefers to be dominant in the bedroom because he is psychologically and mentally disturbed.

Per a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality in 2006, there is no evidence that BDSM and psychopathology are connected. But it has been established that BDSM is not proof of mental or physical illness. The desire for BDSM does NOT come from emotional damage from trauma or childhood abuse. People cannot – and should not – be treated to cure it. If you have that kink, it is your kink…so what? In a safe and consensual manner BDSM is something akin to wearing a sexy outfit or role play in the bedroom.

Interestingly, true Dominance has with it a deeper need to take care of and protect the person dominated. Submission has to do with serving and pleasing and making happy the individual the submissive cares for. In or out of the bedroom, one see’s this behavior in humans everywhere. It seems to me this is also the subject of every Regency romance – that desire for the heroine to give all control over to a man, who will take care of her.

A true submissive woman sometimes gets “meanness” of an abusive boyfriend mixed up with her desire for dominance. It is in the submissive’s nature to serve. The mean boyfriend is not a true dominant however. He is just mean! This IMHO explains to some degree domestic violence and why the woman stays with such a creep.

BTW, just as many men are submissive as women are dominant. I suspect they are much more unseen as it is culturally inappropriate to be submissive as a man in today’s society.

When homosexuality first became a topic of conversation there was also a lot of misinformation out there. This will be the same I suspect, but again, I still think it is good when people are actually talking about things. In my opinion skeletons in the closet and subjects that can’t be discussed will only cause trouble in the long term.

Good News

I love good news. I think it is out there but it just gets crowded out by bad news sometimes. Not long ago a pensioner in Melbourne, Australia got out $10,000. It was pretty well all the money he had. He put in a white envelope, and sometime after he left the bank, he accidently dropped it.

Well, the $10,000 was picked up by a 22 year old. The young man found it, and seeing there was no name on the envelope he brought it to the police. He gave the details of where and how he found the money and left it at the police station.

The pensioner reported the money lost, and was amazed to get it back. Somehow this information got to a newspaper reporter, and the reported interviewed the young man concerned.

Reporter:        “So you found a white envelope with $10,000 in it, but no details of who owned the money.”

Young man:  “That’s right.”

Reported:       “So you took it to the police?”

Young man:  “That’s right.”

Reporter:        “Didn’t you think about keeping it yourself?”

Young man:  With an astonished expression the young man said, “It never occurred to me! It wasn’t my money!”

It is stories like this that make me think, you know what? Things are not that bad. Not when there are still people like this growing up in our world.

Menopause

I think menopause is the best kept secret around.

No one tells a woman what will happen once they hit 45 to 55. The biggest problem is that some women become more and more irrational, and have no insight that they are acting the way they are due to menopause. They are not themselves.

All this suffering and mad behavior is coming from a loss of hormones.

Menopausal symptoms:

Mental Health Symptoms

Poor Memory

Mood Swings, Sudden Tears

Fatigue

Difficulty Concentrating, Disorientation, Mental Confusion

Disturbing Memory Lapses

Depression

Anxiety, Feeling Ill at Ease

Irritability

Panic Disorder, Feelings of Dread, Apprehension, Doom

Physical Symptoms

Hot/ Cold Flashes

Night Sweats

Irregular Periods, Menstrual Irregularities

Loss of sexual desire

Vaginal Dryness

Hair Loss or Thinning, Head, Pubic, or Whole Body;

Increase in Facial Hair

Trouble going to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night

Dizziness, Light Headedness, Episodes of Loss of Balance

Weight Gain during Menopause

Incontinence, especially upon Sneezing, Laughing,

Sudden Bouts of Bloat

Increase in Allergies

Changes in Fingernails-Softer, Crack or Break Easier

Changes in Body Odor

Bouts of Rapid Heart Beat

Breast Pain

Headaches

Aching, Sore Joints, Muscles and Tendons

Burning Tongue, Burning Roof of Mouth

Bad Taste in mouth, Change in Breath Odor

Digestive Problems, Gastrointestinal Distress,

Indigestion, Flatulence, Gas Pain, Nausea

Gum Problems, Increased Bleeding

Increased Tension in Muscles

Itchy, Crawly Skin

Tingling Extremities

Osteoporosis (After Several Years)

I am all for life without drugs and “natural” solutions, yet if I go to hospital with a broken leg, I want morphine! That doesn’t make me an addict.

If you have these symptoms, and find via a blood test that you’re in menopause – please do something about it. If you can’t get back on track and be yourself – for heavens sakes, take pity on your partner, husband, and your family members and get on hormone replacement therapy. I recommend Sandra Cabot for natural HRT solutions.

 

Concerning Drug Use In Society

I am a Registered nurse and I love drugs! I think they are a wonderful thing. There is no question they save lives. If I broke my a bone or went for surgery I would use morphine without guilt. There is a time and place for drugs.

Like all good things, drugs can be misused through overprescrition, addiction, etc. However, with this little blog I wouldlike to discuss illegal drug use. My sister died of a heroin overdose. She was an intelligent, beautiful woman. How could this happen?

In 1958  (Fifty- four years ago!) Dr Bowman of the American Psychopathological Association said:

“For the past forty years we have been trying the mainly punitive approach; we have increased penalties, we have hounded the drug addict, and we have brought out the idea that any person who takes drugs is a most dangerous criminal and a menace to society. Our whole dealing with the problem of drug addiction has been a sorry mess. The opinions of the most competent medical authorities have been disregarded. A law, which was initially pushed forward as a revenue law, has been extended so that we have non-medical persons telling doctors how to practice medicine and interfering with the legitimate and humanitarian care of sick persons. Attempts to set up clinics for treatment of addicts have been suppressed and the way it has been done is no credit to democracy.”

Nothing has changed over the last 50 years. The drug problems that society has today needs to be met with logic, and rationality. Choices should be evidence-based rather than belief-based upon a moralistic approach.

A ton of money is spent on illicit drugs. About 80% of money toward drugs is spent toward law enforcement with about 5% for drug treatment and 10% for prevention and research. There is no question concerning the domination of cost spent toward law enforcement compared to prevention and treatment.

Solution? I think all drugs should be made legal and be supplied by the government. Think of the taxes! That way no one would die from badly manufactured drugs, which as a nurse, I have seen happen time and time again in our emergency departments. This would completely ruin the black market for drugs. The criminals who are currently making millions would have to get real jobs.

It has been proven that prohibition does not work. If drugs were legal no policeman would have to lose their lives from a “drug bust.” Kids probably wouldn’t want to buy them as they would be allowed. Current addicts would not have to rob or prostitute themselves for their $1000 dollar a day drug habit. Crime would go down.

If I use 2ml in a 10ml vial of morphine in the Recovery Unit I throw the rest away. Do you know why? Because morphine and heroin are amazingly cheap to produce. It is the drug bosses who put the price up and make 100% profit.

Well. It is just a thought. I am curious what you think of this radical idea.

I just thought I would put it out there.

Why I Self Published

Luke:         “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda:        “And that is why you fail.”

Readers throughout the world can discover new talent through ebooks. Self-published authors are often completely different from authors that have been edited by editors and publishers.

What I like about ebook publishing it is that ANYONE can publish ANYTHING and they don’t have to have approval from publishing “gatekeepers.” Other than vanity publishing, publishers once were to the final authority dictating who could and couldn’t write. Now everyone can write a book. And let the reader decide.

For example I recently read one ebook where the heroine was painfully shy and small and the hero was ugly, couldn’t hold a job, and was an idiot, but  extremely loyal. What traditional publisher would have approved that? None I can tell you. But I enjoyed the story because it was one of a kind. This freedom to write whatever one wants allows unique and interesting styles I think.

Who knows where it will all lead?

I once had an agent that loved “Wolf Dawn.” She promoted it to various publishers, but she wasn’t successful in her submissions. I suspect my book doesn’t fit a publisher’s formula of what makes a best seller.

To be fair, I think my book is a little odd. Okay, let’s be honest here. It is very odd! I have a number of cross genres in it: Speculative, Adventure, Coming of Age, Heroic Fantasy, Dark Romance and Science Fiction. What I write doesn’t seem to fit into a specific box, yet “Wolf Dawn,’ is exactly the kind of book I like to read. Self-publishing on the internet was the way to go.

Ebooks made it so I can sell Wolf Dawn inexpensively, less than a cup of coffee to buy.

I was told to write in a certain way to get approval from a publisher. Adverbs were out. That is to say, “He stepped forward gracefully and took her hand…” “Gracefully” would be frowned on by a publisher. Why? I don’t know. I like adverbs.

I was told to keep a book to 100,000 words or no publisher would publish it. “Wolf Dawn” is about 125,000 words. With e-publishing I was free to write exactly what I wanted, without constraint. Believe me, after trying to meet publishing expectations, this lack of restraint really made my day.

I now have readers and fans. How neat is that? I love reader’s comments. Many people love my little wolf story. Readers have also been giving me ideas on further books. For fun I have put some fan’s names as characters in my books. It is a little thank you and fun for them and me.

In the end I made the decision that I didn’t really need a publisher’s magic wand of approval to feel validated as an author. I just needed to get my book out there.

In the final analysis it doesn’t matter how “Wolf Dawn” was published. It only matters that the story is where people can read it.

So far people seem to like “Wolf Dawn.” Some even love it.

It’s a big jump to make, self-publishing, but it felt good to just go ahead and do it. No regrets so far….

Susan