Kudos to celebrities who work to erase stigma

Catherine Zeta-Jones checked into a mental health facility this Monday for bipolar disorder treatment. And I applaud her. She is proactive and committed to periodic care. What's so important is that this news, so openly provided, helps erase stigma. "It's not easy, she says. I'm not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it's completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don't have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it." Many other famous people have been afflicted with mental illness. The list is long. Some have managed to control their disease; others have not. I became interested in working to erase stigma after my son's suicide as a result of his bipolar disorder. I wrote earlier about my conviction that his death might have been avoided had he not been affected by stigma. My … [Read more...]

Could writing help the Boston survivors?

  The bombings in Boston have left me in tears. Every time I hear the news, see the photos of those who died or were wounded, I want to curl up and block it all out. It is much the way I felt after my son took his life in 1999. These kinds of tragedies bring all those sad feelings back.   Perhaps this will help. In my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, I told how I survived through writing. It is my belief that those who have experienced such a tragedy and I suspect that is everyone need to find a creative outlet. Hopefully the survivors of the Boston tragedy will also find their way.   Here's how writing a memoir helped me heal: Writing has been part of my life since I was in grade school. However, when my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and after his suicide, I began to write down my feelings daily. I needed to. Writing in my journal became an obsession, a balm, and the only way I could express my feelings. It gave me a way to organize my fears, … [Read more...]

A successful library event

Since my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On has been checked out of my local Manhattan Beach Public Library many times, the library director asked me to come there to speak. The date we decided on was last Wednesday evening, March 20. I was asked to supply the library with a jpg of my book cover and a brief description of my topic: Writing was healing because it helped me put my pain on the page. Instead of carrying it with me every moment of the day and night, I found a place where I could have a little relief. There was so much I couldn't say out loud to anyone. And since there was so much sadness, anger, and grief in me, I needed a place to put it. Writing was like repeating a mantra as I kept my fingers moving. And I wouldn't let anything get in my way. I recommend writing or another creative outlet to those who are looking for ways to heal. After that I was on my own. My instructions were: you have an hour and a half from 7:00 to 8:30 pm to speak. That was it. I was … [Read more...]

New book reviews

An author loves to get notes from readers. I've gotten quite a few since my book was released in May 2011, for which I am very grateful. I was so taken by the one I recently received that I have to share it with you here: I just finished Leaving the Hall Light On this morning. I wrote my review on here and Amazon. As a published author I know how fulfilling it is to receive feedback from readers. I write you this message today because I would request that you read my review. I am a writer, nurse, mother, and wife who suffers with Bipolar 1 disorder. I would like for you to know that I felt Paul's soul in the core of my bones. I know intimately the feeling of quietly walking down the hallway as to not disturb my loved ones, locking the bathroom door, and making the decision to end my life. As I sit here this afternoon writing this message I struggle to stay out of the bathroom today. I began reading the book through the eyes of someone who suffers from mental illness, but finished … [Read more...]

My writing life in 2012

Writing became a way to live with my son Paul's bipolar disorder and to survive his suicide as a result. However, I never dreamed it would become my way of life. I still cannot get through the day without writing something. However, in the last few years it has become more than a balm to ease the pain. It has become a joy and a way to meet and interact with some very wonderful writing friends. Like writing, I can never have enough Buddhas (Richard Stock photo) With that in mind, I thought I write down a few of the highlights of my writing life from 2012, starting with my first publisher's decision to go out of business. At first I was indeed devastated and then so angry. She closed down with four days warning and cut off our websites even before that. But the devastation and anger were very short lived. I reached out to a few writing friends especially Keith Alan Hamilton and got some suggestions about where to query. However, my dear friend and mentor Mark Shelmerdine came … [Read more...]

Still writing to heal

I've written about writing to heal, I've talked about it in front of groups, and I must say, I'm still doing it. I journal, I write pieces for other websites and here about writing to heal from our tragedies, and I'm still reaping its benefits. I suggest, even if you've never written a word in your life, start journaling. You don't have to show what you write to anyone, so you're free to write down anything you want any way you want. And then you may be surprised. You may want to go public with your writing. Sharing our stories can be very healing to others. Writing has been part of my life since I was in grade school. However, when my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and after his suicide I needed to write down my feelings daily. Writing in my journal became an obsession and a balm. It gave me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. I had used journaling during an earlier stressful period of my life to rant. So I felt that writing would help me again during what … [Read more...]

Thank you, Indie Author News, for this great showcase

Featured Indie Book: Leaving the Hall Light On (Madeline Sharples)   Featured Indie Book on Indie Author News: Non-Fiction Advice / Bipolar Disorder and Suicide Leaving the Hall Light On - A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide - by Madeline Sharples. Leaving the Hall Light On contains prose, poetry, and photos. And besides that, this quote from a reader who left a note on the Author's Facebook page recently probably says it all: "Your book has opened my eyes to see the signs and symptoms to look and watch out for. I want to thank you for that. I am so scared that my son will kill himself too. I am trying to education myself on this disease and your book has given me a rude awaking. My son said to me that I am finally taking his disease seriously. Thank you." The Book has been published via the Indie Publisher Dream of Things and is available as Paperback and eBook via Amazon, B&N and others 340 pages released in August … [Read more...]

Answering questions about bipolar disorder and suicide at SkatingThru2012

Dr. Pam Young, former professor and current Holistic Health Practitioner, was the ninth host of my three-month marathon virtual book tour, AKA blog tour. She graciously posted this Question and Answer session with me on her blog SkatingThru2012 on November 6. I thank her so much for her support and all the work she did to put this post together. I have been so fortunate to have so many folks join me on this tour. Author Madeline Sharples Answers Questions About Bi-Polar Disorder & Suicide Posted on November 6, 2012 | 3 Comments Memoirs can educate us by showing how one dealt with a particular circumstance. In that way, they offer a sort of lighted pathway. Such is the case with Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples whose book tour included an invitation to bloggers to post questions about her experience not only to promote her book, but also to facilitate her mission since the death of her son: ¦to raise awareness, educate, and erase the stigma of mental illness and … [Read more...]

Anybody else get a damaging and useless Amazon review?

I just have to write about this. I can't help myself. Two days ago someone posted a 1-star review of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On up on Amazon. Here is what he or she said: I stopped reading after 36 pages I really wanted to like this book. The premise was interesting, "A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide." But the author's discussion of bipolar disorder seemed more personal opinion than actual facts and not much was actually SAID in the first 36 pages despite countless little "stories" and two poems...Honestly it was a struggle to even get as far as I did. Why would Amazon even allow this review to post? How could a review of 36 pages be valid and useful? I would think Amazon would want to interest people in buying their products rather than dissuading them. In allowing this review they do their company a huge disservice and of course make this author very angry. One of the people who commented on this review … [Read more...]

Finding music in my life

Today's post is in participation with Women On Writing's mass-blogging event, Everybody is Talking About Finding the Music in Life. We are celebrating the release of Sonia's Song by Sonia Korn-Grimani. To read Sonia's post and follow our symphony of participating bloggers visit The Muffin. Share your comments on any participating blog for a chance to win a copy of Sonia's Song! One reader will also win! I will send in the name of one commenting visitor to be entered into the WOW drawing for a copy of Sonia's Song in either print or ebook (winner's choice), and from those entries one winner will be chosen at random. (The contest is open until 11:59 pm Thursday, October 18th I will send in my randomly chosen reader's entry by noontime Friday, October 19th (Mountain Time) My jazzman. That he was. I couldn't do this topic justice without writing about my son Paul and his music. We lost him to suicide in 1999 as a result of his bipolar disorder. Very early, from the time … [Read more...]

Goodreads giveaway and launch press release

My publisher, Dream of Things, has officially launched the paperback edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, with a Goodsreads giveaway. Please enter to win one of five copies and tell your friends. The giveaway opportunity ends on August 28, 2012. Mike O'Mary, owner and publisher says: This week is the official launch of the trade paperback edition of Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples. Previously available only in hardcover, this is a powerful book that aligns perfectly with the Dream of Things goal to bring you "distinctive voices, meaningful books." Read on for more details -- and get 20% off the cover price of Leaving the Hall Light On at the Dream of Things website <http://dreamofthings.com/ hall-light>when you use coupon code "Light" at checkout. Also, if you are a member of Goodreads.com, be sure to enter the Goodreads Book Giveaway to be eligible to win a free copy of Leaving the Hall Light On. Goodreads <ht … [Read more...]

My paperback launch is August 6

Since Dream of Things will launch the paperback edition of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide this Monday, August 6, I thought I'd share the newest reviews posted on Amazon in the last three weeks. They are all five-star. I couldn't be happier about the wonderful response to my memoir. I hope these reviews will entice you to read the book yourselves. Madeline Sharples propels her readers through a startling emotional landscape of those left behind after suicide, in "Leaving the Hall Light on." Incredibly intimate and revealing¦.Her imagery, scenes, and movement through her family's recovery expertly nail the high art of the memoir.Ruth Belanger It took considerable courage to write this book. Madeline Sharples describes a path from guilt and grief to recovery. Life goes on but it requires personal fortitude. Anyone who has experienced the suicide of a family member will find Madeline's … [Read more...]

My Gutsy Story contest – redux

I take it all back. So many people came through for me and voted that I have no complaints at all. Please forgive my last rant. As of today with just over two days to go I am leading by fifty-one votes. Though I don't want to rest on my laurels, and I know how easy it is to surge ahead like I did with your support, I'm feeling very good about my chances now. I'd also like to share My Gutsy Story here. I hope piece about what I did to survive my son's death will help others going through their own tragedies. Some of the material here is also in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. Sonia Marsh - Founder of The Gutsy Story contest My Gutsy Story When my older son Paul died by suicide in 1999 after a seven-year battle with bipolar disorder, I knew I had to find ways to keep myself busy and productive or else I would wallow away in my grief. At the time of his death I was writing grant proposals for a homeless shelter, but I found too many reminders working from my home … [Read more...]

A new and fabulous review by Fran Edstrom

The American Association of Suicidology's Recent Reviews column posted such a sensitive and insightful review of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, that I have to share it verbatim. Reviewed by: Fran Edstrom, Editor at Winona Post in Winona, MN.   At 321 pages, Madeline Sharples' memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is very readable and well-written.  Sharples is a 70-year-old married mother of two whose oldest son died of suicide at age 27. Her memoir recounts her son's battle with Bipolar Disorder, the effect of his illness on the family and on his relationships with his friends. This is not a dispassionate account of mental illness leading to suicide. Sharples makes several references in the narrative to her forays into poetry and prose writing after her son's death. She had a mentor who urged her to use her deep voice, and she does. There is a liberal sprinkling of her poetry throughout the book, which some readers may find enlightening. I imagine all … [Read more...]

Farewell, Lucky Press! What’s next after a publisher quits?

Right in the midst of saying goodbye to friends from Tuscon on Saturday morning, I got the news that Lucky Press was going out of business on April 30 that's today! That announcement gave me a whole three day's notice. What a shock and what a scramble. It took me the better part of that day, a sleepless night, and until the next morning to get over it and consider this event an opportunity, not a disaster. First, I decided my book is way too important to abandon now. Actually I should have seen the writing on the wall when Janice, the owner of Lucky Press, informed me about a month ago that she would not produce my e-book in May as promised. She had been in ill health and just moved. Plus creating graphic designs seems to be her passion and provides her real livelihood. However, I was fortunate that she resonated with my book and offered to publish it. Her attention to detail with my text, photos, and book design was flawless. I am very proud of the book she produced. And it … [Read more...]

LA Times Festival of Books – was it worth it?

I spent most the last couple of days at the LA Times Festival of Booksheld at the University of Southern California campus. And most of the time I hung at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society booth. I'm holding Paul's Putting a Face on Suicide poster I was pleased to bond with several of the GLAWS members who volunteered to provide hospitality to people interested in joining our group and to help those of us who paid for a selling and signing place at the booth. Here I am with author and actor, Ace Antonio Hall, my GLAWS colleague I also learned a thing or two about my author colleagues. Most were lovely and friendly but as expected kept to themselves and their customers during our signing sessions. However, the woman next to me used her space as well as mine until I told her next time she needs to pay for two places, not one. She didn't bat an eye and just leaned over my table space to yet again sign one of her posters for someone. But I won out in the end. My friends in … [Read more...]

Call to action – April Platform Challenge – Day 19

As part of the April Platform Challenge my task today is to ask you to do two things: Please click on the share buttons - they are big and prominent at the top of the right side bar on this page Please sign-up for my email feed see the little box just under the share buttons. It has room for you to type in your email address. Please click Submit when you've finished. And one more thing that is not part of my assignment: Please join me at the LA Times Festival of Books on the University of California campus either or both Saturday and Sunday June 21 and 22, from 12 noon until 2:00 pm. I'll be at the Greater Los Angeles Writer's Society booth number 970. Hopefully I'll be signing lots of copies of my book: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Lucky Press, 2011). You can't miss me. I'm the one with the long gray hair. … [Read more...]

Great news!

My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide is now Number One in the bipolar and suicide prevention categories on Amazon. Here's the proof:   … [Read more...]

Putting a Face on Suicide – it never ends

I'm at Facebook's Putting a Face on Suicide page again today, still wondering what goes through such beautiful young minds that tells them to kill themselves. Some of these young folks are 14, 16, 19, 22 years old and had so much to live for. We must find a way to save our precious ones who look like they should be so full of life. And in the words of one of the people who came by the page: Cherish your loved ones, be kind to people, we will never know how long we have to enjoy someone. Paul was twenty-seven … [Read more...]

September 23 is never a good day

Paul, 1992 - before bipolar This is probably my worst day of the year. It's Paul's death day. And today it is twelve years since he died. I've been up since 4:30 this morning, not even able to sleep in to my usual 5:30 or 6:00. I finally got up around 5:30 and went to the gym. That I worked out was a good thing. Working up a good sweat is always cleansing. I also did a couple of things I've been meaning to do for a long time. I replaced his photo we've had fading on our mantle for the last twelve years with a new vibrantly colored copy. And, after Bob and I went to visit Paul's grave this morning, we stopped into the cemetery's administrative office to make sure his gravestone is cleaned before our next planned visit on his birthday, December 31. Today, we saw a very dirty stone with grass growing over it. Still, as is our tradition, we each left a stone. Other than that I am just hanging out not doing much of anything. Not able to concentrate very well. But I didn't … [Read more...]