Creating Brilliantly From Life’s Challenges

Today, I am happy to host Vrinda Pendred, Founding Director/Editor of Conditional Publications, a new independent publisher dedicated solely to publishing the works of authors with neurological conditions. Their first book, ‘Check Mates’, comes out on May 11,2010.

Yesterday Vrinda stopped by Tom Retterbush’s blog and if you missed it you can go here – http://www.assetebooks.com/features.php

This is the fourteenth stop on Vrinda’s 15-day Virtual Blog Tour to promote the launch of this ground-breaking new book.

What makes it groundbreaking is that ‘Check Mates’ is a collection of short fiction and poetry either about or inspired by the struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, all written by people with OCD. It is arranged into two categories, Realism and Beyond. Whether solidly real, allegorical, or completely fictionalised, all the compelling work contained in this collection portrays the true story of this greatly misunderstood condition. It is also the first ever book of fiction written entirely by OCD authors.

I hope you will feel inspired by the interview you are about to read. If you do, be sure to sign up for the book launch reminder so you can buy ‘Check Mates’ and receive over 30 free personal development gifts on May 11,2010. To register, go to: http://conditionalpublications.com/pages/check-mates-launch.html (if you are reading this article after that date, you may buy the book directly from that page).
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1. What was the turning point for you in your life?  What was it that had to happen in order for you to have the confidence to express yourself authentically?

I have always said the initial turning point was when I was maybe 18 and I read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel ‘Notes from the Underground’.  My favourite writers are Stephen King, for his constant efforts at bringing our deepest fears to life and forcing us to examine them, come to terms with them, and then reminding us that we have the power to dash out the darkness with our own inner light – and Dostoevsky because he was epileptic and so clearly had OCD and some form of mood disorder, so I relate to all his work in a disturbing and sometimes comic way.  ‘Notes…’ is one of the greatest examples of obsessive thought you could find, and it was absolutely terrifying reading it and realising if I carried on the way I was, I was going to end up just like that narrator.  It was the first thing to make me start looking at myself and searching for ways out of my self-made nightmare.

Then I said a prayer.  I had sunk into a deep depression, the kind where there is no way to go but up.  I couldn’t feel anything anymore, and was crying most nights, for hours at a time, but it all felt empty.  One night, when I was done crying, I remember feeling like I’d sobbed all the liquid right out and was left with a huge gaping hole in my chest, and I just panicked.  I went into blind prayer, begging for something to change.  And I won’t commit myself to saying whether I had just reached a point where I was ready to pull myself together, or God saved me.  All I know is the following morning I just felt so different.  I wanted to live again.

I see emotions as addictive, because they involve chemical reactions in the brain, just like any drug.  If you spend too much time sinking into your misery and pain, your brain starts making physical connections and it becomes harder and harder to break out of that negative cycle of thought.  I will forever see myself as a former depressive addict, fighting off falling off the wagon again.  Some days things just feel too hard for me, and I remember how bad it used to be and it’s enough to kick-start me into getting on with the day.  But I see others who are still trapped in this dark cycle, who don’t know how to get out, and I feel my own accomplishments have left me with a responsibility to help others climb out into the light, too.  This means I have to go out there and admit what I’ve been through – so I don’t know if I’d say I’ve now gained great confidence in self-expression, but more that I have no choice.  If I didn’t come out and talk about this stuff, I’d be doing an injustice to that depression addict lost inside me.

I wish more people would come forward and share these experiences, because sometimes all it takes is knowing others out there understand the pain you’re going through.  I know it’s become easier to find my voice through having a strong network of friends telling me everything I say makes sense and I’m not crazy.

2. Many people feel challenges are just obstacles that keep them from achieving the success (however they define it) that they are seeking.  The challenge of OCD doesn’t seem to have kept you from achieving your goals.  Can you speak to the distinction between creating FROM life’s challenges vs. creating IN SPITE OF life’s challenges?

Addressing working in spite of your challenges, I will say I have always naturally been a person who cannot stand being defeated.  When I set out to do something, I am determined to complete it.  Because of my ADHD, I often get side-tracked or lose the will…but (thinking of a couple examples) give it 10 years and I will surprise everyone by completing that long-forgotten task.  I don’t appreciate being told what I can and cannot do.  So I have never really viewed all these conditions as challenges.  In fact, lately they have begun to interfere with my life more and it’s been especially difficult for me because I have a habit of denying they cause problems and dislike telling others when I’m struggling with them.  But even when they threaten to disable me, the way I see it is: it’s okay to have your tantrum and let all the emotions out of your system…but then go back and do what you wanted to do anyway, because your goals really have nothing to do with your disabilities, if you learn to compartmentalise.

Creating FROM these challenges is then a matter of education.  The more you read about these conditions, the more you learn that genetically the world needs these ‘disorders’; they are, in fact, necessary to creative and idealogical progress.  Scientists have done study after study, proving it is actually impossible to be considered any kind of ‘artistic genius’ without some neurological quirk – the list of famous writers, artists, musicians, scientists and theoreticians with OCD, Autism, Tourette’s, Depression, Epilepsy, Bipolar or Schizophrenia is just endless.  When you understand that – and I mean really understand it – you have to take a look at yourself and say, ‘Okay, what are my abilities?’ and then work from there.

In my case, I’ve always been good at writing, had a vivid imagination, a love for psychology and a knack for juggling about a thousand tasks at once, even if I feel I’m losing my head while doing it!  So why not use that for something that matters?  I even think in a strange way I’m blessed for having these conditions, because without them I’d just be one more writer in the world, struggling to find an opening.

3. What would be the most important first step you would recommend to our readers to help them make the deep connection to their unique and original contribution in the world?

As I’ve said, education is the key.  Read, read, and then read some more! Whatever it is you’re going through, there’s always someone else out there who’s gone through it before.  Find out how they dealt with it, and always try to look for the positive messages in there.  Look for the achievements these people have made, the special talents they had, and start trying to apply this to yourself.  Search for your own special abilities.  In fact, do this even if you don’t have a disability.  Just make a list of everything you’re good at.  Then ask close friends/family to add to that list, because they may see things in you that you’ve never considered.  Look at the jobs you’ve had and what you’ve excelled at most.  Think about how you relate to your friends and what strengths you possess in that regard.  And then think about what you’re really passionate about in life, what you’d want people to be able to say about you if someone wrote a biography about you 100 years from now.  Then put it all together and search for ways to bring this to life, if you haven’t already done so.  And always remember that you only need to touch one person out there to have made a difference in the world.
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Be sure to follow Vrinda to her final Virtual Blog Tour stop on Monday May 10th, hosted by Iyabo Asani at http://www.coachiyabo.com
AND… remember to sign up for the book launch reminder so you can buy ‘Check Mates’ and over 30 free personal development gifts on May 11,2010. Just go to http://conditionalpublications.com/pages/check-mates-launch.html

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