Welcome to another edition of Couch Convos with your girl, Lisa W. Tetting This week author Lisa Y. Sparrow chats about her life dealing with mental illness and how she finds the strength to continue. Her book “His Eye is on the Sparrow gives a detail account of the tragic story of her upbringing and the abuse she suffered along the way. Join us as we welcome this strong survivor.
LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos Lisa! Let’s get started. In your book, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” you speak about your life as someone who suffers from mental illness, but you never mention what type plagues you. Can you share your diagnosis with us?
LS: Yes, of course I’ll share my diagnosis! Major depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Paranoia, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and PTSD.
LWT: That is a lot to deal with for anyone. Let’s talk about the depression, which comes and goes. Do you have any tale tell signs that an episode is coming on?
LS: Not always. Sometimes, it’s like someone flipped a switch and at others, it’s like a slow build up.
LWT: Your friends tell you, your sad eyes give you away. Are they still sad or is there a light there now?
LS: Depends on how you catch me. Listening to music (primarily gospel) helps to lift my spirit/mood because it reminds me that I’m not too horrible for God to love.
LWT: That is a good coping mechanism. I use music to uplift me, as well. You have made several suicide attempts. How are you combating the urge to try again?
LS: I pray ALOT and turn to my safety net, as well as my support network
LWT: In your book, you mention you have a daughter and a son. How do they handle your episodes?
LS: I’ve been like this my whole life, so this is all they know. They take it in stride, but get more afraid of my suicide attempts than anything else.
LWT: Speaking of suicide, Robin Williams’ death affected many people and made an impact on pop culture. Did his suicide affect you in any way?
LS: It took a while for me to understand what had happened because I had had a hysterectomy with complications. But once I was a little more lucid, I was upset.
LWT: On your website, you mention having “Safety Nets” to help you deal. Explain your “Safety Nets” to the readers. What are they and how do they help?
LS: Safety Nets are whatever you like to enjoy doing, that helps get you out of a tailspin and keeps you from further spiraling out of control. Safety Nets are different for everyone. For me, I like to color, so I have my own coloring books, crayons and markers. I’ll get myself a Happy Meal and a big cookie from a local bakery, watch cartoons, just to name a few.
LWT: Since you were born, you’ve felt as if you were not wanted or loved by your parents, especially your mom. Have you flat out asked your mom why she never loved you? If so, what did she say? If not, why?
LS: No. There’s really no point. I’ve tried to talk to her about various things over the years and it always ends up my fault.
LWT: Have you received any backlash from relatives about how they were portrayed in your book?
LS: Surprisingly, no. I rarely go to family events (because I’m not invited) but you can tell that it’s the elephant in the room when I am around them.
LWT: Your brother was the one who encouraged you to get into doing hair for a living. Do you at least have a relationship with him currently?
LS: Sadly, no. I really wish that we did but that isn’t possible.
LWT: I am so sorry to hear that. Are you still into doing hair?
LS: I ’m not actually a cosmetologist, I am a licensed braider. I love doing hair because it’s living art…lol
LWT: How is your relationship with God these days? Do you still feel He doesn’t know you’re alive?
LS: I know now that He knows that I am alive, but I struggle with faith at times because He has allowed so many bad things to happen. I am like a weary traveler seeking rest and peace.
LWT: I believe He can provide that peace for you. Speaking to someone who may think they are mentally ill, what would you suggest their first steps be to recovery?
LS: Get help. Do NOT worry about others have to say because they are not in your shoes and do not know your struggle. If you are in crisis mode, go to the ER or contact your local mental health facility. You can’t always do it on your own.
LWT: Switching gears a little, please tell our readers what it was like when you found out your book was being added to Dr. Cynthia Tyson’s African American Studies curriculum at Ohio State University? Please give us details on what the course entails?
LS: First, I have known Dr. Cynthia for many years and she is an amazing educator!!! I cried when she told me because I was beyond dumbfounded!! (I’m crying as I type this because she believes in me) According to Dr. Tyson:
“The course was called Epistemologies and Theories in Multicultural and Equity Studies. It is a course in the doctoral program in The College of Education and Human Ecology- Multicultural and Equity Studies program. We looked at the various positions of diversity, race, gender, sexuality, social economic status, etc. I wanted to expand that to look at the ways that challenges of mental health also lead to inequities in society. Your book was just one of many other first person memoirs I used to make sure the voices those who are most impacted by the particular inequity were authentic . The students loved the book and in our discussion they said your voice was authentic and moving. They felt they could no longer ignore the challenge of those who are often ignored due to depression and other challenges of mental health.”
LWT: Wow, that is amazing. How did you organize yourself when writing this book? Did you use an outline or other tools to help?
LS: There was absolutely NO organization to THIS book! Bless my editor / publisher’s heart! I just simply wrote what I felt.
LWT: That is an unusual way to approach an autobiography. Please, describe your writing process?
LS: I am very specific in how I write, I listen to music, light candles and let it flow. If it gets too emotional, I get up and do something different, then come back to it.
LWT: Did you enlist a professional editor?
LS: My publisher (Cassietta Jefferson), is also my editor.
LWT: Since you have a publisher, do you also have an agent or a publicist?
LS: Unfortunately, I have neither.
LWT: I saw you participated in a blog tour recently, what was that experience like?
LS: It was great! There are so many talented women that actually want you to succeed, that it warmed my heart. I am new to this and it hasn’t always been a pleasant experience, but to find those that believe in and support you ~ PRICELESS!!!
LWT: Do you find have an author website helpful? How do you attract people to the site?
LS: I think having an author website is helpful because I typically do not post the same information on my website that I post on my author’s page on Facebook. I post in hundreds of groups and always make sure to include my web address. Plus, I have an absolutely AWESOME web designer (JoAnn Bishop) that helps get me out there too!
LWT: It is great to surround yourself with good people. What types of groups do you suggest for indie authors to join in order to network?
LS: Because I am an unknown, I have joined any and all groups on Facebook that I can get my grubby paws on. There are also hundreds websites that are dedicated to Indie authors, do your homework to find out what best fits your needs and genre.
LWT: What advice would you give to new authors who may be apprehensive about public events?
LS: To me, it is imperative to do public events because people like to meet authors, get autographed copies and take pictures in some cases. It’s nice to meet the person behind the name and to see if they are as nice as you think they are.
LWT: Do you have plans for more books? If so what type?
LS: Oh yes!!! Another autobiography but this time, it deals with two attempted murders and domestic violence, love, homelessness and having the faith of a mustard seed. That will drop in February 2016. I have been asked to write and erotic romance and I am outlining a murder mystery. I am also open to ideas and trying new things. After book 2 drops in February 2016, I will focus on getting my son through the rest of his senior year and across the stage. I love writing because it is very cathartic for me.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, another Couch Convos in the books. To find out more about this amazing lady, please connect with her via the social media links listed below. If you would like to purchase her book, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” please click the picture below to be taken to Amazon. Thanks for joining us and stay tuned for the next edition of Couch Convos with Lisa W. Tetting.
Author Website – hiseyeisonthesparrow.com
Facebook – hiseyesonthesparrow
Twitter – @LisaSparrow41
Google + – Lisa Y Sparrow