All posts by jbstilwellauthor

I'm a paranormal fiction author who was born and raised in the foothills of Appalachia. I'm eclectic, having diverse interests which shows in my writing. I have a degree in Sociology in which my studies focused on crime and deviant behavior and race and gender relations in post-grad. I love to travel, and my varied experiences around the world are woven into my stories. I love reading, music and learning. I currently reside in the Chicago metro area with my Goddess-like daughter Maya. As Emma would say, variety is the spice of life, but too much spice gives me heartburn.

Out of the Darkness


I have already registered for this year’s Out of the Darkness Walk.

From my page:

Join Me in Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I’m walking in the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk to fight suicide and support AFSP’s bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

Please help me reach my goal by clicking the “Donate” button on this page. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.

Thank you for your support!

https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/1904888

My Valentine’s Day Present


rose-bannerThis year – actually just a matter of coincidence – but our V-day is focusing on therapy and improving our behaviors for the health of our family. We have our first family counseling session on Saturday. I’m both excited and anxious at how things will go. I’m not completely convinced that my spouse is as committed to the process as I am, which is disheartening. Maybe I’m wrong, and he’ll surprise me.

I’ll update more on the process later. Today, focusing on the good of life, even something as simple as a smile from a good friend.

Blessed be!

Where’s the Love?


hearts-bannerFebruary is not only the month of Valentine’s Day, but it is also my anniversary month. This year my husband and I have been married 12 years.

I can say this, marriage is not for the faint of heart. It’s not always a bed of roses. In our case, we’ve been experiencing more thorns as of late. One thing we do agree on is that we’ve got to make changes for the betterment of our daughter. We argue a lot, and that’s taking a toll on her. We’ve somewhat come to an agreement that we need to speak with a family therapist. This will be beneficial for everyone as my husband does not have the understanding or coping skills to deal with living with someone with mental illness. Even more so, he has some of his own issues that he needs to work through. Mix both of those things, and the environment our daughter is living in is not as healthy as it could be. And that’s the goal – improving the environment for her.

This February I will be meditating a lot on what makes a healthy family. I wouldn’t consider my upbringing to be a model example. I consider myself somewhat of an expert of knowing what is not healthy, but I’m not an expert at not making the same mistakes. That’s the goal – knowing what a healthy family is and striving toward that. It’s in all of our best interests, for love, for family, for life.

Holiday Blessings


imbolc-blessingsI woke up very early on this Imbolc morning. I didn’t mean to, it just happens that way sometimes. I did some yoga, then meditated quite a bit. One of the things that kept coming to mind is how much I miss my friend Okey J. Napier, Jr. He would’ve been celebrating this holiday, too, if his life had not been cut short back in July of 2018. To honor him, I’ve been dancing around to Celtic music all while reliving the times we had together. I like to think that he’s in the Summerlands, dancing right along with me.

This Imbolc, I’m going to focus on the transformative power of creativity. This evening, I will light a few candles, then write freestyle poetry, penning whatever comes to mind in the moment. I might even do what I used to do as a teenager – get myself into a trance-like state, then write just to see what my altered mindset has to say.

One thing that I will thinking about is the seeds that I plant, figuratively speaking. What seeds will I plant this season based on the harvest I want to reap this year. Since New Year’s Eve, a theme that has resonated with me is that of independence. Not being free from others, but being independent in the sense of focusing on myself as the source of my happiness. Some questions that I will ask myself tonight – what does happiness look like to me? What can I do now to ensure my happiness throughout 2019? What goals do I have? When do I expect to reap those rewards?

I’ll post again after the holiday to share my thoughts on these topics so I can share the journey with all of you.

Have a blessed Imbolc, y’all!

Wellness and Giving Thanks


smash-patriarchyI’m taking part in my employer’s wellness program. It’s part of my journey toward a healthier lifestyle. The current goal in the wellness program is to take the next seven days and each day, write about something for which I’m thankful. The first thing that came to mind was being thankful for my mental illness.

That statement seems odd now that I look at it typed out on the page. But, it’s a sincere statement. Is having a mental illness challenging? Yes. Is it considered a disability? Yes. However, I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to view my mental illness through a different lens, with a different perspective. What has my mental illness allowed me to do? Well, it’s definitely allowed me to have somewhat unique experiences. I say somewhat because although not experiences that the “average” person has, I’m not the only one to ever struggle with bipolar disorder or anxiety. There are similar experiences in every story of mental illness. I’m using unique here to qualify my experiences as being different than the experiences of someone who doesn’t live daily with mental illness.

These experiences have taught me. They have helped mold me into the person that I am at this moment. One thing they have most definitely done is helped me to a more empathetic person. Because of my relationship with my illness, I genuinely care for and feel for people who are in pain, those dealing with mental and emotional anguish, those who are existing in a state of despair. I seek to connect with those people, many of whom have had people turn away from them because of their challenges. I feel that in doing this, I have grown a little bit as a person, that it has helped me to develop as an individual.

I would not wish mental illness on anyone. Yet, I’m thankful that it’s me and not you – at least not right now. And if the time ever comes where it is you, I’m here. Reach out to me. I may not completely understand, but I can listen using my unique filter. We are all worth this, and so much more. For this, I’m thankful.

MLK and Mental Illness


mlk-dream-bannerI went to church yesterday. As is usual with most Unitarian Universalist churches, the day was spent in reflection of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Those of us who are caucasian pinned pink ribbons to our tops, a reminder for the day that people are treated differently because of their skin tone and that as caucasians, we have a duty to acknowledge our ancestors’ history and challenge injustice whenever we witness it. I had planned to pen an elaborate post regarding my thoughts on the service.

Then I had a mental health episode. It was a rough night, and I struggled with old coping mechanisms such as self-injury and alcohol. This is not the life that I want to lead, and I recommit myself to my overall health – including my spiritual and mental health.

Today I began to wonder, what would Dr. King say about how we treat the mentally ill in this country. I found this blog and wasn’t surprised to learn that Dr. King himself often battled with depression. People who are challenged with mental illness tend to be some of the most self-reflective and empathetic people you will ever meet. It’s not lost on me that someone like MLK who spent his life thinking deeply about injustice would struggle with the psychological impact of such a dreary reality.

There is still a stigma against the mentally ill. I could never compare this to the experience that African Americans have had in this society. Yet I’m compelled to call out injustice wherever I see it, for mental illness is something that does not discriminate based on the color of your skin. If we know that mental illness is stigmatize, and that racial minorities are discriminated against, one would shudder at the injustice of mental illness within those communities. Unfortunately, culturally speaking, some groups balk even more at the thought of mental health treatment. My husband is from India and there’s a long history of denying the need for therapy and that one should fix things on their own, which is a damaging and dangerous perspective. Damaging because it belittles those of us who seek help. Dangerous because it suggests a path that almost always fails.

We need to speak out in all of our communities that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, rather it’s something that many of us will experience at some point in our lives, just like MLK did. There is no weakness in asking for help as it is true strength and courage that allows you to recognize that you can’t do it alone. Growing up, we’re not taught to deal with these issues, so we need to learn from those who can help us. Regardless of our backgrounds, there is a counselor that can meet our needs.

If you need any support in exploring these issues, please reach out to me. I’m listening.