What Would Breezy Do? Guest blog and book giveaway with Alison Solomon!

Hi, friends! Author Alison Solomon stopped by to talk about her latest release, and to offer up a FREE EBOOK of it for giveaway! So read on!

I wonder how Breezy Carmichael would react in the current COVID 19 situation. Breezy is the protagonist of my new novel, Before She Left, another in the Gulfport Mystery Series. I’ve been wondering what it would be like for her because Breezy struggles with a mental health issue. In her case it’s not anxiety, depression or PTSD. It’s a personality disorder, specifically borderline personality disorder. (For those of you already reacting to that word Disorder, I agree, it’s not helpful and it’s a set-up for doctors to treat clients as pathological.) Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a diagnosis that’s especially problematic because it tends to be given much more to women than men, and in particular to women who act out in socially unacceptable ways.

The first time I came across someone with that diagnosis was in the 1980s when I was a brand-new intern at a university hospital psychiatry clinic. I was the only social worker in a group of psychiatry residents. We watched through a one-way mirror as a resident conducted an initial evaluation with a client who described a harrowing background of abuse and neglect. After the interview was over, the residents discussed her case and quickly agreed she was not appropriate for treatment at the clinic because therapy couldn’t help her.

“Why?” I asked, even though I wasn’t meant to be speaking. I’d already been told they were doing me a great favor by allowing me to observe. “She has big stuff that she needs help with.” They eyed me pityingly and then several of them said, at the same time, without disguising their contempt, “but she’s Borderline!” Luckily, we’ve come a long way since then. Instead of turning people away without ever explaining why their lives are unmanageable, we now educate them about their diagnosis, and provide them with support groups, self-help books and numerous online resources. But these folks still struggle in their personal lives and relationships because BPD makes it hard for them to regulate their emotions and tame the inner turmoil they constantly feel.

While all my novels are first and foremost entertainment, as a clinical social worker I also like to inform readers and help them see people or situations from a new vantage point. For example, in Along Came the Rain I dealt with characters struggling with memory issues and the foster care system. In my last novel, Timing Is Everything, I cast the spotlight on what it’s like for immigrants in today’s current climate. (I’m an immigrant and knew how hard it was even when the climate wasn’t so anti-immigrant.) In this novel, Before She Left, I decided to have a character who could be easily misunderstood or dismissed, and to show the positive side of this diagnosis.

People with BPD are often extremely sensitive. I compare it to someone who has really, really thin skin. Imagine someone taps you on the arm. If that doesn’t bother you, you turn around and say, “yes?” But if your skin is so thin that one tap can bruise you, that tap feels like a punch so you might turn around and yell, “what the f—k?” Because every tap feels like a punch to people with BPD, they are often perceived as over-reacting. And the other side of this sensitivity is that if everything feels like they’re being mistreated, they can’t always recognize when they really are victims of abuse. My job as a therapist is to help my client recognize when a tap is a tap and when it’s a punch.

So what must it feel like in these days of social distancing, isolation, job loss, financial stress and fear of contamination to someone like Breezy Carmichael? Ironically, I suspect she’d be doing OK. Because all the things many of us are feeling now are things she feels every day. The novel opens with her wondering why her fiancée, Ella, hasn’t come home. She doesn’t know whether this is a situation that’s panic-worthy or not. She’s terrified Ella’s in danger, but is she? And once she decides to contact law enforcement, what should she do when the investigating detective tells her to accept that she’s been dumped?

In the novel, Breezy has to use the tools she’s learned to figure out what to think and feel. She asks herself how other people might react in the same situation. So I think that today she would listen to the news and be reassured by the fact that feeling anxious and stressed by COVID 19 is normal. She would be fiercely protective of those she loves, while also using them for emotional support, just like she has to everyday. And she’d make sure she was checking in with her therapist, for extra reassurance.

So how about you? Are you making sure you’re getting the support you need? Do you have someone to help keep you sane and sunny in these difficult times. I am forever grateful to my wife, a high-risk person who isolated long before it was required, who is keeping her sense of humor and cooking us delicious, healthy meals. For myself, I decided to learn something new – in this case Audacity, which is the software for creating an audiobook. It was a steep learning curve, but I just completed taping and editing Timing Is Everything. It will be another month before it’s approved for publication but join my newsletter if you’d like to know when it’s out.

Finally, I’m burying myself in good books when I need to escape. With that in mind, I’m giving away an ebook of Before She Left. Just leave a comment on this column and let me know what you’re doing to keep your spirits up and I’ll do a drawing for the winner.

Wishing everyone health, peace, and sanity.

Bio:
Alison grew up in England and lived in Israel and Mexico before settling in the USA. She is author of four suspense novels: Along Came the Rain and Devoted are prequels to the Gulfport Mystery Series, and Timing Is Everything is the first in the series. All books can be read in any order.
Website: http://www.AlisonRSolomon.com
Blog: http://www.alisonrsolomon.com/blog
Email: Alison@AlisonRSolomon.com
Twitter: @AlisonRSolomon
Facebook: AlisonRSolomon
Amazon page: amazon.com/author/alisonrsolomon

20 comments

  1. What a great piece of writing, Alison! I have been in isolation for what seems like ages. I was in isolation before we went into lockdown dues to multiple health issues … chemotherapy effected immune system and COPD. I have PTSD and anxiety issues and the isolation is hard to deal with. I’m reading like it is going out of style and I love that you write about characters with issues. I feel ashamed that I haven’t had the chance to read any of your books. I think I could relate well to them. I live on my own. My other half is in Germany. I really hope I get lucky and win one of your ebooks. Also, I’m an on-line radio DJ and use Audacity a lot so if I can offer any assistance, give me a shout. Stay safe and keep writing!

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    • Thanks Chris. In addition to mental health issues, I also have one novel with an immigration situation in it (Timing Is Everything) which you might also find interesting. Please don’t feel ashamed about not knowing my books — I’m hopeless at publicizing myself!

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  2. Hi Alison, Congratulations on your latest novel. Can’t wait to read it. Hope you and Carol and staying safe and healthy!

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  3. Thank you for this post and for the giveaway as well. I always appreciate reading about characters who experience the world in a way different from my own; I may never encounter them in real life but it’s still of value for their stories to be told and for me to learn about them.
    I’m finding that music or nature sounds in the background when I’m at home keeps me on a more even keel; rain on a tin roof is my current fave sound to have on when I’m staying in for the day or a few hours.
    Congratulations Alison on the release of your new book; the winner will no doubt enjoy having new reading material on hand.

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    • Interesting that you mention the sounds of nature Maddy. I often take photos of nature when we walk in the morning and this morning I was so aware of the birds and bullfrogs that I decided to do a video with the sounds of nature as well. You’re right, it is SO soothing.

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  4. Being isolated WITH my wife is a huge help! We’re kind of hermits, anyway, so this isolation isn’t terrible, but it’s not easy. I love hot baths, and I read a lot. We’re watching lots of interesting shows. We’re working full time from home, so that adds structure to our days. I think the biggest thing I do to stay okay is just realizing that I’m allowed to be stressed because of all the uncertainty, even though in a lot of ways our life seems almost normal, and just being aware of that helps a lot.

    Your books sound really interesting, so if I don’t win, I’ll definitely be looking for them. Thanks!

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  5. Great post, Alison. Don’t enter me in the drawing, as I”ve read it and enjoyed it. Great background information on BPD. Good luck with the audio books!

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  6. I’m trying to complete my dissertation data collection but mostly I feel like I’m taking a lot of time with Linkedin and other learning sources (e.g mentorbox, Youtube, Duolingo) Its a veritable smorgasbord of learning right now. The books sound great. I might pick up Along Came the Rain. I like the fact you gave the anaolgy of tapping seems to bruise the borderline person. It made a ton of sense.

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  7. I write! Writing is a discipline, provides structure, and is totally absorbing as well as fun. Like you, I think of it as a service to our community. When I stop, I get to be with my wife and our ridiculously bad 8 month old male kitten. I love my life! Thanks for sharing your expertise through stories.

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  8. I was thinking about “disorders” as a blue-print or map on how we could or do react to different situations. Like a zodiac sign for a certain month have certain characteristics. Libra vs Scorpio for example. ( though I don’t recommend it… LOL)
    I told a family member the other day – who is sick of the “difference” “People with bipolar or BPD (amongst others) just think and react differently than those with a generic blueprint. Instead of “wrong” why can’t it be extra?”
    Thank you for writing this and bringing Borderline Personality to the forefront. I’m looking forward to reading!

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    • I agree Yvonne. When people tell me, perhaps I’m over-sensitive, I suggest they reframe it to very sensitive. Who’s to say what the norm is for some people to be over or under?

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  9. Reading, reading and more reading. Which is what I normally do anyway 🙀🤓. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the offer to win a copy of your latest. I enjoyed your first one, the second is on my ereader to-be-read stack and this latest one sounds intriguing.

    Stay healthy and safe and keep writing.

    cw

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  10. Great post and you have me wanting to read this book. I’m on the frontlines, dealing with covid patients in our small hospital. To keep our spirits up we’ve made a list of exercises to do when certain tests are ordered or critical values are reported. Things like 20 jumping jacks when you get a urine drug screen or 10 lunges for every stat request. It’s been a fun diversion.

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