This is a story all ’bout how my life got twisted upside down… Will Smith, from ”The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”
Now that I got that stuck in your head, I’ll continue.
But, before I start, did you know Steve Winwood wrote the song ”Blind Faith” that appeared in 1989’s ”Masters of the Universe” movie? Man, that movie sucked.
(Note to self: ”Watch ’Masters of the Universe’ this weekend.”)
Anyway, this is how I came from having a psychotic break, to have the best time of my life, at least for the moment.
Always the pessimist.
So, last time I said anything publicly about mental health or suicide, it was during ”National Suicide Awareness Week,” which also was during the month that the same thing was being observed.
Everything has to have a fucking holiday.
On Friday, September 14th, I had what the psychology field considers a ”psychotic break.” I had woken up very early in the morning, and without anything to cause it to occur, I had thought of committing suicide. I don’t understand why it happened; my psychologist feels I was under a great deal of stress, but at that time I did not feel like I was.
In the past, I would have hidden that thought from my wife, came up with lies, and possibly started hurting myself again. Instead, I told her immediately what happened, and we felt that I needed to be closely watched for the next few days.
We treated the house like a psychiatric center; she was the only one who had access to any medications, and we locked away all sharp objects that could inflict harm on me away in a lockbox, where they are to this day. I also needed support. I called both my psychologist and psychiatrist to be seen as soon as they could make it available, and I decided to go public with what I was going through. I didn’t do this to make a spectacle of myself, I was looking for support, and I knew some of the people online and in person would be there for me.
The outreach was amazing. Not only was my peers at work supportive, but so was my family, friends, people I used to work with and internet acquaintances that I now consider friends and survivors.
Going public made things more comfortable for me, so I didn’t have to hide anymore. And I needed that.
What has happened since then is what has had me believe in faith again, even if it isn’t on a religious level.
My family and I are starting to struggle just like most families–house payments, medical bills, child care, home improvements–the list goes on and on.
My wife and I want to finally follow our dreams, even if they are just hobbies or things we do on the side. My wife wants to be an artist; she is in the process of selling prints of her work on Etsy, and my daughter wants to sell her clay jewelry that she has been in the process of perfecting through my wife’s shop.
I finally want to get over my fear of writing, so I have researched how I can break into freelance writing so that one day one of my millions of ideas I’ve been storing I will work on. Getting into writing online will make some extra income, and allow me to continue to practice.
This is where the faith began.
Now, the next things I’m going to write about are somewhat vague. The businesses and clients I currently am in contact have asked for their anonymity, so I am respecting their wishes.
September 11th, I began my introduction into the world of freelance writing. I knew that I needed to write more, and I needed some motivation. What better motivation to do something than to be paid for it? I have little experience in writing. Sure, I have this online journal/blog and another site, but I do not have a degree in creative writing/English/technical writing/blah blah blah. I don’t have the experience. The closest thing I have to anything to do with creative writing was taking an online course, and I got a certificate at the end of it showing completion. Plus, the course also allowed for a few necessary college credits, so win-win.
I have always been hard on myself when it comes to anything creative. I have spoken about how I’ve been sitting on projects for over 15 years, still waiting to come out into the limelight. I almost had the guts to do it, but then I got some sage advice from author Mark Groves (“Black Buttons” series, “Hellzapalooza: The Best Damned Rock Show Ever!”, and “Route 666: Four on the Floor”). He said to start small. Submit to publishers and magazines first of short stories or even some of my work. Then, after I’m acclimated in the writing community as a full-fledged writer/author, then make my website where I can showcase my properties, and sell my stories, including novels or compilations of work from various other sources that I have the copyrights.
You know what? He’s right. I have only grazed a handful of books on writing stories, which is why I continually stop myself from getting anything on paper, or screen for that matter. So, I need practice.
That is how faith fits into this story.
As I said, I researched on freelance writing, especially on how to get into the business when I have had no experience. I found a website about this woman who explained how she went from working a dead-end job to writing full time and making a living from it. It all started with first working for what is considered a “content mill.” A content mill is a group of anonymous writers, with either tons of experience or no experience, that are given assignments to accomplish. You are usually paid a small fee for the task(s), or you are paid a small amount per word. Each job can be as little as 150 words and as large as 1000+ words, so you can imagine if you are paid per word, that’s not too shabby.
I waited 17 long days, which was two days longer than they told me on the message on the website. I got nervous and emailed their support email, and asked if they had a chance to read my submission and rate it and if I was hired or not. Three hours later, I received an email from them stating that they received my presentation, and they were currently reviewing it. Ten minutes later, I was informed I was hired and had access to their “inner sanctum.” From there, I found out what it takes to make my profile accessible to others, and make myself more marketable. There were also YouTube video tutorials on what I needed to do to finish my profile. Over the next four or five days, I worked hard on working on my tastes, places I’ve visited, and samples of my writing, as well as a pseudonym name and resume/bio for prospecting clients to look at to make sure I am the right fit for what they are looking for. Amazingly enough, it was surprisingly easy for me to come up with product reviews, poetry, speeches, and talk about the things I am very passionate about.
There was the first sign. This was a positive for me, and something I needed to boost my morale and confidence.
Let’s talk about the next sign.
I buy a lot of things off of Amazon.com, lately eBooks for my Kindle Paperwhite, and have also gotten my daughter a few things that she has used her own money to purchase. We also have Echo devices around the house, and some things in our home have become automated, thanks to those items.
Sometimes when you buy an item through Amazon, it is not something they are selling, but a third party is selling. When that happens, up to a week later you are contacted by the seller to help rate their product and boost their seller rating. Over the last several years, third-party sellers (or TPS as I will call it for the sake of having not to have to type it out continually) have tried to either scam the consumer with crappy merchandise, trying to steal their personal information, or get them to give fake or biased reviews to increase their seller rating on Amazon as well as their sales of their products.
I bought a pair of wireless headphones for my new phone a little over a month ago. After I received the product, the seller “hounded” me with multiple emails to rate their product, and then sign up for some online exercise program, which I’m sure was going to cost more money out of my pocket, or could have been a complete scam. Either way, I wasn’t going to take any chances.
I did leave a positive review on Amazon.com. The headphones worked great. Better than any wireless ones that I have had in the past. I’ve been pleased with them.
Then, I emailed the seller and told him to stop emailing me, or I will contact Amazon.com and let them know that I was being harassed. Nothing may have come of it, but it was worth telling them that to try to get them to stop.
It worked. I never heard back from the seller…until “Barbara” contacted me.
That is not her name. As I said, everyone I am mentioning wants their anonymity, and I am making sure to stand behind my word.
So, “Barbara” stated that she worked for the company that supplies the headphones, as well as audio and auto products. She had a proposition for me. She saw my reviews that I had left on Amazon.com and would like me to be a part of their Early Reviewer Program. They would, for free, send me products that they sell, and ask that I review it on Amazon with an honest review, whether it was positive or not.
It becomes “fishy” from here.
“Barbara” wanted my credit card information so that I can pay for the product first, and then they would reimburse me the cost offsite. Or, they would send me a gift card with the exact amount to purchase the product and ask that I give a review within a week of receiving the product. There were other things, like pictures of the products, showing or explaining how they work, and maybe even leave a video showing the product on Amazon’s site. All to increase sales. Remember, I don’t have to like the product, just leave an honest review.
Well, I’ve been living long enough to know about having your identity stolen, so giving my credit card was out of the question. I told “Barbara” that I would be willing to participate if they sent me a gift card to purchase the product.
The next email then asked for either my credit card information again, or my PayPal information.
Um, no. I told “Barbara” I wanted the gift card like she stated or no deal.
The other thing you have to keep in mind is that I’m actually having fun sending emails back and forth to this company. I am trying to get my way while keeping my Amazon account untainted. I scoured the internet about the company, Amazon scams, Early Reviewer Programs on Amazon.com, and whether there were any scams involved with those. I learned a lot over 72 hours.
The final outcome was this: “Barbara” profusely apologized for asking for my personal account information, sent me a link to the product that opened up in my Amazon app, not the website (or one made to look like it), and then sent me a gift card with the exact dollar amount on it to be used to purchase the item.
Game. Set. Match.
I concluded my emails to them thanking “Barbara” for the opportunity to work with them, and I will leave an honest review, as well as the photos and video that they asked for, plus some bonus marketing that they were not expecting. I figure, if I like the product, I should boast about it and tell others about it too!
The second sign of faith, in a slightly evil way on my part, but still positive. I get to work more on my writing, which is what I love to do.
Now, for the final piece of faith.
I saw one of my doctors today. She asked me how I was doing, and noticed that I was smiling. I told her everything that has happened in the last few weeks, and how positive my life has become. Plus, I’m finally going to get paid for doing something that I love to do. I have the motivation that I didn’t have before, and I needed that.
She was interested in the side job I had with the content mill. I explained to her all about it, because it is patient privacy behind those doors. So, I told her everything.
She was very interested. She knew that I was wanting to write, and was well spoken. She asked what would it be if someone were to write for someone else, as that person. I explained to her that is more of ghostwriting. She then proceeded to ask if she could hire me for the same price I am getting paid by the firm I am working for, to write a paper for her. Seeing as this was going to be another excellent opportunity to stretch my legs, I agreed to help her out.
Faith wins again.
I’m not a religious man. Far from it. But, what has happened over the last few weeks is obviously a sign that something in the world is changing for the better, and in essence, isn’t that kind of what faith is about? Having faith that things will get better? That life will work out, somehow?
When I was in AA, they wanted me to believe in faith. I couldn’t at that time. I was “damaged goods.” But, I think now that there is some form of…something…going on in my life.
I’m obviously on a new “road” in my life, and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.