Below is part one of my interview with Tiffany Fletcher, author of Mother Had A Secret. I read this book recently and couldn't put it down. Don't forget to post a comment and become a follower for a chance at winning a signed copy of the book.
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Me: Your book Mother Had A Secret is not what one might expect from an LDS (Mormon) author and publisher. Would you tell us a little about it?
TF: "Mother Had Secret" is the story of what life was like growing up with my mother who was diagnosed with . It is called "Mother Had a Secret" because we kept it a secret our entire childhood. The first time I told someone about my mother was my Mission President at the age of 21. The reason my mother suffered from such a serious mental illness is because she was sexually abused by my grandfather from the time she was very young until she was 18 and married my father. Because of the trauma she experienced, her mind dissociated from reality and alters were formed. The book talks about what life as like living with these alters, but also about how I learned to love and appreciate my mother despite her mental illness and how her sacrifices actually healed my family and the cycle of abuse that had been prevalent in the family for generations. Mental illness and abuse both carry such stigmas which is why I wrote this book. I wanted to talk about it and give others permission to do the same.
ME: Your story is honest and often painful. It must have taken a lot of courage to tell it. Many families who struggle with mental illness do so in silence. What prompted you to write your book?
TF: As I mentioned above, because mental illness carries such a stigma, I wanted to share my experiences so that others would feel free to do the same. We don't talk about mental illness because we are afraid of what other people will think, yet according to the National Institute on Mental Illness, 1 in 4 Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. Chances are that the people you meet everyday are suffering just as you and are just as afraid to share it. If we all started talking about it, we would realize that many of us are suffering and we wouldn't have to suffer in silence and carry our burdens alone. Talking about it was a scary thing. I was afraid of what people would say or how they would react, but I was more worried about the families out there who are suffering like my family suffered. We had little information and no health insurance for mental services, so we were left to manage on our own. There are others out there who think that they are alone. They need help and information, and this book is my way of making a difference.
ME: How has your book been received in the LDS community?
Surprisingly well. To be honest with you, I didn't think that it would go over very well and I was afraid about what people would say because growing up, some of the church members around us where not very kind to us and I was very up front and honest about that in the book. But I also pointed out that mental illness isn't accepted in any community, not just the LDS community. I think that by reading the book, members for the LDS church have learned more compassion towards those who are different than them. I have had hundreds of emails from people who have read the book and have found healing and solace from their own childhood scars. Within the LDS community, we try so hard to keep up the appearance of perfection and we dig deep and bury all those things that may not fit into our picture of perfection. That is what causes more sorrow and deeper depression, and ultimately isolates us from the healing that can come when we accept who we are and seek the help that we need. Mental illness is much more prevalent then anyone would like to think and this book has opened up the lines of communication and allowed people to talk about it, and to do more than just that, people are actually learning about mental illness and taking it upon themselves to help those who may be suffering from it. It has been an amazing experience. The response has been so overwhelmingly positive that I have been asked to speak about it at firesides and other engagements to help educate others on mental illness.
Tomorrow, Part Two of my interview with Tiffany Fletcher.