Interview with JS Gariety and Ludlow Adams
Authors JS Gariety and Ludlow Adams interview each other. Originally a class project for an MFA course.
Q&A about The Weight of Gold and the blog:
What is your experience with mental illness?
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depressed mood when I was about 14 years old, but I’d been experiencing those symptoms my entire life. I’ve been in and out of therapy and on various medications since then. After giving birth to my first child, I was diagnosed with PTSD and post-partum OCD, as well as post-partum depression. In adulthood, I’ve been misdiagnosed with ADHD and bipolar II. I am now diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. Each new diagnosis traced the root of my mental illnesses further back, until we found the right label. My PTSD diagnosis came after medical trauma, but later was traced back to an assault in college. Years after discovering that trauma, I learned my initial trauma happened much much earlier in my life than I’d previously thought possible. And now I believe we’ve traced things far enough back to truly understand what’s going on in my brain. The dissociative diagnosis is finally the correct one.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember. I started with poetry and eventually started writing novels. As an adult I found creative nonfiction and it became my favorite genre. Now I write personal essays, flash fiction, and novels.
Is The Weight of Gold based on your real life?
Yes and no. I pulled inspiration from my own experiences and turned them into stories I thought many more women could widely relate to. I was also inspired by other women in my life and hope my stories honor them.
What chronic illnesses do you have?
I have psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, alopecia areata, endometriosis, PCOS, diabetes as a PCOS complication, and probably some other things yet to be discovered. Autoimmune issues often come in multiples. I hope by sharing my experiences I can bring hope to other sufferers and show them they aren’t alone.
The Weight of Gold features themes of infertility and pregnancy loss. Are those themes inspired by your own life as well?
I had to have a hysterectomy for my endometriosis. It did so much damage, my uterus was fused to my pelvic wall with scar tissue. I also had a miscarriage before getting pregnant with my first child. Both pregnancies for my biological children had complications. My body couldn’t handle it, and my daughter was born two months early. It was shortly after her birth that my arthritis symptoms began. My doctors agreed I should not get pregnant again. But Rose, who experiences infertility in The Weight of Gold, experiences complications and infertility that I think is more representative of a wider spectrum of experiences. I wanted as many women as possible to feel seen reading this book. So my experiences, while they assisted me in writing the emotional journey Rose goes through, aren’t the true inspiration for Rose’s fertility struggles. I’ve met many, many women who’ve been through hell trying to start a family. Rose’s story is for them.
What does For the Latin “Coeur” mean?
Years ago my father showed me Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. That talk changed my life. In her TED talk, Brown explores the etymology of the word “courage.” The root of courage, “coeur,” means heart. Courage literally translates to: “to tell the whole story of your heart.” This is what it means to be vulnerable. That day I vowed to be vulnerable, and my blog became a way for me to do that. I have since become a big fan of Brown’s research and highly recommend her books.
Are you over sharing?
It’s a hard balance between courage and over sharing when you’re trying to be vulnerable. I am not perfect at it, but I try to only share the things I feel others will connect to. My purpose in sharing is to connect with other people in their walks of life because of some experience we relate to. If it won’t create connection, I don’t share it.