When I first started my adult writing career it was nothing serious; five blogs a week, particularly about mental illness and parenting. I had a small following, but a loyal following that made me feel like my voice was worth something. When I was writing my blog I felt a sense of peace; I was following my dreams of becoming a writer, and sure I wasn’t writing books like I always hoped I would, but I was dipping my toe comfortably in the pond.

When I least expected it a very personal article of me about suicidal ideation took off. Eventually, it was picked up by a mental health organization and it went viral. A year after it went viral it even became a video that received almost 30 million views on Facebook. Going viral gave me the confidence to pursue a writing career. People heard me, at one of my most vulnerable times, and understood what I was trying to say. My words were well received. People liked me, they really liked me.

A few months after my article went viral I decided to take a chance and write a memoir. I released a publication date before even writing the book. I hired a cheap editor because I thought if an unedited article went viral, then why waste good money on a good editor? I was naive. I was overly confident and under-researched. I had no clue what I was doing, but I was in too deep.

This flawed logic and failed work logic caused me to become manic. My words weren’t making sense, I had high anxiety. It caused me not to be able to write, and then fearing the deadline instead of pushing it out, I rushed my thoughts. I ended up producing a really awful book. But I went along with it and kept promoting it. Not even a year later I was so ashamed of the work that I unpublished. I stopped blogging. I never wanted to write again.

You go through dark phases and periods when you give up your passions. I entered a really severe depression. I went to group therapy, one on one therapy, I took medications, I received Reiki healing, I tried experiencing and eating better. I did everything Google told me to do when I was depressed. I wanted answers and relief, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. My soul felt like it was missing from my body. I was going through the motions of the day without really living. Happiness evaded me. Those were dark days that I couldn’t find light in. There had never been a time in my life that I felt less of myself.

I was afraid to write because not only had I tasted success in my career, but I had also seen a lack of it. For me, the happiness could only last so long with going viral. With the defeat of writing a mediocre book, I was consumed with failure.  The fear of failing again kept me paralyzed to the point that for a few years I gave up my dream, burying it deep within me. I allowed myself to be frozen in time. After a while the fear of failing felt like failure itself. Something had to give; I couldn’t live with the fact that I may never write again. I knew somewhere, buried deep within me, I could write something brilliant, something that could change the world. Even more, I knew I could write something that would save me from my darkness, and would bring happiness back into my life.

I started buying books filled with writing prompts and finding resources on Pinterest. I started by writing for me; short stories that I would only share with my family. I even returned to my fiction roots and stopped writing about my personal life on such an intimate level. I decided to keep writing about mental health, though. I wanted to offer realistic representation in a world that makes out people with mental illness as villains or quirky sidekicks. I wanted to offer legitimacy and realism. I found my voice again; and although the fear of failing once again haunts me, I know that if I write for me, try my best, and write when it feels natural, I can be a successful writer in my own eyes.

Tea Jay is a 24-year-old writer and Reiki Master based out of New England. Her writing goal is to bring awareness of mental health to children, teenagers, and young adults through literature by offering a realistic and shocking view on the matter. Tea Jay is currently a stay at home mom and spends most of her time with her son, Jack.