Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution
A Guest Post by Erin Jensen
I think the concept for any story begins with a why or a what if. We writers are constantly looking at the world around us and asking, what if? As a pharmacist, I’ve spent a fair share of time around mentally ill individuals. In college, I did a hospital rotation on a psychiatric floor where the elevator could only be accessed by key, and I’ve worked in the community pharmacy setting for years. Throughout my career, I’ve conversed with mentally ill individuals at various points along the spectrum of sanity—from the properly medicated high functioning mental patient, to the unmedicated schizophrenic who has lost much of their grasp on reality—and in every conversation, no matter how coherent, I’ve looked into their eyes and seen a soul struggling to connect with the world around them. I’ve witnessed the devastating effects that a traumatic brain injury or a stroke or temporary deprivation of oxygen can have on an individual’s personality and their ability to function in the world. I’ve been moved to tears during conversations with the spouses of Alzheimer’s patients who watch the love of their life slip away from them and become a stranger on a daily basis. And I’ve found myself wondering why it has to be this way. What happens to the person trapped inside that malfunctioning mind, and where is that soul when their own brain fails them? My story is a work of fantasy, but it stems from my own desire to understand why some souls are forced to endure so much suffering, trapped within the prisons of their own faulty minds.
DREAM WATERS is the result my what if questions. What if we only lived half of our life in this world? What if the reason we were all so fascinated by stories of magic and fairytales and mythical creatures was that some part of us recognized them for what they truly were—not fantasy, but reality from a forgotten part of our life? I imagine the Dream World as a place where the souls who are lost to us in this world still exist, where these tortured individuals can still love their soul mates and act and speak as they were always meant to. My what if fictional concept for DREAM WATERS supposes that when we sleep, the Waters come and carry us to another world where we take another form and live another life. Charlie Oliver has spent years of his life within the walls of mental institutions because he remembers the world that the rest of us forget and he sees the people around him morph to their dream forms in this world. In essence, DREAM WATERS is my fictional explanation for mental illness. It tackles the question, what if mentally ill individuals possessed a special ability—Dream Sight—that the rest of us were just incapable of understanding?
I believe all life is precious and every soul has a purpose and at its heart, DREAM WATERS is my fictional tribute to the struggles that many souls face everyday.
About Dream Waters
All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session.
Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.
About Erin Jensen
Erin Jensen is a part-time pharmacist and a full-time creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two amazing sons that she couldn’t be prouder of and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. She’s an unapologetic coffee addict, and her happy place is anywhere that she can sink her toes into sand and listen to waves crash onto shore with a good book in hand.
To purchase her books, click on the photos below. Dream Waters is only 99¢ on Kindle, and Dream World is $2.99.