Guest Post Michael Offutt, Author of SLIPSTREAM

Please welcome Michael Offutt, author of SLIPSTREAM, to my blog. He’s a gentleman and a scholar and I’m honored to host him today.

Since I’m guest posting on a blog run by a Psychiatrist, I thought I’d talk about mental illness.  What I say isn’t medical. It’s personal. It’s the relationship between my mother and me.

Recently I made the decision to put my mother in a care facility (this was really hard).  At the time I’m writing this post, my small family believes that it should be an assisted living complex and not necessarily a nursing home. But I don’t know if that will work. My mom has pretty severe schizophrenia. She constantly speaks to people who aren’t there, she refuses to take meds, and becomes enraged to the point of racing around the house all night looking for things and calling people horrible names.  My dad can’t sleep (he says she’s killing him slowly through exhaustion).  She also accuses people of stealing jewelry and possessions. When she’s calmer, she laughs with these invisible people and serves them tea.  She’ll have all these cups out filled with tea and is the only one drinking.

In my last visit, she was walking around the house with a butcher knife.  I asked her calmly, “What are you doing with that?” She was very upset, shaking. She said she was going next door to the neighbor to kill a panther that had swallowed the dog. They needed a knife to cut the dog out of the panther’s belly.  She got the idea of the panther implanted in her head because we had just watched a Geico commercial that had a black panther in it.  Somehow…the image stuck and became a permanent memory. But there’s no way I was going to allow her to walk next door and pound on it with a butcher knife in her hand.  The neighbors are terrified of her.

In my book SLIPSTREAM I have a villain who is the product of an all-powerful mind that has gone insane.  He isn’t evil per se. Rather, he’s terrified of his own death. So much so, that he’s dreamt up all of the ways in which someone or something could harm him and (in protecting himself from that harm) has brought the world to the brink of destruction.

His insanity cannot be reasoned with, it cannot be assuaged, and there is no logic to it.

It’s exactly the same kind of thing I encounter when talking with my mother. When she is terrified there is no reasoning with her.  She has no logic to any of her actions.  In my view, she has completely lost her mind.  The difference between her and the villain in my book is that my villain has god-like power. I have read that no villain is truly evil. Well for me that’s definitely true and hope that you find it intriguing enough to warrant a closer look at some point.

Do any of you have personal experiences you would like to share that relate to mental illness?

I have a contest for the release of my book.  I will pick one random person who comments on this post to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card and a SLIPSTREAM jeweled spider (the same person wins both prizes). The jeweled spider really sparkles in the sunlight. I hope whoever wins it really likes it. Also, please make sure that your email is linked to your signature in some way. And yes, the crystal spiders play an important role in my book.


1)     Mark my book “To Read” on Goodreads.

2)     Comment on this post.

3)     Tweet this post if you have twitter. You don’t have to sign-up for twitter. It’s the “honor” system.

That’s it. I will choose a winner on Saturday, May 19th.  And thank you, Laura, for having me on your fine blog.

Thanks again, Michael. I really appreciate what you shared about your mom. *hugs*

I wish you the best of successes with SLIPSTREAM!

20 comments on “Guest Post Michael Offutt, Author of SLIPSTREAM

  1. Laura, I’m glad you’re hosting Michael.

    Michael, you made the right decision. She was at the point she could harm herself or others. It’s just sad. There is no way to feel good about the situation no matter what you do.

  2. Sorry you’re having to go through the anguish of dealing with your mother’s illness.

  3. roguemutt says:

    Jeez, I never knew Geico commercials could be so dangerous.

  4. E.Arroyo says:

    I’m sorry about your mom. Yes. I have family members with mental illness and have worked in the community providing services to family and individuals with mental illness. It is devastating, not only to the individual but to loved ones as well. I think you did the right thing and it’s okay to think about your own personal health. I’m sure your family member would not want anyone to suffer on her account.

  5. H. Renee says:

    I’m sorry things with your mother are such a struggle.

    My personal experiences with mental illness are much milder if devastating in their own way. My mother and I are both Bipolar, she much less so than I am. I struggle with odd paranoias (The world is ending; we must grow food! People will break in, block the doors and windows!), rarely hallucinations (floating bubbles, bobble headed, huge eyed cats, red eyed dogs heralding my death, colors that bleed off of objects) and delusions. This is in addition to the standard mood swings, but my swings are not the 2-4 a year that a lot of people have but rather, right now, 1 about every week to week and a half. Rapid cycling Bipolar I.

    It can be crippling, and I have to closely examine anything I do to be sure I’m not acting in an irrational or hurtful manner. Some days I’m more functional and able to care for myself than others, and at this time I’m unable to work.

    My mother has Bipolar II, and her swings are much slower, stretching four and five months at a time. She has a much harder time coping with depression though than I do. For me, if I can stick it out, the depression passes in a week. For her, it’s months of hell.

    We are both med compliant, substance clean, and we have strong support systems in place that help care for us. Life is often very, very difficult, and we struggle, but I’m glad to be me. Being sick has given me an awareness of other people’s struggles and illnesses, and this has helped me build and maintain, through sensitivity, strong friendships.

    I thought you might find our experiences interesting. 🙂

  6. Elise Fallson says:

    Hello Laura Diamond, nice to meet you!

    Michael, I’m so sorry you have to go through this. There is no easy way but for all it’s worth, I support your decision of putting your mother in a care facility. In my family there is someone who suffers from anorexia/bulimia and has been for the last 15 years. She will be “fine” for a few months, and then all of a sudden she will stop talking and will lock herself in her room only to come to binge on food for a few minutes and then disappears again. It is a disease that prevents her from integrating successfully into society.She has been through all kinds of treatments in the past but at the moment she refuses to be helped in any way.

  7. Your mother is very lucky to have a son like you. 🙂

    Cherie Reich – Author

  8. mooderino says:

    Very interesting post. Although crazy relatives are a great source of inspiration for characters (when they aren’t driving you crazy, that is).

  9. @Theresa: I think it’s the right decision, but dad has been fighting me on it for three weeks.

    @Alex: Thanks for the kind sentiments, Alex.

    @Mutt: Yeah Geico is dangerous.

    @E.Arroyo: I agree.

    @H.Renee: That is interesting. Thank you for sharing. I have a friend that is bi-polar and it causes some issues in her life. She’s trying to deal with it, but finds it very difficult to work in today’s demanding world because of the challenges she has to face.

  10. Andrew says:

    Oh… that puts your whole ZERO story into a whole different perspective. Very interesting!

    Spyder Spyder burning bright…
    I want the spider!

  11. This all fascinating. As the mother of a woman with severe autism, MR, bi-polar, OCD, and a seizure disorder we have nicknamed Wookie because we must usually let her win or have our arms torn off, I understand the distress. But it is also interesting.

  12. Sarah Ahiers says:

    I actually have very little experience with mental illness. I have a cousin with pretty severe mental illness, but she’s on meds and has a part time job and has generally done very well the last 5 years or so, but that’s really my limit.

  13. Thanks for sharing your experiences with your mother, Michael. That must have been very difficult to make that decision.

    My stepson … has a personality disorder. It was difficult to live with. Husband and I named those the years of hell. It truly was. The health care system for mental illness is the worst. It’s a travesty really.

  14. Belle says:

    I’m sorry about your mother and I’m sure you did the right thing. I have a mental illness myself: OCD, depression and social phobia.

    My nephew is now in a mental hospital for threatening to kill his mother and commit suicide. He is completely delusional now. This happened after a fall at work where he hit his head. He was fine for awhile but quit taking his medication. The doctor said he was fine.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Wonderful post, Michael. I wish you luck on getting your mother the proper care. The strongest characters really are born from those we’ve known in real life.

  16. Tonja says:

    That sounds really difficult. I think you did the right thing, but I know saying that doesn’t make it easier.

  17. Laura says:

    Michael-great post, and as usual, very honest. I think you’re brave to have made the choice – only you and your family could know when this had to happen. I’m glad to have read this before your book – I’ll be interested to see your influences coming through.

    Congrats on the end of your tour – and Laure, great to meet you
    Laura B x

  18. Misha says:

    It’s very brave of you to write about your mother. My father has clinical depression, but I don’t really write about it.

  19. Ciara Knight says:

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had so many struggles with your mom’s illness. For years I worked at the VA with PTSD and acute Psych. It was tough. I think it is most difficult for the families.

    You already know that I own your book. 😉

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