Publishing My Memoir!


(This is a very bad mock-up of the cover. Also, Michelle will be changed to Ginger because when you search for Michelle McGee on Google…well, just see for yourself.)

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1 in 360 (approximately 138,000 US children) have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, based on parent report.

Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just once, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive as I perceive. Look, experience, examine, and for once, just once, understand.
-Author Unknown 

He’s Not Broken, is a 16 chapter 65,000 word, non-fiction, autobiographical book of a mother and son’s journey to healing and acceptance. An inspirational testimony of how a life filled with challenges – OCD, Tourette’s, Anxiety – can be used as a vehicle to engage in a proactive approach, rather than a life of silence and denial, it teaches us all that reaching out to others can make a difference.

I began writing He’s Not Broken 10 years ago. 10 years! I did have an agent express interest and request edits, but I’m almost embarrassed to say that those edits took me 5 years. Life happened. OCD happened. Anxiety happened. And every time I sat down to work on edits, I had to face the pain of all those years of struggle. Maybe I needed to take that long in order to have some time away from the story, so that I could make it even stronger in hindsight.

That said, since I have been carrying this book baby for 10 long years, I really need to bring it into the world now.

I believe in He’s Not Broken. I feel certain that it’s a book many will find helpful – caregivers, parents, family members – anyone who has a close connection to someone who requires special needs.

It’s the book I needed when Jake was first diagnosed. It’s the book that would have made me feel less alone. And, even though I certainly had support from family, it wasn’t the same. I needed a friend who could listen, but more than that I needed someone who had navigated the same waters, the same emotions. I want He’s Not Broken to be my stand-in since I can’t reach out personally to everyone. More than anything, I want my book to give others hope.

That’s where you guys come in. I hate asking for things, but He’s Not Broken needs to be available sooner rather than later.

If I’m going to self-publish, I’m going to do it right. That means lots of self-promotion, and a bit of an investment upfront.

I will need about $2500 to get this book out there. That will/should cover the following costs:

cover and interior design
purchase of ISBN number
marketing and publicity
book trailer
promotional copies of book

AND THERE WILL BE CAKE! Ok, maybe not cake, but I have some incentives/rewards to offer as a thank you to all who donate!

And for everyone who donates I will be forever grateful for your support!  Please click this link: /Widgetflex.swf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Help Me Publish!!!





Got Compassion?

An original piece of my artwork inspired by two beautiful compassionate children – Pippa and Sunna


“Oh I don’t know, Tourette’s can be kind of fun. I knew someone with TS and he would throw the “F” word around all the time,” the stranger said with a laugh.

Silence. Suddenly I was bombarded by the image pain of Jake sticking his finger down his throat hundreds of times a day. I was reminded of the time I stood in the kitchen doorway, unknown to him, as he repeatedly punched himself in the stomach, tears running down his face. He was six. I recalled the angry stares of strangers who judged him every time we were out. And I felt my words stick in my throat as they so often do.

Sadly, this is a scenario that has played out in many forms over the years. I have since learned to speak out for Jake and other people like him who live with the suffering that accompanies Tourette’s and OCD. I can assure you none of them are having fun.

When Jake was diagnosed I was under the impression that his biggest problem would be peer bullying. Kids can be cruel. What I have learned instead, is that adults tend to be the worst bullies of all.

Over the years I’ve wondered about this. Why, when adults have so much more life experience, are so many lacking in compassion? How do they justify such insensitive remarks?

As adults we tend to inhabit our own space, both physically and mentally. The longer we remain earthbound, the easier it is for us to grow cynical and care less and less about the “big” world, concentrating instead on our personal lives. Unless a person’s life has been touched in some way by disability, and special needs, I think they just don’t get it. Instead, they are driven by the media’s skewed stereotypes.

All people with Tourette’s curse. False. Less than 10% are afflicted with coprolalia – a tic that causes them to use obscene language. I once met a twelve year old boy who was deaf because one of his tics was to box himself in the ears. I’ve seen a fifteen year old girl in a wheelchair because one of her tics was squatting while she walked. Hilarious,right?

All people with OCD are neat and are germaphobes. Just give them some hand sanitizer and all is well. False. Jake’s OCD immobilizes him at times, making him unable to leave the house. He struggles every day with repetitive thoughts and fears, causing him severe social anxiety. Good times, yeah?

Clearly, there is no humor in these conditions or any others.

So what’s different about how children process these differences. I think that children are simply more connected to the world than we are. They are newer beings on this Earth and are naturally curious. They haven’t been media-trained in the ways of callousness. We have so much to learn from them, and such a responsibility to protect them from becoming hard-edged.

But I think it’s important to note that compassion is more than just caring. As connected Beings we all need to practice empathy more than sympathy. And if we allow ourselves to reconnect with our spiritual side (not religious – that’s completely different and man-made), we will realize that it’s our natural state because we are all connected.

So how about you? Got Compassion?

Just Keep Moving

*This post is honest. It is painful to write, but I feel that it needs to be said for those who can’t say it.

Jake on a very bad day

My son bears the weight of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) daily, but this post is not for him. This post is for the parents and loved ones who must learn how to live with OCD as well. I do not wish to take away from the burden he carries; believe me, I have seen him crippled by this intrusive, invisible bully and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Half a day’s worth of gloves

But I am here to acknowledge the others who are involved in this journey alongside them. I am here to remind you that we, too, face a bully. However, our bully is easily recognizable every time we pass a mirror.

How often have you retreated behind the safety of a closed, locked door and screamed into a pillow? How many times have you been blinded by the hot tears of frustration as you drive anywhere just to get away? And how familiar is the feeling of guilt that gnaws at you for all the times that you lost it, yelling at your son out of anger? The emotional turmoil is unrelenting.

I have slammed doors and punched pillows.

I have felt so much pent up rage that I’ve resorted to hitting my thighs with fists clenched so tightly that my nails have drawn blood, just so the bruises on my legs hurt more than the ache in my heart.

I have escaped the tension with a few too many glasses of wine. And then slept through my sadness.

I have sat outside my son’s door listening to the quiet of him sleeping, pretending that he’s just like everyone else. Enjoying the silence maybe a bit too much.

 I have driven to an abandoned lot, turned the music up as loud as I can and screamed until my throat was raw and I was out of breath.

And each time I’ve berated myself with ugly, angry words.

The same kind of sharp words I have heard my son use on himself on his worst days as he curls up in his chair, the chair that is off limits to the rest of the family because we aren’t clean enough, and cries until he has nothing but shadows left inside him.

The same words I save for the days when I hate myself most. You are worthless. You are a burden. You can’t even help him. Loser. I can’t do this anymore.

 There are times that I think if only I had done this instead of that. Said these words instead of those. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad for him. Maybe he would be better. Maybe I’ve made it worse.

I make myself physically ill worrying over the things that I think I did wrong. But the truth is that on any given day, I’m doing the best I can. My best may not be perfect, but I. Am. Trying.

There is a song in the Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George that really resonated with me one day when I was out trying to walk off the voices in my head that were telling me how wrong I was.

Stop worrying where you’re going – Move on.

If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone.

Just keep on moving.

 I chose and my world was shaken- So what?

The choice may have been mistaken,

The choosing was not.

You have to move on.

 As parents and caregivers of kids with special needs, it’s easy for us to forget that the best thing we can do is to keep moving.

Some days we will move backwards, tripping over yesterday’s mistakes. Other days we will move forward full of a hope we can barely see. But the only thing that matters is that we are moving. We may not know where we are going, or how we are going to get there, but we will get there.

Yes, we are exhausted. We are overwhelmed. We are heartbroken. We are afraid. We are angry.

But we are here. We are here and we are moving.







Part of That World


Jake, before the world became too much

In the midst of my own personal revelations, I’m still struggling to deal with the pain of someone very close to me. My oldest son was diagnosed with Tourette’s at age six and OCD, anxiety, and depression at the age of eight. Over the years he has faced many challenges, all of which he has overcome. But when he is in the middle of a particularly bad one it seems that there is no light, only tunnel. And that’s where he is today.

My heart breaks for him because, although I know I can encourage him, I can’t “fix” his issues, only he can. As a parent, this is the worst feeling. I’ve always been able to fix the outside hurts, or find someone who can. It’s the inside hurts that prove to be the true problems.

Lately, it’s the social anxiety that is slowly killing his spirit. Warner and I were sitting on the deck talking the other day, amidst the wisdom of the whispering Georgia pines, and something he said stuck with me.

The night before, he and Jake had done some serious talking it out. Mostly Jake listening while Warner talked. I thank God that we are a close family, that at least Jake has that. So as they talked Warner told him he needed to “be where the people are”.

Of course, there is no way we could understand Jake’s social anxiety, but what we do know as adults who have been in the world a bit longer, is that most things are temporary. So we continue to encourage him, to suggest things that seem impossible to him right now. Things that he wants so badly.

So when Warner told me what he said, “be where the people are”, all I could hear was Ariel, The Little Mermaid, singing so sadly about her desire to, yep, you guessed it “be where the people are”, and I nearly lost it.

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see them dancin’
Walking around on those – what do you call ’em?
Oh – feet!
Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free – wish I could be
Part of that world
When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world
Because, for my Jake, he wants so much to be a part of a world that you and I live in every day without giving it much of a second thought. We go to the store, interact with the cashier, walk among a crowd, and we hardly even notice.
But it’s a struggle for Jake. He feels like he is being watched, and judged. Even going through a drive-thru is difficult because it requires interaction. Think about all of the little interactions you have experience on a daily basis. Now, imagine doing those things and feeling like you are being evaluated on each and every move you make, every word you say, all the while knowing you are inadequate – so really, what’s the point?
Imagine wanting to meet people, to have friends, to socialize, but being too afraid to talk because you don’t want to be criticized, so you remain alone…and miserable. It’s not a choice. It’s a prison.
And watching a person that you love, that you respect, and that you see so much awesomeness in go through this is heartbreaking.
All I can do is love him. All I can do is be there for him, and believe in him. The rest is in his hands. But I will be holding those hands, and helping him every step of the way no matter how long it takes. Even though he may feel lonely, I can promise him this, he will never be alone as long as I’m around.

Memoir excerpt

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, He’s Not Broken: A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance. My son Jacob was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of six, and OCD at the age of eight.

Just when we thought we had seen the worst of Jacob’s urges, a new one emerged that completely changed our passive course of action.  We had a wake-up call that brought us to our knees. Our child was sick and we couldn’t help him on our own.

Lately, Jacob had been struggling with a compulsion to put small objects in his mouth, and to touch electrical cords to his tongue. It was as if I had a toddler again. At first he was able to find ways to “trick” the urge by touching the object to his lips.

Although we knew it was something he couldn’t help, we were lost and scared about what could happen, so we reverted to threatening him which only made things worse.  With each threat, Jacob’s stress level would rise, which would, in turn, make his tics and urges rise as well.

I walked into his room one night, and was floored by the measures he had taken to protect himself from this thing that controlled him.  Sitting on the floor playing with his beloved Legos Jacob looked up at me with his mouth covered in Scotch tape.  It took a minute for me to realize why he had done this.  I had to walk out of the room so that he couldn’t see me crying.

I went into Warner’s studio where he was working on an illustration of Pablo from the Backyardigans.

“Jacob has his mouth taped shut,”  I managed to say.

“What?  Why?” he asked.

“So that he can play with his Legos and not worry about putting one in his mouth.  He can’t even play like a regular kid, Warner.”  I fell apart.