Mental health plays a vital role in a healthy life. According to a report, 5 per cent of adults experience mental health struggles, which is about 43.8 million people. Isn’t that a huge number?

While many seek professional care, some are not open about it and keep things to themselves. And with time, as the number of mental illness cases continues to rise, it is getting more and more important for people to step in and cope with it.

To give people hope, and inspire them to fight with their mental health struggles, we at Sapne would like to share a story of a lady who chose not to wave the white flag but fight all her mental health hurdles with writing.

Meet Kristen Granata

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kristen has always been a shy kid. School was something she was good at, but she was too shy to raise her hand or participate in any activity. “I only had one or two best friends and I didn’t like to socialize with anyone,” said Kristen. “High school was especially difficult because kids can be so judgmental and cruel.”

Later, she moved to Staten Island with her family and lived there for almost twenty years. There she attended community college and became a teacher. However, things didn’t go as smoothly later in her life!

Kristen was having an unhappy married life, and at the age of 29, she had to go through a difficult divorce. She also had to undergo shoulder surgery and was stuck in the house with nowhere to go. Suffering from anxiety and depression, she was having a tough time.

But, Kristen didn’t give up! She chose to step in and fight. And as they say, “it just needs a little courage” and you can be the strongest person on earth — she showed that courage and chose to do what she always wanted to do — WRITE!

“I’ve always had a passion for writing, but I didn’t know it could actually amount to anything until a few years ago,” said Kristen.

It was one of those tough days when my friend recommended me a book to read, and while I was reading it, I said to myself, “I can do this. I can write something like this.” And then I just started writing a story that poured out of me.

Later I thought, I can publish a book as well. I researched how to self-publish and then I did it.”

Kristen has successfully published and sold several books to date. Today, she is doing what she loves — writing, helping people with mental health struggles, demonstrating the ability of love to heal trauma, reading, Instagramming, indulging in her messy love affair with popcorn, and annoying her wife and step-daughters by incessantly singing along to The Greatest Showman soundtrack.

In Her Own Words

Writing definitely helped and continues to help me with mental health issues. It allows me a safe space to pour my emotion into something and work it out through the characters. It’s almost like giving myself advice through the advice I have my characters give each other!

I try to talk about depression and anxiety in my books as a way to make it relatable to those who struggle, as well as those who don’t understand it. There’s something in it for everyone! And this has given me a following of readers who also struggle with the same things.

Even my Instagram account has almost become a mental health account because people engage with me a lot in regards to my struggles that I’ve shared there and in my books. I try to make uplifting, inspiring posts because I know people who are suffering, need to hear that, and need to feel like they’re not alone!

To know more about her journey as an author, we asked Kristen a couple of questions and here’s what she answers:

Tête-À-Tête with Kristen Granata

Sapne (S): Tell us about your first book.

Kristen Granata (KG): My first book is called “Collision.” It’s about a girl who went through a lot of tragedies in her family. Her mother abandoned her, her father committed suicide, and then she got into a car accident and ended up in a coma for two weeks. She wakes up alone and bitter, trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her life. Then she meets a guy who shows her a different perspective on things, and slowly she begins to come out of her depression. It’s a romance, but really it’s a story about self-love and overcoming hardships.

S: How did you scale your writing journey from there?

KG: I never intended on creating a series, but once I finished “Collision,” it turned into a four-book series.

I learned a lot about how to write, how to “show and not tell,” and I learned about marketing. I’ve grown a following of readers as well, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

S: Which book (the one you have written) is your favourite and why?

KG: “Collision” will always be my favourite because of the emotional and personal touches I added into it. I wrote it during a dark time in my life so that book serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

S: As a writer, what all sacrifices you had/have to make?

KG: I sacrifice a lot of my time as a writer. I work a full-time job and I have a family, so my free time is limited. When I actually get the time, I spend it writing. It can interfere with doing other tasks or responsibilities that I have to do.

I also spend a lot of money trying to market my book and get it in the hands of readers. I don’t make much as a new author, so I’m spending my own money to do it.

S: Do you have a role model? If yes, who is s/he and why?

KG: I don’t like making people role models, because it holds them to such an impossible standard. But that being said, I really look up to author Kandi Steiner for how she created her success and how she shares her knowledge with other new authors.

S: What’s that one thing you want to do for the rest of your life?

KG: In the future, I’d love to be a well-known author who is able to quit her day job and write full-time.

Fingers crossed!

A Piece Of Advice For All The Aspiring Writers

DON’T GIVE UP! There are going to be many, many times when you question yourself. Just don’t give up. It’s not an easy task to become a successful author, and there are going to be highs and lows along your way. Keep going. Don’t doubt yourself. And don’t listen to those negative 1-star review trolls!

By Harshajit Sarmah

Harsh is a writer/blogger/podcaster/vlogger. A passionate music lover whose talents range from dance to video making to cooking. Football runs in his blood. Like literally! He is also a self-proclaimed technician and likes repairing and fixing stuff. When he is not writing, you can find him reading or watching videos or listening to podcasts that teach him new things.

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