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Ellie has published The Country Club, a book of her poems which illustrate her experiences in a psychiatric world, while at the same time attempting to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. As Ellie saw the similarities in her goals and mindyourmind's goals in promoting awareness around mental health, she was very happy to be interviewed for the website. The mindyourmind Street Team posed a few questions...

What inspires you to write?

My inspiration comes from a couple of things. For one, it is a terrific way to get out feeling and emotions in a healthy manner. I also think it is a good way to spread awareness of mental illness. Even if it just gets out to your friends or family, more people can understand mental illness.

How does playing softball, running, etc, affect your mood?

To be honest, softball, being a team sport, was sometimes a source of stress for me. I loved it, but I eventually had to quit for a variety of reasons. Running is another healthy release. It's exhilarating and lifts your mood up. I recommend that people try running.

In your poem, day 3, you wrote about finding a community through your experiences with mental illness. What sort of communities have you discovered and what sort of connections have you made through them? Do they offer you support, comfort, etc?

There are a lot of communities out there for mental illness. There is NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) that holds meetings every month. I have made connections with leaders of other organizations in order to volunteer with mental illness. You also find a community with others that have mental illnesses. They are generally the ones offering the most support and understanding.

By sharing your poetry online and through publishing what sort of connections do you hope to or have you made with other people?

I have made some connections with other people who are trying to spread awareness of mental illness. Writing, I hope more people will understand, and not view mental illness as a taboo subject. They need to realize we are just human.

What coping methods do you use when stressed, depressed, or struggling with your illnesses?

I actually was told by my therapist to make a list of 20 coping skills to use when I was struggling. I won't go through all of them, but they include calling friends, drawing, exercising, writing, and deep breathing skills.

What do you do to relax and have fun? What stress relievers do you use?

Hanging out with my friends is a big stress reliever. they all love me for who I am, and that is important in a friendship. I also exercise and just talk. Talking helps relieve a lot of stress for me.

Who are some of your heroes and what about them do you look up to?

My high school special ed teacher is a hero of mine (I was in special ed for two months due to a emotional disturbance) He was able to deal with me in a way I could handle. Another hero is my old dean. He saved my life and was the first person to know I cut. My family is another, for staying together through all the rough times. And lastly, my psychologist, he has always been there for me and has great advice.

What advice would you gvie to someone looking for help dealing with their own mental health issues?

Don't wait and think it will go away. And don't try to do it all alone. Communicate to others what you're feeling. If you're not comfortable with your parents, try a teacher, or a counselor, or even just a friend. The most important thing is knowing that you dont have to fight alone.

What pointers would you give someone who wanted to write or compile their own book?

First try to get published in small magazines. There is a book, Writers Market for poetry, that is a great source of places to submit your work to.

Do you hope to have more work published?

I do. However, I am going towards having more published in magazines first.

Photos by mindyourmind