Anne Slease taught middle school English teacher for over twenty years. Though she'd written many short stories and essays for her students, it wasn't until her own personal life took an unexpected turn that she considered writing for a broader audience.
Just weeks after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Anne began writing about her troubled relationship with her older son, then 20, on a blog she called Still Hopeful Mom. It had been two years since he walked out her door refusing to accept his mental illness and refusing to accept help.
Over the next few months, Anne wrote their story beginning in 2010 when her son then 18, first showed signs of his illness. He was treated as an outpatient in a mental health facility, came home with a handgun that he'd purchased from a fellow patient, and intended to use it to end his own life. Instead, his younger brother, 13, found the gun and nearly shot himself with it, thinking it was a toy.
With her blog, Anne vented her frustrations about the mental health care system. She documented her son's struggles with community college classes, part time jobs and substance abuse. She wrote about the stigma that kept her son from accepting his diagnosis, the same stigma that kept her writing under the pseudonym Still Hopeful Mom for so long. And she admitted her fear of losing her son for good. She expected she'd receive a phone call one day that would either say, "Your son has been arrested," or "Your son is dead."
In March of 2013, that phone call came. He'd been been arrested. Charged with multiple felonies, yet having no previous criminal record, he spent nearly three years in prison. Though he wasn't able to get help in time to avoid very serious consequences, Anne and her family are grateful that he is alive today. Today he makes choices grounded in recovery, and he and his family are optimistic about the future.
Their family's experiences have inspired Anne to advocate for mental health awareness. Active with her local NAMI chapter, she has spoken at events ranging from police officer trainings to candlelight vigils. She was honored with the 2015 NAMI Delaware Volunteer of the Year Award. She has written for the International Bipolar Foundation as well as other mental health-related websites while she still maintains her own blog, StillHopefulMom.com. In 2014, she and her younger son were featured in a documentary called Semper Est Sperare: Always Hope, a film about mental illness and its stigma by director Tim Hill. She also works as a National Presenter for Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing violence through education programs such as "Say Something" and "Start with Hello."
Anne's first young adult novel, A Brother's Oath , tells the story of Dylan Truman, a high school freshman, who witnesses his basketball star older brother Cole spiral into the depths of mental illness following a serious knee injury. Dylan must decide if a brother's oath is worth keeping. This novel was inspired by real events that took place in her home during her older son's high school years. She wanted to explore the way mental illness impacts more than just the person diagnosed, it impacts loved ones, too. She also hopes to expose young people to the realities of mental illness and encourage anyone affected by it to find the help they need.
Anne recently concluded her 25-year teaching career to pursue her passion for mental health advocacy full time. She works for NAMI Delaware as Director of Advocacy and Education. She lives in Newark, Delaware with her family.
|Anne Slease - Author & Mental Health Advocate||
about anne slease