Writing as a Tool to Connect with Yourself with Tyvonne Conrad.
Tyvonne Conrad grew up in Pennsylvania interested in the structure and regiment the Boy Scouts offered. Little did he know, he would go on to find solace in this same structured life in the Marine Corps. His novel, “Gone In A Bit,” explores the complexities of mental health and the daily trials of living with schizophrenia. Through his writing, Tyvonne not only came to understand himself better while fighting the battle of schizophrenia but also offers a portrait of overcoming life’s struggles that serves as a life raft for others going through similar trials.
Could you delve deeper into the influence of your childhood in Pennsylvania on your sense of identity and creative pursuits?
Absolutely. Growing up in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania offered a lot of time for introspection and solitude. I was adopted and originally born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania which added unique layers and influenced my quest for self-discovery.
Transitioning from a serene countryside to the rigorous discipline of the Marines must have been a significant shift. How did these diverse experiences converge in your life's narrative?
Enlisting in the Marines post-high school stemmed from an intrinsic desire for challenge and the pursuit of adrenaline. While my Eagle Scout achievement instilled a love for structure, my military journey was a personal expedition, shaped by a thirst for growth and a commitment to discipline, which didn’t necessarily come from my family’s influence. Joining the military was something I always wanted to pursue, even as a Boy Scout. The military and the Boy Scouts also share a similar structure which is why I was interested in it.
The juxtaposition of a creative writer and a former Marine is intriguing. How did these seemingly disparate facets coalesce and shape your worldview?
Creativity was an integral thread woven into my life from early poetry contests to songwriting.
I always wanted to express myself as a child. So, I started writing songs and poetry. In elementary school, I won a poetry contest and I suppose that influenced me to keep writing.
I was also a quiet kid, I never really liked to talk to people and I wasn’t that social of a person. I always kept to myself, so that's something that stuck with me, I could always run to a notebook and write down how I was feeling and how my day was going. Writing became a sanctuary, a place to experience emotions and dive into self-introspection. That harmonized with the regimented lifestyle of the military, offering a means to express amidst structure.
Your diagnosis of schizophrenia in 2021 was a seismic shift in your life's trajectory. Can you elaborate on its impact on your creative process and the role of writing as a coping mechanism?
The diagnosis marked a paradigm shift, propelling writing beyond mere expression to a lifeline amidst depression. 2016 was when I started feeling the effects of schizophrenia, major depression, and disoriented thinking. I was also exiting the Marine Corps at this time, so I turned to my writing a lot. Writing became an anchor in navigating the complexities of schizophrenia. I used it as a tool to articulate chaos and seek solace amid turbulence.
Your book "Gone in a Bit" appears to encapsulate a deeply personal journey. What inspired you to translate these experiences into a literary work?
The genesis of "Gone In A Bit" arose from a fervent desire to illuminate the shadows cast by schizophrenia and because I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to create something that helped others too. It amalgamates real-world issues, religious undertones, and folklore, intending not just to shed light on mental health struggles but to offer a beacon of hope and understanding to others. Ultimately, it's about the daily life of somebody dealing with mental health issues, struggling in their life, and trying to succeed.
Amidst the disconnection caused by schizophrenia, how did writing serve as a tether back to your inner self? Writing emerged as a guiding light, anchoring fleeting emotions and thoughts into tangible expressions. It bridged the gap of disassociation, providing coherence amidst the labyrinthine haze of schizophrenia. It also was a way to help me understand versions of myself, both in the past and the present. For example, I knew that I loved being in the Boy Scouts, and I had achieved certain things during that time in my life. I knew I loved the structure during those experiences and then I went on to find that same structure in the Marine Corps, so there's a connection that can connect me to who I was then to who I am now. I wanted to turn this book into something that would shed light in the darkness.
For those contemplating writing as a means of self-connection, what advice would you impart based on your transformative journey?
Embrace any sparks of inspiration you might feel in your daily life, especially when writing. I find that those sparks of inspiration often illuminate profound self-discovery. Writing serves as a reflective mirror, fostering introspection, healing, and a deeper understanding of oneself. I would also encourage people to use writing or journaling as a flashlight in their darkness. Because what I wrote was my darkness and I wrote through the different perspectives I could view life with.
Beyond "Gone in a Bit," what lies on the horizon of your creative pursuits?
"The Paint That Covers Me," is a forthcoming expedition, delving deeper into the intricacies of disconnected realities in mental health. It seeks to resonate with readers on an immersive and empathetic level, inviting introspection and empathy.
Where can readers access "Gone In A Bit" and stay updated on your ongoing creative endeavors?
The book is available now and can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes And Noble. My website is: https://www.vinehouse.online/