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How Trauma Works

Mr. J. Peters
J Peters Author Interview

Wales High School shares your journey in high school and the events that led you to a psychiatric ward. What inspired you to write this autobiography?

I have spent so much time processing the challenging experience I had in college from my book University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy. I overlooked the importance of going back and revisiting what happened in High School. As a therapist, I appreciate how trauma works. Going back and getting a better understanding of the trauma I experienced before helped situate why the events, later on, manifested the way they did and gave me a better idea of the behavior patterns I kept repeating, which were so destructive. Also, I wanted to write a book that all people experiencing mental health struggles could relate. Not everyone goes to college and would appreciate University on Watch. Everyone goes to High School and struggles at some point. 

What is a common misconception you feel people have about mental health?

I think a common misconception about Mental Health is how it looks or appears/presents to others observing someone who is sick. Mental Health/illness looks very different depending on the diagnosis and how the person handles him or herself while sick. I have seen people of all dispositions and demeanors with various illnesses as a therapist. 

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest part was truly capturing my desperation. I was a desperate teenager and in a desperate situation. It wasn’t easy to both find the correct language and read what I have written without cringing. 

What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?

I have two other books available right now. One is a more petite ebook, Wales Middle School: the rise of J. Peters and Small Fingernails: Even Less love, both autobiographical. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

It’s the year 2003. Teenagers are messaging each other online, listening to punk music on MP3 players, and writing blogs on LiveJournal to fit in. One such teen is walking the halls of Wales High School with bright shirts, leather jackets, and blue hair: Jacques Peters. He’s determined to become best friends with one of the coolest guys in school, Davis Mavis. But he soon discovers that smoking, skipping class, and putting up a front aren’t as cool as they seem, particularly when mental health is involved. His friends gossip behind his back, push him out of their clique, and turn a blind eye to the cuts on his wrists. He’s dragged into a life that leads to a long stay in a psychiatric ward he hates, full of therapy, pills, and a strict routine.
That troubled teen is me.
When I was discharged, I was in a daze. Numbed by medication and left with few friends, I spent my days listening to music and giving my teachers lip. Eventually, on a cold winter night home alone, I posted a single word on my blog: “goodbye.” I took a cocktail of pills and hoped to slip into an endless sleep.

Wales High School: First Diagnosis

Wales High School: First Diagnosis (J Peters Autobiography) by [J. Peters]

The Wales High School: First Diagnosis, by J. Peters, is a memoir talking about the first diagnosis of his mental disease. Who could’ve guessed that the blue-haired, chain-smoking teen Jacques was once an academically bright kid straying far away from any social interaction, let alone drugs. The account starts with freshman year at Wales High School, where Jacques is any other academically bright but socially challenged teenager, trying to fit in with the cool kids. It follows his development through high school, and how he ultimately wins the recognition award for “Most Changed”.

The language of the book is crisp and engaging. It hooks the readers right from the first chapter. The book does a fantastic job of describing how mental illness is seemingly invisible to the patient, and how in their mind, their actions are perfectly rational. The book talks about life before the mental health issues arose and shows readers the events that led up to them and then explains what was going through the patient’s mind during treatment.

This is a true to the soul account of a mental health survivor, the book is free from all the glamorization and undertones of extreme morbidity that often are found in books on similar topics. Rather than catch the readers’ eye, the author simply states his story, a true account. This honesty hooks the reader and made me want to know more and dive deeper.

While this is a thought-provoking and authentic story, I felt that the book did not provide a deeper insight into the feelings of Jacques. Even though it does a brilliant job of talking about the thoughts and explaining what a mental health patient thinks, I wanted it to be more emotive. I felt that a deeper dive into the emotions and subconscious of Jacques would have added a greater depth to the entire account.

I really enjoyed Wales High School: First Diagnosis for its extreme candor and simple yet engaging language. With a relatable plot, and short and crisp chapters, the book is hard to put down. It resonates with teenagers going through a similar phase in life and to friends and family who struggle to understand their child, help them, and be there for them. This is by far the truest account that I have come across about mental health issues.

Pages: 110 | ASIN:  B086381MYV

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