Charmagne Westcott
Hi. My name is Charmagne and I have a really good story to tell you. Several, actually.

I am a licensed therapist with a master's degree in mental health counseling and an outrageous student loan debt. I work in public health, so most of my experience is with clients who are severely and persistently mentally ill. I currently work in a crisis clinic for adults. At least once a day I ask someone if they are having thoughts of hurting themselves or others. I have visited hospitals to determine if people meet criteria for a mental health commitment. I have testified at hearings as an expert witness. Before this, I  worked as a therapist in a prison for several years and before that I was a 911 dispatcher.

I'm pretty good in a crisis as long as it's not my own.

I think I might be a mental adrenalin junky because when I write that down, except for the student loan part, it sounds super cool to me. And I'm good at it. I've been doing it since I was a little girl.

I was raised by carnies. If the chaos wasn't started by me it was surrounding me. Mostly, it was surrounding me. So I did what anyone else would do, I pretended it wasn't happening. I started living the majority of my life in my head rather than reality. It worked. It worked so well that I blocked a good portion of my childhood from even entering my consciousness. When it seeped back in here and there, I pretended that wasn't happening either.

Then, when I was 25 years old, I discovered that the people who raised me weren't my real parents. When I was 30, I hired a private detective and found my biological mother. She asked me what my life was like growing up. It goes on from there. It's a good story with a happy ending. You can see me give a presentation about it by clicking here (or click on presentations, above).

So, I started writing a memoir. My goal was 1000 words per week, to be finished by the end of the year (2012). Then summer came and that goal went out the window. Actually, it was more than just summer that caused me to be distracted. Writing is hard. Especially when you are attempting to face an emotionally charged childhood head on. A few anxiety attacks later, some counseling, a long break, a few beers, a nap or two, and then I was back at it. Until I got to the part where my stepfather kicks the shit out of my dog. That one's been holding me up for a while. So I started a blog in order to keep writing, while skillfully avoiding the true task I embarked on in the first place. It WILL be completed at some point. I promise.

Thank you to everyone who emailed me to ask for more stories. So far, I am happy with the decision to post each piece as I complete it. My original plan was to write the essays in chronological order, but I am struggling with that. So, going forward, the stories will be posted as they come out of me. I am also posting other stories that come out of me, or that have come out of me in the past (think: giving birth and not other analogies). Please continue to keep me accountable. If you would like to be informed when new pieces are posted, click here to join the mailing list.

Though edited, these essays are in no way a final draft. Sometimes I decide to make changes to them after they've been edited and I inevitably screw them up somehow. If you notice any typos or other glitches, please contact me and let me know. If you find that you hate a piece or love a piece, please feel free to share that too.

If you'd like to contact me, pay off my student loan, offer me a publishing deal, or leave a comment, please complete the form below.

Here are the comments I have so far:

"You're such a good writer"
- My Mom, yesterday
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