“Are you okay?”

That’s what some people have asked me after reading Love Letters to a House on Fire.

The simple answer to that question? Yeah. But when I was writing some of the things in that book, no.

Love Letters, for the most part, is a fun and quirky collection of short stories, poems, and ransom notes. There’s a lot of humor sprinkled throughout the stories and poems because I love making people laugh. But Love Letters also takes the opportunity to be poignant, introspective, and vulnerable. Vulnerable most of all.

I’m a sensitive guy. I’ve got a lot of feelings. I don’t know if that’s because of or alongside of my anxiety and depression, but hey, there they are.

I was diagnosed with mild anxiety almost seven years ago to the day, and I’ve been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe depression for the past 18 months. It’s weird finding out that you have some mental illnesses after you’ve lived most of your life feeling you were just fine, then your therapist tells you about some of the symptoms and you think to yourself, “Oh, that’s why I feel this way?”

Some of the things I wrote for Love Letters were things that I was experiencing during some deep bouts of depression or anxiety. In the section titled Letters to the Noise, the Empty, and the Calm, I write specifically to my anxiety and depression personifying them as my children. They’re things that I have to watch or take care of because they’re a part of my life now, and I can’t just ignore them.

In the poetry section, there are poems like Enough and Storm that illustrate the feelings I have of never measuring up or some great tumult inside my chest.

I know these are kind of weighty themes. So why write them? To me, writing is another form a therapy. It definitely can’t replace an actual therapist (shoutout to my guy, Spencer), but it can serve as a tool to help me sort out my feelings and let them have their place in a healthy way.

So why share them, then? Because I know I’m not alone in these feelings. Shoot, even you reading this might have anxiety or depression or some other thing. You’re not alone. There are so many of us who deal with these feelings. So these parts of my writing aren’t just for me, they’re for you too. They are my way of giving you a little hug and saying, “Hey, I get it. It’s okay to feel these things.”

But I also wanted to sprinkle in the fun and adventure too. Because we still need that sometimes.

If you’ve already read the book, thank you. And if it made you feel something, I’m so glad.

But yeah, I’m okay. Thanks for asking.