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Gone For a Bit, But Here to Stay

By Carin Chea

Tyvonne Conrad is the intersection of robust discipline and soft vulnerability. As an Eagle Scout who became a US Marine, Conrad has transitioned into the world of writing.

In ;Gone In A Bit, the author embraces full transparency as he shares his mental health journey, especially after being officially diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2021.

Conrad shines a light on the difficult diagnosis, the daily challenges of life with schizophrenia, and dares his readers to re-frame their own outlooks on mental health.

Whether you live with mental illness or are seeking to better understand it, ;Gone In A Bit is a beautifully poetic read that will satisfy.

With the soul and tenderness of a great artist, Conrad’s work is proof of what Emily Dickinson once penned when she wrote: “A wounded deer leaps highest.”

Tyvonne Conrad

Tell us about yourself. You were an Eagle Scout, then joined the Marines. What have you been pursuing since?

That’s when my schizophrenia started getting really bad. I lost everything, anything I was doing. I almost went homeless. I was in and out at the inpatient clinic at the VA hospital looking for help, looking for the right medication to be on.

I was always good at writing songs, but I realized that I also liked to write things out, creating short stories. I started writing poetry. I thought, “I have a problem” and I wanted to combine that with poetry. I thought I could take all this and show it to someone else who might be struggling with the same problems.

So many people are failing because they’re not pointed in the right direction, or maybe they’re scared to go into the right direction because of what that entails. So, I put my poetry into a book platform.

My hope is to bring things to light, to show readers some sort of light from a schizophrenic’s point of view struggling through daily life.

What was the impetus to write ;Gone In A Bit?

It was a gradual thing. I just picked up a pen and started writing. It’s like planting a seed and watching a flower grow. There wasn’t a direct moment that inspired me to write ;Gone In A Bit. It was just something that started gradually, with me writing my thoughts down and trying to make sense of it.

I thought about my experience being an Eagle Scout who turned ideas into concrete plans. I knew that, as an Eagle Scout, I was capable of putting something together and creating a finished project. That’s how ;Gone In A Bit started.

That’s the title, by the way, because, as a schizophrenic, I feel disconnected from life, like I’m not present, like my mind is always somewhere else away from the center of gravity of life, and that I don’t always connect to people well because I’m gone. I’m sure it feels that way for autistics as well.

Even though I’m still here and still present in other people’s lives, a part of me feels like I’m not. A part of me feels like I’m busy, stuck within myself, dealing with my mental illness. That’s why I started writing, so that (in my own way) I can be present for others.

Thank you for being so transparent about your mental health journey. How did your diagnosis of schizophrenia come about?

During the [Marine] services, I started feeling the symptoms of schizophrenia. It was a relief to finally know the problem after I was diagnosed.

I finally was prescribed medication that actually started working. I wasn’t running around in a maze where I didn’t know where to go or what to do. That’s what I was like before I was given the right medication.

It’s rough and it’s painful and it’s very inconvenient. It makes everything a very tough situation. For example, I stopped driving because it ruined my motor function skills. It’s like having vertigo and feeling dizzy and feeling not centered on reality.

I stopped driving because I crashed all my cars. One day, I realized I couldn’t drive, so I stopped completely.

It took so long for me to find the right medication because it’s hit or miss. That’s why I was in and out of the inpatient clinic because I couldn’t get set on the right regimen. It either made me feel bad or I couldn’t function properly.

It took about 4 years to get on track. In those 4 years, I wrote ;Gone In A Bit.

Tell us more about your book.

;Gone In A Bit contains real world topics, and is not just focused on mental health awareness. It also has a modern folklore twist. You know how Mr. Rogers talked about certain things, then they’d go around town and explore those things? I try to do that in my book.

;Gone In A Bit touches on mental health, but I didn’t want it to be a dry read. It’s not an informational mental health awareness book. It contains fiction and non-fiction short stories in the form of poetry.

I also include aspects of my faith and Christianity in there. I want people to know that even though I have a problem, I’m moving forward. I want to also direct and help others in their battles of mental health.

How has your diagnosis affected your life perspective?

It gave me a new alternative in life. It’s directed me to success. I go to college now. I’m able to take care of my kids. I’m able to feel more free, as opposed to how I started out.

I went from losing everything to going to college. I just got back to college this month.

Congratulations!

Thank you. Once I got on the right medications is when I started really seeing myself. That’s when I started to piece together who I was in order to create who I am now.

Wow. You know, if you had a TED talk, I would totally attend. Anyway, what would you say is the central message of ;Gone in a Bit?

Find a light on earth. Find your inspiration and you will find yourself. If you are lost and you find something you like, you’re finding something within yourself. If you do that, that’s a start toward getting better.

Inspiration is a light. If you can find the light, you can pull yourself out of the dark.

Are you working on anything you’d like us to know about?

I’m currently writing my next book ;The Paint That Covers Me.

For more information about Tyvonne’s book, please visit Amazon.com.



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