Q. Did Dr. Alex feel moved by the idea of you writing a book about her?
A. Yes, I believe so. When I asked her if she would mind, she said that she would “be honored.” We talked often about the book. I think that it was an exciting topic for both of us. I believe that the book discussions helped cheer things up since it was a time of a lot of sadness. I very much feel that Alex was with me during the writing of the book.
Q. A lot of your book shows your love of the streets of New York: The pubs. The Frying Pan. The speakeasies. The people on the subway. Did your love of the city sustain you in your own illness?
A. Absolutely. In my eyes, New York City is the best city in the world. For me, the vibrancy of watching so many people from all different walks of life is uplifting. I love meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and continually trying to find some adventurous place in this massive city that I have not yet found. I think I have plenty to keep myself busy.
Q. One of the joys of your book is the marvelous relationship you have with Carol. How was it for her watching you commit yourself to this book with such passion and bring it out into the public? Did you share much of the book with her?
A. Carol was with me 100 percent. She knew how much Alex meant to me and how I hungered to write again. She read and re-read my manuscripts many, many times.
As far as bringing the book out to the public, Carol was more on board with it than I at the beginning. It was very difficult to share such a private part of my life. Carol’s support, along with the wishes of Dr. Alex, were powerful incentives for me.
I believe that Dr. Alex truly felt that our story could help others; and now that the book is finished, I feel the same way. The major motivation for me, however, was that I wanted to be sure that Dr. Alex got the tribute that she deserves for being such an amazing psychiatrist.
Q. In your book, you tell Dr. Alex that you want to write. Is this book the launch of more books to come? What subjects interest you for your next book?
A. Writing this book unleashed, once again, my love of writing. I have been inspired being around other artists through The Gay Walley Institute for Writing, and can’t wait to start my next book. Any book that I write will be based upon helping people in some way. Since I have been a recruiter for many years, I may write a career book. So far undecided. But the theme will be helping people. That is what Alex would want and also what I want.
Q. Do you feel your illness and your relationship with Dr. Alex changed you?
A. Yes in some ways, and no in others. I feel that Dr. Alex helped bring out a lot that was there, yet traits I had lost touch with. I had come to the point of just giving up when I had always been a person who keeps going no matter what. Dr. Alex replenished and reinforced that part of me. She reconfirmed for me the power of healing oneself through helping others. Of course, one person can’t help everybody, but when you come across that special person with whom you connect, you need to be there for them 100 percent.
Q. What advice would you have for those dealing with ultra-difficult, fearful circumstances – illness, abusive parents, financial struggles – as they go through it?
A. I know that this is going to sound corny, but so be it: I truly feel that when things get very difficult, you need to find someone with whom you connect to help. When you are there for other people, your own pain isn’t as bad. It is very healing to help others, and you will get the support back in many ways.
© V.C. August 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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