…with Sarah Lilius

Ariana:

What Becomes Within tackles the topic of mental illness. What was it like to write this collection?

Sarah:

I’ve been writing about mental illness before I even officially knew I had bipolar illness. Some of the poems are older that I wrote as an undergrad in college and some of them are newer. I find it very cathartic to write about mental illness. But, I soon realized that putting them in a collection could be important to someone else that is struggling everyday. It was a long journey of many years to complete this collection and I’m so excited and proud to see it come to completion.

Ariana:

Tell us something you hate doing and why.

Sarah:

Hate is a strong word! But I’d have to say that I hate, loathe actually, doing housework. I’d much rather be writing, editing, or reading. But, I’ll do it when it’s necessary!

Ariana:

What do you have to say about the power of writing through stigma?

Sarah:

There are so many people with a mental illness yet no one wants to talk about it or help those with it without making them feel like less of a person. I still don’t always tell people that I have bipolar illness because I don’t want to be judged as “crazy.” I think writers, poets, fiction writers, have the opportunity to let others into our world. To show them we’re people as well. And that we’re often pretty damn special. The link between creativity and mental illness is warranted. That work produced makes people see the world differently, ugly and beautiful. But, I think stigma is definitely one of the hardest aspects of mental illness. This book outs me to anyone who reads it. That makes me feel dizzy but also proud or even brave.

Ariana:

Where did the title What Becomes Within originate from?

Sarah:

I think the title is about what mental illness can do to a person. It’s about the journey that we take mentally. How our brains, our souls, change from all the aspects of mental illness. Medication, therapy, what we choose to do with our bodies, all of that gets sifted around and changes into what becomes within.

Ariana:

If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would it be and why?

Sarah:

Sarah Lilius, poet, mother, and wife slowly finds the art of happiness. I feel like my life is finally coming together in a big way.

Ariana:

What was the most satisfying thing about writing What Becomes Within?

Sarah:

I would have to say it was satisfying to be living this life and be able to translate it to the page. Or even to just think about mental illness in general and be able to write out my thoughts. It’s satisfying to be able to express one’s self about anything but I think mental illness is a difficult topic that I was able to tackle.

Ariana:

If you woke up one morning a celebrity, what’s the first thing you would do and why?

Sarah:

I would probably go right back to bed because I think it would be awful to be a celebrity.

Ariana:

Name an article of clothing that best describes you.

Sarah:

I’d have to say that I’m most like a cardigan. There’s nothing overly formal about me and I’m reliable. I think cardigans aren’t too dressy but they’re nice to bring along if you get cold.

Ariana:

What inspired you to tell your story in What Becomes Within?

Sarah:

At first I think it really was just to get my emotions out on the page. As I accumulated more and more of these poems, I started to think about stigma. I felt inspired to tell my story in the hopes it would help someone else either not feel alone or want to tell their own story. The more we talk about it, the more the stigma will fade.

Ariana:

What is something you can’t live without and why?

Sarah:

Since I don’t consider my husband a something, I’d have to say my iPhone. I love that thing mostly because it’s like having the world in my pocket. I like that I can look anything up and do so much on something so small.

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