How “Seeking Equilibrium” Addresses The Mental Health Crisis
By Wayman Stewart
For years, my struggle with depression and anxiety was a source of secret shame and frustration. In spite of being someone who’s in touch with emotions and unafraid of vulnerable moments, talking about my depression and anxiety was something I was unable to do. Too used to dealing with my problems on my own, I’d push through it with resourcefulness and resilience. However, those traits can also be a major hindrance if they prevent you from reaching out and seeking help or support.
I’ve attended therapy in the past and found it helpful. But, my creativity has always been the most therapeutic thing for me. As a result, my own mental health struggles were part of the fuel I used to write my first novel, Seeking Equilibrium.
Yet, this isn’t biographical or a roman a clef type novel. It is the story of Monty Washington, a volatile, vulnerable man in his late twenties who, after a bad break-up, winds up in a psychiatric hold and attending court-mandated therapy. While striving for wellness, his progress is threatened when he meets Jessica DiSilva, a married young woman who he begins a passionate relationship with that triggers another downward spiral for him; one that he may not survive.
In quite a few ways, this story is also a universal one. We have been in a mental health crisis, particularly in America, for quite some time. In 2015, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that 16 million Americans had at least one major depressive episode that year. Now, in the year 2020, in the midst of a pandemic that has come equipped with all kinds of uncertainties, the Census Bureau has found that a third of Americans show signs of clinical anxiety or depression.
However, there is an ever-increasing willingness to talk about mental health. I join this conversation through this novel. Writing it and now sharing it has been a healing experience that has helped me shed my own internalized stigma around mental health. These issues can affect anyone, at any time, including someone like the protagonist of Seeking Equilibrium. Monty is a very complex, flawed individual. Mysterious, unsettling, fragile, formidable, and often darkly funny, he shows that there is no perfect or particular way to either struggle with or overcome mental health issues.
Wayman Stewart is an American writer. He was raised in Florida and attended the University of South Florida in Tampa. Seeking Equilibrium is his first novel. He has also self-published the collection of poetry entitled The Newest Year, which is available at thenewestyear.com. A writer of screenplays and stage plays, as well as an actor, Stewart currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. You can follow him on Instagram: @waymanstewart.