Emotional awareness author Kay Reeve launches her second book tomorrow. Here, she explains how Darker Than Dark combines poetry and photos to create a colour filled journey of mindfulness – and is inspired by her own journey with mental health
You were last featured at the start of 2021, just before Brain Unchained came out – how has life been for you since?
Live has been both quiet and chaotic. I spent a year trying to build my mentoring and speaking business, which was tough during lockdowns, until I had my own health issues, and a mental health breakdown in 2021. My executive functions shut down entirely from burnout and an accumulation of various traumas that happened over the previous seven years. Life caught up with me. Last year was a year of healing, patience, and hard work to be able to get back to my computer as there were weeks and even months where I had no clarity of mind to even turn the computer on. I’m glad to finally be back and working on my own wellbeing, especially since realising during this journey, that I have ADHD – although I am waiting for an official diagnosis. I have only started promoting my first book again since January, which is still selling on Amazon.
It was during my depression that I had a very clear vision of being in a place that was so dark – and I just stood there, watching others walk past and disappear. I knew even then that there was a message to share from that moment when I knew I was at rock bottom. Although I was not suicidal, I knew why other people would be, in this place. A few weeks later I was inspired to write the poem ‘Darker than Dark’. A few days after that, I wrote ‘Leaving the Dark’ as a continuation, filled with hope and inspiration for the healing I knew I still had to go through.
It was October when I finally started putting the computer on and piecing the poem with photographs that I had taken over the years, to create a beautiful mindfulness book called Darker than Dark.
How was Brain Unchained received?
Brain Unchained has had amazing feedback, with people recognising how unique the strategy in the book is with the Emotional Cycle diagram; how it helps parents mentor their own teenagers, or how it helps young adults learn to understand their own emotions, with a clear blueprint of why each emotion is important and why they change between emotions. It helps ease emotional dysregulation, freeing their minds up for bigger and better things. I’ve had a lot of requests for interviews and collaboration but I’ve had to delay a lot of it due to my own challenges.
Darker than Dark is out soon – what can you say about this one?
This book brings about an entirely different reaction and brings a smile to everyone’s face. Darker than Dark is due out tomorrow (Friday March 31), and is not so much about depression, but is inspired by my experience and recovery from depression to create a mindfulness book filled with hope and colour. It has a verse on one page and a photo on the other, that work together to create a mindful journey of colour with beautiful, detailed photos. While the journey through the book offers hope and inspiration, it can help others to understand the feelings associated with depression, without going through the journey themselves. It’s a sympathetic way of sharing feelings, peacefulness, and a smile – all in one.
How do the poems and photographs combine to help with mindfulness?
The verses are combined with photos that make you think about the wording and the images relatively. For example, a photo of an old and broken tree is combined with the words ‘A window of time and a magical feel, of a life once lived in happiness’. It encourages readers to take a few moments to just stop and be; to watch and notice what is going on in the images. After the poems, there is a third section to the book with ‘Photos for more Mindfulness’. This is a collection of more of my favourite photos, with tips on how to explore into and beyond the images. These include photos from around Norfolk, including Sculthorpe Church, Hunstanton and Sheringham beaches, and as far as Crete, Switzerland and Norway, plus photos from my own home and garden – so, really, the book is an accumulation of years of photography and travel that now illustrate the poetry.
When do you launch and what have you got planned around the launch?
The launch is on Friday March 31 and there has already been a couple of weeks launch activity in my Facebook Group, with exclusive early reading and previews, quotes from my first book Brain Unchained, and Mindfulness Tips on a different topic, followed by a book progress update and a gratitude every evening. It’s been lovely to have the group’s support along the way. The readings include insights into the photos that are not shared in the book so if you want to catch up on these, the Facebook group link is on my website.
Brain Unchained was inspired by your experience with your son. How is he, now?
My son is doing so well. He has two beautiful children, the youngest is 18 months old. He and his fiancée are getting married this summer, so there is lots of planning, plus I’ve set myself the challenge of making their wedding cake. It’s nice to have something beautiful to look forward to although I am a little more nervous about making the cake, than decorating it.
Are you already planning the next book – is it part of a series?
Yes, I have a whole series of mindfulness books in my head. I know people love different topics and Darker than Dark is just the introduction. It’s like a transition between Brain Unchained and what I want to be creating in future. I plan on doing my next book all about the colour green, one about flowers, and one about teddy bears, before thinking about other topics like cats, cars, pretty lights, etc. This book is the gateway to infinite possibilities so it’s worth following along to see ‘what’s next’.
All the book information is on the website, kayreeve.co.uk and there is a FREE PDF booklet to download, for anyone who signs up to the newsletter: Top 10 Mindfulness Tips.
Images supplied by Kay Reeve