It started as a poem for her M.F.A. program, but Kristina Morgan ’88 just kept writing. Six years later, her brutally honest memoir is being hailed as a story of tragedy and triumph, a lyrical peek inside the world of schizophrenia.
"Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia” was released last month and is available at major bookstores and online.
The book takes readers into Morgan’s world from her awkward years as a tall, lanky teen to an isolated writing student at Stephens to her frequent trips to psychiatric wards during her early adult years.
The stream-of-consciousness style prose offers more insight: Bite-sized sentences that sometimes connect seemingly unrelated thoughts.
"This morphed from a poem, so some of the small sections at one time might have been a poem,” she said. “But it’s also a reflection of how my brain works, in little frames.”
From seeing suited men who weren’t really there to failed suicide attempts, the book is an intense journey through what seems to be the diary of a madwoman.
Today, though, Morgan is settled and stable, thanks to a 12-step program and a combination of the right medications. She lives with her partner, Guy, whom readers meet in the book, and maintains a part-time job. She credits structure in her life for helping her keep mental issues at bay.
It was actually a fluke that her book ended up in the hands of an editor—a mentor who read it ended up passing the manuscript along.
"I wanted to paint a picture of someone who has schizophrenia and isn’t out there killing people,” she said. “People experience schizophrenia in all sorts of ways.”
That said, Morgan also wants readers to appreciate more than just her memories.
"I hope they walk away from it saying, ‘This is good writing, and I love the risks the author takes."
Jessica Ray ’11 wanted to find a way to combine her passions—dance, media and, most importantly, her belief in Jesus.
So, after graduating with a B.F.A. in dance and a minor in media studies and moving to New York, she started Dance Into Deliverance, a ministry that uses dance to make audiences think about social injustices, racial biases, depression and other sensitive topics. Through the power of social media, the dance company is able to take these messages to new and unexpected audiences.
"I’ve always been interested in media and how people are so attracted and influenced and affected by it,” she said. “It’s such a powerful thing in our generation to reach so many people across the world with one video or one phrase.”
The company’s latest project is “In His Sight, Little Children,” a dance piece that explores race relations. An eight-minute documentary is now online giving audiences a preview of the piece. View it here.
"We, as a body of Christ, need to tackle racial reconciliation,” she said.
Ray is also interested in demystifying the dance process.
"A lot of people don’t really know about dance or how to connect with dance. It’s sort of this foreign thing to them,” she said. “Today, thanks to media and shows that showcase dance, it’s more accessible to the general public now.”
Ray envisions providing videos of the company’s dance routines to churches around the country. She would also love to submit the works to various film festivals.
"I’m fortunate and blessed to be able to do what I’ve been able to do, and that’s combine dance and media as an occupation,” she said.
Ray’s company includes two fellow Stephens alumnae, Jamie Andes ’12 and Lauren Gray ’12.