The Experience of Living: A Series

Past winner of the Paul G Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest and AAS Member, Kristin Drouin, begins her 4 part series about lived experience and how writing gave her the strength to move forward.

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The Experience of Living: Part I

I first came across the phrase "lived experience" after my second encounter with severe, prolonged suicidal ideation. 

Trying to figure out how to talk about my pain was a problem that had plagued me since I first experienced symptoms of major depressive disorder at age 13 - a conundrum that was complicated by a diagnosis of pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder at age 21, confounded further by two episodes of acute pain during which suicide seemed the only way to stop hurting. 


The Experience of Living: Part II

We turned to words for comfort, for healing, for strength. We wrote because it was something we’d always done. Because it felt natural. Because there was space and maybe a bit of sanctuary to be found on the blank page. Because hope could be created through the sheer act of finding our own words to relay that which can feel inexplicable.


The Experience of Living: Part III

How does one go about explaining that which is so personal, it seems to sit in secret, nestled somewhere deep? How does one find prose or poetry to paint an accurate picture of pain so insidious it distorts both body and mind? How does one speak about something so scary that even the mere mention of its name – “suicide” – sends shockwaves of discomfort through those within earshot?



I bet you’ve had a day when you did not want to get out of bed. Maybe the sky outside looked particularly menacing. Maybe stress weighed you down, maybe your heart hurt, maybe your pillow just felt plump and cool and tempting.

Maybe you know what it feels like to not only not want to get out of bed – maybe you know what it feels like to not want to wake up. Maybe you’ve tried to make that a reality.