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mental illness

Anthony Nilson speaks at an event at Arizona Counseling and Treatment Services in Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“Everybody has a story to tell. Whether you are the listener or the teller, storytelling is a therapeutic art form that has been practiced since the beginning of time.”

GETTING TO KNOW
Name: Anthony O. Nilson
Hometown: Rialto, California
Resides in: Glennwilde
Maricopan since: 2011
Occupation: Author, professional screenwriter, motivational coach and owner of Stick to the Script Publishing
Family: Wife and two daughters
Pets: Three dogs, three cats
Hobbies: Screenwriting, comic books, pro wrestling, martial arts
Likes most about Maricopa: The people – it’s quiet and private, but everybody says hello all warm-hearted.
Likes least about Maricopa: The heat!
Websites: StickToTheScriptPublishing.com, AnthonyNilson.com

Thus begins Anthony O. Nilson’s intro to his Onslaught self-development program in his book of the same name. The slender volume of mental organization techniques is just one of seven books he has written through his self-publishing company, Stick to the Script Publishing.

Because, above all, Nilson writes.

Short stories, poetry, screenplays – it’s something he has done since he was a child trying to navigate a troubled upbringing and undiagnosed mental issues.

Besides some very ugly experiences in his childhood, Nilson also found himself the “live-in referee” for his parents’ disputes.

He was later diagnosed with bi-polar depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome and was put on medications. Soon the orange medicine bottles were taking over his life.

“Orange is the new black,” he joked.

But even after two suicide attempts, he did not understand why he was feeling the way he felt.

“I came out here to Maricopa trying to change my life around,” he said.

A series of unfortunate events proved to be the real catalyst for change. His grandparents died within a few months of each other shortly after Nilson was married. He had a breakdown at work with panic attacks and short-term memory loss.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.6 percent of the U.S. adult population is bi-polar. Around half are receiving treatment of some kind. The average age of onset is 25.

As for PTSD, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, studies find inconsistent and wide-ranging rates of post-traumatic stress in adults who suffered trauma as a child. One study found 1-6 percent occurrence in boys, while another sample showed 14.5 percent.

So Nilson was working through some issues.

He went on disability. He went to Arizona Counseling and Treatment Services (ACTS) in Maricopa, where he found support in the staff and his case manager. He also felt he was gaining back control of his life.

“I started questioning myself. ‘What else can I do?’” Nilson said. “I want to help other people. So I started writing again. I said, ‘This time I’m not going to mask my emotions.’

“I was always shy. I was always drinking, smoking and just hanging with the wrong crowd, so in order to accomplish my dreams I had to label my insecurities.”

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Piecing together Onslaught helped him do that.

“The best way to attack mental illness is creating a fool-proof personal development program,” he said. That program, “organizes your mental filing cabinet.”

That meant changing his habits and hobbies to change his character. It also meant conquering childhood memories, which were causing him to overeat. He had to stop blaming, learn to forgive and find an outlet.

Besides “Onslaught” the book, he gathered his stories, poetry and screenplays into anthologies that he printed and has put up for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

He has also spoken at behavioral health programs in Pinal County and entered the entrepreneur program at Cenpatico. He intends to be involved in Pinal County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness and turn his screenplays into short films.


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.