Alicia's Son next to hands typing on a Laptop Navigating Grief Brain

From Nervous Break Down to Navigating Grief Brain by Writing Serial Fiction

Five years ago, I faced the unimaginable: the loss of my son in a tragic accident. This profound grief triggered a nervous breakdown, complete with intense anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. It's been a journey of patience, extensive internal work, and lifestyle changes to find a semblance of normalcy.


Grief doesn't follow a universal timeline, and I've learned to dismiss external expectations about my healing process. Some days, memories of Asante bring smiles; other days, they bring unbearable pain. Accepting these fluctuations without judgment has become crucial to my emotional health.


Writing serial fiction has emerged as a therapeutic outlet compatible with my "grief brain." This format's episodic nature lets me engage deeply yet manageably, aligning with my need for a slower, more thoughtful creative pace. I've embraced being a "slow build" author, allowing storylines to develop naturally, which respects my current mental and emotional bandwidth.

On challenging days when anxiety spikes, I step back to focus on cortisol-reducing activities like yoga, walks, or simply taking time to breathe. I've realized that pushing myself too hard risks a relapse into severe anxiety or depression—no story is worth my well-being.

Writing remains my lifeline, balancing drafting, editing, marketing, narrating, and creating merchandise to maintain focus and motivation. This varied routine not only enhances my creative fulfillment but also supports my healing process.


To those also navigating grief, remember there is no "right" way to cope. Honor your personal journey and seek support when needed. I recommend resources like the Grief Recovery Method Handbook and Shirzad Chamine's Positive Intelligence framework, which have been instrumental in my recovery.

Alicia McCalla shares writing Serial Fiction Helps her navigate her grief brain after losing her son

As I continue to heal through each serialized episode, I find renewed purpose and gratitude in my writing. My stories now come in a different format, but they still flow from my heart—a testament to a life creatively lived and cherished.

Sending love and strength to all who are on this path. Take grief brain one step at a time and find your way to navigate its complexities.

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Yes, my friend. I have been praying for you. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. I’m deeply sorry for your profound losses. It’s courageous of you to return to writing, and I’m praying for your strength and peace as you navigate this path. Your journey is a testament to resilience and love. Remember, you’re not alone. We’re in this together, finding our way through grief one word at a time. Biggest hugs ❤️.

Alicia McCalla

Thank you for this. The grief journey is so complicated, and we each must work our way through it as we see fit. I stopped writing altogether when my daughter passed. Recently, I started writing again, but it’s been a struggle. Pray for me as I pray for you.

Chicki Brown

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Alicia McCalla photo credit Dr. Howard McCalla

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my badass, spunky, and smart Black heroines on Merchandise!