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Meet Hannah Renae of Brentwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Renae.

Hi Hannah, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Before I hit double digits, I knew I wanted to write. As I got older, “I will become a published author” became somewhat of an anthem for me. How I finally got there though was by the last path I would have ever foreseen. Many an unfinished manuscript has sat on my computer’s hard drive. I always figured, “I will know the right story when the inspiration is there.” Well, the right inspiration turned out to be the most painful year of my life.

In the midst of graduating college, beginning my career, and continuing with the writing pursuits, I was also developing an immense dependency on alcohol. I began to medicate untreated depression and trauma by numbing through heavy drinking a few times a week then every night until I was drinking from the moment I was awake till I was asleep. It was unsurprising then that things finally came to a head in 2019, or as I like to call it: the year where everything that could have gone wrong did. During my first attempt to get sober through rehab, my sister-in-law died in a tragic car accident.

A month later, my brother passed away. To deal with the loss, I continued to drink to the point of alcohol poisoning and having to be hospitalized throughout the year. In August, I had a suicide attempt. In October, I was arrested and spent 22 days in jail. In the first month of 2020, I was hospitalized twice for major instances of self-harm while intoxicated. It was at this point, however, that I finally had a turning point and got serious about my sobriety and mental health. During my most painful moments, I had written: in treatment, in hospitals, in jail. I had every moment on paper and I began to turn it into the story that it was. What began as a process for me to reflect slowly turned into a book. Over several months I finished my memoir, Tiger Stripes. The process of writing it is something I believe has been integral to my recovery.

My path has not been linear and I have not been perfect but today, I have a life that is fulfilling and full of hope. I’m excited to share my story and the raw narrative of addiction and mental illness it portrays as I want it to be the voice I needed for someone else. If it can help one person reach out for help, I believe my story is worth telling. Tiger Stripes will be available April 12, 2021.

So sorry for that huge loss and the difficulties that followed. How has the recovery process been – has it been fairly okay?
Not at all. Recovery rarely is. I’ve had multiple attempts to get sober, get my mental health on track, or stop self-destructive behaviors only to end up in the same place or worse than before. What’s different now is I don’t see the times that I stumbled as failures. I learned something from every relapse and every struggle. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my worst moments. Failing taught me how to accept being human and how to be at peace with myself and others. I now have the longest stint of sobriety since starting to drink when I was 14 and longest period of abstinence from self-harm since starting to cut when I was 12.

Thanks for sharing that with us – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am mostly known for my poetry, though I do use my platform to talk about mental health, my recovery journey, and other topics I am passionate about. I think my poetry is appealing to a very niche crowd as I draw a lot of inspiration from the beat generation and a lot of my poems work off of the landscape of Los Angeles.

Instagram and social media platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest have been great for making writers go viral, but a lot of what goes around are short quotes and one-dimensional pieces that many critics don’t consider poetic verse at all. I believe my work does justice to the art of poetry while integrating modern themes like feminism, mental illness, body dysmorphia, struggles with cultural norms, and more. My memoir is a whole new style of writing that I am excited for my audience to read. I also have a poetry collection, “The Way She Burns”, being published in 2022.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I grew up in Orange County and always wanted to move as far away as possible when I was able to (it just isn’t for me). It’s funny that I only ended up about an hour away, but after a brief stint living in Santa Barbara, I absolutely fell in love with Los Angeles and I think I will call it my home for a very long time. I love the diversity, the people, the art, the culture, and the food of Los Angeles. This is the place where I got my life back, I will always be grateful for that.

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