My name is Brett Kiellerop and I’m a middle-aged curmudgeon. I’m also a human being, embracing all the joys and challenges that life throws my way.
As a creative individual, I have a lot of baggage to draw upon for inspiration. Most of my work, however, comes from a general sense of existential despair.
Let me tell you a little about myself…
I’m Australian. My husband, David, was born in Papua New Guinea and is technically also Australian. We’ve been together since 1996 after meeting in Brisbane, on the internet when it was purely text based.
We crave adventure and tend to move around. We’ve lived all over Australia, spent two years in Montreal, Canada, and three years in Vancouver. Then we relocated to Manchester, UK, and hated it so went to Luxembourg for two years. My health issues eventually drove us back to Brisbane, Australia, to be around our loved ones. Now we live in Wellington, New Zealand.
Before then? Let’s not dwell on ancient history. Suffice to say I was born in 1969 as Brett James Parker. I had a childhood, then finished school under heavy pressure to become a computer nerd. In those days, computers were pedal-powered.
My late teens and early 20s passed according to societal norms at the time; I worked with computers, became engaged to a great girl, and suffered in (almost complete) silence with mental health issues. Then I broke… the repair work is still ongoing.
Early on the road to repair, I admitted to myself and others that I’m gay. I also quit working with computers and studied psychology. For several years I helped others who were struggling with their gender and/or sexual identity as I battled my own demons.
My own psychologist diagnosed me with Schizoaffective Disorder (SZA), which meant I was borderline schizophrenic and borderline bipolar. A slight nudge could send me spiralling in any random direction. I tried medication and counselling but the best treatment for me was to identify my triggers and avoid them.
Many of my close relationships ruptured in those early days. Some of those people are now lost to the mists of time, unfortunate casualties of my internal war. Others can’t look past my bad behaviours of the time and their view of me is distorted. They question every decision, every statement, every move I make. My relationships with them are still a tad frosty… it’s hard to have a close relationship with someone after twenty something years of mistrust, disbelief, and poor communication.
The most important advance in my battle for mental health came from meeting new people who loved and accepted me as I was. Sadly, some have now passed away. Others, however, still live large as critically important parts of my life. Unconditional love and acceptance is the best balm you can apply to any tortured soul.
I never did neatly fit into the textbook definitions of SZA, and it turned out there was an underlying physical cause.
My struggles with mental health were complicated by weird physical symptoms. Some doctors just treated the symptoms, while others assumed they were attention-seeking behaviours. Eventually, a few years after the questionable diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, one neurologist took an interest in my case. He investigated me for a terrifying array of conditions, including things such as multiple sclerosis and cardiomyopathy to eliminate them as possibilities. His final diagnosis? Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH).
IIH is a condition where the pressure of the fluid surrounding the brain is too high, constantly squeezing the brain and causing a vast amount of different neurological problems. I won’t bore you with too much detail, but for twenty years my IIH was managed with regular lumbar punctures to drain the excess fluid.
Did IIH cause my schizoaffective disorder? Did I even have SZA? I will never know, as the symptoms of SZA could also be symptoms of IIH. I do know, however, that my schizoaffective symptoms eased dramatically after each lumbar puncture.
Over the years IIH has caused a variety of issues, including:
- six small strokes (TIAs)
- brain fog and fugue states
- visual impairment (which lasted nearly four years from Sept 2012)
- depression and schizophrenia
- memory loss
- mood swings / crankiness
- inability to regulate hormones and body temperature
- difficulty swallowing
- headaches / migraines / seizures
- tremors and vibrations
- slow, stiff movements
The Situation Now
I’ve now had two procedures – one to restore my eyesight and the other to stabilise my intracranial pressure – and am quite stable and healthy. I still have some legacy issues hanging around, but they’re easily managed.
The only real issue I have these days is the inability to regulate my body temperature. Humidity melts my brain, which is why we moved away from Brisbane. I guess a complete recovery was always out of the question. After all, having IIH is like suffering from an ongoing concussion.
I haven’t needed a lumbar puncture since January 2013 🙂 Strictly following the ketogenic diet helps control my intracranial pressure and keeps me sane (ish).
Now, on to lighter subjects.
- My husband, David
- Spending time in Brisbane with my godchildren and their awe-inspiring parents
- World building
- Creating interesting characters and killing them off in gory ways
- Long walks
- People watching
- Fiery debates on the correct use of commas (which I mostly lose)
- Did I mention coffee?
- Donald Trump
- Apple iBookstore
- Inconsiderate people
- Witnessing the world self destruct
- Narcissistic horse/human hybrids
Aside from spending time with David, my passion in life is raising awareness for Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. IIH is largely unknown to the general public. It’s an invisible disability which causes immeasurable suffering, especially if not diagnosed or well managed. You may not understand the condition, but you should at least accept the victim is suffering and needs support.
My other passion is fighting the stigma against mental health disease. Although the public stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly disappearing, thanks to the hard work of many organisations around the globe, the personal stigma remains. Would you shun someone because they had diabetes or appendicitis? Of course you wouldn’t. So don’t be too quick to judge people who have a mental health disease… it could happen to you.
My first book was a trashy gay comedy drama, but as I pumped it out my mind overflowed with ideas for epic fantasies and gritty human dramas. I also love the innocence of YA (young adult) adventures. For many years I fooled myself into thinking I could write all these genres under one name, but ultimately I decided to use different pen names.
Each pen name is responsible for a different genre, and each pen name I’ve chosen is an homage to a different period of my life. The pseudonym invokes a different mindset which I use to explore that genre.
The pseudonyms are:
Brett Holzhauser is my most prolific pseudonym. It’s responsible for all science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Speculative fiction, in other words. These books are for grown-ups.
Under this pseudonym I also write young adult (YA) adventures which explore the inherent innocence of children. These books are for young adults, but I’m sure older adults could relate to them as well.
Brett James Parker
Brett James Parker is the gritty side of my nature. This pseudonym is responsible for psychological dramas which explore the darker side of humanity. These books will make you squirm.
Brett Kiellerop, my actual name, dabbles in visual arts and is responsible for all my outrageous gay-themed work. This includes photography, sculpture, and screenwriting. This work is definitely not for kids.
A Final Word
I am, above all else, a writer. My work is available as ebooks at Amazon, for all Kindle devices and apps. If you’d like further insights into my mind you’re welcome to follow my personal Twitter account. I’m vocal, opinionated, and hilarious… at least I think so.
I realised several years ago that I could neither establish nor maintain a counselling practice. David and I moved too often, and the vulnerable clients of a professional counsellor need stability. So I started writing.
The process of writing is cathartic and liberating. It’s exhilarating, yet can also be quite crushing. Writing is now the most important tool for managing my mental health issues. I have to write. I need to write.
I am a writer.