Fledgling writers of fiction in search of a little guidance usually are encouraged to “write what you know.”

Lakeville’s Alisha Perkins has heeded that advice with her first novel, “Martyred,” which will be featured at a release party in Wayzata on Sept. 27.

The three main characters in what she refers to as a “feminist thriller” are 30-something women coping with various personal struggles, to which Perkins, the wife of former Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, indeed can relate.

For the past few years Perkins has spoken publicly about an anxiety issue that 12 years ago left the otherwise energetic and upbeat young wife and new mother unable to function without the help of others once darkness fell.

With the help of family, therapy and medication her anxiety is now manageable, and it has left her with a cause: To help erase the stigma that is attached to mental illness.

“I like to say that I am medicated and motivated now,” Perkins said with a smile.

Public speaking appearances, a podcast devoted to mental and physical health and a book about her struggles with anxiety all have been aimed at getting people to talk about the once forbidden topic of mental illness, with the hope that more people will come forward and seek help.

“Running Home,” published in 2015 by North Loop Books, is Perkins’ account of how she deals with her anxiety and how physical activity — including running — has played a major role in getting her life back on track.

In 2007, when the first of the Perkins’ two daughters, Addie, was less than a year old, a woman in the neighborhood was raped by another neighbor. News of the horrific crime hit Perkins in a way that has her a bit baffled to this day. But one thing was — and remains — painfully clear: It turned her life upside down.

Soon after learning of the crime, Perkins found herself unable to go out of the house alone due to a crippling fear that something catastrophic could happen. When Glen went on a road trip with the Twins, she was too afraid to be alone with her baby at night, so her mother, who lives close by, would spend the night.

“I was a mess for a long, long time,” Perkins said. “I couldn’t function without somebody else present. It was exhausting, mentally and physically.”

Perkins said that her parents tried help her get through her fears by suggesting from time to time that she should try to stay by herself. “But I would call my mom at two in the morning, having a mild panic attack,” Perkins said, “and she’d have to come over.”

Perkins sought professional help for her condition and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Common symptoms include worrying about everyday life when there’s no reason to worry, and expecting disaster to strike, to the point of being unable to stop thinking about it.

Perkins said the while she had experienced mild anxiety in the past, nothing came close to what she experienced with her reaction to the crime so close to home.

“It would make sense if I had experienced something like that myself,” Perkins said. “Logically, I understand that I live in Lakeville and the odds of getting raped are not great. But with the anxiety, it’s like, ‘What if? What if you’re the one?’ I worked for the Jacob Wetterling Foundation when I was in college, and I remember when Jacob was kidnapped it affected a lot of people in terms of letting kids play outside.

“So I think there were little seeds of (fear) about bad things happening that I was holding deep inside. (After the rape) I became obsessed with people getting kidnapped; things happening to people in their homes at night. My biggest concern was someone coming into the house at night and taking Addie. During the day I was functioning, but at night the slightest sound would set me off.

“I was always a tightly wound person, so maybe the responsibility of being a parent is what triggered it.”

As a concerned husband, Glen was thankful that Alisha’s parents were nearby to lend support when he couldn’t be there. At the same time, he said he has “zero anxiety,” whether it was on the baseball field or in everyday life, so he realized that when it came to trying to help Alisha navigate through a rough moment he didn’t know how to help.

“You get to the point where you don’t have a choice,” Glen said about having to go out of town for a week or more at a time when he was playing. “There could have come a point where I would have had to step away from baseball, but we never reached that point. Part of being a professional athlete is being able to block things out when it’s time to perform.

“So when I went away or was on the field it was just baseball. Plus, it was our livelihood.”

Alisha said she never felt abandoned.

“I did the same thing that he did; when he was gone, he was gone,” she said. “I didn’t bug him. Anxious people tend to still be productive, which is different with depression. So it was never a situation where (Glen) got a phone call saying, ‘We can’t get her out of bed.’ ”

Perkins says she was adamant at first about not taking any medication, and she said she was making progress. But things changed two years later after the Perkins’ second daughter, Lyla, was born. They were driving to Alisha’s parents’ house (with Glen at the wheel) on a snowy day when Alisha had a panic attack. She realized later that it was brought on by the fact that she wasn’t in control of the situation.

“I remember saying that day that I needed to go on medication,” Perkins said. “I couldn’t live like that anymore. And I didn’t have to.”

Perkins has accepted the fact that she likely will be on medication for the rest of her life. The same holds true for therapy. Glen has learned to recognize the signs that his wife’s anxiety has heightened, and he knows the best thing is for Alisha to spend some time with her therapist. Alisha doesn’t need any convincing.

“I love my therapist; she’s like my favorite person on earth,” she said. “I walk in there and I leave feeling awesome.”

Perkins said she doesn’t worry about the possibility that her daughters will struggle with anxiety, but if they do she hopes their generation will be more open to talking about it and seeking help.

“I have always been open with our kids. There isn’t a whole lot that I won’t tell them about in terms of what I’ve been through,” Perkins said. “There’s no reason not to be open.”

She knows the mechanism is in place to help anyone with a similar problem as long as they take the important first step of seeking help. And she’s a great example of someone who is comfortable again in her own skin and excited about what the future can bring.

North Loop Books, which specializes in books related to mental health issues, contacted Perkins after it decided to expand into the area of fiction and asked her if she was interested in writing fiction.

Perkins actually had a couple of novels written and had been frustrated in her efforts to get them published. The two sides agreed this summer on a three-book deal.

“It’s nice because, working with a small publishing house, I have a lot of say,” Perkins said. “I think I get away with a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t get away with.”

Perkins said she did not grow up with the dream of becoming a writer and never really considered it until reading a book recommended by a friend, “On Writing,” written by Stephen King.

She connected with King’s approach to the writing process, and decided to give it a try.

There are things that go bump in the night in King’s novels, and not with the best of outcomes. Perkins has found peace in being able to separate fact from fiction.

Dean Spiros can be reached at lakeville.thisweek@ecm-inc.com.

There are three photos that can go with this commons culine. The main photo is 

lv perkins couple

the secondary photo is 

lv perkins kids 

the third image 

lv perkins flier is of a promo flier for the book that doesn’t have to run with the cutline but it could.

Photo submitted Alisha and Glen Perkins have parented their two children, Addie and Lyla, while holding the unusual jobs of published author and Major League Baseball pitcher. Alisha Perkins released her second book recently, and Glen Perkins retired as the Minnesota Twins closer in 2018 after a 12-year career.  

Literary support in difficult timesAlisha Perkins’ books offer perspectives on mental illness by Dean SpirosSun ThisweekDakota County TribuneFledgling writers of fiction in search of a little guidance usually are encouraged to “write what you know.”Lakeville’s Alisha Perkins has heeded that advice with her first novel, “Martyred,” which will be featured at a release party in Wayzata on Sept. 27. The three main characters in what she refers to as a “feminist thriller” are 30-something women coping with various personal struggles, to which Perkins, the wife of former Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, indeed can relate.For the past few years Perkins has spoken publicly about an anxiety issue that 12 years ago left the otherwise energetic and upbeat young wife and new mother unable to function without the help of others once darkness fell.With the help of family, therapy and medication her anxiety is now manageable, and it has left her with a cause: To help erase the stigma that is attached to mental illness. “I like to say that I am medicated and motivated now,” Perkins said with a smile.Public speaking appearances, a podcast devoted to mental and physical health and a book about her struggles with anxiety all have been aimed at getting people to talk about the once forbidden topic of mental illness, with the hope that more people will come forward and seek help.“Running Home,” published in 2015 by North Loop Books, is Perkins’ account of how she deals with her anxiety and how physical activity — including running — has played a major role in getting her life back on track.In 2007, when the first of the Perkins’ two daughters, Addie, was less than a year old, a woman in the neighborhood was raped by another neighbor. News of the horrific crime hit Perkins in a way that has her a bit baffled to this day. But one thing was — and remains — painfully clear: It turned her life upside down.Soon after learning of the crime, Perkins found herself unable to go out of the house alone due to a crippling fear that something catastrophic could happen. When Glen went on a road trip with the Twins, she was too afraid to be alone with her baby at night, so her mother, who lives close by, would spend the night. “I was a mess for a long, long time,” Perkins said. “I couldn’t function without somebody else present. It was exhausting, mentally and physically.”Perkins said that her parents tried help her get through her fears by suggesting from time to time that she should try to stay by herself. “But I would call my mom at two in the morning, having a mild panic attack,” Perkins said, “and she’d have to come over.”Perkins sought professional help for her condition and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Common symptoms include worrying about everyday life when there’s no reason to worry, and expecting disaster to strike, to the point of being unable to stop thinking about it.Perkins said the while she had experienced mild anxiety in the past, nothing came close to what she experienced with her reaction to the crime so close to home.“It would make sense if I had experienced something like that myself,” Perkins said. “Logically, I understand that I live in Lakeville and the odds of getting raped are not great. But with the anxiety, it’s like, ‘What if? What if you’re the one?’ I worked for the Jacob Wetterling Foundation when I was in college, and I remember when Jacob was kidnapped it affected a lot of people in terms of letting kids play outside.“So I think there were little seeds of (fear) about bad things happening that I was holding deep inside. (After the rape) I became obsessed with people getting kidnapped; things happening to people in their homes at night. My biggest concern was someone coming into the house at night and taking Addie. During the day I was functioning, but at night the slightest sound would set me off.“I was always a tightly wound person, so maybe the responsibility of being a parent is what triggered it.”As a concerned husband, Glen was thankful that Alisha’s parents were nearby to lend support when he couldn’t be there. At the same time, he said he has “zero anxiety,” whether it was on the baseball field or in everyday life, so he realized that when it came to trying to help Alisha navigate through a rough moment he didn’t know how to help. “You get to the point where you don’t have a choice,” Glen said about having to go out of town for a week or more at a time when he was playing. “There could have come a point where I would have had to step away from baseball, but we never reached that point. Part of being a professional athlete is being able to block things out when it’s time to perform. “So when I went away or was on the field it was just baseball. Plus, it was our livelihood.”Alisha said she never felt abandoned.“I did the same thing that he did; when he was gone, he was gone,” she said. “I didn’t bug him. Anxious people tend to still be productive, which is different with depression. So it was never a situation where (Glen) got a phone call saying, ‘We can’t get her out of bed.’ ”Perkins says she was adamant at first about not taking any medication, and she said she was making progress. But things changed two years later after the Perkins’ second daughter, Lyla, was born. They were driving to Alisha’s parents’ house (with Glen at the wheel) on a snowy day when Alisha had a panic attack. She realized later that it was brought on by the fact that she wasn’t in control of the situation.“I remember saying that day that I needed to go on medication,” Perkins said. “I couldn’t live like that anymore. And I didn’t have to.”Perkins has accepted the fact that she likely will be on medication for the rest of her life. The same holds true for therapy. Glen has learned to recognize the signs that his wife’s anxiety has heightened, and he knows the best thing is for Alisha to spend some time with her therapist. Alisha doesn’t need any convincing.“I love my therapist; she’s like my favorite person on earth,” she said. “I walk in there and I leave feeling awesome.”Perkins said she doesn’t worry about the possibility that her daughters will struggle with anxiety, but if they do she hopes their generation will be more open to talking about it and seeking help.“I have always been open with our kids. There isn’t a whole lot that I won’t tell them about in terms of what I’ve been through,” Perkins said. “There’s no reason not to be open.”She knows the mechanism is in place to help anyone with a similar problem as long as they take the important first step of seeking help. And she’s a great example of someone who is comfortable again in her own skin and excited about what the future can bring.  North Loop Books, which specializes in books related to mental health issues, contacted Perkins after it decided to expand into the area of fiction and asked her if she was interested in writing fiction.Perkins actually had a couple of novels written and had been frustrated in her efforts to get them published. The two sides agreed this summer on a three-book deal.“It’s nice because, working with a small publishing house, I have a lot of say,” Perkins said. “I think I get away with a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t get away with.”Perkins said she did not grow up with the dream of becoming a writer and never really considered it until reading a book recommended by a friend, “On Writing,” written by Stephen King. She connected with King’s approach to the writing process, and decided to give it a try.There are things that go bump in the night in King’s novels, and not with the best of outcomes. Perkins has found peace in being able to separate fact from fiction.

Dean Spiros can be reached at lakeville.thisweek@ecm-inc.com.

Load comments