Rochester in Focus: Author shares her story of mental illness

SS: The Manic Mind (Episode 2: Part 2) Soul-Full Sessions with Guest Author Jackie Cioffa

Listen on Apple Podcasts Part 2 of a captivating conversation with Jackie Cioffa about what brought her to The Red Bench (literally and figuratively), the stigma around mental illness and what we can do to foster micro-moments of joy in our lives.

Soul-Full Sessions: The Manic Mind (Episode 2: Part 1) with Guest Author Jackie Cioffa

Part 1 of a captivating conversation with Jackie Cioffa about what brought her to The Red Bench (literally and figuratively), the stigma around mental illness and what we can do to foster micro-moments of joy in our lives.

Why Writing Your Truth Is an Effective Marketing Strategy by Guest @JackieCioffa with Bad RedHead Media for #NaNoProMo 2019

Writing my deepest truth has been my most effective promotional tour and marketing strategy, creating a snowball effect of kindness.

‘Red Bench’ author on mental health/modeling career

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In recognition of this, we’re joined in-studio by author and model Jackie Cioffa.

Her book, “The Red Bench,” chronicles her modeling career, managing mental illness and how it has affected her life. – Good Day Rochester with Norma Holland

CNY Native Pens Memoir on Being a Model, Living With Bipolar Disorder

By Briana Smith, Spectrum News

“There are 46 million people living with this disease, and suicide is becoming more and more prevalent in our society,” Cioffa
said. “I just want people who may be alone and suffering through this, [to know] there is help.”

‘It doesn’t discriminate’: Auburn native’s third book details mental illness with The Citizen

Cioffa said she hopes her honesty helps others feel like they have permission to share their own stories, and acts as a resource and life tool for others battling things no one else sees.

“It’s my gift and everybody can take what they need from it,” she said. “My goal is for people to not feel so alone inside the illness.” – “The Red Bench,” Jacqueline Cioffa

Jacqueline Cioffa, author of “The Red Bench”, recounts her own experience with mental illness in her memoir.

As Seen On Bridge Street

Jacqueline Cioffa’s Advance Review of The Lithium Chronicles: Volume One by Nicole Lyons 

“Nicole Lyons is one of the most exciting, vital poets of our generation.
THE LITHIUM CHRONICLES is her most ambitious and brazen work to date, and she delivers above and beyond. Nicole’s ability to delve deep into the human psyche, unapologetic, is her gift to the world. Penning a full range of raw, honest, rage and brutal emotion in six lines is her mastery and magic.”

Finger Lakes News Radio on WAUB Morning News Steve spoke with author Jackie Cioffa about her anticipated book release, THE RED BENCH and raising mental health awareness via @FLNewsRadio

March 1, 2019 Heartstrings: A Woman’s Writing Workshop with Jacqueline Cioffa hosted by Auburn Public Theater

“Writing, good writing begins with the most honest, painful, sincere, sensual, scary and absurd memories. Stellar writing must start from a sacred place of truth, examining both the dark and the light. Women today have much to say, so many vital, important life lessons to impart with the world.” – Jacqueline Cioffa

September 2018 Top 5: Jacqueline Cioffa, Author via @iwanttobeher

July 2018 – New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction

“In New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction, New York’s most promising up-and-coming authors have the chance to share their own words. Covering a wide array of genres and topics, these young talents will amaze you. Containing one essay per writer, this anthology is a compelling introduction to the great wordsmiths of tomorrow.” – Z Publishing House

Pleased to have my essay, “Good Stock,” featured in New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction.

April 2018 – Fingers and Bones: A Poem 
Guest Post @

Human, did you really ever think time was free?
That you could come and go as you please, that death was merely someone else’s walking dream.
Please place my ashes in the Mason jar mixed with my fuck ups, monumental errors, bad judgment, arrogance, ego, and greed when my time has finished.
Open the lid and throw all of the messiness and heaviness onto the wind.
Make sure it’s a strong breeze and golden hour, pink ombre summer’s eve.
Do not leave one speckle or trace of my existence inside, not one grain of dust or woeful sorrow to linger and wallow.
Let my time go when the jar grows full to the brim.
The beauty I leave behind is not mine to claim but the pure joy and lightness of love I shared and gifted away.
I cannot presume to know if my life made any difference.
How reckless and foolish would that be.
Time expands for the future legacy and all the beauty that is to come.
I am, after all at best, my strengths and faults soon forgotten.


Looking back now “Georgia Pine” is a story about loss. Loss in general but mostly the loss of very close people. I believe that is one of the most scarring experiences in a person’s life. It is a little like losing a piece of yourself and I suspect the way you deal with that determines what sort of person you become. However, Jacqueline Cioffa deals with this issue in an enormously compassionate way. Her characters experience pain fully but they do not give up. They find a way to make something out of that pain in sometimes rather peculiar ways. But that is the charm of the book.

August 2017 – Interview : Stories of Hope @ David Susman

You can have a mental illness and still make a positive impact on the world, in spite of the huge challenges. Living with mental illness does not define a whole person, and with the correct medicine, support and coping skills, life can be filled with accomplishments, purpose and happiness despite the enormous challenges and setbacks.

15 May 2017 – Guest Post @ Open Thought Vortex

Those who live on in our minds, those ones we can hear eyes closed, are the familiar bonds that can never be broken or diffused. I’m a mutt, Black Irish, German with a pinch of Italian thrown in. I know this because I have always been curious about where I came from, and more specifically the people I came from. Family is heavy sometimes like the two tons of butter my grandmother’s father used to make his baked goods.

15 February 2017 – Featured Writer @ Writing & Wellness

Some of my best ideas come when I’m outside in nature, walking, on an exercise bike, listening to music or observing my surroundings.

November 2016 – Author Interview @ Indie Book Promo

Write the truth, from the heart. Write because you love it, you may never be a famous author. Publishing is hard work and overwhelming at times, but never let anyone squash your dreams.

February 2016 – Throwback Poetry @ Mary Rowen

 Thirty years later, my mom pulls out the newsletter I’d long forgotten. She’d tucked it away in a drawer for safekeeping, perhaps with a foresight I didn’t have back then. I’d hightailed it, traveled the globe, the gypsy desperate to expand my horizons and my own Mind’s Eye, only to return home again. 

January 2016 – The Video Exchange @ Visionary Woman

 Video Exchange, the place of connecting with an expert commentator who can answer the questions you desire to know. No subject is off limits! Everything from loving your spouse to loving yourself and all subjects in-between are here for us to answer.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]January 2016 – The Ninth Planet @ On the Verge[/button]

 I don’t cry anymore, media men. Anchorman, you’ve washed up all my tears with your free-for-all, show it all, bad taste charade

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]December 2015 – Wake Me, I’m Dead Dreaming @ Organic Coffee[/button]

I hate you, I despise you with the bitter guts and boiling blood that festers inside; It’s all a waking dream and I’m suffocating; Where, so where do I place the fear I carry so heavy too heavy to mind …

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]November 2015 – Pattern Interrupt @ Feminine Collective[/button]

Years passed until one day I stopped, running, and actually gave a damn about someone other than me. The day I was down on my luck and couldn’t offer him a quarter, I finally understood the shame from his side.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]November 2015 – Author Interview @ Area Frenchman[/button]

Do you realize the danger of putting your competitive needs ahead of someone’s mental well-being? You are not playing games. This is serious business, you are dealing with people lives.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]November 2015 – Author Interview @ The Writing Life[/button]

 I made a pact to write everyday, stream of consciousness. The Red Bench was a coping mechanism, a way to hold onto to hope, and frankly to stay alive.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]November 2015 – Do Over Dances and New Old Beginnings @ Feminine Collective[/button]

 How was your day? Inside those four simple words lies the entire lifetime of one soul.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]October 2015 – Mind Trip Crossfire : Humanity Edition @ Lithium Chronicles[/button]

Who is to blame for the massacres, the sick individuals who walk into a school or movie theatre with mass arsenals readily available? I blame every single one of you. And myself.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]September 2015 – Seven Shades of Sick @ Feminine Collective[/button]

I am in the throes of psychosis, the broken point. Balancing on an invisible barbwire tightrope barefoot bloodied and blistered. I am scorching star stuff too far and away floating free fall above solid ground. One foot firmly rooted to the earth while the other tests the waters dipping my toes into the swirling madness.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]August 2015 – Sweet Child of Mine @ Feminine Collective[/button]

 It’ll be over before I can take in and fully grasp one human breath. Maybe you could add a pause button, please, so I might be more than some other being’s fading memory? Perhaps I can stay down there, just a little while longer? Not forever, no, I know. I understand. Just long enough, enough time so I can get it.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]August 2015 – Stomping Ground @ Rachel Thompson’s Blog[/button]

Who is this person? She doesn’t recognize her at all. Oh yeah, She, The Master of Pretending. To live, to exist in the dark requires discipline. She was tenacious, loyal, and loved hating herself. It was what she knew, the one emotion she understood intimately.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]August 2015 – #BeReal @ Hasty Words[/button]

 Being real has little to do with how you’d like to be perceived and everything to do with who you are naked and exposed.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]July 2015 – You’re Skinny You Don’t Have Any Problems @ Feminine Collective[/button]

 As Freud says, there are only two things. “There’s denial, and then there’s insanity.” And my life is lived somewhere in the middle. So, today I make this promise. I promise to smile at strangers, to allow myself some happiness, to chip away at the brick that has become my shell, and to hope.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]July 2015 – House of Mirrors @ Feminine Collective[/button]

All any of us wants is to be seen, really looked in the eye and acknowledged. Today, I’m hanging all the right mirrors in my house. Whether beveled, glass, wood, antique or modern, I’ll make sure they are a correct representation of who I am and where I come from and where I’d like to go. I’ll make sure that each time I look into them, I recognize my face looking back.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]May 2015 – The Fault Line @ The Lithium Chronicles[/button]

Praying for normal, begging and weeping for a sliver of routine. My beautiful, chaotic brain is burning. I see the words but cannot will the neurons to speak them from my mouth. I fear they will abandon me, the words, that is the fate waiting down the road. The fault line.

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” target=”_blank” size=”btn-lg”]March 2015 – It Hurts, Ya’ Know @ Stigma Fighters[/button]

 Mental Illness is the agonizing, paralyzing, uncompromising, anxiety-ridden, paranoid, numbing fear, night terrors in the daytime. It is the hideous, unforgiving, relentless, tedious, Ad nauseam unknown. Mental Illness is the unwanted safety net that stops me from believing I can fly.