Jay D Roberts MD is a board-certified physiatrist, specializing in the treatment of physical disabilities with a focus of adding quality to life. He is currently in private practice in California. He is a member and lecturer at national and international conferences related to his specialty, a contributing author to Current Trends in Physiatry, and author of various scientific papers. In addition to his career, Dr. Roberts volunteers as part of a Christian ministry in maximum security prisons. He and his wife, parents of two grown sons, live in Indian Wells, California. Break the Chains is Dr. Roberts’ first book. Following in the long tradition of doctors who combine their passion for saving lives with their passion for writing, Dr. Roberts is currently at work on a novel, concerning children forced to work in mines.
If you were abused over and over again, would you become an abuser? Or would you learn to forgive? Dr. Jay Roberts had to go to prison to learn the answer.
In 1999 Dr. Roberts was in at-home hospice care preparing for his own death from a neurological disease. At the point where he finally gave up, he experienced a spontaneous, overnight healing. It was not the first time he had “cheated” death. He had survived a fifty-foot fall from a cliff, a plane crash, and attempts on his life by rebel insurgents in remote areas in the Philippines in 1970s. This near-death escape was different though, because it was the culmination of a turbulent lifelong dialogue with God which started when he was a child being bull-whipped by his alcoholic father. Yet even after his complete recovery from disease, it would take a maximum security prison environment to reveal to him the mysterious power of forgiveness.
In the telling of his fascinating story—of extreme abuse, of the compulsion to become a pain and wound care specialist, of medical school in a third world country against a dangerous political backdrop, and of his return home to deal with the demons he’d left behind—Dr. Roberts tackles the big questions illuminating physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Break the Chains affirms faith in both God and the human spirit. It is as revealing and inspirational as it is truthful and poignant.
Q: What compelled you to write Break the Chains?
A: After I was healed in 1999, I had a deep desire, passion to write, despite my head telling me not to. I ignored the feeling for a few years, but I could not extinguish the burning flame to write my story. Buddy, who you will meet in my story, kept telling me that I must write, to trust him, that everything would be okay even if I told of my past.
Q: How was it for you, looking back into the past?
A: Difficult and painful. First, I had to mentally agree to disclose my family secret. Second, I had to write it down, uncovering the past that I had buried for years. Then, I had to let it out of my hands and into the public.
Q: In 1999, you were preparing for your own death due to a neurological disease, then you experienced a spontaneous healing. Tell us what happened.
A: I was at my lowest point. Tired of fighting God. Tired of self-pity. Tired of being in control. At that moment I surrendered to Christ, and died to myself. I saw a vision and awoke healed.
Q: In what way does Break the Chains tackle the big questions illuminating physical, mental, and spiritual growth?
A: Throughout the book I show my physical, mental and spiritual struggles and how I was able to overcome horrendous obstacles, transform my shame to forgiveness, and heal.
Q: Did you research or study the craft of memoir writing before starting your book?
A: Yes. I read books on the craft of writing and attended several workshops. For me, it was necessary. My first attempt at writing, before my studies, read like a medical report void of any feeling. It was awful!
Q: While writing this memoir, did you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
A: From afar, if you mean spiritually, YES. But not manipulated, more guided.
Q: What has been the most positive aspect of writing this book?
A: After reading my book my mother called and asked me to forgive her for not protecting me as a child!
Q: Is there any point during the writing of your memoir that you thought you couldn’t go on?
A: Yes. For two years I did not write. It was too painful to put down my shame.
Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as a writer?
A: When I held my bound book for the first time. I shivered. My hairs on my arms stood up! I felt like a father looking at his precious little one. I might add I had a temporary fear of letting my baby out into the world!
Q: Will you be writing another book in the near future?
A: I am currently finishing my first novel, Tin Kids, about the abuse of kids in tin mines. It is a medical, political thriller. I am very pleased with it. Can’t wait to send this baby out into the world!!
Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
A: Well, you must for sure keep writing, and believe in yourself. I prefer to be in a “Spiritual High” to keep my writing flame from being extinguished during times of doubt, frustration, re-writes, and rejections.
Q: Leave my readers with some words of wisdom.
A: Never stop writing. Never take “no” for an answer. I was rejected- by many editors, publishers, and agents. I was even told to my face, “Even if you can write, which you can’t because you’re a doctor, and, anyway, no one will ever buy your book because you’re a nobody.” Believe in yourself. You are somebody!