Brittany Means is the best-selling author of Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways: A Memoir. Her book was a People Magazine pick for Best Books of Fall 2023. She has won several awards for her work including the Magdalena Award and the Grace Paley Fellowship. Brittany is also an editor and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She holds an MFA from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and a Bachelor’s in English from Ball State University.

Life on Campus

Growing up, Brittany’s life was not easy. The events that transpired would eventually inspire her memoir, but they left her with deep hurts. When she came to Ball State in 2011, she was trying to build the life she wanted from the ground up. As an English major, she was thrown into classes that challenged the way she thought about writing and was able to learn from professors who transformed both her personal and professional journeys.

Cathy Day, a professor and the Chair of the English Department, taught a literary citizenship course that was very impactful on Brittany’s life. Cathy was a champion for teaching students how to apply what they were learning in their English courses to a career.  Cathy was the first person to show Brittany what her life could look like if she continued down this path. Brittany was shown the exact paths she could follow and the different roles she could fill. This class also helped her meet a lot of other writers. Brittany was taught how to network and to be an active voice on social media. Even presently, this class is having an impact on Brittany’s life as she works with many people whom she met during her time as a student. Cathy also took Brittany under her wing and helped her apply for scholarships, which meant a lot to Brittany.

The other person who had a huge impact on Brittany’s life was Jill Christman. Jill took Brittany aside one day and told her that she was a writer. This was a huge pivot point for her.

“Someone I greatly admired told me I was good at something I wanted to be good at. There was no better feeling.”

Jill encouraged Brittany to apply to go to literary events and challenged her to get her stories out of her head and onto paper. Jill even ended up writing one of her recommendations to go to graduate school. This relationship was incredibly meaningful to Brittany as it was in many ways the first acknowledgment of the talent and ability Brittany possessed.

Brittany loved all of her classes in the English Department as they each helped inform her writing skills in a new and different way. She became confident in her ability to read and analyze the works of others and learned how to make strong claims in her own writing. Another highlight of her time on campus was when she met her current partner who has walked by her side each day of her journey.


After graduating, Brittany stayed around Muncie and worked at the Ball State University Foundation for two years in their development department. After her time there, she set out to pursue her MFA in nonfiction writing. Throughout her time as a student in Iowa, Brittany was exposed to new perspectives and ways of looking at the world. She attended many workshops and other events that allowed her to develop into the author she is today. At the University of Iowa, she had the opportunity to not only grow her skills but to also teach courses in writing, including creative nonfiction and writing for business. It was also during her time here that she drafted her memoir for the first time.

Following graduation, she taught at a center for reading development where she helped K-12 students work on their reading, writing, and comprehension skills. She then decided to take her writing career a step further and become a technical writer and editor.

Now, as a published author, Brittany has experienced the full scope of what it means to pursue a career in writing. She feels honored to have shared her story and to see the impact it has had on her readers. Many people have messaged her and thanked her for the stories she shared in her book. Her main goal of writing her memoir was to let people know that they weren’t alone in their stories and struggles and she definitely accomplished her goal. She is excited to see where her career takes her as she looks to publish a second book that focuses on how delusions and mental health manifest in religious communities.

Advice for Students

“My biggest piece of advice would be to take advantage of the free counseling service that Ball State offers to all of its students. You need to learn to take care of yourself as a human being before you can be a successful student.”

Brittany stated that there was so much to learn in college, but some of the most important lessons came in the form of learning how to care for herself, meet her own needs, and learn how to balance all of the things that were expected of her. College can be rough for anyone, so taking time to learn who you are and what you need is just as important, if not more important, than the grades in a class.

Brittany is incredibly grateful for her time at Ball State and how her experiences on campus set her on the road to success. She is excited to see what each student that comes out of graduation has to offer the world.