Am I Supposed To Write A Book?

In my last post, I mentioned writing a book. And I decided that I don’t need initials after my name to be an expert – particularly since it’s my story. Who knows it better than me, besides God? (“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms‬ ‭139:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Ted first suggested it, many years ago. He said it during several of our therapy sessions. He thinks “I have a book in me.”

While living in Florida, my then-therapist Elizabeth told me that she, too, thinks I should write a book. She said it almost every time she saw me – that I should write it all down. And she’d buy it!

Carol and Anne and Stacy have been encouraging. So has Jane. Even Dad a little. I have support from several friends who think I could do it.

From where will I get my story? I began journaling consistently in March 2008 – right at the beginning of my depression journey. And I wrote lots! Some days I wrote several times throughout the hours, especially when I was in the depths of the darkness. How do I even begin to sort through them? I’ve developed a color-coding system with 3M sticky arrows, to highlight different entries I wrote that might be significant to outlining the book. Now to read through all 17 journals and flag them appropriately!

I also began to write email summaries of my appointments with Ted, often with questions for clarification, and I kept a copy of most of them. I wrote in Docs at work when I didn’t have my journal, so I have those notes. And finally, I joined WordPress to try blogging. Maybe I should print out these things and flag them as well.

I can add to this what I learned when I facilitated the depression support group at my old church. My friend advised when I shared with the attendees, I should simply start with my current situation. “Start with where you are.”

So, is that what I do if I want to write a book? Start with where I am now? Or start with the beginning of the journey? How will it be different from blogging? How do I know to whom I’m writing – who is my audience?

I’d like to write a memoir or devotional of the time of my life when I first experienced depression, up to present-day struggles. To explain to Christian women with depression (there’s my audience) that it’s possible to have hope in Christ in spite of having a mental illness. That I am not my depression – I’m a beloved daughter of the King, and so are they. I want to offer them this hope, as I found it in my journey through the desert of depression.

There are many tools and organizations available to me to help me write this book. A friend of mine just recently published his first book, and he recommended a writing program. Perhaps I’ll use one of those to keep me organized and on-task, and to give me regular feedback in the process. I took a one day writing workshop a few months ago – I need to get the workbook out and finish those exercises. They’ll help me be disciplined, too. Perhaps these tools can give me an idea of the order in which I tell my story.

No matter what, I think I know what my next adventure is. Let the writing begin!

Thinking about the Past Can Cause Anxiety

I met with my therapist last Thursday. Overall, it was a good appointment. We talked about some tasks I had tackled over the previous week – investigating book clubs, knitting clubs, volunteering at a local Adult Care Center. It felt good to be proactive, and it was nice to share that confidence I felt with her.

We discussed my previous experience in participating and then facilitating peer-led support groups for folks suffering with depression. I told her how I would love to do that again, and we brainstormed some ideas on who to talk to about such a group. I’m excited to be thinking about such an opportunity. It’s been such a long time (3+ years) and I’ve really missed it.

We also talked about my darkest times – including the first time I told Chris I was suicidal.  She asked what I remembered about that moment, and I recalled it vividly – could picture myself at the counter in my pajamas and robe. I had just turned around from making a cup of coffee as he was walking towards me. I told him to come closer and hug me. I began to cry, and told him that I was thinking of hurting myself. Chris pulled back from me, his hands still on my arms, and I watched his eyes fill with tears as he told me he couldn’t bear it if anything happened to me. I felt his arms go back around me as he hugged me and I told him I needed help. He whispered, “We’ll get through this.”

Funny, I don’t really remember what happened next. I know my first trip to the hospital emergency room was soon after that (same day? same week?), when I experienced a sudden weakness in my whole body. But I don’t remember the rest of that day’s detail.

I shared with her, too, about the other time I told my husband that I needed help. I recalled the ensuing trip to emergency, waiting in a small room with a couch and examination bed – just me and my husband and the nurse who came and went, turned on the tv, brought water, checked on me. I remember the social worker coming in and telling us there were no beds available in the psych wards in town, and we told her we couldn’t go 2 1/2 hours away to the nearest hospital. She came back in the room and helped me write “a safety plan.” I told my therapist about my doctor friend, Jim, who came on call as I was getting ready to leave the emergency room, and how he assured me that he would take care of us if we needed to come back.

Anyway, after I shared those two stories with my therapist, we went on to talk about how hard it is to say those three words, “I need help.” And our appointment continued from there.

I haven’t thought about those two scenarios in a long time, and as I walked to my car at the end of our session, I suddenly felt anxious. That deep in the gut hollowness of anxiety.

I know that thoughts of the past can be positive or negative, pleasant or difficult. I was just surprised by my physical response to thinking back. It took the rest of the day to shake off that nervousness in the pit of my stomach. But now I know – memory is a very powerful thing.


I sometimes write my posts in present tense, as if the experiences to which I refer are happening now. I do this for two reasons:

  1. I think it makes the post more powerful. And even though it might not be happening at the moment, it was very real and true.
  2. There may be readers who are currently experiencing what I am sharing from my story.  I hope this gives a sense of “you are not alone.”

These are my stories of my journeys through depression. While I am not licensed nor trained to give depression advice, I do think that we can learn from each other as we share our experiences and what has or hasn’t worked in our lives. I may tag some of my posts with “depression advice” just so that readers can find depression helps that worked for me.

My Blog Goals

It’s time to assess my blog, and it’s an assignment for my latest blogging course. I’ve had this blog since January and am close to 100 posts – now is a good time to evaluate. Is my blog doing what I want it to do? More importantly, am I doing what God wants me to do with my blog?

I want to share my story of depression, and God’s faithfulness through it. I want people to find comfort here – maybe they relate to my experiences or can try one of the tools that helped me.  When I’ve struggled with depression, it’s helped me to know that I’m not alone – maybe this blog is doing that for someone like others have done for me.

When I first started blogging, I had a long list of topics to “discuss,” things that I had talked about in support groups. I still have that list, but so far, I’ve specifically focused my writings here on my story, not research or others’ stories. But the information that I’ve gathered was helpful to me, so I suppose that makes it part of my story after all.

I’m setting some goals for my blog for the next couple of months.

    1. I will post 1 time per week through January.
    2. I will post another 1 time per week, sharing from my list of topics and research.
    3. Weekly, I will search for, read, and comment on other blogs written about or by Christians  with depression.

Please help me meet my new goals by answering the following.  Thanks for your help.



In the midst

This entry was inspired by words from my massage therapist today (thanks, Stephanie). I told her about my struggle in the middle of depression, and that I blogged about it yesterday. She told me that she liked that – writing in the midst of it, instead of just recalling it later.

So with that in mind, I’m going to try and write about my depression journey as it is happening. My experience is unique to me – no two folks struggling with this illness manifest it in quite the same way. So these are my experiences, and I wouldn’t presume that they apply to others, although depression does have some common characteristics but with different expressions.

The past few days have been punctuated with sudden tears – I’m crying out of the blue. And then I’m sobbing. Cried in therapy on Monday, and in psych doc’s yesterday. Deep sobs, as well as tears rolling down my checks – not bothering to wipe them away unless they interfere with my vision. That’s why it’s easier to sob at home – no reason to hold back. Finding it very hard to express the sadness out loud – saying the words makes me cry. Writing is a bit easier – I can pause writing to sob if I need to, and you the reader will never know.

The doc asked me yesterday if I feel hopeless. I said yes, but then qualified it to say that I feel more resigned/stuck/helpless than hopeless. Like “Here I go again, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m already in the depression.”

I’m grateful to friends who remind me that God is with me in this, because I feel so isolated and alone. Even though I know people care and they tell me so, depression makes it easy to dismiss those sentiments as, “Yeah, thanks. But I don’t see God anywhere.” Of course, truth says otherwise – I can’t trust what my feelings tell me, because depression lies.

I had a hard time going to bed last night – why bother, since it’s just going to bring another sad day. But I woke up early – eager for my massage. So that’s good, because depression doesn’t motivate me to do anything, and it steals the things I used to like to do. So being eager to get a massage is a positive – looking forward to something instead of dreading it. There must have been a little dread, though, since I got really anxious before I left the house, had to take a pill to calm my nerves and flip-flop stomach.

I have no desire to talk to anyone, and chit-chat is a chore. It’s easier if I can get the other person talking, so I can listen but not have to contribute much.

I can put on a smile, even laugh – I can have moments where I’m not in total darkness. But those moments are short-lived. And they make me tired.

I feel lazy, which makes me feel guilty. But I’m not lazy, I’m tired. Through and through. I feel like no one understands, but that’s not true. I’m glad people understand, but at the same time, I really don’t care if they do.  That makes me judge myself as ungrateful, which also makes me feel guilty.

I’m often way down the trail of negative or sad thoughts before I realize it. I try to stop it by bringing myself back to now. But then I judge myself again for letting my spiraling thoughts get the best of me, not taking every thought captive to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

I’m a very harsh self-critic. I’m trying to replace those thoughts with how God sees me – His love and compassion and patience and grief for my grief. It takes lots of discipline – some moments I do it well. Other moments, I’m sobbing again.

Now trying to decide between food and nap. My stomach is growling but my eyes feel heavy. Decision making – even something as simple as this – which should I do first? – is very hard with depression. I’m probably better off if someone just gently tells me what to do, so I don’t have to decide. Except I want the right to decide. Not that I would – I have no will, am being bounced around by my circumstances, am not expressing my choice. Because that’s too hard to do.

I think I’ll go take a nap.