I've been working my way through the Kingsley Series lately, telling you all about the thread of Depression (and general mental health) awareness that runs through the books in this series. I talked a little about why, and what part mental health plays in each book in this series (so far). I even mentioned briefly why this particular subject is such an important one for me personally, and in the back of each book, I've included a personal letter from me that relates even more closely to the story of each Kingsley couple.
I'm thirty-two now, and I have suffered from Depression for over half my life; for all of my adult life (and most of my teenage years) I've battled tendencies to self-destructive thoughts, thoughts of self-harm, poor relationship choices, and suicidal temptation -- but with that said, I can also say that I'm among the lucky ones.
For me, Depression is a demon that rides around on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. It tells me I'm not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not tall enough. Not good enough. It echoes things that I have heard from others, from commercials, from books, from music, from movies. From people who were once close to me, from people who lied to me or people who once loved me but for whatever reason eventually stopped. Depression tells me that everyone who ever left my life did it willingly, that they left me because I lack whatever it takes to keep people around, that every loss I've ever felt has somehow not only been my fault, but because I deserve that loss. It tells me that I'll never amount to anything, that I'm destined to never rise above the legacy of my childhood. Because I am not deserving of good things, because I am not deserving of love, because I am not enough.
Because whatever it is, I don't have it.
Sometimes it echoes the things people have said to me, things that poked right through the tough exterior, things that dug right into the soft center of the girl everyone believes is fearless. It tells me disdainfully that I'm "a typical woman" because I want romance in my life that meets my emotional needs (just like everyone else does), and it tells me I am "selfish" and "greedy" because I am no longer willing to settle for less than what will make me happy. It tells me I am "lazy" because I work at home instead of outside the home, it tells me I am "doing nothing all day" even though my timeclock argues otherwise. When I'm feeling accomplished and proud to be chasing my dreams, Depression whispers in my ear, "Come on, you and I both know you'll never get there." It uses my father's voice, my uncle's voice, the voice of a childhood friend. It uses the voices of men I once loved, the voices of their family members, the voices of my own family members. It uses the sting of a laughing vocal tone, the spiritual ache of a scornful eye roll, the twinge of soul that occurs upon the witness of a doubtful smirk.
Depression is a demon, make no mistake about it; it's an enemy that hides like a shadow behind every mental corner, creeps upon you like a predator in the quiet moments, and never lets go.
But it can be beaten, even if it must be beaten again and again.
In More Than Friends, Michael Kingsley suffered from Depression after his wife left him. He's the first in the Kingsley family to be divorced, and he saw his wife's abandonment as a personal failure. He sank into alcohol abuse, fell into a casual sex relationship that sated his need for companionship but failed to ease the wounds of his spirit. He went through the motions, sure, kept his business running, kept his relationships up with his family ... but under the surface, there was a demon whispering in his ear.
- "You were a lousy husband."
- "It's no wonder she left you."
- "What a loser, you can't even keep a wife."
- "Look, everyone is married but you."
- "Everyone is in love, but you."
- "You're a failure. An embarrassment. An alcoholic."
But Michael was one of the lucky ones, too -- maybe even luckier than I am. Michael was fortunate enough to have a close-knit family that supported him, a young employee who looked up to him, a friend who never failed to just be there for him.
His family offered him unconditional love, the belief that he would be alright, the certainty that all would be well again. He knew they would never leave him. Ben, the young man who worked for Michael, was an encouragement simply by the friendship he offered, the faithfulness of his work ethic, and his eagerness to be helpful. But it was Renee who spent those quiet moments with him, talking too much about nothing, laughing over stupid jokes, and simply being present in his life. It was Renee who offered Michael another glimpse at something he wasn't sure he'd ever feel again -- hope.
Hope is the single strongest weapon a sufferer of Depression has, the single most valuable tool that can be used to fight the demon. Hope waters the spirit, gives life to the soul, and allows so many other beautiful things to bloom.
In the next newsletter, we'll talk about the value of Hope, where to find it when you're next to giving up, and how to grow it once you've got it.
But for now, I'd like to offer you a giveaway -- my first $20 Trivia.
Also: a reminder, and a request for help. Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series, is now free on most major e-book markets. For direct download links, the book blurb, and more information about the Kingsley Series, please see the Kingsley Series information page. Fat Chance also needs some review love! Reviews are a meaningful way to let authors know what you like best about a book, and I try to read every single review of my books. Now and then I miss one though, so if you review Fat Chance (or any of my books) on any website or online platform, please send a link to your review to me at email@example.com. Make sure to include your name and mailing address, and I'll drop a swag pack in the mail to thank you for your time.