You know what scares the crap out of me? Book sales. Tables and tables featuring rows and rows of books that need to be moved. Books being sold for a fraction of the price they were originally available for. Books that, for the most part, I have never, ever heard of.
Ugh, it gives me shivers just thinking about it. Each one of those books contains weeks, months, and years of effort on the part of some author somewhere. Someone who poured over data, conducted extensive research, created entirely new universes, delved into the deepest parts of their souls, and brought forth something they felt the world needed to hear.
And now their work is available for $1.50 at the local library’s annual book sale. Well, 75 cents if it’s the paperback edition…
I’ve had several people tell me lately, “You should write a book.” Well, that’s easy for you to say. You probably haven’t tried to write a book before. I think I made it all the way to 20 pages once, and that’s because I was forced to write that much for a class. I am brutally critical of anything I write (or do, for that matter), so in order for it to survive it must be locked away somewhere out of my sight or I will throw it away. I’ve probably tossed out more stuff than many people have even attempted to write.
As someone who is still trying to come to terms with depression and what it means, though, I’m beginning to see this type of behavior is sort of par for the course. “I’m not doing enough” quickly transitions to “I’ve got to make up for lost time” which leads to “I need to do something now” and eventually finishes with “I don’t know why I even bothered doing that because the results suck.” That this thought process would extend into attempting to write something shouldn’t surprise me by now, but it still happens. I just know any book I write is going to wind up in the bargain bin.
In the absence of being able to complete anything of my own, I often find myself reading and listening to the voices of others. I’ve only recently realized how much I love just listening to other people’s stories. That can mean a variety of different things, from reading an autobiography to listening to a podcast to simply chatting with a friend. For years, I tried to convince myself that the most important authors were the ones who wrote fiction, but I’m finding it’s the people who can convey the real stories – biographers, journalists, interviewers – that capture my attention.
So after being diagnosed with dysthymia, I began to seek out depression-related material. I’m sure I’ve barely even scratched the surface of what is out there, but the results of my quest have been mixed so far. For example, R. A. Dickey’s autobiography Wherever I Wind Up is an outstanding example of one man’s struggle to reconcile his faith in God with the traumatic experiences of his own life, while Paul Gilmartin’s The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast manages to routinely torpedo it’s more interesting content with no real goal for hope and a nearly endless barrage of F-bombs.
I’d like to say I’ve found more examples that fall on Dickey’s side than Gilmartin’s, but, sadly, that has not been the case. It seems that in this day and age when more and more people are willing to discuss mental illness, there are fewer and fewer people of faith with inspiring stories of coming out of it. Either that or people of faith make it seem like they were depressed for about five minutes, prayed, and then everything was better. That’s certainly not how my depression has worked, and I’m relatively sure that’s not how it works for most other people either.
With that in mind, I’ve begun to kick around an idea in my head: Why not start compiling stories from people who have experienced depression or mental illness but were able to filter their ordeals through the lense of faith? Or even from people who have maybe had their faith shaken by their experience? And then why not put all those experiences together in the form of a – gulp – book?
So here’s what I’m looking for: If you are a Christian and suffer from depression or you’ve ever had a season of depression, get in touch with me. If you’ve had experience with mental illness and it has affected your faith, let me know. I may even open up the blog to some guest posts. I don’t get excited by many ideas when it comes to writing a book, but this one has taken hold of me. I can’t do it without some help, though.
This will all take some working out, but I at least wanted to get the ball rolling. Who knows? If I keep on going at this rate, maybe I could wind up in the dollar bin by next Christmas!