You guys, book club just keeps getting better and better this month. Not only did FIVE people win copies of our September book (Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton), but this is THE month where a book event comes to you.
One aspect of cross-cultural living that is hard for me is not being able to attend book events with others who I can then later talk about the event with. Where we all HEAR the same person speak at the same time. The internet is great for bringing information to us, letting us hear people speak or read their words. The tension for me is I have heard or read this inspiring, challenging, or annoying and have no one but the voices in my head (or the unfortunate people I force to get up to speed by my retelling them what I experienced) to share with.
I am thrilled Kimberlee is going to be popping in here throughout the month. Have the book finished by September 23rd because Kimberlee is going to join us and allow us to have a Q and A with her!
If you didn’t win a copy, you might be wondering if this is worth the $8 (USD). To wet your whistle, I’ve been given permission by Michelle DeRusha to share part of an interview she did with Kimberlee. You can read the whole thing here.
Q. Kimberlee, this book reads like a journal to me – like we are peeling back the pages of your heart and reading the deepest part of you. Did you have a journal-style approach in mind when you wrote the book? And was it difficult to write so transparently?
A. True confession: this book is comprised in large part of entries from my journal from that year. I edited them down a lot because I wrote the same things over and over and over again to the point that even I was bored when I typed them into my computer. So no, the transparency wasn’t difficult—it was already present in the journal entries, which were written from a place of desperation. I just had to figure out how to make them less redundant and more concrete.
Q. Postpartum depression, and depression in general, isn’t talked about very much – there is still a stigma that goes along with it. Did you have any reservations or fears about writing about such a difficult topic? And if so, how did you overcome those fears to write so authentically and honestly?
A. In my first book, I mention my postpartum depression after my oldest was born, and one reader reamed me for that, basically saying that he didn’t believe that PPD was real and that I just needed to grow up. No one likes getting reamed; I think I like it less than anyone else in the world. 🙂 So yes, there was some fear.
But one of the things I hoped my book would do is help other women who struggle with PPD (or depression or anxiety, all of which have neurological and hormonal roots) to be kinder to themselves, to stop seeing themselves as failures, to stop telling themselves what that guy told me: that they just need to grow up or be strong or trust Jesus or whatever.
I wanted to write the book that I needed to read during my depression, one that assured me I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t a Bad Mother or a Bad Christian because I couldn’t cope with my life, that I wasn’t the only person who had experienced this, and that it was going to be okay.
Q. At one point in your book you quote another author, who said, “Fear is the fleeing ahead.” As a chronic worrier, this statement really resonated with me! What concrete steps have you taken to prevent yourself from getting caught in the cycle of “fleeing ahead?”
A. Oh Michelle, how long do you have?
I strongly recommend fresh air and exercise. A long walk outdoors does wonders for reducing my anxiety level. Especially if I couple it with my practice of taking grace notes, a practice of noticing moments of beauty or joy or wonder or laughter or the goodness of life that I ordinarily take for granted.
When I realize I am fleeing ahead in fear of the Next Bad Thing, I take a deep breath (or four). I say the Jesus Prayer in rhythm with my breathing. I look around and notice something good that is right here, right now. I thank God for that thing—whether it’s a beautiful fall leaf or my daughter’s smile or the heat pouring from the registers. Then I rinse and repeat until I have returned to the present.
It’s definitely a discipline, and it was a lot harder at first than it is now. But after four or so years of this practice, I am happier and more emotionally healthy than I’ve ever been. The little blue pills help, too, of course, but they can only do so much, you know? Practicing thankfulness or gratitude or jotting down grace notes when I become aware that I’m anxious—this is probably the biggest change I’ve made that has brought me to this place of equilibrium and joy.
Check out the rest of the interview. To think Kimberlee will be joining us. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t like over-hyping in our modern world and how everything is SPECTACULAR and you don’t want to miss out! But this is one time in book club, I really don’t want you to miss out. It’s easy to join. All you need to do is get the book, read along, and comment as you want.
Got your copy of Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton yet? Do you? Do you? Ok, I’ll stop pestering =)
Where have you found your fear fleeing ahead this week?
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