You will never be younger than you are today
I always wanted to write a book, but did not know what to write about. It was always “someday” -someday I would figure it out, someday I would start.
What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?
In 2011, I was at the point where I saw nothing in the future worth living. I did not see the love that was there, or emotional pain going away. All I recognized was losses with threat of more to come. Hopelessness was pervasive and my reality.
I had started to write while in the hospital for this major depressive episode. Later, I was asked to write an article of inspiration for fellow sufferers. The honor of writing for others, and even the suggestion that I could, spurred me to produce my first book. Called to Live: A Chronicle of Recovery After Attempted Suicide is an autobiography, describing the day-to-day process of changing a severely depressed mindset to one of hope.
What were the specific obstacles that you faced?
My greatest obstacle in the past had been not having a real idea of what to write. When I did write, it was often aimless thoughts. Yet during recovery from attempted suicide, I felt a purging of me onto paper. I was discovering who I was because everything in therapy was an epiphany…it was light bulb after light bulb.
The next obstacle was my lack of willingness to put my story out there for others to see. At first, fearful of such exposure, what I wrote was merely for my eyes. Then it was going to be a book with a pseudonym. Finally feeling ready to share my story under my true name, slowly I began to talk about it.
What helped you get through them?
I talk professionally now about hope: how to avoid attempting suicide; how to gain and maintain a mindset of hope; and I share my story. That is the best way to grow through those initial obstacles. I love what I do. Although I cannot speak as a therapist or doctor, by life experience I am able to tell people how to find the right kind of help. I encourage people to not fear living, that there is more than what we can see while majorly depressed.
Were there people who tried to discourage you?
Yes, there were discouragers. I remember well the first acquaintance I told about my upcoming book. She just walked away without a word, presumably angry or offended because she had not known what to expect. I had a relative tell me no one would read it. It was some family, friends, and mostly strangers who encouraged me to keep the fire lit, to talk about it, to get out there and help.
People will often look at mental illness as if it is a personal threat. It is a heavy topic and sometimes people run from it. This is why I also speak about (even have a half-day seminar on this) stigma and how to be an effective support to a mentally ill family member, friend, employee, church member, or anyone.
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
My mental health was not up-to-speed when Called to Live was first published. My attitude was more “so what” than enthused. That was then – but now I am grateful. I want the message to get out and I cannot wait for people to read or hear what I offer because it will help. It is fulfilling to do something that is truly me.
What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?
Just start. You will never be younger than you are today…so start. It is never too late. If your dream is to write, then do it. Let the words come and build on each other. Write from what you know. Each day gives us 24 hours. We cannot finish all of our dreams in 24 hours, but we can start.
To read an excerpt from Called to Live: A Chronicle of Recovery After Attempted Suicide and Nancy’s other books and blogs, click here.