Book Reviews & Interviews ~ Up The “Down” Ladder
Tags: A Woman's Voice, Author Dolores Ayotte, Book Reviews, depression, inspirational, Interviews, mental health, stigma of mental illness, Up the Down Ladder
You are an inspirational author. What made you decide this?
I have found that one of the most difficult things in life, for me and probably for many other people as well, is to embrace our own weaknesses and shortcomings. Our basic human nature is created with faults, foibles, and frailties. It is not to say that we don’t have many wonderful and desirable traits, but we seldom want to admit to some of the less complimentary ones, not even to ourselves.
I have discovered that when I honestly acknowledge and embrace my own weaknesses, they actually have less power over me and my actions. It’s when I refuse to admit my personal weaknesses that I come up short in being the true Christian I desire to be. In essence, the more aware I am of my flaws, the more able I am to control what I say and do.
It took me years to be honest and open about suffering from depression. Depression doesn’t always fall into the same category or receive the same compassion that physical illnesses do. Based on my experience, I still notice that many people are still very reluctant to openly discuss that they suffer from depression because it is considered to be a form of mental illness. I decided that it was time to “come clean” in order to help educate others in an effort to, not only help those who suffer from depression, but to better educate and inform people who are exposed to those who do.
It has been this realization that sparked my decision to journey down the path of writing and I haven’t looked back. I know in my heart it was the right way to go and this desire has been the inspiration behind all my writing…to help others.
Why did you include a Foreword for your book, Up the “Down” Ladder?
My daughter Andrea Cockerill honored me by writing the Foreword for my book. She has been a great inspiration to me. She writes about her opinion of me as her mother, and the influence I’ve had on her, not only as a young child, but as an adult and mother herself.
My editor suggested this little extra endorsement for my books. She felt that when publishing inspirational books, a Foreword creates an opportunity to get to know the author a little better through the eyes of another person who knows the author personally and can vouch for what they are writing about. I am very blessed that my daughter accepted to write this heart warming note on my behalf. Who could possibly know me better than my own family…?
Each chapter of the book begins with a quote. Was there a sole reason for sharing them?
All four of my inspirational books are chock full of quotes. To say “I love quotes” doesn’t quite cut it…I feel even stronger than that about the ones that apply to me and my life. This is one of the reasons why I do. Stretching yourself mentally can come in all forms. Although I enjoy reading and playing bridge, one of the forms of mental exercise I especially enjoy is in puzzle form. Over the years, I have taken great pleasure in developing my puzzle solving skills. The more I solve these puzzles, the better I get at it. The better I get at it, the better I feel about myself. My favorite puzzles to solve are crosswords and crypto quotes. Although they all bring me pleasure, the puzzle that has enhanced my life the most is the crypto quote. This quote is encoded by mixing up all the letters of the alphabet to mean a different letter in the quote. By figuring out which letter stands for which, you can eventually decode the quote of the puzzle. Each time the code is different.
I feel that I have been doubly blessed by having both the desire and the ability to do these puzzles. First of all, it makes me feel somewhat intelligent to be able to do them. Secondly and even more importantly, most of the quotes that I have saved and savored over the years are from these puzzles. Most of these wise sayings come from some of the greatest thinkers that have ever lived or still live today.
Many of them have been said or written by some pretty sage people like Einstein, Confucius, numerous writers, philosophers, past presidents, and the like, which are too numerous to mention by name here. I have had the double pleasure of not only solving these puzzles, but I’ve personally gained from their sagacity…I am a mere student at their feet soaking up their words of wisdom. It’s these words that I am trying to incorporate into my writing for the benefit of all. It is virtually impossible to express the strength and courage I discovered when heeding the words of these great people.
I read in the book that you suffered from depression. How did you overcome it and how will this book help those who are currently battling depression?
Yes I have suffered from depression and still do at times even today. Depression is usually a cyclical disorder and can come back to haunt the individual. In my book I go into full detail explaining the steps I took to better cope with this often misunderstood illness and the debilitating effects it can have on the person suffering from it.
Depression has a long reach and can also affect the people who love the depressed person. To say that a person can “snap out” of this state of despair does a disservice to those that suffer from it. However, I know from personal experience that a depressed person can help themselves if or when they make a conscious decision to do so. This is what my inspirational book is all about…the deep desire to encourage others to get help in order to better cope. I learned to embrace my illness and not to wish it away…it is an intimate part of me and my personal being but it no longer controls me.
Why did you want to publish “Up the ‘Down’ Ladder?” What message did you want to share and what do you hope people will gain from it?
I feel we basically learn from our own lessons and can only guide and inspire others based on those very lessons if they have the desire to learn from them and embrace what we have to share. Depression has a range of being mild, to moderate, to a more severe form known as a major depression. Some people call this form clinical depression. Many people experience what is considered to be the normal down times in their lives as well as others who suffer from mild to moderate depression. The effects of a major depression usually create a devastation that does not allow you to function within your normal routine. I suffered from the devastation of the latter form because I was unable to continue to work at my teaching career when I was experiencing the depression.
Essentially the message I am trying to give people is that of “hope”. I’m sharing my experiences with as many people as possible in order to be a witness to others so that they can have “hope” as well. Eventually my depression became like a new beginning for me. It gave me the opportunity to learn from my experiences and the desire to share those experiences by becoming an author.
What has the feedback been like to this book?
The feedback from this book has been very positive. In fact, it is my best selling book thus far. Depression is far more prevalent than most people realize. In the past, many people, including me, felt that they were alone in their suffering. By reading books on this topic, people become more aware that it’s okay to admit to their illness and to seek the help that they need. There is no longer the need to suffer in silence.
Now that I have found my voice, I want to share it with everyone who will hear/listen to me. I want sufferers of depression to know that they are not alone. It is wise to be patient and give yourself time to heal…because it does take time. It has been my experience that when you see glimmers of light, you will have new hope, and with new hope, you will find a new and happier life.
You have written four inspirational books, thus far. How does it make you feel?
It makes me feel like I have and can make a difference in other people’s lives. The reason I have chosen to reach out to others in this way is to demonstrate where I started in my healing process, what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned, and where I am today. It’s to show how far I’ve come. All those years ago, I thought I had something to say, but I didn’t know quite how to say it or exactly what to say. I just couldn’t seem to find the right words. The biggest and most profound step for me, however, was finding the courage to discuss my depression. In my deepest despair, I never thought this day would come because I was so ashamed of myself and my feelings of failure and inadequacy/inferiority. Today, I am full of joy to have found the inspiration, the strength, and the desire to write so openly about my feelings.
Over twenty-five years ago, when I was at a very low point in my life, the first thing I wanted to do when I got back on my feet was to try and prevent someone else from experiencing what I had gone through. For those of you that have suffered from any kind of depression, there is no need to explain why. For those of you living with a depressed person, there is also no need to explain why. The impact on your life and the lives of those around is beyond words. Initially, I wanted to write my recipe for better life coping skills for anyone who would be prepared to read it. As the years went by and my own children got older, married, and eventually started their own families, the reason for writing the recipe shifted to them. Once I completed my first book, it then shifted back to embrace a wider audience, and I ended up where I started off. I decided to return to my original plan and share it with as many people as possible.