A Woman's Voice


Book Reviews & Interviews ~ Up The “Down” Ladder

Drip…Drop…the reality of Depression and its Devastating Consequences!
rain drop

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.
http://www.amazon.com/Up-The-Down-Ladder-ebook/dp/B007K8QO28/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378330758&sr=1-3

Up The “Down” Ladder by Author Dolores Ayotte

Up The “Down” Ladder special promotion…now 99 cents for one week only!
May 9-16th.

Synopsis
…I’ve noticed something else in my travels. At times, the recollection of what happened to us to cause our depression can be skewed. It can build up in our minds as being much worse than what really occurred. It is only human to want to “pay back” others for what we think they did and for the grief that they caused.

If someone was really mean-spirited toward you and caused you nothing but grief, I repeat, the best way to “get even” is to “get better”. Remove your invisible “kick me” sign and don’t allow anyone to get the better of you. Stop… and I do mean stop allowing people to put you down. It seems to be a human flaw that if someone feels lousy, someone else will capitalize on it. I hope that you read me loud and clear on this matter because I can’t stress it enough. Work everyday at building up your self-esteem and your self-confidence. Make this the basis of your “new you” structure.

http://www.amazon.com/Up-The-Down-Ladder-ebook/dp/B007K8QO28/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378330758&sr=1-3

Book Reviews ~ Up The “Down” Ladder

I’ve read two other books by this author, “I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay”, and, “Growing Up and Liking It”. They didn’t disappoint and neither did this one. If you’re depressed, come on in. Sit a spell. Talk with an author who has been there and knows what she’s talking about. She backs up what she has to say with quotes. Her humor is anything but depressing. Her books aren’t your usual jargon. You might even want to jot down a few notes as you read. One thing is for sure, you won’t leave the books feeling the same before you started reading. She’s practical, down-to-earth, fun, and funny.

If you haven’t read one of her books yet, I suggest selecting which one you want to start with and take that first step up the rung of the ladder. They’re a wonderful stress-free read to empower you to fight your own battle with depression and win. Check out her author page, her books, and her reviews. You’ll be glad you did. The author says she was at the bottom of the ladder herself when she decided to take a first step up the ladder, which is how she came up with the title for this book. Each chapter begins with a special quote. This isn’t just another self-help book, it’s one in which the author uses her own life experiences and writes in a conversational tone to help others who may be experiencing the same stress that taught her to take that first step up the ladder and keep climbing.

By Author B.J. Robinson
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007K8QO28

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ On Being Judgmental ~ December 1, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

I had an interesting conversation with one of my daughters a short time ago. In this conversation, she used the word ‘judgemental’ as a negative or undesirable trait. She mentioned during this conversation that she did not want to be a ‘judgmental’ person.  I have also heard other people say such statements as “I’m tired of being judged”.  I find the use of this word rather foreign to me. I personally, seldom if ever, feel like I am being judged by others. Maybe people do judge me and I just don’t recognize it. I don’t know. As a writer, I need to have a wide variety of opinions.  It would be pretty difficult to write books, articles, or blogs without having  them.  As you can probably guess, I’m about to expound on one of these opinions today.

I know that I am not the only one with observational skills and personal opinions. I also know  that it is necessary to assess situations and  people in order to  make an informed decision about what I am observing and where those observations will lead me. This is where I am going to get a little philosophical and use an analogy to better explain my assessment of the use of the word ‘judgmental’.

Many years ago when I suffered from  depression, which is considered to be a form of mental illness, I was ashamed about my condition and chose to hide this fact from my family and friends. I felt that there was a “stigma” attached to mental illness and I did not want anyone to know so I kept it a secret as much as possible.  Now, after almost thirty years I am able to not only write about my experiences but I am far more willing to discuss what I went through when the appropriate opportunity arises. The conclusion I arrived at after all these years, is that I actually had a bias myself. I know it was a learned bias based on my personal frame of reference, but it was a bias nonetheless. At the time of my illness, I was projecting how I thought society felt about mental illness when I was the one actually thinking it.  Does that make sense? If I didn’t have my own bias toward mental illness, I would have been more open about it in the first place regardless of what anyone thought.

Okay, now I want to return to the concept of  ‘being judgmental’ or the feeling of ‘being judged’.  I think the same rationale I used for admitting to my own bias also applies here. Perhaps, people who feel that they are being judged have that trait in their own personality. If they think they are being judged in any way, shape or form, maybe it is because they are actually judgmental towards others themselves. If a trait is part of our character, we might assume that others share this same trait.

We can and do project the emotions that we are dealing with on others. We actually have no idea what other people are thinking. If we choose to express our views on other people’s thoughts, we are only sharing what is going on in our own minds. What I’m basically trying to say is this. What we think we see in others may actually live within ourselves. The only way we can ever know what someone else is thinking is if they share their thoughts with us. 

“Be nice to someone today. It might not mean much to you but it could make the world of difference to them. The ones we think deserve it the least are the ones who need it the most”.  ~ Charles Betts

 

INSPIRATIONAL POEMS ~ SPIRITUAL SATURDAY ~ The Ruse ~ September 10, 2011

Posted in INSPIRATIONAL POEMS ~ SPIRITUAL SATURDAY by doloresayotte on September 10, 2011
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For those of us who have ever suffered from any form of depression…this poem says it all!

© Annabel Sheila

She’s beauty, style, poise and grace,
At least she appears to be.
But no one knows the girl who hides
Behind the face they see.

Her self-esteem is all but gone,
Of her ego there’s barely a trace.
There’s so much pain behind the mask
She wears upon her face.

Depression has controlled her life
With far too many tears,
Her smile is fake; she’s good at it,
She’s been doing it for years.

The cover is what attracts us,
To the story within the book.
And she’s afraid that without the ruse,
No one would bother to look.

Source: The Ruse, Depression Poems http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/family/poetry.asp?poem=21357#ixzz0s0Eilfu6

Masks…so many faces. Which one shall I wear today?  It is so wonderful to be free of the mask. I am so grateful that, at last, the truth has set me free. (Dolores)

BOOK REVIEW ~ Roses Are Red ~ June 20, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

AUTHOR: Rose Anne Daniels ~ A True Story

TITLE: Roses Are Red ~ Survival & Recovery By God’s Grace ~ 117 pages

PUBLISHER : Tate Publishing & Enterprises

It’s hard to describe how I felt when I received this book in the mail. It was definitely with eager anticipation. I met Rose Anne Daniels on-line through a Christian Authors Group. We are both Tate Authors and we agreed to swap and review each other’s books. I didn’t even realize that she was a Tate Author until I received her book. It’s irrelevant. What is relevant is why I was drawn to Rose and her book in the first place. Rose’s book is about dealing with mental illness and overcoming the odds in order to have a full and rewarding life despite this debilitating condition.  I very much wanted to know Rose’s story and now that I do, I can only feel utter respect and admiration for her.

Rose is a survivor. In Roses Are Red, she shares her “journey through mental illness, divorce, depression, and unemployment caused by bipolar disorder as she sinks to the lowest of lows and seeks to rebuild her life”. Rose is honest and open with her experiences as she starts off sharing her life as a young girl still living at home. She marries her one and only boyfriend whom she has been dating since she was fourteen years old. When she was a young girl, her mother suffered from mental illness and was treated with “shock therapy”. Now after the birth of her children, Rose, a registered nurse, becomes a patient in a hospital for the mentally ill herself. Her story is heart wrenching and true.

She shares her trials and tribulations as accurately as she can remember although she admits that some of her memories are foggy. Rose fought the odds and with the help of  some very kind people, she eventually got back on track and turned her life around. Rose is now in her fifties and is still working as a registered nurse in a rehabilitation unit for brain injuries.  She is the proud mother of two children and three grandchildren.

The last chapter of Rose’s book is titled WholenessIn it she states, “My definition of wholeness would have to come from the mission statement at my current workplace: to see life beyond disability. This is not the same as seeing life without disability. To see without the disability would imply denial of the illness.” I find this analysis to be forthright and refreshing. To me and obviously to Rose as well, to deny the illness would be to deny a basic part of our being. Wholeness is embracing the illness and the challenges it has to offer. Effectively dealing with those challenges results in the feeling of wholeness. This is exactly what Rose has managed to do. Yes indeed…Rose is a true survivor!

If you would like to learn more about Rose by reading Roses Are Red,  her book is available on Amazon. I provided the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Roses-Are-Rose-Anne-Daniels/dp/1606047868

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ “Dear Abby” ~ March 24, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Over the last few weeks, I have posted several articles dealing with depression.  I have openly admitted that I have suffered from this, often times, debilitating condition and was hospitalized years ago when I was at my worst. I explained in an earlier post that I hid my depression as much as possible. I have felt for many years now, that the reaction to mental illness by family and friends is very different from the reaction to physical illnesses but I think things have changed. It took me years to be comfortable enough to “come clean” in sharing my story. On Saturday, March  19, 2011 in The Arizona Republic newspaper on page E5, this letter was written to Dear Abby.  I would love for you to read it and let me know what you think.

Dear Abby:

When people have a serious illness, their friends and family usually send “get well” messages and flowers to the hospital. Unfortunately, it isn’t the custom to send supportive greetings and gifts to those who are dealing with psychiatric illnesses. These people deserve all the attention and good wishes that other patients receive. Please let it be known that psychiatric illnesses are treatable and recovery is possible. Support in all forms is essential in all patients’ progress toward recovering from serious illness of any kind.  – Kathy in Universal City, Texas 

Dear Kathy:

You make a good point. The reason some people may be hesitant to acknowledge someone else’s mental illness may be the stigma that is still attached to these kinds of problems. For that reason, there may be a reluctance on the part of the patient’s family to reveal there is a problem so serious that their family member must be hospitalized. But you are absolutely right. When people are ill, they need to know they are cared about. A card with warm good wishes is a step in the right direction.

_____________________________________________________________________________

I know that many people today are much more open and educated when it comes to dealing with any form of mental illness. However, this letter was just printed in the newspaper last Saturday. The word “stigma” was used to describe mental illness. What I would really like to know is if you think there is still a “stigma” to mental illness and if so why. Even if you aren’t comfortable with leaving a comment, perhaps you might just ask yourself this question. Many of us have suffered in silence. If it isn’t you, you probably know someone who still might be. Have we come as far as I would like to believe or am I deluding myself? What do you think?

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Alive ~ March 17, 2011 by Charles Betts

Dolores; Here is a poem I did a while ago. It is short but says so much as to my outlook on life. I feel that avoiding or overcoming depression, [ now mind you I have never suffered from it that I know of], has so much to do with our outlook, not only on life but also our outlook on the events that occur in our life. When we realize we are never alone, either in our circumstances, meaning we are not unique to them nor are we abandoned in them. If we feel alone or abandoned, then that is just it, we feel that way. God never leaves us and chances are that we have more friends than we recognize. In each case if we reach out, either upward or outward, there is help.

I do recognize as you say here that in some families there appears to be a predisposition to depression. At least in my observations I have seen it so. I am not an expert in sense of the word on this subject, this merely says this has been my observation.

Alive

I am alive today
I have made a choice
I’ll be kind in what I say
I’ll put laughter in my voice

Yes I’ve lost some things
Yes I’ve known some pain
Yet my heart will sing
Yet I will laugh again

A poem by Charles Betts, Jan. 24th 2008

Once again Charles, I want to thank you for your wisdom, inspiration and talent as you share yet another lovely poem with us.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Genetics And Depression ~ March 10, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Posted in THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY by doloresayotte on March 10, 2011
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Over thirty six years ago I gave birth to twin daughters. I didn’t even know I was having twins until the day I went into labor. You can well imagine our surprise and delight. Our two-year old daughter was equally delighted with her two new baby sisters.  Soon after I gave birth, many people asked me if twins ran in my family.  I answered, “not to my knowledge”.  Shortly after that I heard from extended family members that there were indeed many sets of twins on both my husband’s and my side of the family.  I only discovered this fact later on in life because now this information had more relevance to my particular situation.

In some of my recent posts, I’ve been discussing the topic of depression. I have briefly touched on the premise that depression can be anger turned inward.  Today, I am going to discuss another opinion I have about depression. I am no medical professional. This is only a personal opinion based on my own experience with depression.

Perhaps, you have already been exposed to the word “predisposition” .  This is the word I am going to use to elaborate on what I refer to as the genetic link to depression. We have already heard, when referring to the medical model, that certain physical illnesses are genetically linked like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and so on. Due to this genetic link we might be more apt to get or inherit these diseases from our ancestors.  I think that a similar analogy can also be made with other illnesses like depression. When I suffered my severe bout with depression in my early thirties, I had a better look as to why I was suffering from depression when many of my peers were not.  This realization was similar to when I gave birth to twins. I learned that many of my family members had also suffered in a similar way.  When this debilitating illness became more relevant to me, I had a better look. In doing so, I discovered that there seemed to be a genetic link because there was a long list of family members who shared my plight.

I came to the conclusion that one of my genetic weaknesses had to do with depression. I now refer to this as my “genetic predisposition” to this particular condition.  To me, it is no different from any other genes that we might inherit.  In my opinion, having this “predisposition” does not necessarily mean that we will suffer from depression or other forms of mental illness. What it does mean is that we might have the propensity to be depressed if a traumatic event occurs in our lives to “trigger” an episode.  Such traumatic events may include the after effects of combat, the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, financial woes, stress, etc. Some of these events are impossible to control and can have a devastating effect on those with  a “predisposition” to depression. 

According to Nancy Schimelpfening,  “The causes of depression are not entirely understood, but are thought to be multi-factorial. Studies indicate that depression is, at least in part, an inherited condition involving abnormalities in neurotransmitter functioning. Although inheritance is an important factor in major depression, it does not account for all cases of depression, implying that environmental factors may either play an important causal role or exacerbate underlying genetic vulnerabilities.”

In a perfect world where there were no traumatic events, possibly there would be no depression. I don’t know.  I do know however,  that this is not a perfect world.  Although, we have no control over our genetic make-up, in a lot of instances we do have some control over the “triggers” that may cause our possible depression. From my personal frame of reference, this was what I have strived to achieve in overcoming my own depression. What I am basically saying here is this. If you suffer from symptoms of depression, the best course of action is to try to figure out what is causing it.  This is the first step. After that, you may just succeed in figuring out what to do about it.  If the “triggers” are within your power to control or avoid, your depression may also be managed more effectively. What do you think?        

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Dealing With Anger ~ March 3, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

On Thoughtful Thursday, February 17,  I recently wrote a post titled “Dealing With Depression”.  In this article I expressed the view that depression could be a result of anger turned inward. There are many reasons why a person might experience depression but this is merely the one that I am choosing to focus on again today. In my opinion, there is also a genetic predisposition to depression but I won’t be discussing that view today.  A comment was left by Hope after this post that inspired me to address the anger issue which I referred to in the above post. This is the comment almost in its entirety.

I agree whole wholeheartedly that moving past anger is a decision. Sometimes I think the things that are at the root of our anger are out of our consciousness, much as you have stated here. I had a very wise person once tell me that when the reason is out of your consciousness, you are still a victim of it. But once you are aware, but still acting in the same self-destructive way, you are no longer a victim, but you are choosing to be that way and blaming someone else. I think her point was, once you are aware of the self-destructive behavior, then you are wholly responsible for moving on or not. But no longer is there room for blame. So that took me a while to digest, but I think now, that it is very true.

It’s amazing how powerful you feel, once you realize there is a choice to be angry or not. Simple solution, very difficult to live by. With a daily commitment to think otherwise, there is proportional reprieve of the burden in that day.” (Hope)

I was extremely moved by this comment left by Hope after my post. I read it over and over again to get the full scope of its meaning. It also made me do more soul-searching and inspired me to write more on the topic of anger. I know a person who has suffered from severe depression for many years. This person has been on a heavy regime of medication for depression and although it helped somewhat, it never totally eliminated the depressed state. 

After many years of suffering, a therapist managed to finally help her get to the bottom of her severe depression. Through counselling and extensive therapy, she was able to finally peel back the layers of what was causing her deep and often times, debilitating depression.  What appeared to be the main cause although there were other factors, was the consistent bad behavior of her husband throughout their marriage.  After this realization, her depressed state turned to outward anger toward her husband.  Her anger toward him was so great that eventually they had to part ways.  Over a span of several years, what was bottled up inside her and coming across as depression was really anger. It was her inability to accept what was really going on in her marriage and her inadequacy or reluctance to address the real issue.  This is merely just one case that depression can be a result of anger turned inward.

According to Mike Hirn, “if you are angry, there are three ways you can approach the emotion: express the anger, suppress the anger, calm the anger. Expressing anger in a controlled manner, is a healthy approach. However, this approach is often difficult to do because it involves a balancing act — getting your needs met without hurting others. In short, controlling anger involves respecting both yourself and other people, especially those who are the cause or object of your anger, while still being able to express it. The second approach is suppression. Suppressing anger can backfire. When a person tends to suppress his anger, he can develop high blood pressure, hypertension or even depression. The last approach is calming the anger down. A person who is able to calm his anger down is able to control his outward behavior. However, if he is unable to calm down, he may hurt someone or even himself.”

As you can see it is no easy feat to deal with anger however;  it can have many devastating negative emotional and physical consequences if we don’t.   No matter what, we all experience anger now and then.  Do you agree? How are you dealing with your anger?

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