Ready to Win Over Depression: Blog Tour with Thelma Wells

THELMA: Before I begin, let me first say, if you and/or a loved one are in a crisis situation and you need immediate assistance, please call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hotline listed in your local phone book.

In your introduction, you state that you’ve been there – you’ve been depressed.  Tell us about that.

Yes, I have.  This story is told in detail in the book, however, I had surgery several years ago and within a few days the incision split open and my intestines were exposed. This was probably by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. After a quick trip back to the hospital to repair the damage, I spent over a year bed-ridden, disabled, and recovering. I’m not the kind of person to lie down and take things slow, especially when it’s forced on me. Yet, in this situation I had no choice but to stop and heal. It wasn’t easy and I faced a lot of fears and I experienced situational depressed during this time.

How do you define depression?

Some of us are more prone to depression than others. The influences that bring us down in our spirits can come from many sources and directions. Depression can be a complex picture. But let’s face it. The main reason we get despondent is simply because life happens. And nobody’s life is a constant procession of uplifting, rejuvenating, invigorating experiences. Everybody’s life has downers. We easily get off-balance in so many ways, and this hurts. The TV commercial that says, “Depression hurts” is true.

Does your book focus on one type of depression?

For most of us, the depression we typically encounter isn’t the severe or clinical category, medically speaking. The typical depression is situational. This doesn’t mean they’re painless or less important or harmless.

Dr. Archibald D. Hart, a leading Christian psychologist and dean emeritus of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary writes, “While these depressions are not usually as serious as the biological ones, they can be much more difficult to cope with.”

In your first Chapter, you talk about “Who get’s depressed?”  Does depression affect certain groups of people more than others?

Every year depression strikes more than 35 million in the United States alone. We’re seeing depression with frightening regularity in ourselves, our relatives, and our friends. Dr. Harts states, “There is hardly a family today that is not touched by depression’s tentacles.” Depression affects people of all social classes, all races, and all cultures, but there’s one group that’s especially hard hit…women.  Also there is an alarming increase in children and the elderly.

What are the triggers and causes of depression?

Psychology Information Online, which includes content provided by the National Institute on Mental Health, notes that “a depressive episode” can be triggered by “a serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change.” Sometimes depression is brought on by an underlying disease or biochemical disorder. Whatever the cause of our depression, it needs to be faced and understood realistically—and then accepted for what it truly is.

Does the Bible speak about depression?

It does in several places and we see it in the lives of David, Jeremiah, and Paul. Psalms 42 and 43 together represent the cry of a downcast soul—someone who is hurting and thirsting for God. Paul describes our loving Father as “God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6).

Christians do get depressed, but it’s a temporary state. God allows us to experience it as a means to attaining something better. Our hope and contentment are based on seeing our past and present difficulties as gifts from God to prepare us and enable us to do more for Him by sharing Christ, finding delight in God and what He ordains.

What are the steps you outline for “Doing something about it.”  And why are these important?

  • Get It All Out – talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. Emotionally and mentally, talking about your feelings is a healthy thing to do. Everybody needs somebody to confide in. That’s right. Everybody.
  • Take Care of Yourself Physically – How healthy we are physically always impacts our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
  • Don’t be Deceived – Your emotions can fool you into questioning or not knowing what’s real or not real. Depression can cause some strange symptoms.
  • You’re Your Own Captive Audience – People talk to themselves. We all do it. When we talk to ourselves, we need to watch what we’re saying. You see, when we talk to ourselves, we invoke our consciousness. And in our conscious awareness, we truly hear what we say. Our subconscious hearts it—and believes it! Then our creative self-conscious gets busy working it out…whether or not it’s true, real, positive, negative, or healthy.

Hope is a key word used throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter.  What does the mystery of hope mean?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12).  Hope and prayer always go together. In fact, prayer is the voice of hope. When there’s hopelessness, prayer dries up and blows ways. Real hope is huge! To have a biblical hope found in Ephesians 4:1-16 is to possess “living hope.”

From page 99 to page 109, I discuss the facets of hope that we can attain when we refocus our attention from us to God.  Our living hope is not in things, people’s opinions, positions, status, or any tangible findings of life.  No, it rests upon the spiritual and emotional stability of our minds on the only wise God, our Father, who can help us in our depressed states every day.  This living hope is in Jesus, the Anointed One, whose job it is to redeem us for all things that oppress us.  The only hope for the world is Jesus.  The only help for the world is a touch from God.

You spend a whole chapter on “Looking Outward.”  Why is this important?

At the risk of bursting someone’s bubble…the world doesn’t revolve around you. I know you might have thought it did. I used to think the same thing about me. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to do something for somebody without expecting anything in return.

Search for a volunteer organization, mentor a child or young person, or find someone who needs help with something and help them. Do something.  That’s the key.

I have several activities available via my ministry that offer opportunities to people to connect with others.  Join me on excursions across the country and to Israel studying the Word, relaxing, rejuvenating and enjoying the life God has given us. We are also launching the Ready to Win Web Cast University with a variety of experts to offer you the best in Christian instruction, study, and education. I have hand selected several outstanding speakers that will enable you to be READY TO WIN in every situation.  Both of these and more are available on my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com.

How is the book different from others?

This book is different from others because it gives the reader a non-threatening opportunity to ask themselves questions and answer those questions in the book as they are reading it.  It is not a course of study; it is a means of helping them “get it out.”  It allows them to analyze their state of being and work through it alone so that it is there personal and confidential analysis and directives for healing.

 What results do you see that can come from reading this book?

The results I see from reading this book are:

  • People have a handy reference at their fingertips for calling their attention to what they are facing in terms of situational depression.
  • People have at their fingertips information that they can share with others who may be experienced the same kind of depression.
  • There are reminders in the book that are encouraging and inspiring that can be used as a devotional.
  • There are stories that people can relate to and realize that they are not alone and there is always help.

How do you see individuals, small groups and even churches using this book?

Not only is the book appropriate for individuals, it is designed for group work for small and large study sessions.  Because it is a simple lay-out and intentionally open-ended, it  can be used as a guide for therapists with their clients, ladies groups of any kind, church groups, Sunday School classes, Bible studies, or references for children’s groups that are concerned about situational depression in our children.

Where connect with you further on this topic? Or, purchase a copy of this book?

I would love for them to visit my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list.

READY TO WIN OVER DEPRESSION is also available online and at local bookstores such as, Family Christian Stores, Lifeway Christian Stores, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Book Stores, Mardel’s, Anchor Distributors, Christianbook.com, and many other stores and vendors throughout American and the United Kingdom.

I would also like to connect with people on the new Facebook page we set up specifically for this topic at www.facebook.com/readytowinoverdepression. Or they can find me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Thelmaw.

Again, let me say…if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, you are not crazy. God knows you’re not crazy. And He also has a perfect antidote for your depression. Nothing escapes Him, and he knows you far better than you know yourself. Isn’t that a relief and comfort?

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Scandalon: Susan Elaine Jenkins

Free book giveaway. One of my lucky readers will receive a free copy of the book Scandalon. Please be sure to leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

 

  

SCANDALON: A Memoir

Running From Shame and Finding God’s Scandalous Love

 

 

 

 

 


Susan Elaine Jenkins has lived in China for 11 years, teaching the performing arts in international schools. SCADALON is her provocative memoir which includes fascinating stories of people and life in the great country of China, which few of us have visited, but where God is working mightily. God has also worked mightily in Susan’s personal life and she has an important story to share.


Interview with Susan Elaine Jenkins ~

Q: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.

Susan: I am a teacher. I was born into a family of preachers and teachers, and I always had a keen desire to teach. I began the first year out of college (Point Loma Nazarene University) and my career has taken me into the hearts and lives of many unforgettable students. Much of my time is occupied with continuing education and professional development opportunities, which opens up new areas of thinking and learning as I go.

After teaching in California private schools for 19 years, I moved to China, where I have focused on teaching performing arts in 3 different international schools. I am a seasoned foreign expatriate these days and yet, the daily adventures of living in Asia continue to surprise me.

Q: It seems that some parts of your book were passages right out of your journals through the years. Is that right? Is it hard to share these publicly, when you probably thought of yourself as the only audience at the time?

Yes, they were taken directly from my journals – especially the conversations between Dr. Travis and me. Those 3 difficult months were mind-numbing days. Writing everything that happened at the end of every confusing day helped me make more sense of it all.

Once I was in China, the conversations with Ouyang were important to me, as well, and I also kept detailed accounts. I knew I needed to have those talks recorded somewhere where I could retrieve them – they were too special to forget. The experiences I was having with my Chinese friends were very precious; China was rapidly developing and nothing would be the same again. I recently visited Tianjin and was stunned to see the progress made – the sleek commercial buildings and tall apartments that have replaced the ancient hutongs near the streets where I once lived and worked.

Yes, I assumed my journals were for my eyes only, and it has been difficult opening up these details to the public. There have been many starts and stops for me to this process and times when I wanted to forget the whole project.

Q: Was there any deciding factor that made you think you should try compiling your notes into a book and to try to get it published? What encouragement did you get along the way?

A friend from the UK convinced me to begin a blog. The idea of sharing my stories was inconceivable, at first, but as time went by, I got to know my readers. Little by little, I opened up the pages of my journals with them, interspersed with a few of the details of daily life in Asia. To my surprise, my online friends began commenting and sending me private letters filled with their own pain. I wanted to let them know that there really is healing and light ahead, that God’s promise really is authentic: He is a God who heals.

Q: Are there any character embellishments? Some people in your book seem almost larger than life!

No, the characters are written exactly as they are. Conversations are word for word, in most cases. I wanted to present the strong and good qualities of my former husband, Kyle, for example, as well as the perplexing reality of our marriage. The words of Dr. Travis (not his real name) were etched deeply into my memory, of course, as those were life-changing words of an experienced sexual predator – impossible to forget, much as I tried. And then the amazing friends I met in China were such distinctive people! I remember thinking: How can I tell the world about Mrs. Hua and her cozy dinner parties with fish swimming laps in the bathtub? How can I explain how marvelous Apple is, with her heart that simply listens to God as she finds her way around the French Riviera? I wanted to share the story of Angel’s frustration at being 30 years old and single in the Chinese culture. These are incredibly real and strong people who desire the same things we do in America. They taught me so much.

Q: Why a book about China?

“Well, this particular story began to be written in the summer of 1992. My friend, David, gave me the keys to his beach house in Pebble Beach and it began pouring out, as I walked along the ocean and typed in his massive kitchen. At the end of the summer, I returned the rented computer, put all the pages into a plain cardboard box and shoved it into a closet. It wasn’t until five years later, in 1997, that I realized the story was not going to rest quietly, just gathering dust. It was almost as if it had a life of its own, and refused to be forgotten…so I took the box to China with me and kept writing…for the next ten years. I wrote between classes, on long snowy northern Chinese weekends, on Chinese trains and sitting in plastic airport chairs. It seemed to evolve into a book that is really a combination of two lives: my life in California and my life in Asia; two very different worlds.

I think it seemed very natural at some point, to write of a remarkably poignant journey that met in a healing point while living in a crumbled country, broken by its own history. My life at that point seemed very much the same – broken, falling apart, and dark.

Q: You moved to China to get away from memories that were haunting you? At what point did China start feeling like “home” to you, and less like the completely foreign distraction it first was?

A great job offer came up, and yes, I was anxious to have a completely new start. Before I left for China, someone told me, “Susan, you can never get away from this. Sooner or later, you will need to face all that’s happened in your life. You will need to go through the grieving process and admit that you have lost so much.” He was right. I did have to face it, but that happened slowly, almost imperceptibly, over a long period of time. Being in China helped me gain perspective of what God wanted to do in me and through me.

I guess it was near the end of my first school year that I realized China had become a second home. I was walking along the hot, muggy streets with Ouyang, and I realized I was reluctant to go back to America. He said, “Do you have to go back? Why don’t you just stay?” That possibility hadn’t occurred to me until that point and I muttered something about it being too hot during the summer months to remain and that most of the teachers returned to their home countries for the holidays. Years later, I found I could stay for the summers and feel very much at home.

I think the idea of feeling at home in China has to do with the fact that I began feeling “at home” with God. And that, for me, involved a great spiritual healing and coming back to a point of rest within God’s heart; being glad to be in His loving presence; knowing that all my sins are utterly forgiven and cast away; and, sensing His divine heart of grace. Home has literally – for me – become His own Heart.

Q. Where might we find out more about you and Scandalon?

Please my website at http://www.susanelainejenkins.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: The only compensation I have received in exchange for this post is a free copy of the book Scandalon to give away to one of my readers. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”