Tag Archives: Depression

My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

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This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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Anger Gone Awry

She told me I had a right to be angry
And so anger became my constant companion

Thoughts of self-defense courses fled
I dwelt on thoughts of revenge instead
I was obsessed with Murderous meditations

If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
Like a never-ending echo

I wrote in my Journal my bloodthirsty plan
I’d line up Mike and Russ and all the others
I’d blindfold them and shoot them all
with hollow point bullets
Aren’t they more painful than regular bullets

In hindsight, reading this Journal entry
I wonder if the blindfold represented
my deep longing for Mercy
They wouldn’t see death coming

My plan never came to fruition
which is probably just as well
God’s plan of forgiveness
released me from my hell

I know that what they did was wrong
but vengeance is not mine
It would consume my life
if I let anger my pain prolong

I may have a right to be angry
yet anger gone awry
is no saving grace

So I choose peace

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Thursday will be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub and I will be linking this poem. I was going to wait to post it until then but changed my mind.

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My Story in 44 Words

Another poem written during my coaching class with Sarah Thebarge.
—–

My Story – A Quadrille

They stole my innocence, my peace
Left me powerless, without any choice
Pain buried in alcohol, drugs,
academic success
Unhealed pain, despair, darkness
never leave, never will

God calls me from exile by His Word
His people who love me
His dream of forgiveness

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Resurfacing in Blue

I should have seen it coming
this sense of feeling blue
Delving into trials of the past
to write a memoir that’s true

I’m doubtful that this venture
is worth the time and pain
Will I survive this process
where no secrets will remain

Or will there be some truths
odd feelings buried deep
that I’ll find I cannot share
but to myself I’ll keep

It’s easy to write stories
of cerulean skies above
What I want to convey at last
is God’s gracious love

The writing is not easy
for it has been said
Where no tears in the writer
the prose is surely dead

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The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write about something blue. I didn’t really have time today, but this poem kept nagging at me, so here it is. I hope to get back to dVerse later to do some reading. Do pop over and see what other poems of the great blue you will find.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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Set Free

She drove away from the pizza place
joyful in the knowledge that she had been set free.

No dark cloud appeared.

She realized she was humming along,
tapping her foot to the beat.

As she waited for her pizza to go,
Bad Company played on the radio.

One day, she stopped to get a pizza
on her way home from work.

She felt a weight lifted and joy return.

When she awoke, she knelt and prayed
for the strength to forgive.

One night she dreamed of forgiveness
and knew it was a message from God.

She pondered taking her own life
because she thought she was forever broken.

She spent years in darkness and anger.

She was never the same; whenever she heard Bad Company
a dark cloud would descend upon her.

Afterwards, he drove her home
and left her broken upon her doorstep.

Bad Company played on the radio.

He assaulted her in the front seat of his Lincoln.

He asked if she wanted to go to a party
and she said yes because he seemed nice.

_________________________________________

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a story in reverse. I couldn’t help but turn each line of this semi-autobiographical story into a verse.

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Dark Saturday

Your disciples all hid away
terrified that dark Saturday
Not knowing what to do
now that men had crucified You

Hope that day was hidden too
doubting what You said was true
Wondering if You would really rise
or if Friday proved Your demise

I think I know just how they felt
as with hopelessness I have dealt
Mired in the Saturday of depression
in need of Your intercession

As the disciples on Sunday found
You as King would clearly be crowned
I have found Your promises true
of eternal hope to help me through

Although Saturday may seem quite dark
Sunday’s resurrection is Your hallmark

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Why This Pain?

Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt
What is this suffering all about?
What could there possibly be to gain?

Oh the trauma that drove me insane
Mired in darkness, struggling to get out
Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt

Though I know there’ll soon be rain
Sometimes at God I want to shout
Wallowing in a spiritual drought
Identifying with His Son who was slain
Why would God allow this pain?

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The Meeting the Bar lesson at dVerse Poets Pub today is the Rondel. Check out the other wonderful Rondel’s linked from the lesson.

I actually started writing this poem last night, as part of my decision to write 40 poems for Lent, and it wasn’t quite a Rondel. I made some modifications and had to remove a few lines, although I kept them on the back burner for one of the other 40 poems.

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Suicide Is Not Selfish

Today, Sept. 10,  is World Suicide Prevention Day. I decided to share just a little post from my perspective.

Often we hear it said that those who commit suicide are selfish because they hurt the people they leave behind. But if you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts or tried to commit suicide, you know that is not the case. (If you never have, it is very difficult to understand.)

I’ve only been truly suicidal once, but my thoughts were far from selfish. At the time, my actual thought was that my husband and son would be better off without me because I was so depressed and broken that I was no good to them.

Thoughts of suicide often follow a long pattern of trying to get well with little or no success. It stems from hopelessness and a sense of feeling like you are a burden to those around you. To consider suicide is to desire to unburden others.

Unfortunately, the thought processes of a person who is suicidal are just simply wrong. I know mine were. I can’t imagine where my husband and son (who was 1 ½ then and is 20 now) would be if I had gone through with it. They certainly would not be better off. That thought was a lie.

There is always hope, even when things seem the most hopeless. What a person struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts needs is love and hope. They need understanding and reassurance that the rest of us would not be better off if they were gone. They need to know we are there for them and that they matter to someone.

They need to know that God loves them and wants what is best for them, and that “This too shall pass.” But in the meantime, we are there to be a shoulder to cry on and a heart to confide in.

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