First book review!

Blog: All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something

A Joyful Life: How To Use Your Creative Spirit To Manage Depression | Review

There was a period in my childhood when I was anxious. I believe it was shortly after my grandfather had passed from cancer. I remember checking and rechecking the furnace vents to make sure that nothing was covering them, that appliances were unplugged, that I prayed every night to God to protect all of my family members, and that all doors were locked. I didn’t want anyone to die.

I was consumed by the fear of death.

My mom took me to the doctors for it. He said that I had heartburn and sent me on my way with antacids that I took religiously for a year. Eventually, the feelings that I couldn’t put accurately into words went away and I carried on like “normal”.

I went to school like everyone else and made the honour rolls.  I graduated and became an ER nurse. A damn good one at that. I flew through training quicker than my coworkers did and within a year, I was running triage, trauma, and could even be assigned to charge nurse.

I never missed a beat.

Until I had a baby – please know that I don’t blame my son for a split second. He’s the best thing to ever happen to me.

I fell ill almost immediately.

I went from handling a busy Metro ER that was always jam packed with the toughest cases – to hiding in my bathroom because I couldn’t figure out which outfit I should put on the baby for the day.

I had gone “mad”.

It was called postpartum depression and anxiety.

Two years later it was properly diagnosed as bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.

When you go about your day, look around you. There are nearly 18 million adults in the United States and Canada alone who suffer from anxiety and depression. Mental illness does not discriminate and can affect anyone.

It struck me down – the nurse, the wife, the happy go lucky friend.

And it also struck Michele Swiderski.

Michele is the author of A Joyful Life: How To Use Your Creative Spirit To Manage Depression and I had the absolute honour of reading her book.

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A Joyful Life chronicles Michele’s harrowing journey to recovery after her life flipped upside down when she experienced a nervous breakdown at work.  This terrifying event subsequently led to her diagnosis with depression and anxiety and forced to leave her job and guided her on an entirely new path in her life:

Reconnecting and rebuilding herself – mind, body, and spirit – through her passion of creativity.

Initially I was worried that her book would solely focus on curing mental illness with art but what Michele did was actually quite the opposite and I was absolutely captivated by it.  She wrote about seeking medical treatment of which I greatly appreciated because that is an important first line of attack when you are not feeling yourself. And I applaud her for talking very candidly about taking medications which was fantastic because taking medications is nothing to be ashamed of.

Throughout the book, Michele also embodied that internal struggle and fear that many of us grapple with when our lives have literally fallen apart.

It’s that drive to find a fix.

Self – help.

That’s what I loved most about her story.

She offered so much insight into how she found her peace through her faith, meditation, and her creativity – sewing, journaling, and writing blog entries (we share the same!)

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She has included tips that she has learned through her own journey to wellness, books that she has encountered that she has found particularly helpful, and so many positive self affirmations – ones that you’ll highlight and go back to when you’re needing spiritual lift.

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(Y’all, my book is rabbit ear’ed up – a librarian’s nightmare).

I’m Catholic and was raised to go to church every Sunday but I’ve lost touch with my religion entirely.  Michele is very in tune with her faith and she writes about it a lot especially near the beginning but I do respect that very much. Mental illness impacts the person entirely – mind, body, and spirit and I think it’s very important that this aspect of her life was included in her journey to wellness.

The book is very easy to read and not overwhelming. The overall feel is positive without being too positive. Now if you’ve ever been depressed and read a self help book you’ll understand me when I say that some books try to sell you a happy little unicorn wrapped in glitter paper with a bow on top. It’s not real. Michele takes you on her own personal story of finding herself – on what worked and what didn’t. That made it real for me and I could connect with her on several levels.

A Joyful Life: How To Use Your Creative Spirit To Manage Depression by Michele Swiderski won’t be available until February 21 2017 but you can pre-order a copy by clicking here

You can also follow Michele Swiderski on her blog: micheleswiderski.com

3 Comments

  1. Liv: Sounds like quite the book. Adding it to my reading list!

    Kimberly: It really is Liv. It is very positive and uplifting. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

  2. Michele Swiderski  Thank you, Kimberly, for your kind words. I’m glad that my book strikes a note of balance for you. Getting well is such hard work and it sounds like you,too, have found a healthy path. Congratulations for speaking publically on such a personal topic!  Wishing you the very best, Michèle

    Kimberly: It was such a great book – your story Michele. I have highlighted many key points for myself as you had offered a lot of insight and strategies on how to cope. Your story is going to help so many people. I know it will. Can’t wait until it reaches the masses!

    3. Tamara: I do know her blog! And what a beautiful book. I worked on the Board of Directors for an organization that empowers women and fights for better everything, and postpartum depression was the number one topic.

    4. Merri: I read your post on Liz’s site and immediately ordered your book. Thank you for being willing to share your story and heal lives in the process. Blessings.

    5. Charlotte: Thank you so much for sharing this review. My anxiety has been really overwhelming lately and I’ve considered going back to the meds. It’s sad, because they have helped so much in the past, but there is that feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be taking these and perhaps I should just “deal with on my own”, which never helps as we all know and there’s no shame in taking medication. Anyway, I love a book that doesn’t come off as preachy, esp one that gives it to me straight, minus the unicorn glitter. Will look for this one!!

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