The Long Night: Readings and Stories to Help You through Depression, is for those who are struggling with depression, or who love someone who is.
“A friend to sit next to you in the night, till the morning comes”
You’ve done what you can: You’ve seen your doctor, made an appointment with a therapist, picked up the prescription for the antidepressant and swallowed that first strange pill. But it can take four to eight weeks for the meds to start to work, and it might take two or more tries before you and your doctor find the ones that work best for you. When you’re in the midst of terrible depression, those weeks can feel like an eternity. You just want to feel better NOW. This book is for those who are in the long night of waiting. It does not promise healing or deliverance, it is not a guide to praying away the depression. It is just an attempt to sit next to you while you wait, to let you know that you are not alone, that this time will not last forever.
“I’ve been where you are”
Several years ago the depression and migraines I’d struggled with my whole life became suddenly worse. I would eventually get the diagnosis of dysthymia (a form of chronic depression), with major depressive episodes, in addition to chronic migraines. Always in the past I’d pushed through, maybe switched jobs, taken time off of school, or moved to a different city, always trying to pretend that my health issues weren’t that serious. By 2008 I couldn’t push anymore. My ministry job fell apart, my migraines became debilitating, and the depression became overwhelming. For ten months I could do nothing but lie in bed most of the day, limping every month or so to the neurologist and psychiatrist to report that the newest med wasn’t working, then crawling back in bed to deal with the side effects of the next one they prescribed. Worst of all, I had lost all felt-connection with God, and felt lost and abandoned by the One I loved the most.
It took over two years to find medications that worked, and several more to rebuild my health and my career. Most of my friends and family could not fully understand what I was going through, and I felt very alone during this time. But I had one friend who himself struggled with depression and other health issues, who walked alongside me and offered me passages from writers who had been through similar struggles. I clung to pieces of hope from authors such as Henri Nouwen, Madeleine L’Engle, George MacDonald, Bunmi Laditan, John of the Cross, and Thomas Merton.
Blessings for the Long Night: Poems and Meditations to Help You through Depression is a collection of poems and short prose pieces, building on the themes from The Long Night. I use the seasons autumn, winter, and spring, both as another metaphor for the long night of depression, and as the reality of nature, shifting seasons that we, as human beings are a part of and connected to.
My vision for The Long Night and Blessings for the Long Night is to walk alongside others who are going through depression, by sharing some of my own experience as well as excerpts from the authors who helped me. I want my readers to find in these books a friend who understands, supports, and advocates for them.
365 Days of Peace: Benedictions to End Your Day in Gentleness and Hope is a collection of the short poems/blessings I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every evening for a year. From the back cover:
“By the end of the day we’re often exhausted, worn down by meeting other’s needs and our own, frustrated by things that happened today, and anxious about what’s going to happen tomorrow. In 365 Days of Peace, writer and theologian Jessica Kantrowitz offers a moment of peace for that transition into the evening. In each of these short benedictions, first posted on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, she identifies struggles common to us all yet specific enough that some readers have wondered if she was reading their journals. She then speaks peace over them and over us, offering blessings that are pastoral but also inclusive, accessible for people of any faith, or of none.
“Light a candle, make a cup of tea, and settle into the evening with this book, in gentleness, hope, and peace.”
Every morning is a chance to start again, with renewed energy and hope. But often we wake up still carrying the pain, stress, and exhaustion of the prior days, weeks, or even years. In Good Morning, Friends: Gentle Suggestions for the Start of Your Day, Jessica Kantrowitz offers us gentle words of re-centering, reframing, and release. Grab a cup of coffee and settle into the day with this book, in peace and hope.
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