9 Ways to Fight Depression (and Win!)

As someone who regularly struggles with chronic depression, I’ve learned how very difficult it can be to move forward. Over the years, I’ve developed a number of ways that help me actively fight my depression. Listed below are nine of those techniques. If you are struggling with depression, I hope that these techniques can help you move forward in life.

#1 Believe You Can Fight Your Depression

Depression Suicide

Believe that there is hope.

In order to fight depression you must first believe that you can fight it. This step is so crucial that it’s literally half of the battle. You have to let go of the idea that it’s hopeless, stop thinking “I can’t do this,” or “I’m stuck.” You cannot fight anything if you’ve already accepted defeat.

In fact, I can’t even give you advice if you already believe nothing can help. It’s as author James A. Owen says: “If you really want to do something, no one can stop you – but if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you.”

That being said, I will repeat the fact that I have chronic depression. It would be easy for me to say that I am a victim of my circumstances, but I refuse to do that. I did it for a few years, and those were the most miserable years of my life, precisely because I believed that everything was hopeless. I have since learned that, while I can’t always choose what happens to me, I can always choose how I react.

I choose to actively fight my depression.

Right now, I want you to decide to fight your depression. As soon as you decide that—and believe that you can do it—I promise that you will find the strength to do so.

#2 Speak With a Trusted Friend (or Two or Three)

When you have depression, your instinct usually is to hide your thoughts and feelings from everyone else. Depression thrives in darkness and isolation. The best way to see and to understand your depression is to shine the light on it, and communicate how you’re feeling. I know it seems absolutely terrifying to open up to someone about your depression– especially when it comes to sharing some of your dark and morbid thoughts—but it is vital to have a mental mirror. You need another person to know what’s going on inside of your head.

Find someone whom you trust, someone who is understanding, and share your thoughts and feelings with them. When you do so, you’ll be surprised to find out how many others have gone through similar struggles. I promise that, though depression thrives in secrecy, it shrinks with the force and strength of empathy.

#3 Seek Professional Help

If your depression is persistent and debilitating, I strongly encourage you to seek professional help. A lot of people are embarrassed to seek help for something that feels like an internal struggle. But if your depression is threatening your work and relationships, there is no shame in seeking help.

Think of your struggle like a broken bone. You wouldn’t hide your broken bone from those who could help, but would rush to a hospital to get the proper treatment. Psychologists and counselors are trained to handle all kinds of things. They have profound wisdom and experience working with mental health issues. You have nothing to be ashamed of but everything to gain in working with them.

You would do well to use every resource available to you, including those who have been trained to help

#4 Look for Humor

It’s no secret that depression kills joy. When you’re in the thick of depression, it seems almost impossible that life will ever be cheerful again. But there are ways to find joy in the journey—even when it’s dark.

When things get especially difficult for me, I do my best to seek out things that are humorous (reruns of funny sitcoms, hilarious YouTube videos, and ridiculous internet memes).

Despite what you might be tempted to think, there’s a lot of humor to be found in everyday life—even within depression. I think Allie Brosch of Hyperbole and a Half does a awesome job at illustrating the depth of depression, while also pointing out the humor. Check out Adventures in Depression, and Depression Part 2 (fair warning, she uses some colorful language).

Shortly after my suicide attempt, my brother Sean and I watched Better Off Dead, a quirky comedy about a guy who unsuccessfully tries to kill himself multiple times. Believe it or not, the movie actually helped me find the humor in my own situation.

Truly, laughter can be a real game-changer.

#5 Get Lots and Lots of Sunshine!

There’s a scene in Sword in the Stone where Merlin tells the witch, Mad Madam Mim, that in order to feel better she needs “lots and lots of sunshine!” Her response? “I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine!”

Depression Hates Sunshine!!

Mad Madam Mim is like depression; depression hates sunshine! Researchers have discovered that sunlight (which contains Vitamin D) boosts serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulates sleep, memory, and—here’s the kicker—mood! Healthy levels of serotonin mean a healthier, happier you!

Do you realize what this means?! Every day, the sun is literally offering us free happiness! Wholesome sunshine, indeed!

#6 Boost Your Moods

Whenever I’m feeling low, I tend to gravitate toward things that will drag me down even lower—sad music, depressing television shows, or real-life drama. Since my suicide attempt, I’ve realized that I simply can’t afford to feed my sadness. Instead, I try to boost my mood and feed the positive side of my nature.

As much as possible, I try to listen to upbeat music, watch comedies, participate in constructive activities, and stay in the sunlight. While it doesn’t always work right away, actively feeding the kind of moods I want to have definitely decreases the chance of another relapse.

Put another way, I try to avoid stepping in manure by staying out of the cow pasture. :)

#7 Diet and Exercise

Yup. You heard me. This stuff works! And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Whether you believe in evolution (survival of the fittest) or Creationism (“by the sweat of your brow”), mankind was designed to labor and find fulfillment in work. We simply don’t use our bodies like the generations before us. Being sedentary is quite literally making us depressed.

To quote professor and psychologist, Matthew Whoolery:

“Did you know what the best antidepressant is—for real? Exercise. A study done at Duke University Medical School found that 30 minutes of brisk exercise, three days a week, was as effective as taking an antidepressant. And the relapse rate for the exercisers was just 7%, while the relapse rate for the drug-takers was over 30%.”

Trust me, I know that depression saps the energy out of you. But just try going for a thirty minute walk in the sunlight (and listen to some upbeat music while doing it). It certainly couldn’t hurt.

#8 Serve Others

Time and time again, I have learned that loving service is one of our greatest (yet most neglected) resources for healing. In my book, Your Life Isn’t For You, I wrote that “in lifting another person, we also lift ourselves.”

But I think Gordon B. Hinckley said it best when he said:

“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”

#9 Understand You Will Always Have to Pull Weeds

This idea is SO important! Please understand that life is about growth, not perfection. If perfection is your aim, you will always be depressed—because none of us is perfect. We all need to work constantly to improve our lives.

Our lives are like gardens, and we have to perpetually care for, cultivate, and weed them. There will never be a time when the weeding is forever done, just as there will never be a time when we are forever exempt from feelings of sadness, loneliness, or despair. These things will always try to resurface in our lives. The trick is to keep weeding. Don’t let those feelings overrun your life (or your garden). When you nurture and care for the fruits and flowers of your life, I promise that you will reap a more abundant life.

I hope these ideas have helped you find the strength and understanding to fight your depression. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you CAN do it.

Below is a great video on understanding depression. Keep moving forward!

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My Wife Doesn’t Give Me The Love I Deserve!

My wife doesn’t give me the the love I deserve.

About a year and a half into our marriage, I was struggling with an intense feeling of bitterness. Marriage wasn’t what I had anticipated. It wasn’t anything like the pretty photographs and romantic movies I had seen—it was hard work.

Engagement PhotoI felt resentful, robbed of romance. This resentment fueled my depression, and in my bitterness I foolishly blamed Kim.

My wife doesn’t give me the love I deserve! I thought to myself.

Within a few short months, my bitterness had had grown to such an intensity, that it poisoned our relationship and threatened to destroy our marriage. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous and resentful.

But instead of reciprocating my bitterness, Kim showed me an outpouring of love. Even though I had caused her tremendous pain, she laid her hands on my face and told me that she loved me.

I looked at Kim, unable to understand the love I was receiving. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. My heart melted, and I hung my head down low.

My wife doesn’t give me the love I deserve, I thought to myself.

It was the same phrase I had thought to myself before, but this time it meant something completely different.

Here I was, blaming my wife for my pain, anguish, and depression, and yet she refused to echo that resentment. Instead, she opened her heart and hands and offered me love and forgiveness that I frankly didn’t deserve.

While I fully believe that each of us is a person of divine, inestimable worth—worthy of love—I don’t believe we ever “deserve” someone else’s love. In fact, the feeling of entitlement—the belief that we deserve something from someone else—often works as a detonator to the bomb that destroys our relationships.

The spirit of entitlement smothers love, but the spirit of gratitude lets love soar. It’s the difference between taking and receiving.

Deserving LoveWhen Kim and I were married, our minister advised us to receive each other in marriage—not to take each other in marriage. In taking, you assume that something belongs to you—that you have a right to demand it. In contrast, with receiving, you recognize that the thing belongs to someone else, but is being given to you out of the goodness of that person’s heart. In the case of marriage, you recognize that your spouse is a person with a life as real as yours, and that being with them—and receiving love from them—is a gift they choose to give.

How many relationships would be improved if we received our companion in a spirit gratitude? How many abusive relationships would be healed if the abuser realized that his/her spouse is a person of inestimable worth, that love and affection is a precious gift that person chooses to give?

I am certainly not perfect at being grateful in marriage—far from it. Yet I have learned that gratitude is the great multiplier in life. The more we express gratitude for things in life, the more life we receive.

Rid yourselves of the need to ‘deserve’ love. Instead, focus on giving it. Because the more we express sincere gratitude and love for our spouse (the more we truly receive them) the more they blossom, grow, and reciprocate that love.

And as you practice more gratitude in life, you will get so much more love than you ever imagined that you ‘deserved.’

Does My Depression Mean That God Hates Me?

Depression Suicide

I recently got an email from a subscriber that tugged on my heartstrings. It read, in part:

“What can I do about being depressed? I feel like I have fallen away from God and His grace and I don’t know my way back.”

To this person, I want you to know that I know that feeling.

A few years ago, when I was going through one of my darkest struggles with depression, I remember spending about two hours furiously scribbling over and over and over again, the phrase, “God Hates Me” in a notebook.

My experiences with depression made me feel as though all of my hopes and dreams had turned to ashes. The heavens seemed silent. And every night when I prayed it seemed like the floor would open up underneath me, and drop me even deeper into the pit of depression.

I was exhausted and felt defeated. I felt broken—that I was figuratively washing my hands over and over, but still couldn’t rid myself of the dirt that came from inside.

This is when I started to believe God hated me, that He was refusing to fix me because He didn’t love me. I believed that God was perfect except for one mistake—me.

I was ashamed to be alive.

Jesus Christ holding a child. Painting by Walter Rane.

Jesus Christ holding a child. Painting by Walter Rane.

But then I had a number of deeply personal experiences that changed my whole perception of God. I realized that many of the things I believed about myself and God, while I was depressed, were lies I told myself to make sense of my painful feelings. What I came to understand through my experiences, was that God loves us with an infinite, eternal love that is difficult for the finite, mortal mind to comprehend. The fact that God’s love is unconditional automatically makes it nearly impossible to understand. How could someone love us unconditionally? What about all of our mistakes? What if we’re broken beyond repair?

During my recovery, I remember being impressed with this spiritual impression: “Seth, do you really think that you could do anything—or that anything could be done to you—that is beyond my ability to repair? Do you really think that you could somehow exempt yourself from my all-encompassing love?”

If you are suffering with depression, please know that you are not broken. You’re an eternal being, taking part in a mortal experience. Yes, you might stumble, make mistakes, and feel inadequate—that’s okay. Because deep down, you are a person of inestimable worth and value. Your value is both divine and static; it does not change as a result of your actions or circumstances. Yes, you can feel guilt for mistakes you’ve made, and you should do your best to correct those mistakes. But God’s love is always there for us—even if we may not feel it.

I’ve come to think of my life as comparable to a garden. There may be times when all is sunny and happy, and other times when it’s rainy and depressing. But even when it’s cold and gloomy, the sun (God) is just behind the clouds, giving us just enough light and hope to keep moving forward—into the promise of more light and warmth.

Please understand that God is a perfect being with an infinite love for each of us. He asks us to keep moving forward because He loves us and believes in us. And if God, an infinite being, loves us and believes in us, shouldn’t we love and believe in ourselves?

So what can we do about being depressed and disconnected from God? First off, you must believe that you are a person of worth, that God loves you no matter what and that you always have a purpose on this earth—a reason for living.

I once believed the lie that God hated me, and it nearly destroyed me. Since learning the truth, my life has been more joyous and fulfilling. I know that God loves you, and that you always have a reason for living and moving forward.

If you would like some more practical steps to overcome depression, please read 5 Ways to Fight Depression and/or watch the video below.

Beauty for Ashes

Angela Johnson's sculpture of the woman with an issue of blood.

Angela Johnson’s sculpture of the woman with an issue of blood.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus read from the scriptures, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted…to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:22)

In the book of Isaiah, a similar scripture finishes with: “…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:3)

I believe in these scriptures with all of my heart.

In 2006, my chronic depression, which I had struggled with for years, had finally broken me. I had tried everything to fix my problems, but whatever I touched seemed to wither and rot. Darkness overwhelmed me like a tidal wave, destroying all of my hopes and dreams, and seemingly suffocating me in the process. Unable to see my way forward, I decided to end my life.

Miraculously, however, my family rescued me from my suicide attempt. But I still wasn’t grateful to be alive. Instead, I looked over my life and saw only the devastation caused by my depression. It seemed that all of my hopes for life had turned to cold, colorless ash.

In the hospital, I had a hard time seeing how things could get better—how I could be whole again. Not only was I still struggling with what felt like impenetrable depression, but I had also attempted to take my life. My whole neighborhood had seen the ambulance, my family had to pay for an expensive visit to the ER, and everyone I knew would look at me differently.

What I saw in myself was a broken mess; a life of complete failure.

But the love of my family was stronger than I could’ve imagined; it was like a light in my darkness, which pointed me toward a greater light—God.

A painting of the woman with an issue of blood by Howard Lyon.

The woman with an issue of blood by Howard Lyon.

In absolute humility, I took the broken pieces of my life to Him, and asked for His help. In many ways, I felt akin to the woman with “an issue of blood” mentioned in the New Testament. She had visited countless doctors and spent “all her living,” but just couldn’t be healed (Luke 8:43). In faith and desperation, she followed the Savior through a crowd, “touched the border of his garment,” and was made whole through her faith. (Luke 8:48)

I want to pause here and say something about faith. Faith asks us to do everything we can do, and then ask God to do what we cannot. Before the Savior raised Lazarus from the dead, He waited for everyone to do what they could do. Martha came to Jesus and told Him that Lazarus had died (John 11:21), He had the family lead Him to the grave (John 11:34), He asked the family to remove the stone which covered the grave (John 11:29), and then He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43). Even after the miracle, Jesus asked those around help Lazarus by removing his bandages (John 11:44).

Certainly, Jesus had the power to do all of those things himself. He knew that Lazarus was dead, He knew where to go, He could’ve easily removed the gravestone, and He could’ve removed the bandages Himself as well—but He asked others to do what they could, and then He did what they could not.

In a similar way, we are asked to exercise our own faith by doing things that are within our power. For example, if we are suffering, we must seek help from friends and family, visit doctors or counselors, and prayerfully utilize all of our available options. As we do these things in faith, we are asking God to perform a miracle.

I have seen, through experiences too numerous and too sacred to share, God take the ashes of my life and miraculously turn them into something beautiful. I have marveled at His power to touch something broken, and not only make it whole, but better than it ever was before.

In a way that is almost unbelievable to me, I have seen God take my experiences with depression and turn them into something beautiful.

Truth be told, I never intended my blog to become what it is today. It started out as a way for me to learn about blogging and promote the videos I had been making. I’ve always wanted to write fiction, not personal stories from my own life. But on a few occasions, I’ve felt a strong “spiritual nudge” to write or talk about my experiences with depression and suicide. Introverted as I am, I’m always very hesitant to share my thoughts and feelings on such a sensitive subject—so whenever I do so, it is because I’m following those spiritual nudges.

A few months ago, my brother Sean and I were interviewed for a video on suicide prevention. I don’t like being in front of the camera unless it’s something fun or funny—and talking about depression and suicide are neither of those things, so this was a very hard thing for me to agree to.

"Lost and Found" by Greg Olsen

“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen

The video shares the story of my suicide attempt, and tells how my brother’s love and support helped bring me back. The response to this video has been remarkable and overwhelming. Both my Facebook fanpage and my personal page have been filled with positive, uplifting comments and heartfelt messages. I have received text messages and phone calls from people telling me that the video is helping them (or someone they know) feel hopeful about the future.

I honestly can’t take credit for that video. I shared my story, yes. But the story is really about how my brother rescued me from the darkness of depression and helped me to move forward. And when I say ‘brother,’ I don’t just mean my brother Sean.

This video is a testament to me of how our elder brother, the Savior, can turn the ashes of our lives into something truly beautiful.

I hope that it helps you move forward with faith in your own life.

I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Quinn Orr for inviting me to take part in this video, and for working so hard to provide resources to those who are still struggling. I also want to thank Al Fox Carraway for her friendship during the whole process. My self doubt might’ve gotten the better of me had it not been for her encouragement.

And, as always, I’m profoundly grateful for the love and support of my wife, whose friendship lights the way through my ongoing battles with depression.

Depression—A Battle Too Big to Fight Alone

A few months ago, my brother and I were asked to take part in a Mormon Message about suicide prevention. I hope that it is helpful to you. If someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please continue to place your arm of love around them. Believe me, a seemingly small and simple act of love can change someone’s entire life.

From the video description: There is no easy solution for helping someone who has thoughts about ending their life. But there are some things we can do to reach out to them.

The most common sources of pain for someone having suicidal thoughts are feeling disconnected from other people, feeling like they’re a burden to others or that people would be better off without them. Coupled with the hopeless thoughts that things aren’t going to change, suicidal thoughts become risky.

For some, like Seth Adam Smith, the right words spoken by another can change a life. Seth’s depression caused him to attempt suicide. He was miraculously saved, and when he awoke, his older brother’s words changed everything. “You know, Seth,” his older brother said, “I almost lost my little brother. … I don’t think I’m going to go anywhere for a while.”

While it may seem too simple, sometimes words of comfort, support, and love can be life-changing for someone who doesn’t feel needed.

Sometimes those suffering with depression and suicidal thoughts don’t even need words. They just need someone to sit with them. They need someone to be there for them. They need to feel loved and valued.

Elder M. Russell Ballard counsels us not to judge, but to reach out. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to heal people, … but we can have an impact in guiding people to some of the resources out there.” He reminds us that we can be one of those resources. “There is nothing more powerful than the arm of love that can be put around those who are struggling.”

Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is A Deliberate Choice

Love Is A Choice

Love is a choice.

My wife and I have known each other since high school, but didn’t date until much later. We had only dated a couple of weeks before we realized that we were madly in love and wanted to get married.

I was all for it! I even suggested a spontaneous, immediate wedding in Vegas. (Seriously.) Kim, however, was a bit more practical about the whole thing. She wanted to take time to plan it all out.

I felt deflated. “We’re so different,” I said. “You like to plan, while I like to be spontaneous.”

Kim’s eyes widened. “I can be spontaneous!” she said, hurriedly. “I can totally be spontaneous. You just have to tell me in advance when you want to be spontaneous, and I will write it down in my planner…”

I gave her a strange look. She was totally serious! Clearly, Kim did not understand the meaning of spontaneity.

Funny as it may seem, the more I think about this conversation the more I’ve come to realize that planning to love someone—or choosing to love someone—is actually one of the most beautiful things about love.

I’ve heard it said that real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

It’s true.

When all the butterflies have fluttered away and your wedding day becomes a distant memory, you will discover that you’ve married someone who is just as imperfect as you. And they, in turn, will come to learn that you have problems, insecurities, struggles, quirks—and body odor—just as real as theirs!

Then you will realize that real love isn’t just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling—it’s a deliberate choice—a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Of course, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, but you definitely choose who you fall in love with and (more importantly) who you stay in love with.

Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen.

Besides, life already offers us plenty of spontaneity: rejection, job loss, heartache, disappointment, despair, illness, and a host of other problems. We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.

Grandma and Grandpa Adams.

Grandma and Grandpa Adams.

When my grandma was in her fifties, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its nervous system. Within a few short years, Grandma had lost the ability to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. Grandpa, who was then the chief of police, retired two years earlier than planned in order to take care of Grandma. He helped her do everything—from getting around the house and visiting the doctor, to helping her take her medicine and bathe.

In speaking about my grandma, Grandpa once told my mom, “It hurts me to see her like this. You know, when I got married I thought that everything would be smooth sailing. I never imagined that I would have to help her change her catheter every day. But I do it and I don’t mind it—because I love her.”

Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.

I recently came across this wonderful quote: “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.”

Whenever my wife and I run into a problem in our marriage we do our best to choose love. While we’re certainly not perfect, the love we share today is more real and more wonderful than anything we had ever anticipated.

So, whatever spontaneous storm may come our way I plan on loving my wife.

If you truly love someone (and they truly love you), commit to that love and plan on it being hard work.

But also plan on it being the most rewarding work of your life.

Religious Russia vs. Atheist America?

Red Square

In 2008, I was teaching English in Moscow, Russia. After one of my classes, a middle-aged Russian woman lingered behind and we started talking about some of the differences between Russia and America.

Quite unexpectedly, she asked me my opinion as to why America was so wealthy and successful. I was caught off guard by her question and I mumbled some bumper-sticker sentiments about “hard work” and “freedom.”

“I think it’s religion,” she said simply.

Truthfully, I was shocked that she said that (after all, we were in a Russian school building). I furrowed my brow and asked her what she meant.

“Look at all those countries,” she said, gesturing to the large map behind me. “The most successful countries are the countries that practice religion. Especially,” she added, thoughtfully. “The Protestant religions.”

After another half hour or so, we finished our conversation and left the building. But in the years since then, I have thought a lot about what she said.

While I don’t believe that “religious” people are blessed with visible, measurable levels of wealth and success, I do believe that religion—when used properly—is a powerful force for good. Religion can refine our character and teach us timeless truths about life, love, and community.

It’s interesting to me that many Russians—after enduring seventy years of state-enforced atheism—seem to recognize the value of religion. In an column for the Los Angeles Times, Cal Thomas wrote this:

What could be more ironic? Americans are doing what they can to wipe out religion from public schools, while Russians are doing what they can to revive religion in their public schools. Having been without religious freedom for most of [the twentieth] century, Russians apparently see the value of what they lost. Their country having been established on the principles of religious values and expression, Americans flirt with paganism, unaware of what it is like to live in an anti-religious nation. It appears the Russians have learned something from us. It also appears we have learned nothing from them.

But what do you think? Do you think that people (and countries) become more successful if they practice religion? Do you think America’s success is based on its religious heritage? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Awesome/Terrifying News!

Webinar Facebook

So, I’m an introvert.

And if you know me really well, then you’ll know that I prefer gardening over socializing, and writing over speaking.

On top of that, I would much rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

With that in mind, my publisher—Berrett-Koehler Publishers—is hosting an “Ask Me Anything” webinar on Tuesday, October 7th at 6:30 pm PST / 9:30 pm EST.

I’m already sweating bullets…

It’s a free event and I’ve heard a rumor that you might win a free copy of my book if you register HERE >> http://bit.ly/sasamabk

I’m absolutely, totally terrified to do this (honestly, you’d think I were going skydiving or something!) but it should be tons of fun (in hindsight) and I’d love to finally “meet” all of you!

Again, it’s totally FREE and you can register right here >> http://bit.ly/sasamabk

I hope to see you there!

Ask Me Anything?

Ask Me Anything?

13 Scary Books for Halloween

An illustration of Rip Van Winkle, by Ashley Smith Collet

Halloween (and the season surrounding it) is my favorite time of the year—and good books only make it better!

Have you heard of All Hallow’s Read? It’s a wonderful Halloween tradition started by Neil Gaiman (author of The Graveyard Book, Stardust, and Coraline). The point of the tradition is to recommend/give a scary book to a friend during the Halloween season.

And so, in honor of this tradition, here are thirteen of my favorite scary books. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Wait Till Hellen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn – Although intended for young readers, this is a genuinely spooky book with a great ending. I would recommend it to anyone.
  2. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander – One of my top ten, all-time favorite books. While it’s not exactly a “Halloween book,” it’s a very suspenseful adventure book featuring a trio of witches that help the main character (and the reader) learn some pretty important lessons about life.
  3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – In this award-winning book, Neil Gaiman (who is a spectacular storyteller) tells of a boy who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts and werewolves. A delightful read—an excellent twist on The Jungle Book.
  4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz – Do you remember reading this book in elementary school? It’s a collection of scary, popular folklore. The grotesque ink illustrations alone are enough to give you nightmares.
  5. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving – The classic short story about a man, Rip, who is magically enchanted to sleep for twenty years. There are times I envy him.
  6. Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney – If you’re looking for something a little darker (and by “little,” I mean “a lot,”) then try the first book in Delaney’s “Last Apprentice” series. With an assortment of witches, ghosts, blood, and bones, this book is sure to keep you up at night.
  7. A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner – The ending of this little story will make your toes curl.
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – This book feels like the most Halloween-y of the Harry Potter series, wouldn’t you agree?
  9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – If you want to read some classic Halloween literature with deep insight into human nature, then look no further than Frankenstein.
  10. Coraline by Neil Gaiman – A young girl discovers a hidden door that takes her to her “other mother.” Another deliciously creepy book by Neil Gaiman!
  11. The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis – This book from the Chronicles of Narnia is PACKED with powerful lessons about addiction and seeing things as they really are. Plus, Puddleglum! :D
  12. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe – Poe seems to be a treasure trove of all things creepy. This short story (especially if you listen to an audio rendition) will make your hairs stand on end.
  13. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – My favorite “scary” story. I absolutely love colonial America and the legend of the Headless Horseman (I have a sticker of him on the back of my laptop)!

But what about you? What are YOUR favorite scary stores/books? Please write them in the comments below!