Question: Who is the intended audience?
Answer: Women who deal with anxiety, fear, or depression.
Q: What is the book about?
A: Life Without the Monsters is about my life with anxiety disorder and how I learned to manage my debilitating thoughts. When I was 11-years-old, my parents went through a rather difficult divorce. It was then that I developed my life of worry and began having panic attacks. Of course in 1975 there were no such things as “panic attacks,” but each night at sunset I would become filled with terror. I would feel as if I was out of my own body—out of control. Then I would hyperventilate and feel as if I was having a heart attack. This happened every night for several years.
The attacks subsided for a time, but the worry was still there. I worried about everything—especially if it had anything to do with what other people would think of me. My mind needed constant approval, so I strived for perfection in everything every area of my life—school, work, marriage, motherhood, housework—everything. And as long as I would hear comments like, “ Wow! You did a great job on that!” I was ok. It never occurred to me that this was not necessarily normal!
The panic attacks returned in 1993. At the time I was married with two children and one on the way. I was in graduate school, had two part-time jobs and was student teaching full-time. Two of the high school teachers working with me made negative comments during an evaluation. This had never happened before! The comments still haunted me when I interviewed for my first teaching job. I was sure I wouldn’t be good enough, and the panic worsened. This time I couldn’t “snap out of it,” and I was hospitalized. My official diagnoses were major anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and depression.
After the discharge I continued counseling for a time, and tried lots of different medications – Zoloft, Prozac, Xanax, and Klonopin. I thought all was well – whenever a twinge of fear would surface, Klonopin would take it away. It would put in a drowsy state of disengagement from life. The counseling didn’t seem to be helping, but life was still tolerable.
Finally in 1999 I turned to God for help and was able for the first time to understand something: I don’t have to live this life of fear. There was something bigger than me, something bigger than my problems. I found ways to rely on this, and a great burden was lifted. I want other women to know that they don’t have to live in fear either. This is the ultimate purpose of the book.
Q: Why are you the best person to write this book?
A: I am the best person to write this book for three reasons. First, I’ve lived through it. I certainly recommend getting counseling and reading material from doctors and preachers, etc. But for someone going through anxiety there’s nothing like getting advice from someone who’s lived it.
Second, I have two degrees—one in biology and one in education. This allowed me to research extensively when I wrote and to comprehend what I was reading. I was able to understand very well what happens in my body chemically when I worry. My degree in education gives me enough psychology and communication to be able to teach this science stuff to other people.
And finally, I’m a Christian woman who understands what it’s like to worry—and I’m not afraid to talk about it! I found during my research that many Christians consider worry a sin—end of story. There’s very little tolerance for worry because, in some minds, if you do then you really can’t believe in God like you say you do. And since women suffer from anxiety twice as often as men—even in the church—they need to hear that there’s more to it than sin.
Q: How is this book different from other books on this topic?
A: When I decided to write the book I first did a lot of research. My husband actually said, “You can’t write the book from a Christian perspective. People won’t read it!” I thought about that and began thinking of other ways to write it. But there was no other way. So I bought every book I could find on anxiety—books from diverse perspectives.
My book is different because I found advice in the Bible that I haven’t seen presented before. There aren’t just the typical verses that tell you not to worry. I found that there are specific techniques on how to feel more peace. For example I learned that you can use all of your senses, even your sense of smell, to relax and calm your mind.
Q: Is there anything else we should know about this book?
A: There is “homework”. I spent most of my life wanting the answer—one thing that would give me the life I envied in so many other women. There’s not one. It requires commitment, effort, and time. I still struggle with worry. The difference is I now have tools to help me, and I grow with each new challenge. I want every woman out there to also live their lives without monsters.