I connected with Dr. Deborah Serani on Twitter, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about her clinical work and her writing. She has some great books about depression as well as books for kids, and you can find her books on Amazon!
- To start off, tell me a bit about your professional background and how you came to your current expertise?
I’m a psychologist and a trained psychoanalyst in practice over 30 years. I decided to pursue this career because I struggled with depression as a child and entered psychotherapy to help me recover. That experience saved my life and changed my life.
- I love that you’ve written for children! Tell me about your upcoming book, Sometimes When I’m Mad?
I’m writing a series of children’s picture books for Free Spirit Publishing that highlights mental health issues in little ones. The first one published in 2020 is Sometimes When I’m Sad, about pediatric sadness. The second in the series arrives Fall 2021 and is titled Sometimes When I’m Mad, which helps children identify angry feelings and healthier ways to express them. Next up in 2022 is Sometimes When I’m Bored, which, you guessed it, helps children understand and navigate boredom.
- You’ve written three books about depression. Tell me about your experience writing so in-depth on this topic?
I struggled with depression as a child, but didn’t realize it. As I recovered, I learned so much about mood disorders and wanted to share my experience. So, when I became a psychologist, I thought writing a book from the dual perspective of being a patient who lives with depression and a professional who treats it would be a most unique read. I always wanted to write a series of books that looked at the trajectory of depression from childhood to old age, so Living with Depression, Depression and Your Child, and Depression in Later Life does just that.
- What would be the main message you hope people take away from your books?
That there is always hope. And to believe in that hope as you are healing.
- I just downloaded The Ninth Session and am looking forward to reading it! (No spoilers please!) What made you decide to pursue fiction?
I’ve always been a writer, even as a kid. I remember writing my own Star Trek episodes in elementary school. Writing science fiction short stories and poems too. When I began working as a technical advisor for the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, I saw what it took to write for television – and thought, I have a great idea for a story … but it’s gonna be written as a novel!
- I see on your website that you have lived experience with depression – if you are comfortable, could you share a bit about that? What your experience has been, and how it informs your work as a mental health professional?
As mentioned above, I was very depressed as a kid. I was tearful, tired all the time, frequently socially isolating myself. I couldn’t concentrate in school, failed classes and couldn’t find things to be happy about. I thought that was just how life was – for everyone. As I got older, and the symptoms worsened, I came to discover I was living with a serious, chronic mood disorder. A suicidal crisis got me into therapy, and that’s where I learned how to manage depression. And while one doesn’t need to have a lived experience to be a good therapist, my depression certainly does influence how I work as a professional. I know what it’s like to be in therapy; how hard it can be to find medications that work; how to bargain with side effects or structure life so my chronic depression doesn’t derail me. In this way, I can appreciate when a patient hits a bump in the road to recovery or struggles in day to day issues to keep a balance.
- Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to discuss?
Just more books in the works. I love to write. And read. In fact, I’m reading your 2020 I Don’t Want to Be Bad and am finding it such a great resource.