Today, we have a special guest joining us! When Desiree Williams asked for bloggers to join her in a blog tour for illusionary, I jumped at the chance. I shared my thoughts about this gem last month, which you can read here. It is such a beautiful story, and I love the symbolism–almost allegorical–how she approached the struggle of depression. She did what I had first set out to do with the Hidden Dagger trilogy, but I got lost along the way. Ha!
I love it when fiction goes deeper and helps us to see beyond the physical, when it captures the abstract and makes it concrete, giving us better clarity and understanding of life and the world around us. When those struggles the characters have resonate with our own. So when Desiree shared with me possible guest posts for today, I knew right away which one I wanted her to share.
So please welcome Desiree Williams as she shares about illusionary, depression, and how the story became a reflection of what she needed.
Wrestling with Depression
How Illusionary Revealed My Secret Darkness
by Desiree Williams
I’m weird for a lot of reasons. One of them being the fact that I’m so encouraged the topic of depression is being talked about more openly and more freely these days. It’s becoming less of a taboo subject, which means individuals are finding the safe places their heart yearns for in order to journey toward healing.
Why is this encouraging?
Because one of the (many) lies tacked on by depression is that we are alone in our suffering. That no one sees us, or even cares about us. Such dark hopelessness builds and festers until it permeates every corner and crevice of our mind. It acts as a leech, sucking all the life right out of us, until we believe the lies and crumple under the weight of them.
Talk about a heartbreaking environment to live in!
I know because I lived in such emotional turmoil, wrestling with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts since my teen years (and to show my age here, that’s over two decades).
So while I’m not a professional of the mind, I am someone who lived in a state of emotional decay for 20+ years. Until eventually that pit of depression and hopelessness became my grave (metaphorically/ spiritually).
But today I stand as an individual internally healed. *sobs happy tears* I am alive, with fresh breath in my heart and mind.
Freedom and healing ARE possible. The lies have it all wrong, friend.
You CAN overcome. You ARE NOT alone. You ARE loved.
By this point you’re probably hoping I’ll get to my point. Ha!
As a writer, I’ve learned that the stories which resonate with readers most are the stories where the author had the courage to be real and raw. Where the heartache poured out from the deepest parts of themselves.
Although, because of the insecurities associated with depression and anxiety, it took me by surprise that I’d done this very thing with Illusionary.
Which for other creatives, it’s like … DUH. That’s art, Desiree. LOL. Meaningful art and stories bleed from our heart onto the pages. But I’d never been brave enough to be raw. For years, I struggled with finding my “author voice” because I wrestled with my self-worth, mirroring what I thought would please other people (yet more pitfalls of living in emotional decay).
So, let’s chat about the particular scene in Illusionary that caught me by surprise. Well … it pretty much whacked me upside the head. LOL. I won’t give out spoilers! But this is a reference point for those who have read (or are thinking about reading) the book.
FYI: it’s the portion of the adventure where Kam encounters Reese bound in chains.
I can’t share the deeper context of the scene, otherwise, it would be full of spoilers, as it is a pivotal moment for Kam and Reese. (If you’ve read it and want to chat on the side, I’d totally be down for that.)
However, I will say … Reese “found” himself bound in chains as a result of living in a state of emotional turmoil.
During the edits of this scene, my editor essentially called me out for the clichéd one-liners I threw out via Kam to “help” Reese. My editor knew the moment could be more. And Lord bless her, because that particular nudge set off an internal dialogue, causing a massive lightbulb to go off.
In order to fix the clichéd one-liners, I had to fully understand what it was that Reese needed at that moment. No one else could accept Truth for him. No one else could unlock the chains for him. He had to make those choices for himself. And even though he didn’t have the strength to fight, he had to at least want to.
So I pondered long and hard, imagining what Kam could do that would feel realistic and authentic. But not just a bandage. Reese deserved something better. He deserved true lasting healing. Not a temporary fix that somehow avoided the bigger issue.
As I stared at my computer screen, relating to Reese in his chains of sorrow, the underlining picture fell into place. Piece by agonizing piece.
Until the question no longer became “what did Reese need”.
Instead … what did I need?
To say that I fell into a heaping, sobbing mess would be an understatement. Reese’s entire adventure in Illusionary replayed in my head, and the truth punched me right in my broken, dead heart.
Illusionary was me. Kam was the playful, awkward half. Reese was my secret darkness.
The shutting out emotions because life had become too painful—me.
The statement of [spoiler! Ahhh I wanted to add this!]—me.
The icky, dark shadows whispering their curses—my self-doubt.
All of the things I kept sweeping under the imaginary rug had bled out onto the pages. The reality of what I’d done was almost too much to bear. But it paved the way for the long road to healing.
Even though—at that time in my life—I was too weak, emotionally and spiritually, to drag myself out of my pit of despair, I still wanted out.
I desperately wanted a hug.
I desperately yearned for someone to fight for me.
I prayed for a “Kam” to help me stand until I had enough strength in my legs to stand on my own.
Therefore, I gave Reese what I yearned for most.
Illusionary Snippet No. 1
She could do something—she could simply be there. On her knees and with slow movements, she shuffled to his side, eyeing him. Ready to pull back if she crossed the line.
He lifted sad eyes to her, and she went in for the hug, wrapping her arms around him. The chill from the chains seeped through her clothes, causing a shiver to roll through her.
Reese exhaled against her neck. “It hurts. All the time, it hurts.”
“But at least you know you’re feeling.” Kam squeezed him. Pushing back tears, she rubbed his back between the breaks in the chains. “Life hurt because it meant something to you. You put your all into the hope of creating something beautiful, and that took a huge risk …”
Illusionary Snippet No. 2
“Let me in, please. Let me show you what real, genuine love is like. That life is worth living. Even when we feel the pain. Because out of the shadows can rise a strength and beauty we never imagined. We could do it together. Would you want that? A grand adventure with me?”
Yeah, those are semi spoiler-free. I couldn’t not share those glimpses. *cheeky grin*
Oh, and if you’re wondering … yes, those things I desperately needed, I received.
Although it took some time. I published Illusionary in April 2017. In Dec 2017, I completely shattered (that’s a totally different life story though).
But through it all, someone was fighting for me. Even though I didn’t see it or feel it at the time.
And in the spring of 2018, I got my hug. It sounds weird, but that special hug transcended all understanding and ushered in a healing I never knew existed.
My champion came to help shoulder my pain until I could get strength back into my legs to stand on my own. Even today, that champion still walks alongside me, journeying with me in the most epic and craziest adventure ever. One I couldn’t have dreamt up even if I’d tried.
If you’ve been around me long, you know that special someone is Jesus. And it’s cool if you don’t share my faith. I get it. But I wouldn’t feel right not sharing who my champion had been (and continues to be).
Okay, I think that’s enough heart-gushing. *wink*
I pray something within this crazy long blog post inspired a flickering light within you. I truly pray, if you’re struggling as I had been, that you won’t listen to the lies of darkness anymore.
Healing IS possible. I stand as an example.
You ARE worthy of it! Even if you can’t feel it right now.
Please confide in a friend you trust. Start with one step, and then another. You are needed and wanted in this life, friend. I am praying for you. And God is fighting for you.
Special thanks, and a huge shout-out, to Jennette for allowing me to crash her internet space. It’s been an honor to share my heart with you!
Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.
Alice fell down a hole.
Wendy flew to Neverland.
Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.
Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.
Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.
No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.
Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.
Find it on:
Ebook available at:
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2XeMI6d
Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.
You can find out more about Desiree and her books at www.desireewilliamsbooks.com