Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Struggle With, Not Victory Over

It’s tempting for anyone who writes about depression and anxiety to preach from hindsight, after he has “recovered” from his mood disorder: “This is what I did to free myself from addiction” … “Here are five steps to instant weight loss” … “These are eight techniques to cure anxiety.”

If you look at the list of New York Times bestseller advice books, such simple directives fill slots 1 through 20. Because no one wants to read the secrets of a person still struggling with her diet and exercise. After fifteen bloody weeks, she is still grossed out by sweat. Few people want to read a depression memoir that ends in a psych ward, with ECT.


Awhile back a friend sent me a great article called “Victory Over or Struggle With?” about the temptation for preachers to speak from a “victory over” perspective versus a more reflective, introspective “struggling with” point of view. Bob Kellemen, the author of the article, writes:

How often are we writing about our current struggles or our ongoing struggles with issues such as depression, anxiety … envy, jealousy, anger, and the like? How often do we preach about our current and ongoing struggles?

Stop for a moment before you say, “Oh, I just talked about how last year I battled …..” That’s part of our problem. We write and preach about the battle after we have won it. We talk about the valley once we are back on the mountaintop.


What effect might it have on our fellow strugglers if we talked about the battle during the battle—while we are still in the valley? How might it connect truth to life if we were honest enough to admit that we have lifelong, ongoing battles that we struggle with rather than that we always have “victory” over?

I am guilty of this myself. I am tempted to tie up all my struggles and angst with a lovely pink ribbon so that you will feel more hopeful about coming to a better place in your life. Look through my archives. It’s filled with “6 ways to ….” articles. However, whenever I have followed the advice of my former editor, Holly, and written from where I am, not from where I want to be, I am always amazed at the response from readers.


But it’s much, much harder to write from that place. Because it’s filled with ambiguity, uncertainty, restlessness, confusion, and embarrassment–for not having figured everything out. Most of us would like to present ourselves with much more direction, clarity, and single-mindedness because those traits are lumped in with success, not the former.

On most sites, I feel like I need to write posts filled with answers. But here, I think you actually appreciate my sincere questions, and maybe the fact that there is someone else out there who is just as perplexed by life’s crooked lines, and trying to put one foot in front of another in pursuit of a little sanity.

  • Pingback: The Continuing Struggle With, Not Victory Over | eChurch Blog

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kay

    yes i struggle withn extreme anxiety and can hardly write or think straight

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Undergroundwriter

    I agree with your post. I read so many articles on how to be happy, de-stress my life; eliminate worry etc. I believe we are searching for that solution. The fix. And hope it fits my situation.

    I do want to write several varying events in my life that were very impacting for me. My goal too, is to help maybe several people with my story. In looking at your links to the right on this page; I wrote a post for Chipur and I didn’t have a solution. I wrote what I was going through at that time. Lastly, I have at a minimum of 25 self-help books. Can’t say that any of them made a difference but I do love motivational quotes. Thank you for the post.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Therese

    I struggle every day to put one foot in front of the other. You are not alone in your struggle. And your writings have helped me deal with my bipolar and all that goes with it in a much healthier way.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carol Reins

    I have never been to the top of the mountain. I have been struggling with mental illness and addiction for way too long. Have finally given up on anti-depressants after a really bad side effect.Now I muddle through each day(and nights)trying to find some joy..a sunrise, my cats,a rainstorm, the smell of flowers. My expectations are lower, but that’s okay.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kathy

    This entry was helpful to me as I am in the midst of struggling now after feeling so good.

  • Bobbi

    I stumbled upon this today and so glad I did. Reinforcement for what I’m doing on the blog I just started. Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sean

    Thank you for the good words. Your honesty is such an encouragement.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment dkg


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Razz2

    I love “honest” writing… current writing … and I really “struggle” with … 10 ways to _________ Now those are really, really depressing.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Leann

    Therese – It is precisely because you can speak to us from the valleys and along the full path of your journey that your words touch us and give us hope. Thank you for this gift of grace.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment sherry

    thank you!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frank

    Excellent points, T. Thank you. I told someone that there are map makers who have actually been out on the journey and have arrived someplace and can chart that journey. But that was their journey. Everyone has a different journey and we have to live it, individually. We probably get more from those in the big middle of the swamp than those who are sitting in the lodge recounting their tale. Or so it seems…Ask me tomorrow for a new and different answer. :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Margaret

    Sharing your struggles is good for us, since we then know we are not alone in our thoughts and behaviors.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cathy koss

    Dear Therese,
    You are brilliant! I absolutely love your take on this. I laughed right out loud which is pretty miraculous on a day that started on high anxiety from the moment I opened my eyes! YES! Please let us exchange the realities of living with on going issues and feel the joy of knowing we’re not alone.
    Thanks again for your honesty and the willingness to share from your heart.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kevin Keough

    Yea for you !

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment marge

    Yes, it is a daily struggle (sometimes, minute by minute) but coming to the realization that I may never be “cured” of depression/anxiety, after that sunk in, I was able to be ready for the inevitable when my thoughts run over me like a freight train!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment v

    Yes, That’s why your book sounded perfect for me when I heard you on a podcast. You were speaking from within about how you felt in the midst of the pain. That is what has helped others get through that struggle; knowing they are not the only ones dealing or who have dealt with “stuff”.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Elizabeth

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this message. A powerful itruth. Thx.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kim

    Yes! I think the questions allow for possibilities whereas the answers always seem too concrete.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment suedanser

    i’m quoting Therese above when she says: “I struggle every day to put one foot in front of the other. You are not alone in your struggle.”
    & ditto to what every1 said as well…i cant word it any better.
    being handicapped/disabled/memtally ill – you’ve made a difference in my life.
    god bless Therese.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cheryl

    My oh my – if you didn’t struggle, if you had reached some unbelievable height of happiness and absolutely clear direction — you wouldn’t be writing these columns that matter to a lot of people. I don’t think we have to be unhappy to create — but to be a guide, you have to be with us on the trail.

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