Dr. Deborah Serani is an expert in depression, specializing in its treatment and living successfully with the disorder since childhood. She is a licensed psychologist in practice over twenty years, and an adjunct professor at Adelphi University. The author of the award winning book, Living with Depression, and Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, Serani is a go-to media expert with interviews in Psychology Today, The Associated Press, Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine, Veria Television, Ebru News and affiliate radio programs at CBS and NPR, just to name a few. She has also worked as a technical adviser for the NBC television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers . When did you start writing and what got you into self-help books?
I’ve been writing about depression for over a decade in academic and research journals, but began crossing over to mainstream books a few years ago. My first book Living with Depression was a 2012 Book of The Year Winner, and its success led my publisher to ask me to write a book on depression in children. I have a unique perspective of knowing what depression is like both personally and professionally. I struggled with depression as a child, attempted suicide, and through the help I received from a therapist decided to become a psychologist. Now I treat the very condition I suffered with. A full circle, so to speak.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
I’ve always had a good support network of teachers and professors that encouraged my writing. Their interest and passion in my work have often been the guiding hand that helps me over the writing hills and valleys authors encounter.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
I generally have an outline of what I want a book to evolve into. So, by the time I’m sitting at the computer with my fingers on the keyboard, I’m feeling super energized and ready to go. But then that white blank page stares back at me. I struggle with that first grab-you lede. For some reason, I can’t go forward writing until I have it hammered out on the page. But once I find it – the rest of the writing experience tends to flow easily.
What compelled you to write Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers?
Pediatric depression is a real illness – and one that has grave consequences. I wanted my book to be a go-to resource for parents so they could find everything there is to know about depression. What to look for, where to go for diagnosis, what kinds of treatments work, what happens to the family system when a chronic illness touches a child’s life. And because I know depression from both sides of the coin, I present a perspective that no other book offers.
She doesn’t refuse me at all, save for helping me get that first page going. When that happens, I generally charm her with cups of tea and her favorite dark chocolates.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
I only get that visceral feeling when I start a piece, be it a book or an article. So I can relate to that anxiety. I also connect to that vagueness when I do anything expressively creative. From drawing, painting, playing my guitar, even cooking. How do I begin.? But once I start, I’m good to go.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I don’t write daily – but I do have a schedule of what I want to achieve in my mind’s eye…and a time frame in which I’ll achieve that. I’m disciplined in that I always meet deadlines early, and enjoy that feeling of having done so.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
I’ve written four books, and when I finished each one, I bought myself something to mark the moment. A pair of earrings. A handbag. Something that when I use it, reminds me of my achievement. Nothing too extravagant, but something special that I might not normally go out and buy.
How do you define success?
That’s such a good question. For me, success is reaching a goal I’ve set. Be it big or small, it’s the finality of the experience that brings me great joy. It’s not money. It’s not recognition. It’s the ending of a journey that makes me feel successful.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
I love the isolation. The quietness of being alone with my thoughts and my feelings is very meaningful for me. I love the freedom that comes with that solitary experience – it allows me to be creative and cerebral in ways that being with others doesn’t.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
I’m involved with a lot of social media, but readers can go my website http://www.drdeborahserani.com/ and visit the other links from there.
Where is your book available?
And my publisher Rowman & Littlefield sells it directly too.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
I’d want readers to know that there’s no shame in living with a mental illness. Whether it’s yourself, your child, or someone else you love, help is out there – and you don’t have to suffer quietly or alone.