Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Maimone.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Melissa. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I’m an author and speaker with a passion for inspiring women to live lives of authenticity, courage, and faith. I speak at women’s events all over the country, addressing topics that reach women where they are — in the mess and magnificence of real life.
We often miss out on the beauty and richness of life because we get distracted by how we think our lives “should be” rather than embracing them for what they are. Women can struggle with disillusionment about themselves and their relationships, which results in a life half-lived. I teach women that there is an abundant life waiting for them when they start to explore and accept who they are in all their weaknesses and strengths.
I never grew up imagining I would be standing in front of audiences of women. Actually, I don’t remember having a lot of ideas about what my future might hold. Since I was about 13 years old, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. It made my world small and kept me from having hope for any future.
I used to believe that if I had enough faith in God, then I shouldn’t have depression. But that led to a lot of shame. I thought that there was something wrong with me, so I hid my struggles which led to even more isolation and shame.
For a long time, I asked God to heal me. He never did. I struggled with that. It made me question His goodness. But then I realized that my focus on getting rid of my depression was preventing me from discovering why God might have allowed it in the first place. So, I slowed down, took a deep breath, and started to learn how to live in the dark places — not just to wish them away.
And you know what? I’ve discovered that the darkness has more to offer than just pain. It can be a place of solitude, silence, surrender, and ultimately deep faith. And when you come to accept the things in your life you most wish were different, you can reach out to others who are in their own struggle; you can call out to others living in darkness.
In working with women, I’ve discovered we can be very isolated. Not because we are alone physically, but because we are alone emotionally. We believe our pain is something to hide.
My goal is to change that thinking. There is power in vulnerability. I believe we can live fuller, richer lives when we live transparently. It’s in the hardest places of life where we find the truest connection with one another. Struggle binds us together.
I wrote a book about my journey with depression and how I believe we can approach it from a different point of view. “The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place” (Harvest House Publishers) was just released April 2, 2019. I hope it’s a comfort to others who are in the dark places of their life’s journey. I’m pretty proud of it!
It takes on deep topics and doesn’t try to wrap things up in a bow or simplify people’s pain by quoting a few Bible verses or pontificating with trite, simple answers for the difficulties we face in life. It’s more like a conversation over coffee with a good friend. It’s also pretty funny! Humor is part of life too — and even though I struggle with depression, I want to laugh and have a good time and be invited to parties!
It’s ironic that the thing I was most ashamed of is the thing I now speak publicly about. I was nervous that I would become known as the “Depression Lady.” I didn’t want that stigma! But when I share about my journey, I get to demonstrate the power of authenticity. I get to talk about the God who loves us in all our weakness.
And I get to show women how we can find one another in the hard places. I believe we can live a magnificent life right in the midst of the mess–and my passion is to invite others to live that way too. So I’m not the “Depression Lady.” Not by a long shot. I’m the “Joy Lady.” And I like it that way.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was scared to death when I first started sharing about my struggle with depression and anxiety! I was afraid I would be shunned or shamed by my friends or by my church. Unfortunately, I was treated that way by a few people. But mostly, I was embraced.
And I learned that we all struggle. We all have questions about God. We all feel alone in our pain. And we all need one another. I learned that we can be free from shame when we come out of hiding.
Sparrow Sisters Ministries – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Besides my book “The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place,” I’ve also written, “Gathering Dandelions: Meditations and Musings on Faith, Fracture, and Beauty Mistaken for a Weed.” It’s a book of short stories, prayers, and reflective questions for women. (Apparently, I like really long titles for my books!)
I speak at women’s conferences, retreats, and events. I have a knack for making things understandable that seem scary or uncomfortable; like the Bible, depression, or questions about God. I approach my presentations as conversations with my audiences – we are in it together! And since I am still learning, growing, and still regularly struggle, I don’t pretend to have it all together. I like knowing we’re all on the journey.
In addition to my regular speaking and writing, I’ve had the privilege to be a speaker on behalf of Compassion International; an organization who releases children from poverty in the name of Jesus. I get to show people the power of sponsoring a child and how it can truly change a child’s life. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Guatemala to meet the girl that our family sponsors.
It was incredible! I got to see first-hand what Compassion does to address the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social needs of the over two million kids they help. Depression and poverty both have a lot in common—they can limit goals and dreams. I don’t want that for anyone.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Personally, success for me is measured by my authenticity with God, myself, and others.
If I am the same person in front of others as I am by myself, then that’s a pretty good sign I’m doing well. If my prayers are messy and honest, it means I’m being transparent with God–and that’s the only way I want it to be.
I consider it a success when I take good care of myself. Because I struggle with depression, it’s especially important that I eat well, exercise, and stay connected to a community of people who know me well. When I am taking good care of myself, I am not taking on too much or asking myself to do more than is possible in one day.
I also pay attention to what I watch, listen to, and take in. If I’m not careful, I will start believing the lies that this culture tries to tell me — that I am alone, that I am isolated, and that if anyone knew who I really was, they would reject me. So, while I love social media, I only follow those who are putting positive, good things out into the world.
I haven’t got the time or bandwidth to take on angry or unkind people. I try to keep my own social media truthful, down-to-earth, funny and inspiring. If I can be honest on social media, it means I’m being honest in my own life. It all comes down to authenticity.
- Gathering Dandelions: Meditations and Musings on Faith, Fracture, and Beauty Mistaken for Weed (Merula Press) $11.99 – Available on Amazon
- The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place (Harvest House Publishers) $15.99 – Available on Amazon
- Website: www.MelissaMaimone.com
- Email: Contact@MelissaMaimone.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissamaimone/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormelissamaimone
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissaMaimone
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissamaimone/
Danny Maimone Photography