Author spotlight: Caris Snider  

Speaker and author Caris Snider poses with one of her newest books, “There’s an Elephant on My Chest.” (Bee Osterman)

Speaker and author Caris Snider’s ability to paint pictures out of words woven together and deliver comfort to those who are struggling is truly unique. By injecting personal anecdotes and scripture into her works, Snider’s down-to-earth stylistic approach draws readers in to examine situations in a broader scope. Though it might seem like her flowy form and empowering prose come naturally to her, readers might be surprised.

“I went into a really hard time with depression and anxiety, and in that time, I was one of those who didn’t believe those things were real,” said Snider, explaining that the advice given to her at the time from her faith-based community, and even occasionally doled out by herself to others, was just not working.

“Pray about it, read your Bible more, stop whining, suck it up, you know? And I was doing ALL of those things, and it was real. There was more to it,” said Snider. After a period of worsening mental health, in an experience she called “the bottom of the bottom” Snider experienced a miscarriage in September 2011.

“I just thought the world would be better off without me; I wasn’t needed here. And in that moment it was like God whispered to me, ‘Look up.’ I looked up and there were helpers,” she said, “I began to realize I wasn’t alone, that anxiety and depression are very real, and that we need to talk about this stuff and stop hiding it.”

So, she talked about it, in churches, schools and conferences around the Southeast. Yet, the idea of writing didn’t cross her mind until retreat and conference hosts started requested notes and materials to accompany her talks.

“Writing was never in my top 10,” she laughed, describing herself as a “recovering perfectionist” and mentioning an intense fear of editing. To give the people what they wanted, Snider created a five-day devotional – designed herself on Canva – and it was a major hit.

After encouragement from a colleague, she wrote a 10-day devotional, with the first print run of 50 copies launched on Snider’s website in November 2018. Snider wasn’t sure what to expect, and much to her surprise, the launch sold out in 48 hours. This initial sellout was the push Snider needed to keep writing, and keep breaking barriers surrounding conversations about mental health – particularly in the religious realm.

“The faith community, you know, we’ve gotten better, but our heads were truly in the sand. I knew I wanted to be a voice to say, ‘Hey, faith and mental health can go together,’” she said, sharing that while the momentum continued to build, she continued to hone her craft of writing through workshops and writers conferences.

The art of stringing words together to convey a message that can be universally absorbed did not come easy, said Snider. “I was throwing spaghetti at the wall!” she exclaimed, noting how she struggled majorly with writer’s block and deadlines. Despite rigorous editing sessions, all-nighters before deadlines fueled by Celsius energy drinks and a pervasive feeling of imposter syndrome, Snider continues to lend words to the feelings many battle with daily.

Snider is confident that while her works have a prominent Christian undertone, nonreligious community members can benefit from the principles in them, too. “Within the books, of course there’s scripture, but in the text there’s going to be stories that you can relate to and practical steps that you can practice,” she nodded, saying the message of hope that these works sends is universal.

“We all need hope,” she declared. “Even if they’re not a person of faith, they can read it and know they’re not alone…We’re worth it to get help.”

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