Book Release: DARKWATER

Happy publication day to Michael J. Sholtes, author of Darkwater: A Pastor’s Memoir of Depression and Faith.

There is a voice in Michael’s head.

A voice that tells him he is worthless and unlovable. The voice masquerades as his own, wreaking havoc on his friendships and romantic relationships. It keeps him from pursuing his calling—a career as a pastor. It tears his life apart piece by piece, leading him to attempt suicide on more than one occasion. The voice almost defeats him, and yet there is another, more powerful voice—the still, small voice of God always whispering to him, “I love you.”

This is the true story of Michael’s journey from a precocious child in a small town to the spiritual leader of a faith community, and how he slowly and fitfully learns how to listen to the better angels within. Told with brutal honesty and insight into his own mental condition, this is a story of friendship, depression, despair, faith, and a God who refuses to let go.

Darkwater is available worldwide at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major retailers as a paperback and e-book. (We recommend ordering it from your favorite local bookstore!)

Praise for Darkwater

“Take a risk and walk alongside Michael as he struggles with devastating self-messages, as he climbs a tree with a noose in his hand and gathers courage to become vulnerable again and again. It is estimated that in the United States, two thirds of all cases of depression are undiagnosed. Michael and all those with the courage to tell their stories are beginning to reduce this number.”

—Deacon Terry Lieb, National Board-Certified Counselor, Licensed PA Mental Health Counselor, Retired Executive Director, Diakon Family Life Services

“Pastor Scholtes has captured the voice of depression, a major mental disorder, through the richness of his metaphors, poetry, and personal narra-tive—a narrative that took courage to write. Anyone who wants to under-stand what depression is like needs to read this book, including pastors and laypersons alike. Through his journey, which is clearly rooted in a deep spiritual struggle, he tells us several crucial things about the illness. First, the negative impact of stigma. He captures elegantly how stigma, the fear of letting others know, compounds the illness leading to isolation. Second, the importance of support. The last thing someone needs is to be abandoned, to fend for oneself. Family, friends, the church family all have an important role in healing. Third, the importance of treatment. Treatment, which does not always “cure” completely, provides an important pathway for hope, a way to manage the dark voices of depression. Finally, even devout religious persons are not immune to mental disorders, and spiritual guidance can be an effective tool toward healing. I highly recommend this book.”

—Dennis E. Schell, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, The George Washington University

“Get ready. Darkwater is Michael Scholtes’ authentic, meticulous, and intimate account of his unrelenting confrontation with depression. We get to follow this confrontation from his childhood to middle-age. Michael pulls back the curtain so we see him—son of a minister, floundering adolescent, bright student, restless pastor—stripped of pretension… Darkwater is Michael’s attempt to be honest with the world, with God, and with those in his life. When you put the book down, what makes it a satisfying read is not a happy ending, but the realization that what makes Michael strong against the depression is that he lays claim to and has learned to value the humanity, the honesty, the stubbornness, the pain, the will to persevere, the guilt, and the love that always came his way. It’s clear: while it came at a price, the renewal of his life journey is real.”

—Rev. Dr. Samuel R. Zeiser, Bishop Emeritus, Northeastern PA Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“Michael Scholtes has given us a gift through this poignant memoir of one pastor’s journey with depression. His writing is evocative, raw, creative, and poetic. If you suffer from depression, his story may give voice to your own struggles. If you want to understand what it looks like to live with depression, Scholtes has opened the door to his soul and invites you inside. Wading into Darkwater will reveal a depth of reflection, faith, and honesty that is rare and needed for those wanting to understand the inner world of mental illness.”

—Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, Lexington Theological Seminary

Darkwater artfully captures the reality of an individual living with a mental illness.  Scholtes masterfully highlights the delicate balance that occurs at the intersection of his faith, mental health, and mental illness.  In a society where individuals battling mental illnesses are shunned and highly misunderstood, Scholtes shows great courage in sharing the true nature of his internal struggles. The book captured my curiosity and drew me in with the author’s relatable style and coming-of-age authenticity.  Entertaining and stimulating from cover to cover!”

—F. Dave Williams, licensed clinical social worker

About the Author

Reverend Michael J. Scholtes is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has served as pastor of several congregations in eastern Pennsylvania. Michael currently lives in the Lehigh Valley with his wife Heather and children Alex and Ben.