Interview With Shannon Leith McGuire, Author of Finding My Sunshine - A Memoir

Can you share a bit about why you chose to share your story in a book? Why was now the right time to write your story and share it with the world?

I believe sometimes people need to read about others to understand themselves, so I decided to write this book.

Now was the right time, because finding similarities with other people helps us live happy and healthy lives. Your life may feel ordinary to you, but it might seem extraordinary to someone else. Every story shared is a chance to make someone feel less alone.

You share freely in the book about your learning disability and the challenges it created for you, particularly with language. How did that affect your ability to write this book? What process or processes did you use to help you get your story down into a written form?

My Learning disability definitely made writing this book interesting. I had a group of incredibly supportive colleagues working with me. My editor, Bobby Haas, bless his heart, he had to deal with my run on sentences, mis-spelled words, parts that were too wordy in some spots. He took my voice and made it streamline into a beautiful masterpiece.

About 3/4 of the book is very dark, dealing with bullying, drinking, social challenges, rejection and more. I am sure they took you to a tough place emotionally. What did you do to walk away at the end of a day of writing? How did you leave those dark feelings behind and step into the sunshine?

At the end of the day, when I walked away from writing about my dark days, I went for a walk with my pit bull, and talked it over with her and my husband. I reminded myself it is okay to talk about this because I may be helping others.

I also learned a lot of valuable tools about how to cope with darkness while I was in counseling. Such as, give myself permission to feel what I am feeling, but not to drop anchor there. I have already made it through, I do not need to stay there again. I say out loud “thank you for the lesson, and I’m ready to move on.”

Book Review HERE!
After struggling more than once in the education system, you eventually head back to school and successfully complete your nursing degree with a very respectable GPA. Comprehension and math were particularly a challenge. What did you do this time around to help you succeed?

This time, I took my time. I was not the kind of student who could handle a full load, plus work and keep up. I signed up for part time classes and took my time to learn at my pace, not at everyone else’s pace. Also, I had support from my residents and counselor. I did not have that before.

After quite being in counselling for quite a while working on changing your perspective, you received a diagnosis of clinical depression. The medication was life changing for you. What would you like to share with others who are struggling emotionally? Looking back, were there some signposts or other indications you can now see that this should be looked into?

Looking back, yes, I wished I allowed myself to take medication when it was first brought up, after our move when I was entering the 8th grade. The move was extremely hard on me, and I did not know how to adjust. I feel had I allowed myself to take medication, the adjustment period would not have been so traumatic for me. Maybe the static in my head, and the anxiety would not have been so bad. I honestly wished I had allowed myself to take the medication earlier. But at the time I thought that would only give the kids who were bullying me something more to talk about. I did not have the mental maturity to understand that no one had to know. I was too young and naïve.

What would you most like readers to take away from reading your story?

I hope they take away that they are not alone in their struggles. That I have been where they are now and survived. I want them to know that counseling is not a weakness, and neither is taking medication if it’s needed. I want to give them hope and to understand it is okay to laugh at themselves.

I'd love to close with one of your favourite quotes - anything that is meaningful to you that is a go when times get challenging.

Strength for Today- "And This Too Shall Pass" 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

Connect with the author: website