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When ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee released her first memoir Natural Disaster in 2017, she never anticipated the reaction she'd receive—but it ultimately inspired her to share even more of herself, if only to continue helping others address their own mental health struggles.
"I was shocked by the reaction [to Natural Disaster]," Ginger says. "The number of people that wrote me and said everything [from] 'you saved my life" [to] 'you were my therapy and you brought me some sunshine.' That meant a lot. But what they told me at the end of those emails was, 'The tools you gave me really helped.' And so I thought, 'I'll write another book about tools.'"
That's when she started writing A Little Closer to Home—which takes an even deeper look at her own mental health journey.
"As I'm writing about what I've learned over the last decade of intense therapy," Ginger recalls, "I realize—as I hear the women of the Me Too movement shed their shame as they're talking about their assaults—I thought, 'Well, there's part of my life that I have not shared.' And a big part of that is digging into trauma. So I have to dig into trauma in this book, but most importantly, it is not just about the healing, but the hard work of healing that kind of never ends. And a very sunshiny look at that, because it's something we have the opportunity to do and the opportunity to grow through together."
"Not only can you do it, but you deserve it," Ginger continues. "I wasn't ready to hear that for myself, nor did I know how. So in this book, we go through the how. How do you know you deserve it? How do you get the help so that you can get your brain and your life and just your illness to a place where you not just manage, but thrive? That's what's exciting about where I've gotten with all of this hard work."
A significant part of Ginger's journey addressed in the book is working on overcoming an internal battle and fusing what she refers to as her two identities—Ginger and Renee (her middle name).
"When I was young, I always felt there was the Ginger part of me—which is named after the movie star and very much the character that I think I genuinely am inside—but then there was Renee," Ginger explains. "That was my middle name. And that was really a sullen six-year-old that certainly had seeds of depression early, but then environmental contributions exacerbated that. I always felt this internal battle between these identities—and it [wasn't until] I got a real diagnosis and really great therapy that I was able to fuse those identities. That is where I feel like a fuse box that has finally been reset and turned on and ready to light."
At the heart of Ginger's writing is the hope that she and her experiences can help others—especially now, after living through a global pandemic.
"We're all in the same storm right now—being the pandemic—so I hope that in this storm, we can all see that it is temporary, even though it's a big one," Ginger says. "It's like a cat 5 storm, but it doesn't last forever."