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gillian marchenko

Author and Speaker

About Gillian

This whole ‘About Gillian’ page is hard, right?

Here’s my family: Elaina, Sergei, me, Zoya and the littles, Polly and Evangeline.

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I mean, what am I supposed to say ‘about Gillian.’

Gillian is a grown woman with a full/weird/hard/great/hard again life? Capture that eloquently in a few paragraphs.

I’ll start with the basics… I’m a Christian. I believe in the Gospel. Jesus exchanged his perfect life for my sinful life on the cross. Because of that sacrifice, God has called me to himself. My goal is to live my life to glorify him.

I’m a wife to Sergei. A mom to four. A writer. A speaker. I’m an advocate for individuals with special needs (like my kids) and people with mental illness (like me). My two youngest daughters have disabilities. Polly has Down syndrome and Moyamoya, and Evangeline (adopted from Ukraine) has Down syndrome and autism. I’ve battled major depressive disorder for over a decade and suspect that I’ve had some sort of depression my whole life. My husband Sergei and I have been married for close to eighteen years and tend to like each other in addition to love. We also have two teenage daughters, Elaina and Zoya, who make us laugh (and sometimes cry, I mean, teenagers) who have a fierce love for their sisters and an understanding of the world most people never realize because of the struggles and joys we experience as a family.

But in spite of all of this, in both happy and times pain, God continues to give good things and challenges us to love and serve him. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5

Let’s see…

The world is full of people who seem to have it together. I hardly ever have it together, so I’ve designated myself (oh, by the way, I have issues), to speak up for the rest of us.

I write books (OK, that’s redundant), and I have a tiny addiction to the oxford comma. We have a rescue poodle mix named Scout. I’m prone to being a homebody and just recently started to dig the long lasted game show Wheel of Fortune. What is that about? I lived in Ukraine for a year, met Sergei, and then we lived there as a family for another four years. I kind of still speak Russian and attempt to tell people about Jesus.

I’ve traveled some, and have also spent weeks in bed during depressive episodes catching up on really important shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County.

We used to live in Chicago, right in the city, but now our family lives a quieter life in a suburb of St. Louis. When I am able, we enjoy walks on beautiful Saturday afternoons, eating out at Mexican restaurants, and bonfires at night. I love seeing my teens grow into thoughtful, intelligent young women, and our younger two keep us on our toes and find new ways to get us to fall in love with them every day.

We struggle a lot. Depression is a family illness. Special needs can be just plain hard. But there is always hope and (with God’s help) we’re all trying to do the best we can most days.

And I just want to get this out here. I’m not a downer. Really. Some people (I can’t name names) may even think I’m a bit funny. Depression is a part of me, but it is not who I am. I write and speak about depression, special needs, imperfect faith, and deep belly laughs because that’s what I know.

Most Sundays, you’ll find me in the front row of our church, bouncing a kid on my knee and giving my teenagers the look. It’s been said that spouses of clergy live in fish bowls. I’m the first to say that my bowl is cracked and most of the water has seeped out.

I like lots of things in this world, but there are a few I love: Jesus, my family, friends, and the written word.

St. Augustine said “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

He also said “Oh Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

Amen.

That’s me, Gillian.

(If you want to know more about depression, special needs, parenthood, Down syndrome, adoption, our family, or stumbling faith click on my blog.)

Come hang out with me on Facebook. I always tell myself that I’m going to do what the cool kids do and post less, but I can’t help it, I’m on there all the time.