Sana’ Watts, the author of Fragile and Flourishing on the healing process of writing a memoir
Written by Emily LaRose
In the summer of 2019, Sana’ Watts wrote a poem titled “Fragile.” The poem was about struggling with anxiety and suicidal depression as a Christian and how God used this experience for good. The poem reflected her life at the time and foreshadowed what was to come. In the following months, her family’s apartment caught fire and they ended up having to live in different places.
Watts began thinking about what God was teaching her and how “Fragile” continued to echo her life. What began as a poem soon turned into an idea for a book about mental illness. She threw down some ideas and put it to the side.
When she was about five months postpartum after her first child, Watts returned to her notes. “I don’t even know whether I was necessarily inspired to write [the book] as much as I was compelled,” she says. She felt the Lord calling her to tell her personal story with mental illness, not the general book like she’d first imagined. Fragile and Flourishing was finished in a couple of months; Watts self-published the book in 2021.
Watts has loved writing and poetry since she was young, but this book is her first published work. She describes her book as a memoir about navigating her relationship with Jesus in the context of mental illness.
One message she aims to express through her book is that faith and mental illness don’t have to be opposing things. “You can still have a flourishing faith in Jesus and struggle at the same time,” she says. Fragile and Flourishing walks through what this has looked like for Watts and how Jesus has worked in her life despite, and through, her mental illness.
While the first section of the book is memoir, in the last couple of chapters Watts takes a more instructional tone. Within these chapters she delves into a holistic view of mental heath—including the spiritual, physical, and emotional aspects.
In reflecting on the impact that writing the book has had on her, Watts said it was redemptive to look back and see God’s faithfulness and goodness in her past experiences.
She believes the entire process brought her closer to the Lord. Watts reflected on the humbling experience of hearing feedback from others and the ways her book resonated with them. “It’s nice to actually see the fruit of my story in another person’s life,” she says. “A tree does not bear fruit to eat the fruit itself, it bears fruit so that other people can eat the fruit.”
Watts currently lives in Brampton and is working on her masters in spiritual care and psychotherapy with plans to work in the mental health field. After falling in love with writing again, it’s on her mind to write her mother’s story.
Watts believes there is value in sharing our stories, and that it is through our testimonies that we give God glory and contribute to bringing heaven to Earth. “No one’s story is wasted,” she says. For those who are considering sharing their story, she encourages asking the Holy Spirit for help and striving for authenticity in their writing.
Everyone has a story; every Christian has a testimony. Writing our stories (or sharing them in other ways) helps us to see God’s faithfulness and explore the ways that God has shown Himself in our lives. Our testimonies aren’t just about us, they about God and what He has done through us and for us. Telling our stories not only brings glory to Him, it also brings healing in our lives, allows us to grow, and can point others to God.