Depressive Illness and the Christian
I have really enjoyed this book and found it really helpful. I've written previously before about being a christian who has a depressive illness. It's not an easy thing to admit too - there is so much stigma and guilt around this. Society is beginning to talk more about mental health (yay!) but that doesn't mean there is not judgement or whispers. Unfortunately, this judgement can be found within the church too. Let me explain...
As a christian I should be happy - I have been redeemed, forgiven and have my hope in Jesus. Its as though Christians should be exempt from this illness, as its the opposite of faith - perhaps I do not have enough faith, am not thankful enough, have unforgiven/unknown sin? If that sounds familiar, just look at Job's accusers/friends. It's what they said to Job when he was at his lowest (in their defence they were trying to help and look at it practically) but God is clear that they were not right to say that to Job.
Depressive illness is exactly that - an illness, not a choice and can happen to anyone - including Christians. Dr Tim Cantopher, renowned psychiatrist and author of Depressive illness: the curse of the strong, (another great read and he is also a christian) states that:
'depressive illness happens when one part of the brain called the limbic system malfunctions...'
Please feel free to buy the book or google the term if you would like a more in depth explanation but from my limited understanding it is to do with how your brain transmits chemicals like serotonin etc. This is physical, making this a physical illness not just incorrect thinking. Depression has physical symptoms too. I have had my illness for many years, done many treatments, medication and received prayers. I find it hard to openly talk about it because it stirs up thoughts, feelings, memories that I find difficult to stop. I do not want this illness and so when an opportunity comes for healing I take it.
Our church recently run a course on 'depressive illness and the christian' and this is where I purchased the book. The course ran over 2 days and was really helpful. I find it difficult to retain lots of information, so was thankful I could purchase the book. The book helped me to really grasp the course content in more depth and remind me of the truths I learned.
The book is written in a very gentle genuine way. It is written by someone who has experienced depression, as a church leader. It uses experiences, as well as medical professionals and other authors regarding truths. There is no complicated jargon and the chapters are ordered and flow well together. I like that the author discusses her spiritual journey but doesn't neglect medical advice and offers practical tips. This book really takes you on a journey from stating what depression is, stigma, acceptance, how God see's it, our spirit, why we should seek Jesus, responsibility, oppression, schemes, armour, comfort and hope. It also looks at 'why am i not healed?'.
I found it really helped me to grow spiritually and to see myself as how God see's me. I've been 'round the block' with this illness and I still learned new things. It gave me the confidence to write this review, with the hope of helping others.
The book contains 22 chapters and is 142 pages (including the blurb).
I would recommend this book firstly to those who have depressive illness, whether mild or severe but also to church leaders, pastoral teams, and to those wanting to know more. Depressive illness is serious and can be fatal. I think its important to be ready to help, to shine a light into this dark illness, to offer help, hope, understanding and rescue.