Things can't be all that bad," "pull yourself together," "snap out of it," these are some examples of a widespread misunderstanding of depressive illness. It is an ignorance found among Christians and non-Christians alike. Over recent decades the numbers of people in society suffering from depression have risen dramatically, and it is an issue which friends and relatives have often failed to understand to the detriment of their relationships. This is a state of affairs which Elaine Brown seeks to change.
The misunderstanding and stigma surrounding depressive illness makes it harder to bear for the sufferer than a physical complaint. It leaves the sufferer feeling alone and isolated in their experience. This, despite the fact that depressive illness affects so many! Elaine Brown's account of her experience is therefore such a blessing, a message of hope and re-assurance to all those engaged in such a struggle, cutting through the isolation so many experience. If you seek to help a loved one struggling with depression, you must read this book. If you are struggling with depression it's a valuable source of comfort.
“A new feature of the dark times were the irrational fears which swamped my mind; a further development from the earlier loss of confidence. The smallest problem, or possible problem, suddenly assumed huge, almost insurmountable proportions filling me with anxiety. I just couldn’t get the matter out of my mind. This led to guilt in the light of reassuring words from the Bible: ‘Fear not, for I am with you’; ‘Be still, and know that I am God’; ‘Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (Pages 21–22)
“It resulted from reading about a desperate sufferer whose persistent plea was also ‘Lord, heal me’ until he realized there was a more important request—‘Lord, to what purpose is this illness?’ Gradually I recognized that everything in our lives has God-given purpose and that we can only begin to come to terms with suffering when we open ourselves to discovering what that purpose is.” (Page 56)
“One of the hardest aspects of a depressive illness is that a positive mindset can’t be maintained. Just when you think you’re on the way up at last you’re dragged down by a really bad day, or a disturbing development.” (Page 61)
“Purposelessness was definitely a part of the blackness” (Page 35)
“Another important purpose in God’s allowing of adversity was that I might be able to understand and empathize with others. I had never known the intense suffering a depressive illness can cause. Before I had been sympathetic, though held certain reservations. ‘How could he/she have got into such a state? Where is their Christian faith? Surely it isn’t as bad as they’re making out?’ These had been my reactions and each served to show how little I knew, and how shallow was my sympathy. Now God had allowed me to discover some of the depths of depression.” (Pages 58–59)
A brave book full of practical helps as well some very deep spiritual insights. There are not many people brave enough to write a book in such detail but Elaine's honesty and openness will bless many, as I myself have also been blessed.
Elaine Brown’s book is her personal story, majoring on how she coped with clinical depression. She does not tackle the medical issues, but rather tries to give the reader an understanding of what sufferers go through. The couple of pages of tips at the end are useful.
—Paul Cavill, NB (UCCF) Book Reviews