Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Sound Book of Advice on Depression

"Much as we don't see a clogged drain before it backs up, we often don't recognize the initial signs of anxiety, depression, cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions for what they are.  Until enough signs and symptoms add up to a situation warranting concern, we don't recognize a problem exists." pg. 42 from Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengston

Depression is the subject that Dr. Bengston tackles in Hope Prevails.  She has both lived with
depression and walked others through the struggles of living with depression.  I have read several books on depression over the years and I'm always curious about how authors deal with this subject.  I've seen it handled well and handled poorly.  

In my own life, I have seen some Christians make black and white statements about depression--one person told me that it's just sin and anyone struggling with depression just needs to fight it.  Another Christian told me "that's just the way he/she is and we just need to accept him/her that way".  I've also heard Christians vocally speak against antidepressants.

Depression has had an effect on my entire life from the very beginning because I had a family member living with depression who blamed me and other people in their life for their unhappiness.  Deep scars have healed over the years only to be replaced by new ones.  I know personally what God means when he says in the Psalms that he will heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

BUT, it doesn't have to be this way.

There is help.  Dr. Bengston knows this.   The thing is that although depression makes life difficult--it can be more difficult or less difficult.  If you're reading this book because you're living with depression, start with Chapter 12 and then go back and read the rest.  I appreciated what she says about medication.  Then, go back and start from the beginning.

She's very honest about what she has walked through and I look for honesty and humility in authors' writing.  I found her book to be encouraging and helpful.  There isn't a chapter written to family members and loved ones who are loving someone who lives with depression, but this book can be helpful with its insights and gaining perspective.

I remember thinking when the person said to me that depression was just sin that the person speaking hadn't experienced it themselves or had a loved one live with depression.  As with most things in life, we understand best what we've experienced.  But, if we haven't experienced something, reading books by people who have and by listening, really listening we can grow in our compassion towards others.  This is one of those books that can help someone better understand depression if they listen, really listen.

This past week I walked through some really stressful events in life that pretty much brought me to my knees.  I didn't know things were going to implode on me until they did.  I found myself sick and unable to drive the day before Thanksgiving.  Quite the timing.  I'm climbing back up now, but I think this author hits it right on the button with the quote I began this post with.  I just read part of the chapter about recovering your joy.  Like her, I often struggle with authors that make simple, platitudes about what we need to do to fix our situations or our selves.  I don't think it works that way.  Rather, the heart is very complex and the mind just as much so.  I have found myself clinging to Isaiah 43:2 while recognizing that as I walk through the waters, the Word doesn't tell me that I will have 100% of my energy as I walk through them!  Ms. Bengston portrays a vivid and helpful picture, I think, of walking through depression and coping with life.  Even if you don't live with depression, but are struggling with stress and what it steals from your life, you may find parts of this book very encouraging and helpful.

This book surprised me.  It was far deeper and far better than I ever expected it to be!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review, but that these thoughts and opinions are clearly my own.  I'm quite opinionated!

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