Friday, March 01, 2013

Now That You Are Back

I thought now was an appropriate time to review this great little book I read last year.

The author, Richard Beeston, and his band came to Cornerstone camp a few years back and a bonus CD even comes with the book.  In just 75 pages Richard tells the heartbreaking story of his wife Alison's struggle with depression.  They go from a happily married young couple who own their own home to having to sell nearly everything to pay for Alison's treatment.  The toll it takes on both of them is tremendous.  The book ends with hope for Alison's future.

This is a really good book to read for Christians as it helps to shed some light on the burden depression sufferers and their carers carry.  It looks at depression from a Christian perspective, and gives helpful tips on how to support those who are in the grips of the 'black dog'.

Despite how awful I've been feeling lately, I could not comprehend what it must be like to suffer as Alison has.  One bit of the book really struck me as it covers the responses Richard received from friends and family when he let them know Alison had depression.  He said the responses could be grouped into two categories:

I don't get it, but I'd like to find out more.
I don't get it, and I don't want to talk about it.

Richard explained that some of his and Alison's closest friends and relatives gave the second response which was both baffling and hurtful:

It would have been easier for me if these people had just come out and said, 'I think this whole depression business is a load of rubbish'.  At least then I could have responded.  In reality, these people just didn't talk to me, or if they did, they never mentioned Alison and acted as if nothing was happening in my life at all.

I remember vividly going to see someone one night, and spending the entire time in inane chit chat.  At the end of the night I said, "Did you know Alison is in hospital at the moment?"  To which they replied, "Yeah, but I didn't think you'd want to talk about it."

Of course I wanted to talk about it.  I needed friends to help me carry the burden.  They didn't have to understand completely, but they could have at least asked how I was going or if Alison was feeling any better.  Instead, their throwaway line of, "Yeah, but I didn't think you'd want to talk about it," came across as more like, "Yeah, but I don't really care."

I think this response may stem from the unfortunate problems that occurs in all areas of society, and is just as prevalent in the workplace, within families and amongst church-going Christians.  That is, the construction and perpetuation of facades or masks.  Week after week, we present different faces to different people, mostly pretending that our lives are all ok, when often they are not. (page 36)

Richard went on to say that he and Alison did also receive a lot of support and care, but this section of the book is a powerful challenge to churches in particular.  Silence is often interpreted as a lack of care.  It is better to at least try to reach out to the hurting, especially if they have gone to the effort to be honest about their struggles.

A must read!

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