Friday, 6 November 2009

Review: Depression as a Spiritual Journey

Depression as a Spiritual Journey
Stephanie Sorrell
O Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781846942235

This is not a book for light reading. I like to carry theology books with me, dip in and out of them during my tiring days at work and even to get some time out at church. However, it was apparent from the outset that I would have to devote some real time to getting to grips with Ms. Sorrell's work. The first chapter opens with some exercises in introspection, which are definitely worth engaging with whether you are reading this book to understand your own depression or to learn to recognise and engage with it in others.

The ideas presented in this book are not alien to me; I have spent many years wrestling with the apparent conflict between depression and faith in God before eventually concluding that I have had some periods of intense spiritual revelation through my depression that have enriched my life. However, presented as they are in a lively, logical and loving way, the reader is able to not just follow the theological and psychological arguements presented but almost relive their own journey and so to understand the journeys of others.

Stephanie Sorrell has drawn on case studies, those she has known who have suffered depression or watched others suffering, all forms of religious belief and analogy and also her experience in psychology (she has a master's degree in applied psychology). As someone who has suffered from depression herself, she is capable of genuine empathy and speaks the reality as she has seen and experienced it. The result is a carefully constructed analysis of the diversity of human experience, the reality of the illness lurking behind the clich├ęs and the role of spirituality in discerning what healing is needed and learning from the darkness.

I will return to this book over and over in times of trouble, and I'm sure it will be a great source of support for others.

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