If you love books the way I do, you’ll feel excited to read of the many top titles produced in the past year. The recent issue of Christianity Today (January/February 2014, pp. 44-46) lists a number of significant titles on which to indulge our longing to grow in understanding, and, perhaps, in effectiveness in our Christian life. One book highlighted by CT caught my eye. I’m always interested in educating the Christian public about mental illness, so this first title intrigued me.
Christian Books on Schizophrenia
In Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission (InterVarsity) Amy Simpson, who grew up with a schizophrenic parent not only introduces us to issues of mental illness and the church, but also calls us to a deeper discipleship to Jesus. “Friend of publicans and sinners,” he who healed the sick, the lame, the deaf, dumb and blind, also touched many others on the margins of society.
Finding the Good in Grief: Rediscover Joy After A Life-Changing Loss by John E Baggett, pastor, counselor, and mental health professional. Pastor Baggett tells the story of Mark, his son, diagnosed with schizophrenia. His book describes his coming to grips with the loss (of a normal son) that event created in him and in his family. Each section describes a major lesson he learned, and we all need to learn. He opens with a quote from Job 3:25: “what I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” The book helps readers find and develop spiritual resources to survive their darkest days of emotional turmoil. God can transform events of radical suffering and use them for good in our lives.
Christian Books on Depression
Darkness is my Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness by Kathryn Green-McCreight, an Episcopal Priest, describes her struggles with bipolar illness (Brazos, 2006). What’s mania like?
Panic. Am breathing too fast, am going to choke, am going to lose my vision. I feel drunk, but have had no drink. I watch myself move, listen to myself speak as though to another. What will she say? How does her mouth move? What will she do? Panic help someone help me (p. 51).
Greene-McCreight leans heavily on Job, Psalms (88, from where she derives her title), and classical Christian prayers and reflections on suffering, as well as on God at work through her illness and recovery.
With A Time to Live: Surviving Suicidal Thoughts (Outskirts, 2007, available at BN.com), Kimberly Andry provides a self-help workbook for people who, like her, say, “I cannot continue to live like this, but I do not want to die. Someone please help me” (p. 2). Using her own story and Scripture, Kim outlines a plan to find hope. The result? Instead of a suicide plan, Kim helps her reader develop a how-to-live plan.
Do you struggle with feelings of loss and grief over a loved-one with mental illness? Do you struggle with a mental disorder yourself? Is God calling you to minister to the mentally ill? Here are four resources of hope from a Christian perspective for you or a loved-one you care about.