Review by Jean Warriner
Book | Joy Interrupted | Geoffrey Lilburne
This book could be very helpful to any Christian who has ever struggled with mental illness, especially depression, or knows someone close who has done so.
Christians can sometimes feel, or may even have been told, that if they are mentally ill it is the person’s own fault. They have sinned. They lack faith. They don’t pray enough. They don’t go to the right church.
This book tells of a man who had struggled with mental illness all his life, beginning at the age of 13. While still in his teens, he becomes a Christian and learns to pray and trust in Jesus. However, he finds that his faith was not insurance against mental illness.
As his faith and prayer life grow, he becomes stronger and more stable through his high school years. Following this, he begins studying for a Bachelor of Arts. He seems fine until near the end of his third year, when he realises something is not right, and he again is unable to cope.
He does not know at this stage that he needs help, or how to seek it but he manages to defer his main exams because he knows he is not ready. A doctor prescribes tranquilisers to help with his anxiety. Later an older and wiser Christian friend recommends a psychiatrist who prescribes antidepressants and he eventually passes his final exams. His life stabilises for a time.
The book continues to follow his spiritual journey through the USA and back to Australia as a professor and a Uniting Church minister.
A new relationship develops with his father as they really get to know each other. Then he begins to write as well.
Although he sometimes doubts, he never loses his faith, and finds when even at his worst, these can be times of personal growth and self-awareness and learning.
He learns that psychiatry and Christian faith are not mutually exclusive.
Available at coventrypress.com.au
Crosslight had the pleasure of hosting Jean Warriner, the writer of this review, for university work experience during the month of April. Jean worships at Ascot Vale Uniting Church.