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Now that you are back – a journey through depression

Published by Blue Bottle Books Sydney 2008.
RRP $17.95 (Includes mini album of songs).

Over the past few years depression has been more openly discussed than has been the case in the past. As it has been recognised as an issue for public personalities, actors, entertainers and others we have seen increased support for organisations such as Beyond Blue.

Despite this increased awareness of the problem there has remained a wariness among many people when the subject is discussed and much that has been written has either shrouded the issue in jargon or oversimplified the condition.

During my 30 years involvement in individual and family counselling I have worked with people who have been over medicated, misdiagnosed, ignored by their health carers and even some accused of being demon possessed.

Often individual Christians, and even whole congregations, have regarded people with depression as malingerers or in need of spiritual renewal.

This small book Now that you are back – a journey through depression is a breath of fresh air in the balance that is achieved between an extremely open discussion of what the author and his wife have been through together and a gentle rebuttal to those who have tried to impose their ready-made answers on a seriously painful journey for the sufferer.

Richard Beeston shares his thinking about spirituality, prayer, medication, pain and suffering in an unassuming and considered way which I have seldom seen in other books. It is easy reading and well written.

The authors use of the Winston Churchill term “black dog” taps into the common sense of blackness in regard to depression. It could perhaps have been made clear that not all sufferers of depression use black as the reference point. One client, with whom I worked, for instance, very clearly saw his worst thoughts and moments as yellow.

However, the author mostly avoids generalising from his own experiences and owns them as his understanding of what he and his wife have been through. Both the author and his wife have been particularly brave in exposing themselves in order to offer hope and encouragement to others.

Now that you are back is a book many Christians would find of great value and could well be used in small groups to real benefit. I only wish I could have been able to share it with some of the people I worked with in the past.

Reviewed by Rev Dr Noel Park, a retired minister in the Nambour congregation and formerly a Director of Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland for 20 years.