As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration, or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
Slaying The Giant–Practical Help For Understanding, Preventing, Overcoming Depression by French O’Shields is one of the few books I’ve read that can literally be a life-saver. The author, a pastor afflicted with clinical depression after a physical condition brought an end to his pastoral work, is well-qualified to write about depression, both as a pastor and a former sufferer. The depression he went through was not simply “the blues” but rather the kind that sucks all joy out of life.
The author paints a vivid, chilling portrait of depression’s effects as he takes the reader through the symptoms of severe depression–refusal of treatment, withdrawal from social activities, negative thoughts about everything (the depressed person can’t imagine anything will ever turn out right again), disinterest in hobbies or anything the person formerly enjoyed doing, the huge effort involved for the person to do anything (depression saps motivation out of a person), as well as physical symptoms such as aches and pains, sleeping too little or too much, digestive problems, and more. This particular section of the book is painful to read, but necessary, especially for people who have never experienced depression at this level and think that someone is trying to get out of work or that he or she can “just snap out of it”. (Think again–if the person could, he would. No one wants to live in such a horrible state.)
The author notes traits–such as perfectionism–which in some personality types can possibly move a person closer towards such severe depression.
He also spends time detailing simple ways family members or friends can help the sufferer.
I referred to the author as a “former sufferer”. Although he took medication and went to a therapist, he wrote his real help came from God and God’s Word. He read and studied Scriptures. He lists those in the book and the method he used to test negative thoughts which came to his mind, such as “God doesn’t care about me.” or “I have no purpose in life”. When put up against Scripture, the negative thoughts were revealed to be false. By spending time reading and studying Scripture and making that a continued priority, he renewed his mind, which in turn positively affected his emotions, his spirit and his body.
Some people reading this may have trouble believing God is “for” a depressed person. I invite them to read God’s treatment of a person who is so depressed he wants to die. The person was Elijah, a prophet of God. God’s care for Elijah is shown in I Kings 19:3-18. Nowhere does it say that God thought Elijah should just “shake it off” or that Elijah was unfit for further relationship.
If you are having thoughts such as, The world would be better off without me. I’m just taking up space. or No one cares about me. –those thoughts are false and not to be trusted. Please, please reach out to someone, to a friend, family member, pastor, counselor, or suicide hotline. Your life is valuable, of much more worth than you know right now.
Comment: As I wrote at the beginning, this book can be a life-saver. The author overcame the giant of depression. He writes in a compassionate, non-judgmental way towards those suffering and those who want to help a sufferer. I came across this book on a local library’s used book shelves; it may be possible to find it online.
Additional Resources: In the USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting Talk 741741. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website is: http://www.afsp.org. The website lists the help the foundation has available, for people considering suicide, for family and friends, for those who want to get involved with suicide prevention. The AFSP has local chapters, and sponsors the Out of the Darkness Walk.