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Darkness Is My Only Companion : A Christian Response to Mental Illness
Darkness is my only companion. The words of the psalmist rang hauntingly true for Kathryn Greene-McCreight when she was in the depths of her mental illness. It's a darkness that she says shuts off the windows to the soul, making God--the Christian's very source of life--feel remote.
In Darkness Is My Only Companion, Greene-McCreight confronts the difficult questions raised by her own mental illness, bipolar disorder. Does God send this suffering? Why, if I am a Christian, can I not rejoice? What is happening to my soul?
Greene-McCreight concludes that God does not will mental illness or any other suffering on his people. We suffer because of evil, but still she sees God work grace out of suffering.
With brutal honesty, she tackles often avoided topics such as suicide, mental hospitals, and shock therapy. She also shares her perspective on Christian versus secular therapists. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy.
As a theologian, Episcopal priest, and mother, Greene-McCreight's voice will be a comfort to those who suffer from mental illness and an invaluable resource for those who love and support them.
Shortly after the birth of her second child, Greene-McCreight fell into a deep depression that lasted on and off for several years. Five years later she was diagnosed as bipolar, "a disease that scuttles between depression and mania." With mental illness so severe that she was hospitalized five times, she nevertheless continued to work as an Episcopal priest and theologian, wrestling with questions that therapists rarely broach but that Christian sufferers can't help asking: If all of God's intentions for us are good, why do we suffer? What is the relationship between mental illness and sin? Is the "dark night of the soul" different from depression? Will God forgive suicide? By means of personal story, theological reflection and practical suggestions for caregivers, Greene-McCreight takes readers into her mind as she plunges from frantic ecstasy ("Gorgeous exotic turbulent swirls of snow. Magic. The world tingles. My brain sparkles, all things connect") to profound despair ("the absence--so present you can feel it, taste it, sometimes even heaven forbid, see it and hear it--of the good"). With firm but never facile faith, she offers hope to Christians with mental illness and understanding to those who live and work with them. (Apr.)
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Baker Publishing Group
March 31, 2006
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