Tommy Nelson is senior pastor at Denton Bible Church; Steve Leavitt is an ordained minister and Christian counselor. As such, they are more than qualified to offer counsel. But, more than that, both men suffer from crippling anxiety and depression. The first section is titled The Dark Descent and follows each man as his life changes. Neither holds back. You can feel their pain, confusion, desperation to learn what is wrong; to understand what is happening to them. Leavitt's case is more obvious, more classic in its beginnings. The loss of his wife triggered an avalanche of emotions, some of which led to an OCD-like fixation on his health. Absolutely understandable. Nelson is probably a text-book example of the over-achiever. Just reading his schedule exhausted me. And, eventually, it would take him down. It was almost inevitable. Part Two asks and attempts to answer some hard questions; questions that those of us with anxiety disorders and/or depression have all asked: How did I get here? What's going on in my mind? my body? my spirit? In the last section, Keys to Recovery, is some of the best advice I've read on living with depression, anxiety, compulsions, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors. I must confess, I was concerned that this would be a come-to-Jesus, heal-this-sinner approach to very real, and debilitating, conditions. Or that a pastor and a Christian counselor would be reluctant to address all treatment options. But the information and guidance, while naturally Christian-focused, is broad and thorough. From setting personal limits and learning to say 'No'; to asking for help and involving family in your recovery. There is a perception, not unique to the Christian community but prevalent nonetheless, that taking medication for something like depression or anxiety is a sign of weakness. That a 'real Christian' doesn't get depressed or anxious; that a truly faith-filled life is immune to mental health problems. Happily, this book addresses that, too. The use of medication is clearly explained and respected. As is prevention. Not prevention of these conditions, but learning to recognize personal triggers. And keeping them from spiraling into full-blown depressive episodes or crippling panic attacks. I recommend this book for those suffering with anxiety or depression, and for their families and loved ones. It isn't easy to explain what it feels like. And it isn't easy, if you've never been there, to understand. Nelson and Leavitt do both.
Finally—a book that addresses a subject that literally tens of thousands battle with and can’t get answers to . . . especially in the church. Depression has been sidestepped as a weakness. Many think ‘if God was enough’ they wouldn’t suffer, leaving them paralyzed by clinical anxiety and depression. Tommy and Steve have given firsthand encouragement for those who feel there is no answer, and have reached out with a helping hand to truly tackle this tough subject. I’m so grateful for their honesty and vulnerability to help others find victory.