Review: Joy Interrupted: A memoir of depression and prayer

by Geoffrey Lilburne, Garratt Publishing, 2018

Statistics say about one in eight men and one in six women in Australia experience depression at any one time, and this number rises in older people. Yet, many sufferers feel shame, even in the church.

The stigma about depression in the wider community is also present in the Christian community. This ought not to be. Depression exists and people live with it, still having full and accomplished lives.

In his book, Geoffrey Lilburne shares his story of depression and how he has managed as a Christian. Geoffrey frames his discussion in the context of faith and shapes his reflections using Psalms. Many Psalms allow a person suffering from depression to find, in Scripture, familiar feelings and thoughts.

Geoffrey writes poetry, in part to express his feelings of depression. He reports his early life of prayer; moments like Henri Nouwen’s suggestion that he take a week in a Trappist monastery, and ongoing reading in spirituality. Geoffrey frames depression as a form of disturbance of the spirit and includes helpful suggestions about living with ‘the black dog’.

As Geoffrey is a Uniting Church WA minister and theologian, this is a book from one of our own and offers a perspective on aspects of Christian life that don’t get much attention. Well worth reading by persons who have experienced depression, for those who care for them and for all Christian carers.

Ian Tozer

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