*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***
Important information: We are currently experiencing technical issues with the webiste and it is currently running with reduced functionality, some category pages may not contain a full list of articles and the search is not currently working. We apologise for the inconvenience and should have everything back to normal as soon as possible.

Wrestling With My Thoughts: A doctor with severe mental illness discovers strength, by Sharon Hastings

by
11 September 2020

Sarah Hillman finds this memoir painful reading, but medically informed

THE number of books written by Christians about their experiences of mental illness continues to grow; this is a worthy addition.

Sharon Hastings is a qualified doctor, but she has never been able to practise medicine because of her illness. This is a very personal book, written with honesty and without shying away from the expression of raw emotion. I found myself unable to read more than a chapter or two at any one time; there was a limit to how much of her pain and wrestling I could manage in one sitting.

But this book is not only about emotion. There is a rational underpinning to her story, and explanatory boxes explaining medical terms and diagnoses are particularly helpful at appropriate points in the narrative.

The story begins while the author is at medical school and looking towards her final exams. It charts her progress through hospital stays, treatment programmes, diagnoses, and setbacks. Much of it is told through dialogue, which, with the use of the present tense, makes the story zip along at a fast pace. Hastings acknowledges in the introduction to her book that there is some creative licence in these conversational passages, and for me that was both a gift and a frustration: a gift in the sense that they convey her story so well, but a frustration in that I was constantly aware as I read that these were not exact records of what had passed. Had they been, it would probably have made the book much less readable, but I couldn’t completely let go of the fact that the detailed conversations that she includes are not transcripts, but memories.

There is no happy ending in the sense of a cure, but a growing realisation that living with her illness is a lifetime’s work that will involve future struggles as well as those of the past. But this does not leave her or the reader with a sense of despair. The final chapter lays out three important truths that she has learned about God’s grace as she has persevered through good times and bad ones. It is a fitting ending to a book that marries despair with a sense of ultimate hope.

 

The Revd Sarah Hillman is the Vicar of Puddletown, Tolpuddle, and Milborne with Dewlish, in Dorset.

 

Wrestling With My Thoughts: A doctor with severe mental illness discovers strength
Sharon Hastings
IVP £9.99
(978-1-78974-088-2)
Church Times Bookshop £9

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

29 September 2020
Festival of Preaching
A one-day online version of our popular preaching festival. With Mark Oakley, Sam Wells and Anna Carter Florence.   Book tickets

 

19 October 2020
Creativity out of crisis: Hymns and worship webinar
In association with RSCM, this online event will explore creative uses music and liturgy in the context online and socially distanced worship.    Book tickets

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)