This is a guest post from our friend Rachel. She knows the author of this book personally and was incredibly impressed with her book, and asked if she could share her thoughts on our blog.
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There are those rare, treasured books where you’re sad when they end, where you feel like the characters are real, complex, honest human beings whose lives you have shared. There are books that leave you in silence and a sacred space of just waiting and being and thinking when you finish them, when you feel the need to take a meditative pause before returning to your life.
For me, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis was one such book. And quite honestly, I didn’t expect it to be. These books are very few and far between, and I tend to have some bias toward topics and themes that are familiar. I’m not a mother; I will never give; I don’t have children; I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life and never been to Oregon. I’ve studied post partum depression from a very clinical angle as part of training in Marriage and Family Therapy—but never experienced or heard about directly from friends.
That said, I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I learned it was being published. I regularly read Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s blog (http://www.kimberleeconwayireton.net/) and enjoyed her book The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year enough that I have bought it for several friends. And to my delight, Ireton takes a deeply personal experience and connects it to very universal experiences: searching for God in the midst of deepest pain, feeling desperately alone, a deep longing for hope—that she finds. She gave me the sense that I do had walked with her in her experience and been given a sense of what this could be like. Ireton uses poetically insightful language and makes herself vulnerable for her readers. She brings clinical depression—a topic that is often buried in uncomfortable silence—and makes it real, universal, and somehow, something that may end.
Who among us can’t relate to some of the experiences she describes?
Of thinking: “I’ve been feeling a bit dizzy and lightheaded the past few days. Being me, I of course immediately come to the only logical conclusion: I have a brain tumor. “
Of despair: “My tears fall harder, and my heart feels like it’s cracking right open and all the fear and unfairness and suffering is leaking out my eyes. And then, it fills my mouth, and I want to scream, but I can’t—I wake my almost-sleeping babies, I’ll scare Jack and Jane who are in the living room waiting for me to read to them—so it erupts in a silent scream of pain, anger, anguish, as if I could rid myself of those things simply by opening my mouth wide enough, by crying hard enough.
And throughout all the pain and darkness of depression, a powerful hope and determination to keep going:
“A spoon. It is the perfect image for my life. I cannot handle the vastness of life. My borrowing imaginary trouble from the future is like gulping the whole of Lake Washington. I cannot do it. I can only take a spoonful at a time, a sip, this moment, and now this one, and now this one. God gives me strength to manage the spoonful of today’s troubles. One spoonful at a time, I can drink the cup of my life.”
I could have chosen any number of additional passages that are equally poetic and sincere. But instead, I encourage you to read this book and to put it in the hands and hearts of those dear to you—those who may or may not have experienced clinical depression in any form, those who are mothers and those who aren’t, those who are people of faith and those who are searching for God.In short, I urge you to put this book into the hands of anyone who knows what it is to be human and who wants hope and encouragement along that path.