Silent Souls Weeping Review
Silent Souls Weeping: Depression-Sharing Stories, Finding Hope by Jane Clayson Johnson was an eye-opening and enlightening book. I am not unfamiliar with mental-health challenges. I suffered a bout of severe and crippling post-partum depression in a time when it was largely unrecognized. I am also a recovering perfectionist. In my estimation, I’ve been personally fortunate. I also parent now adult children who have and still do struggle with various mental health challenges.
I learned so much more reading this book, not only recognizing things in myself that might need work, but also learning how to better listen and support those around me (especially my children) in their challenges.
Health care in our country is a mess (that’s not a political statement. It’s a fact.). Mental health care is even worse. To this day, I do not understand why there is a distinction. My brain is firmly attached to the rest of me. It is not separate from my body, so why do we treat mental health issues like they are some kind of separate thing from us? This became practice in the last 100-150 years or so when some doctor whose name escapes me decided to declare them separate and, while we recognize that much of what we knew of healthcare in that era is wrong or outdated, our society persists with this misconception.
Ms. Johnson does an excellent job of interviewing and sharing so many personal experiences, and of telling the stories of those who have felt (and some who still do) stigmatized and shamed by their medical conditions. This is a discussion we need to have more of. We do not shame those with diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions. We do not ask for these illnesses, we have to learn to manage them (because few, if any, are ever cured) through a combination of medication and therapy. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other similar health conditions are no different. They are rarely “curable.” They are not caused by anything the sufferer has done (as in it’s NOT their fault). We learn to manage them through a combination of medication and therapy.
I especially appreciated that she also discusses the spiritual implications of mental illnesses. There are additional challenges to one’s faith, and difficulties that are perhaps often unrecognized as part of these illnesses. As a Christian, these are additional factors I need to recognize and consider to be a support to my friends of faith.
I read Silent Souls Weeping on the recommendation of a friend who is a leader in our church’s women’s’ auxiliary. After reading it, I pass on that recommendation, not only to those in leadership positions, but to every person who knows someone with mental health issues, and who wants to understand and support them. FYI, that’s everyone. Because we all know someone who struggles with these challenges. And they need our love, our support and our understanding.
Silent Souls Weeping Summary
Through the power of story, nationally recognized journalist Jane Clayson Johnson shines a light on the desperate, dark, and lonely reality faced by those who struggle with clinical depression. At once hopeful and heart-wrenching, Silent Souls Weeping examines the stigma and isolation associated with depression, as well as the dangers of perfectionistic tendencies and suicidal ideation.
Beginning with an open and frank exploration of her own experience with clinical depression, the author goes on to share stories gathered from interviews with more than 150 men, women, and teens all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have suffered from depression.
Within these stories is a plea to change the dialogue surrounding depression, particularly among Latter-day Saints, who face unique struggles as they try to fit a disease manifest through sorrow into a religion centered on a “plan of happiness.”
“The worst part of depression,” writes the author “is the profound isolation it engenders, not just from the Spirit but from family, friends, and community.” Sharing our stories is the first step toward ending that isolation. This important book opens the door for a new level of honesty and helpfulness, both for those who suffer from depression and for their family members, friends, and Church leaders.
If you would like to learn more about Jane Clayson Johnson and her journey through writing this book, I found this to be an insightful interview.