Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness  -     By: Kathryn Greene-McCreight
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Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness

Baker Books / 2006 / Paperback

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Product Description

"By means of personal story, theological reflection and practical suggestions for caregivers, Greene-McCreight takes readers into her mind as she plunges from frantic ecstasy ... to profound despair. ... With firm but never facile faith, she offers hope to Christians with mental illness and understanding to those who live and work with them."
-Publishers Weekly

Darkness Is My Only Companion takes a compassionate look at mental illness, offering theological understanding and personal insights from the author's personal experiences. It provides poignant glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person and practical advice for friends, family, and clergy.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2006
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 1587431750
ISBN-13: 9781587431753
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Where is God in the suffering of a mentally ill person? What happens to the soul when the mind is ill? How are Christians to respond in the face of mental illness? In Darkness Is My Only Companion, Kathryn Greene-McCreight confronts these difficult questions raised by her own mental illness--bi-polar disorder.

With brutal honesty, she tackles often avoided topics such as suicide, mental hospitals, and electroconvulsive therapy. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy. Her voice is a comfort to those who suffer from mental illness and an invaluable resource for those who love and support them.

Author Bio

Kathryn Greene-McCreight (PhD, Yale University) is Priest Associate at The Episcopal Church at Yale. Her previous books include Ad Litteram: How Augustine, Calvin, and Barth Read the Plain Sense of Genesis 1-3 and Feminist Reconstructions of Christian Doctrine: A Narrative Analysis and Appraisal. She also serves on the board of the Elm City Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and on the Patient and Advisory Council of Yale Psychiatric Hospital.

Product Reviews

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  1. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    The Companion in Her Darkness
    July 26, 2014
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    In putting forth "A Christian Response to Mental Illness" (the book's sub-title), Kathryn Greene-McCreight has skillfully woven theological reflections on mental illness with the account of her own struggle with bipolar disorder. The result is a seamless consideration of everything from diagnosis and medication to vivid recollections of how it feels to be the body that houses a manic brain.

    McCreight faced very real challenges during her years of intense struggle. alones for anyone struggling with mental illness or endeavoring to be of help to someone else.

    The harvest of wisdom presented in DIMOC might best be summarized using some of the Scripture references that served as hand-holds on her climb toward healing:

    Isaiah 45:15 -- During a depression, when God seemed distant (or non-existent), the author followed Isaiah's lead in addressing God directly, "even in God's apparent absence." Raw examples of her prayers during deep depression reveal her struggle. Her use of biblical and historical prayers, such as this by Samuel Johnson, gave words to her longing for stability and productivity:

    Grant, I beg you, merciful Lord, that the designs of a new and better life, which by your grace I have now formed, may not pass away without effect. Incite and enable me, by your Holy Spirit, to improve the time which you shall grant me; to avoid all evil thoughts, words, and actions . . .

    Isaiah 42:3 -- Feeling like a "bruised reed" and a "dimly burning wick", Greene-McCreight found that worship was indispensable. "Borrow from the faith of your brothers and sisters in Christ," is her advice. She begged God for strength not to commit suicide, for the sake of her husband and children, and for the sake of her ministry: "I cannot allow myself so to undermine my very life's work."

    I Peter 5:8-9a -- Swinging between mania and depression, the author continually felt the need to "keep alert," but references to "the devil" or anything pertaining to her Christian faith occasionally caused tension with her care-givers. In her book, she shares wisdom gained in navigating the path of mental illness with both Christian and unbelieving professionals.

    Psalm 71:3 -- Fighting the stigma of hospitalization, Greene-McCreight eventually realized that even this was God's provision for her safety. He was her "strong rock," and she clung to Him in the structure of the Book of Common Prayer; in the initially unthinkable provision of electroconvulsive therapy; and in the simple grace of molding a clay vase that turned out well.

    II Corinthians 12:7 -- The "sufficient" grace of God gave the author vision to meet mental illness as a test, to be "met like all other tests: with prayer that God will see us through it faithfully." Hymns were spot lights on the grace of God, often just a phrase such as, "the soul that to Jesus has fled for repose / I will not, I will not desert to its foes . . ."

    When she referred to the overwhelming assortment of medications prescribed to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the author compared them to Saul's armor, weighing David down, and ultimately cast off. She longed to do the same, but persevered. Another verse comes to mind as confirmation that Kathryn Greene-McCreight has earned the right to speak into the emotionally charged issue of mental illness and Christian faith:

    "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off." I Kings 20.11

    Greene-McCreight has worn the armor, she has fought the fight, and at the book's conclusion was still in the battle. Thus follows her exhortation, that in all our afflictions, physical, mental, and otherwise, we look to the encouraging truth of Revelation 7:16-17:

    They will hunger no more and thirst no more;

    the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat;

    For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,

    and He will guide them to springs of the water of life,

    and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

    Christ, the Lamb, enters our affliction and becomes the Companion in all our darkness.

    Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    November 12, 2010
    Ralph Bach
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    At this point, I skimmed over the book, reading in random chapters, and the information certainly is enlightening.

    Having just completed a course sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, this book will offer personal insights, that will be applicable to other issues.

    I plan to use the book as a reference in a ministry for the families of those with mental illness.
  3. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    October 5, 2007
    Susan Kett
    Darkness Is My Only Companion was one of the most comprehensive books I have read on the subject of bipolar disorder. I have read many books on the subject but this book covered extensively, the relationship between God and each individual found locked in this illness. The authors willingness to be so open about her journey has made a true connection with the reader who suffers.
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