Are We There Yet? is a memoir by my lovely blogging friend Elizabeth Jones about her recovery from depression. I like how she conceptualizes recovery: “Recovery is a lifelong journey, not the destination. Recovery is the wrong word. There’s no going back to my former state. If I did, that wouldn’t be progress.”
Liz’s journey with depression has included medication, counselling, processing the trauma she’s been through, and spiritual work. Getting to a place of liking and even loving herself is a major theme in the book, as is accepting the love of God. Some of the experiences of depression that she wrote about sounded very familiar to me, such as going to the store and needing apples but being unable to make a decision about which to buy and then leaving with none.
Liz is a vicar in rural England, and she writes about her decision to seek ordination and going through that process. Her faith plays a prominent role in the book, and she conveys a really important message that depression is not a result of a lack of faith, and managing depression is not solely a spiritual process. I thought this passage was very good at capturing how depression can pull you away from the things that matter:
“I realise that I share in the wonderful and amazing life of the Trinity by virtue of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me! However, a couple of weeks later I was down in the depths of despair once more. I wished I were dead. I wanted everything to go away and leave me alone. No decisions. No writing. No thinking. No nothing – obliterate everything – cease to be. I felt that’s what I should be: dead and gone.”
Liz is someone who clearly finds joy and wonder in her relationship with a loving God, and I think her words will be really inspiring for anyone who feels like their faith or their relationship with God has been impacted by their mental illness. More generally, though, I think the themes of accepting love, coming to love oneself, and working on healing will be inspiring for anyone who has dealt with depression.
Are We There Yet? is available on Amazon (affiliate link). You can find the author and her beautiful artwork and poetry to accompany the book on her blog, Elizabeth Jones’ Diary.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.
9 thoughts on “Book Review: Are We There Yet?”
Thanks for the review. I appreciate the spiritual aspect of the book in relation to depression not being caused by a lack of faith. I liked the honesty of the experiences she was going through. I think a lot more people can relate to her and to God if they don’t feel judged and told to just pray more. Seems like a good book to put on my reading list.
It seemed like treatment helped her to better accept and use what God was offering her, and I think that’s a much more useful message than that judgy just pray more response.
Thank you. Prayer can be very difficult when depressed especially if you only think in terms of prayer as talking to God. At times prayer is just ‘being’. But even that can be too difficult sometimes. I think God accepts the “O God I can’t pray” prayer. At least it’s honest.
Intriguing. One thing that I’ve tended not to like about recovery stories with a religious lens is that the message is often presented as “just have faith and you’re cured” – I am a somewhat religious person and I do believe in G-d but I haven’t found that having faith is a straightforward solve to depression. It sounds like from your review that the book doesn’t present it this way, which I appreciate.
Yeah, this book doesn’t do that, and I appreciated that too.
Thanks. You only have to turn to the psalms or Job to see that faith doesn’t cure depression. But it can help us through it.
Thank you Ashley for your review. I’m glad you found the book helpful and the way you picked out the important theme of love.