I received this book in exchange for my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are genuine and mine alone
If you have been following me for a little while now, then you know that I am very open about my struggle with depression and anxiety. Maternal Mental health, is something that I feel needs to be discussed and normalized, we are not alone.
So when I heard about the book Hope Prevails, I immediately wanted to read it. Hope Prevails is written by Michelle Bengsten, a board certified Neuropsychologist. She wrote Hope Prevails, as an outlet to share her journey through depression, and how she incorporated spiritual healing.
Dr. Bengston says, “We must recognize that we have cooperated with the enemy, listened to and agreed with his lies, and given in to his temptations. Then we must repent to God and, if necessary, to others. Repenting removes the enemy’s right to interfere with our lives. We must renounce and reject lies of the enemy and in their place receive God’s love, forgiveness, peace, and joy.”
I really enjoyed reading this book. As a christian mom, the spiritual aspects were very comforting and insightful to me. One of the things I really liked about this book, was that the author incorporated music as well. At the end of each chapter, Dr. Bengsten, listed songs in a play list, that she felt help her as she was navigating the hard times. Some of the songs, I was familiar with or had heard before, but many were new to me.
It is also encouraged by the author, with the help of prompts, that you work through some of your thoughts and feelings. She has included what she calls a “Your Rx” at the end of each chapter, which includes questions for you to think about and write down your answers, if you feel so inclined. For me, journaling has been healing, and having those prompts to work through things, helped me to take a new perspective on some things I have been struggling with.
I have highlighted and bookmarked so much of this book, I know it is one that I will refer back to and read over and over, but I wanted to share a couple of excerpts with you, that really touched my heart
This first one is regarding Shame…gosh, how I HATE shame. I hate it so, so much and I get so frustrated that we live in such a shame based society. It’s one of the biggest reasons that mental illness carries the stigma it does and why so many are afraid to reach out for help. As, a mother, I do my very best to parent with kindness and approval, and avoid shaming at all costs. My husband gets frustrated with me, because I’m always pointing out what I feel is Shaming Language, but I point it out to him to remind both of us. Dr. Bengsten writes this about shame;
The Enemy uses shame as a tool to keep us from going deeper into our relationship with others and God. For many of us shame causes us to hide behind a mask, hoping others will like the illusion of ourselves rather than reject the reality of our imperfection. Shame causes us to believe we cannot risk being our true selves around others for fear of rejection because of our mistakes….Secrets only hold their power while they are kept in the dark. In our shame, we believe the enemy’s lies, that “no one will understand” or “you’ll lose all your friends if they find out what you did.” Once those shameful situations are brought into the light, the enemy loses his negative hold over us and healing can begin.
Getting wrapped up into comparison, is something that I really struggle with. It is something that triggers my anxiety and I have a hard time not comparing my chapter 1 to another persons chapter 10. Dr. Bengsten has some really great perspective on comparison, she shares:
Part of the problem with comparison is that we can always find others who have more, do more and achieve more. But we can also always find others who have less, do less, and achieve less. Honestly, there really is no fair comparison because no two people start off on equal ground. Our backgrounds are not the same, out genetic contributors are different, our prior experiences are varied, and even if we have the same family and are raised in the same home, our gifts, talents, dreams, and aspirations are all different…..
Comparison steals our joy when we compare ourselves to others and done enjoy the blessings we have. I must choose to focus on my blessings.
Please believe me, when I say that I realize that making the choice to focus on your blessings is way easier said than done. Something that has been especially helpful to me, and that I started doing again while reading this book, is to write down each night one or two things that I was thankful for that day. Sometimes they are big things, but more often little things. It is amazing how gratitude can change your outlook.
And while we are on the theme of shame and comparison, another thing that Dr. Bengsten talks a lot about in the book, is how scary it is, to admit how we are feeling. She says
“We don’t admit to others how we really feel, and we pretend to be happier than we are.”
I personally feel that many people feel this way, because of the stigma that is attached to mental health. That society makes us believe that somehow, Depression is some sort of character flaw, and that we have complete control over it. Shame. Yes, in some ways, we can control what we do about it, but we cannot control that we have mental illness. I like to say that no one would give you a hard time about taking insulin to treat diabetes or ibuprofen for a headache or broken arm, but Mental Illness is something that will disappear if you just “try a little harder”. I also think we get into periods of denial, where we are afraid to admit to ourselves that we are struggling. I know that I have definitely been in that place many times, myself.
I’d really love to hear what you guys think, why do you think we pretend that we are happier than we are, rather than reach out for help? Let me know in the comments below!
Oh! And don’t forget to visit my Instagram page, where I am giving away an autographed copy of the book
If you’d like to get your own copy of Hope Prevails, you can find it here