Book Review: Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

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Cover Image provided by Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program

I began reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson while waiting to find out if Our Boy was autistic. I had a lot on my mind and I found that Desperate was written in an easy to follow format.  Each chapter begins with a short letter from Sarah, to her mentor, Sally, whose letter follows.  Both ladies “flesh out” the material in the rest of the chapter.  The chapters end with a few study questions as well as a QR code and web page address that leads to a short video that features the authors.  The study questions and video content make this a great book to read with a friend or a small group because it doesn’t require the purchase of additional videos or study guides in order to use it for this purpose.

Surprisingly, I found this book to be a great encouragement to me in dealing with mild depression.  Sally provides a short checklist to use whenever one feels a case of “the blues” coming on:

1.    Do I need sleep?  I need to do whatever it takes to restore physically.

2.     Have I been reading my Bible?  Even if it is putting an app on my phone with a voice I can listen to while still in bed in the morning or at night, I need to hear from the God who walks through these valleys with me.

3.     Do I feel alone?  I need to call someone who is a spiritually engaging friend, one who loves God, loves me, and whom I can completely trust.  I will meet that person for coffee or lunch to share my heart and to ask for prayer.

4.     Am I watching my health?  Exercise is a stress reducer and helps happy hormones to develop.  I have developed the habit of walking and hiking.

5.     How can I get help?  Is there someone who can help me clean my home?  Do I have a friend I can ask to keep my kids, so I can have a little time away?

6.     What do I need to invest in the joy factor of my life?  Am I creating spaces of beauty for my own soul-candles, music, fresh flowers and other such life-giving things?  Perhaps it’s as simple as going to a movie with my husband or friend, or buying a new scarf. (Loc 1136-1151)

However, one of the two primary concerns that I had in reading this book is that it doesn’t mention knowing when to seek professional help while dealing with depression.  The authors seem to treat it as just a spiritual case of “the blues” instead of a potentially serious, multifaceted (spiritual/medical/mental) issue. In the paragraph following the checklist, Sally writes:

There are so many different personal issues to consider, but I have found that sometimes when we choose to look away from the mountains of anxiety and stress that have endangered our souls, and instead attend to our souls, we will find that the depression will quickly dissipate. (Loc 1151)

My second concern  is the mention of autism in the Q & A section of the book.  To paraphrase the question, a mother is concerned about her children being clingy and overly shy.  After encouraging the mother to know her children and to help them work to overcome their fears (as she should), Ms. Clarkson writes:

Also, if some of these areas persist through the years, you might look for symptoms like clinical OCD or autism or other issues. (Loc 3163)

As someone who now knows more about autism spectrum disorders than she ever wanted to, it would have been better for the authors to suggest that the parent address their concerns with their pediatrician.

Overall, I find that the advice given is pretty solid (aside from the two items mentioned) with it’s emphasis on seeking out what the Lord wants from us as mothers instead of what we *think* we need to be.  After all:

The kingdom of home is the place of refuge, comfort and inspiration.  It is a rich world where great souls can be formed, and from which men and women of great conviction and dedication can emerge.  It is the place where the models of marriage, love and relationship are emulated and passed on to the next generation.  One of the great losses of this century is the lost imagination for what the home can be if shaped by the creative hand of God’s Spirit. (Loc 437-452)

What a great influence we mothers have on our children!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”