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Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression

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"I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom." Gillian Marchenko continues her description of depression: "I must keep still. Otherwise I will plunge to my death. 'Please God, take this away, ' I pray when I can." For Gillian, "dealing with depression" means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In these pages she describes her journey through various "I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom." Gillian Marchenko continues her description of depression: "I must keep still. Otherwise I will plunge to my death. 'Please God, take this away, ' I pray when I can." For Gillian, "dealing with depression" means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In these pages she describes her journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live with depression. She faces down the guilt of a wife and mother of four, two with special needs. How can she care for her family when she can't even get out of bed? Her story is real and raw, not one of quick fixes. But hope remains as she discovers that living with depression is still life.


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"I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom." Gillian Marchenko continues her description of depression: "I must keep still. Otherwise I will plunge to my death. 'Please God, take this away, ' I pray when I can." For Gillian, "dealing with depression" means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In these pages she describes her journey through various "I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom." Gillian Marchenko continues her description of depression: "I must keep still. Otherwise I will plunge to my death. 'Please God, take this away, ' I pray when I can." For Gillian, "dealing with depression" means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In these pages she describes her journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live with depression. She faces down the guilt of a wife and mother of four, two with special needs. How can she care for her family when she can't even get out of bed? Her story is real and raw, not one of quick fixes. But hope remains as she discovers that living with depression is still life.

30 review for Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    Do you know someone struggling with depression? Do you want to know how life feels for them? Read this book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ioana

    This book gave me access into another human being's personal space, and it allowed me to see the struggles, the unrest and stirring that overwhelm a person battling depression. It was hard reading it. On one hand, it was hard to see Gillian (who felt like a character trying to rise to the surface from the bottom of a very, very deep, dark ocean) fighting her illness. It was hard to see her draw within the confines of her bed, unable to engage in everyday activities, distancing herself from her h This book gave me access into another human being's personal space, and it allowed me to see the struggles, the unrest and stirring that overwhelm a person battling depression. It was hard reading it. On one hand, it was hard to see Gillian (who felt like a character trying to rise to the surface from the bottom of a very, very deep, dark ocean) fighting her illness. It was hard to see her draw within the confines of her bed, unable to engage in everyday activities, distancing herself from her husband and children. On the other hand, it was hard to wrap my mind around what this really means. I don't completely understand depression, so this was eye-opening, but it left me, funnily enough, encouraged in my faith and daily walk with God. Gillian knew she was dealing with depression, but she didn't know how serious it was until she called a TV commercial number, got face to face with a psychiatrist, and eventually, after a few failed attempts, she found Melanie, a psychiatrist who helped her face her new life. I love how open she was about her turmoil. She didn't try to preach us the things we know about God. She didn't try to dismiss this. She spoke like someone who's walked through the valley of depression. Everyone going through a hard season of life can so easily relate to her. I loved how she didn't spiritualize. This is such a refreshing thing. No, she didn't dismiss God, but she clearly stated that sometimes, God seemed far and hard to reach, but she knew that through it all He was present. It was so encouraging to read her words about God, and they had more weight knowing they came from a person who struggled to keep her mind clear and focused. I also liked the applicable strategies she talks about in the book. Melanie (her paid friend, as she calls her) gave her tips on how to handle life. One task at a time. This was so good, and who doesn't need that reminder? She tells of her narrating to herself her tasks and actions to keep herself grounded and present. Throughout the book was open about her relationship with the husband. As a pastor's wife, she felt the pressure to be the perfect image, but this idea crumpled every time she was put down by her gnawing depression. I also liked how she took turns in presenting how her children were influenced by her illness. She and her husband have four daughters, two of them with Down syndrome, and the youngest of them is adopted from Ukraine. She had difficulties in bonding with her youngest daughter, who is also autistic. She also writes about her relationship with her parents and siblings, and tells a bit about her family history, trying to piece together info that might give her a clue about her illness. The book reads a bit like a story, like a novel. You keep turning the pages to see what happens next, will there be a breakthrough? You rejoice when she has a good day, you empathize when the days are not so good. But by the time you reach the end of the book, you are encouraged to walk forward in the Light that was present in her life all along, and promised to never leave you, nor forsake you. I received a free e-book copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina Dalfonzo

    Gillian's story of her journey through depression is both harrowing and hope-filled. An immensely valuable read for anyone who struggles with depression or has a loved one dealing with it. (Disclaimer: Gillian is a friend. I received this review copy from the publisher.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Flomarcon Domingo

    This is my first time reading a memoir about depression. I find the book good. I wish it was longer though.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    I really liked the opening of the book, but then the author got too "preachy" and it made it a chore to read. Having suffered from depression in the past myself, there could have been much more specifics written about regarding her program. The summary I would have concluded was ~ 1. Find and be treated by a psychiatrist 2. Find a therapist that you can work with 3. Join NAMI and go to the different classes they offer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Multiple reviews of this book highlighted Gillian Marchenko's transparency and vulnerability in telling her story. They emphasized that she did not draw away from the raw ugliness of her depression. Her account is radically honest. I have a deeper understanding and empathy for those experiencing depression, and more courage to share my own story--even, and especially, the painful parts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    The author of this memoir, a pastor's wife, describes with great clarity and good illustrations, what it's like to experience major depression. She's suffered her entire life with it to one degree or another, but as a believer, the questions and confusion (ESPECIALLY for the soul and body that's already depressed) run deep and can fuel a dangerous shame, hiding from others instead of seeking help, berating and doubting yourself, instead of accepting that your suffering is not all your fault. For The author of this memoir, a pastor's wife, describes with great clarity and good illustrations, what it's like to experience major depression. She's suffered her entire life with it to one degree or another, but as a believer, the questions and confusion (ESPECIALLY for the soul and body that's already depressed) run deep and can fuel a dangerous shame, hiding from others instead of seeking help, berating and doubting yourself, instead of accepting that your suffering is not all your fault. For those who've lived with depression, this book can be helpful in letting you know you are lot alone, inspiring you to think through questions with the author, and encouraging you in your faith and the love of God. For those who have never experienced and don't really understand depression, you may ask yourself, "Why can't she just get her act together? How hard can it be just to get out of bed? She has so much to be thankful for; why is she depressed?" If these questions are some of yours, then this book will be very helpful for you as well. Recommended reading for believers. Kudos to Gillian Marchenko for pouring her mind and heart onto these pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adie

    One of the most frustrating aspects of living with depression is the sudden inability to articulate anything. At a time when you most need to reach out to others, you find yourself unable to express needs, feelings, wants, opinions. This book is like an interpreter for my depressed mind. I find encouragement, solidarity, and challenge in Gillian's story. I recommend this book to friends and family who have a sincere desire to understand what it's like to live with depression. It's been the words One of the most frustrating aspects of living with depression is the sudden inability to articulate anything. At a time when you most need to reach out to others, you find yourself unable to express needs, feelings, wants, opinions. This book is like an interpreter for my depressed mind. I find encouragement, solidarity, and challenge in Gillian's story. I recommend this book to friends and family who have a sincere desire to understand what it's like to live with depression. It's been the words I need when I can't form a full sentence on my own. A gift.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Still Life is very much what its title suggests—it is a memoir of life with depression, not an extended theological reflection on depression or a guide to coping with the condition. I found this important to keep in mind as I read the book—which isn’t even, precisely, a straightforward narrative of illness and recovery. The reader is invited to walk with Gillian through memories and daily household scenarios, hearing her frank and often painful commentary on depression’s distorting effects. March Still Life is very much what its title suggests—it is a memoir of life with depression, not an extended theological reflection on depression or a guide to coping with the condition. I found this important to keep in mind as I read the book—which isn’t even, precisely, a straightforward narrative of illness and recovery. The reader is invited to walk with Gillian through memories and daily household scenarios, hearing her frank and often painful commentary on depression’s distorting effects. Marchenko writes about the impact of her depression on her roles as a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, and as a believer in Christ. Her honesty in each of these areas is moving, though she shares details about her marriage, for one, that I would blush to tell my dearest friends. It was her remarks on life as a depression-prone Christian that I found most compelling—and familiar. At one point, describing the pain of prayer in the midst of her illness, she puts it this way: “In my depression, my focus is me. When in the pit, I am thinking about how to get out, not that God is in control. I’m not praying for help, even though I act like I do sometimes. I’m not sure I even want to align myself with what God wants to do in me and in the world, because I am afraid it will mean more pain.” She wonders what it means to glorify God as someone who struggles to brush her teeth some days. Though it is often impossible to bring her emotions in line with her faith, she perseveres in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness, hoping that he is bringing about something more beautiful in seasons of suffering than in times of strength. Marchenko speaks to some of the pedestrian struggles that come with depression, such as the horrible process of “blind dates” when seeking a therapist. She even gets into the grittiness of fighting her way back to daily functioning with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy. The key to it all is summed up when she writes, “I’ve come to accept the reality that as a chronically depressed person, I can be in two states of mind at the same time. I can live life and also fight my thoughts and emotions to keep the darkness at bay.” There may not be a total cure for her depression in this life, but there is, she concludes, still life. While there is nothing rosy about the picture she paints, she presents it with grace, humility, and even humor. Readers who know depression will draw strength from her companionship, and those who don’t will be better equipped to love struggling brothers and sisters.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jordyn Redwood

    This was a powerful book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants/needs insight into those living with depression. I'm a nurse currently practicing in a pediatric ER. I have said to those that know me-- I will never do psychiatric nursing unless I have to as a last resort. I'm not a patient person. I'm the one standing there snapping my fingers saying "get over it-- let's move on." Which is why I'm fitted for the ED. Let's fix 'em up and move 'em out! I cannot tell you how powerful Gillian's This was a powerful book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants/needs insight into those living with depression. I'm a nurse currently practicing in a pediatric ER. I have said to those that know me-- I will never do psychiatric nursing unless I have to as a last resort. I'm not a patient person. I'm the one standing there snapping my fingers saying "get over it-- let's move on." Which is why I'm fitted for the ED. Let's fix 'em up and move 'em out! I cannot tell you how powerful Gillian's book was for me. I don't gravitate toward non-fiction unless I'm reading for research. I read Gillian's book in three nights-- putting aside all other books for this one. I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review. A positive review was not required. It is the story of how she's lived with depression over many, many years. Treatments she's tried, etc. But what's most powerful is that I think I understand more just how depression affects the person and why they can't just "get over it". Gillian doesn't leave anything hidden-- openly talks about things that perhaps you don't want to read but are necessary for fully understanding how debilitating this disease can be for a person, a mother, and a family. Highly, highly recommended. Please read this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dena Dyer

    I absolutely love Gillian Marchenko's poignant memoir on depression. As someone who has been there (I found hope and healing over several years, through a combination of therapy, scripture, medicine, and family support), the book rang true to my own experience. I especially appreciate how Marchenko didn't gloss over the difficulties her illness created with her marriage, children, faith, finances, and friends. Her healing was and is ongoing, and that's an important truth. Often, we think that if I absolutely love Gillian Marchenko's poignant memoir on depression. As someone who has been there (I found hope and healing over several years, through a combination of therapy, scripture, medicine, and family support), the book rang true to my own experience. I especially appreciate how Marchenko didn't gloss over the difficulties her illness created with her marriage, children, faith, finances, and friends. Her healing was and is ongoing, and that's an important truth. Often, we think that if we pray hard enough or have enough faith, God will heal us instantly. However, though He CAN work that way, and does, He also works mysteriously and gradually at times. If you or a family member struggles with this cruel disease, you'll find hope in its pages. Not a shallow, pie-in-the-sky-hope, but the hope that Jesus is with us, whatever we go through, and that (as Gillian says so eloquently) life with depression is STILL LIFE.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sean O

    This book is a memoir of a woman living with depression. If you struggle with depression, or know someone who does, this should be required reading. The author carefully describes how depression affects her and the steps she took (and takes) to fight it. I liked the book because it the author's experiences are genuine and her advice is thoughtful. I suffer with depression and I spent 30% of the time nodding and 30% of the time highlighting. The author is a Christian. It is clear that her memoir This book is a memoir of a woman living with depression. If you struggle with depression, or know someone who does, this should be required reading. The author carefully describes how depression affects her and the steps she took (and takes) to fight it. I liked the book because it the author's experiences are genuine and her advice is thoughtful. I suffer with depression and I spent 30% of the time nodding and 30% of the time highlighting. The author is a Christian. It is clear that her memoir is informed by her faith and she clearly finds it a comfort and aid in her finding grace in her struggle. She is also a mother of four girls (two with special needs) and her story also describes the feelings and struggles she has being a mom while also dealing with depression. I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend this and her previous memoir "Sun Shine Down" wholeheartedly.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Collene

    When I invest time into reading a book, I like to have some return on my investment. Although this book met the criteria of a memoir, it left me with the feeling that more could have been explained in Marchenko’s dealing with depression. Besides this disappointment, Marchenko does write well and with a passion. She talks about working the program, but doesn’t give glimpses of what that program is. She talks a lot about her relationships with her husband and daughters and with God and she is very c When I invest time into reading a book, I like to have some return on my investment. Although this book met the criteria of a memoir, it left me with the feeling that more could have been explained in Marchenko’s dealing with depression. Besides this disappointment, Marchenko does write well and with a passion. She talks about working the program, but doesn’t give glimpses of what that program is. She talks a lot about her relationships with her husband and daughters and with God and she is very candid and transparent about her feelings. She opens up her heart and reveals her innermost thoughts. This book was provided to me by InterVarsity Press through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lori Neff

    Beautiful book. Difficult to read in some parts - her words reminded me of my own painful process/struggle with depression. Loved that Gillian "went there" with so many normal and practical aspects of depression - shame, anxiety, powering through, faking it, "loss" of faith, etc. Loved this book. I'd recommend it to those who have not experienced depression to understand the struggle.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Moving and honest account of Gillian Marchenko's struggles with depression while raising four children, including two with special needs.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    My Review: I recently read a book by Amy Simpson, Blessed Are The Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World. In this book, Still Life is quoted: “I cannot begin to understand why so many, indeed all of us, struggle on earth. But when I think about the Trinity in perfect community with one another, I can’t help but think that our struggles and our pain pull community out of us sinners who otherwise would think we were happy and filled up with Facebook and Grey’s Anatomy reruns.” My Review: I recently read a book by Amy Simpson, Blessed Are The Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World. In this book, Still Life is quoted: “I cannot begin to understand why so many, indeed all of us, struggle on earth. But when I think about the Trinity in perfect community with one another, I can’t help but think that our struggles and our pain pull community out of us sinners who otherwise would think we were happy and filled up with Facebook and Grey’s Anatomy reruns.” Quote from page 132 in Still Life. After reading this quote, I ordered the book from Amazon. The book by Amy Simpson will be reviewed soon. I personally know people close to me who have mental health disorders. My son is bi-polar and has PTSD. He is doing well with medication and therapy. My husband has a depressive problem but will not acknowledge it. He will not follow his doctors advice. He will not take medication prescribed for depression. I’ve spent this summer reading books on this topic, as well as other similar topics. I’ve been married 35 years. My husband has had a depression problem since before I knew him. I’ve chosen to remain married despite this hardship. Still Life, resonated with me in two strong ways: 1. The husband/father/caregiver. He cares for every function in the home, family, and Marchenko during her depressive episodes. I can relate to this first point. 2. A quote Marchenko on page 33. This quote gave me a new perspective of what it is like to have depression. People assume depression is about emotions: a person is sad; a person is down. But I’ve come to realize that depression is about disappearing. you become nothing. Feelings fly away. There is no future. No past. Your body becomes a shell with nothing inside. And the deeper you fall into depression, the more you become a shadow of yourself and the harder it is to pretend that you are still you, that you are okay, because even you forget who you are. Still Life is deeply personal and transparent. Of any other book I’ve read on this subject, Still Life, stands out in helping me to understand how the person is subsisting in the pit of depression. Gillian Marchenko defines several symptoms in the depressive person: depression amnesia, assumes fault, sleeps most of the time, denial, negative thoughts, and tries to pretend. She reached out for help by joining a depressive study. This led to searching for a therapist who worked with her and was supportive. Marchenko is quick to state medication is one of the steps, but therapy is important. It’s stressful to find the “right” therapist for the depressive person. It requires searching and interviewing. For a depressive person, the stress of looking for a therapist can be too much. Through the book I saw pivotal moments. For example, when she realized “depression is an illness.” Another example is from page 173. I’m beginning to understand that for a lot of us health comes in layers. You make it through one level or layer, and you have to learn to be thankful for that, for getting that far. You don’t get healed with the switch of a wand. God doesn’t nod and change you. He is not the genie and her wiggly nose in I Dream of Jeannie…How can I live with depression? The answer is, “can.” The answer is, “live.” The healing is the living. Marchenko’s husband is a pastor. His story is related to us by her voice. He is a remarkable person to be committed to Marchenko. He shows through as a person of enduring faith and love. This book was self-purchased.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elli

    The only way this book made me religious was that I was thanking the lord Jesus it was finally over. Gillian Marchenko has a bunch of kids, one with special needs, decides to make her life more difficult by adopting yet another one with special needs, and spends 183 pages talking about how bad of a mother she is, how hard it is, blah, blah, blah. Spoiled typical white Midwestern woman has depression, and uses that as an excuse to be a complete B to her husband when she's feeling crummy. I don't kn The only way this book made me religious was that I was thanking the lord Jesus it was finally over. Gillian Marchenko has a bunch of kids, one with special needs, decides to make her life more difficult by adopting yet another one with special needs, and spends 183 pages talking about how bad of a mother she is, how hard it is, blah, blah, blah. Spoiled typical white Midwestern woman has depression, and uses that as an excuse to be a complete B to her husband when she's feeling crummy. I don't know about you, but my fiancé has suffered from depression since he was twelve and somehow manages to not yell at me every day. But then again, he's a good person, and according to this book, the author really doesn't seem too good in my book. Oh, but it's okay, because God will forgive her! I thought I was reading a memoir on depression, not the freakin' bible. I've never read so many Psalms in my whole life. Amazingly, she says that before she was getting therapy once a week and on antidepressants, she had no "relationship with God". As soon as she starts to feel better (BECAUSE OF THE THERAPY AND MEDICATION) she says only Jesus can cure depression. And yes, that's a direct quote from the book. If Jesus is the only cure, then why are you literally going into debt for therapy? She puts her sessions on a credit card because, news flash, chatting to mom's and chatting about God doesn't pay the bills! I'm not religious, but if anyone needs to be prayed for, it's those poor children that have to suffer through these parents. ...In conclusion, worst book I've ever read. I do not feel it would help people with depression realistically, as her solutions seem to be ignore the world and be rude to your family, and once you actually get real professional help, be delusional and blame it all on Jesus.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Marlow

    A masterfully-written memoir on depression, giving helpful Christian insight. I have to start this review by saying this: you think you won’t like it, but you will. The reason I say this is because of the subject matter - a memoir of a woman’s battle with depression. It sounds - well…depressing. When I looked at the cover, I thought ‘maybe this is only aimed at women’; ‘this looks like it could be kinda cheesy’, and ‘I bet this is boring or heart-wrenching’ - and none of those assumptions were t A masterfully-written memoir on depression, giving helpful Christian insight. I have to start this review by saying this: you think you won’t like it, but you will. The reason I say this is because of the subject matter - a memoir of a woman’s battle with depression. It sounds - well…depressing. When I looked at the cover, I thought ‘maybe this is only aimed at women’; ‘this looks like it could be kinda cheesy’, and ‘I bet this is boring or heart-wrenching’ - and none of those assumptions were true. Marchenko is an outstanding memoir-writer who effortlessly interweaves the experience of major depression with her wisdom on living with mental illness, and gentle theological thoughts. On the whole, I preferred the memoir to the 'wisdom' parts. Highly recommended for anyone going through the kind of depression where you are numb and exhausted, and find it difficult to function. *I was given an ARC of this book - this is my honest review*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    For someone who does not live with depression, it can sound weird, unbelievable, and contrived to hear from someone who does. You may not have people in your life who are able or willing to describe the symptoms, impact, or realities of depression. For those people (folks like me), Gillian has written this memoir. “Later on, once I accept my illness and work to combat it, I’ll learn that catastrophic thinking is a cornerstone of depression. I have a bent mind. Thoughts either spring up negative o For someone who does not live with depression, it can sound weird, unbelievable, and contrived to hear from someone who does. You may not have people in your life who are able or willing to describe the symptoms, impact, or realities of depression. For those people (folks like me), Gillian has written this memoir. “Later on, once I accept my illness and work to combat it, I’ll learn that catastrophic thinking is a cornerstone of depression. I have a bent mind. Thoughts either spring up negative or zoom in that direction. I’ll learn to catch them and attempt to change them or ignore them.” (page 27) The idea that your first thought is negative is revealing, and can reflect what many of us experience. But it is truly just a minor reflection of the broader realities of damage caused by depression. A knife on the counter is, for most of us, a reminder to tidy up. For someone whose mind is driven towards negative thoughts, it can be an invitation, as ludicrous as it might sound. “I’m not considering the pain of stabbing myself. I’m not thinking about Sergei grieving his wife, or the girls, over time, forgetting the smoothness of my hands or the contours of my face, I’m not thinking of my parents wishing they had done more to help, or of people in my church blown away by their pastor’s wife’s death, unaware that things in their home were that bad. I’m thinking of that knife. I’m thinking of relief. I’m thinking that I don’t want to do this, as in life, anymore. The piercing pain in the middle of my clavicle has been a knife stabbing at me for a long time anyway.” (pages 33-34) The alternative to such pain and negativity is not necessarily joy, but numbness. “I think that is why I shut down my emotions. Shutting down, although painful in its own right, is easier. At least when I am numb, I don’t sting with missed opportunities and moments with my kids. At least when I am numb I am devoid of guilt for not returning phone calls or for choosing another TV show instead of Monopoly Millionaire with Elaina and Zoya. Numb is nothing. Numb is safety. Numb is not having to think about how screwed up you are.” (page 111) This is where Gillian’s work is most poignant. The constant reminders that her family is still there, is still moving forward, in so many ways without her. It is painful for the reader, not just because of what’s being missed, but because it can never be recaptured, even in a memoir. Sergei cleans up a kitchen mess. Elaina and Zoya help get Polly and Evangeline ready for church. Gillian admits to her reader that this isn’t what she wants, that this isn’t what her husband and children deserve, and yet she so often feels helpless to fight it. That brings me to the two things I appreciated the most about this book: 1. That Gillian never excuses the realities that accompany her depression. Her depressive episodes may be a reason for how she participates in life, but she doesn’t treat it like an excuse. In fact, she hopes and plans to make amends for the ways she handled things during her last major depressive episode. 2. The second thing I appreciate is how Gillian reminds us that her depression does not own her. It is not her identity. “One of the biggest parts of my faith is that Jesus loves me. Simple. Easy. My identity should rest there. My girls learned this in song as soon as they could speak. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Regardless of what I do, and I mean regardless of anything I do or don’t do, God looks at me as a daughter. Somehow I need to figure out how to get back to claiming that identity. I have to practice letting go of the identity of depression. I have to take my medication, and see Melanie, and ask God to please help me, because there is no way I can do this, no way to heal from this illness, without him.” (pages 162-163) In beautiful words, Gillian helps us see ourselves in her. How often do we define ourselves by the things that are right or wrong about our lives. If everything is going well, it must mean my life is great and I am a good person. But if everything is going wrong… Such thinking pre-empts our ability to see God’s redemptive work in tension, in pain, in hardship, and in unexplainable situations. We too often seek to legitimize our suffering as a means of getting something better out of it, as though somehow Gillian’s depression will make her a better person, or her family into more understanding and patient people. And that will make it all worthwhile. But that is not how it works. Not really. The pain is real and unexplained. The hurts caused cannot be wiped away with a logical epiphany about God’s blessings. All that is left is that somehow, by His works, God is glorified in the very midst of the deepest and darkest days of Gillian’s depression, of someone’s poverty-stricken life, of someone’s diseased departure from this life. Still, God is glorified. “The purpose [of life] isn’t to get everything I want, to have a good marriage, or even to be happy. The purpose of life is to glorify God. But how can I do that? How can a person who struggles at times to brush her teeth glorify God? I’m not sure, but I think my accepting and sharing what He has already given me, Jesus, my husband, my kids, my house, even my struggles. Accept everything he has given me, not because it is fair or deserved or undeserved but because He is faithful. Because He is there.” (page 164)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Rathbun

    I have no read many memoirs, but this one blew me away. The language used by the author made me, in a little way, feel the feelings she was feeling. What hurt her, some how, hurt me as the words feel off the page. Her descriptive Rhetoric allowed each page to flow in to the other. A memoir on depression....a memoir I didn’t know I needed to read. I didn’t need to read it because I relate, I needed to read it because I know so many that do.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    The author of the book describes her life with depression. She said she excluded herself from the family, slept a lot, and refused to watch the kids or do chores. She had a lot of mentors that were in her life. I resonated with this book so much. My favorite quote was " Because life still depression is still life".  

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Excellent for the loved ones of those suffering with depression, or for those recovering, or with milder depression. There are a couple of parts that are so intense though that I feel like they might be triggering for those in very deep depression or for those with self harm issues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Excellent book, for anyone dealing with depression or knows someone who is...highly recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Donnab

    I enjoyed her honesty. She cut open and bled in the pages with describing the reality of debilitating depression and the effects it has.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    She did a great job telling her story. I had to put it down a few times because it was so true.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christi

    I found this book somewhat hard to read as someone who suffers from depression myself. I did find their were some good points to come away with but it certainly is not a light read. I appreciate her honesty in this book as I am sure it was difficult to share. If you are looking to better understand or look at depression in real life then this is a great book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin DeGroot

    “I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom.” This powerful image opens Still Life. It sets the stage for what is to come. Marchenko guides readers through her story with clarity and grace. She is at times brutally honest, such as when she declares that “depression comes and goes as it pleases, and like a victim in a domestic abuse situation, I assume I’m at fault. Something is wrong with me.” Her ability to evoke the feelings (or lack thereof) felt by someone in the throes of a depressive “I stand on the edge of a cliff in my own bedroom.” This powerful image opens Still Life. It sets the stage for what is to come. Marchenko guides readers through her story with clarity and grace. She is at times brutally honest, such as when she declares that “depression comes and goes as it pleases, and like a victim in a domestic abuse situation, I assume I’m at fault. Something is wrong with me.” Her ability to evoke the feelings (or lack thereof) felt by someone in the throes of a depressive episode is both reassuring to the reader who also struggles with depression, as well as edifying to readers who love someone with depression but have never experienced it themselves. A memoir about depression can easily slide into an uncomfortable morass of self-pity but Marchenko avoids this. Instead, she offers up her very private struggles with honesty and bravery. And through all this, she points back to God. Any Christian who deals with depression knows the pain of being told “just pray about it” or “God will heal you” or “depression is a sin problem”. Marchenko herself is a pastor’s wife, and it is enlightening to read about their relationship behind closed doors. Mr. Marchenko, despite his very human feelings of pain and anger, continually shows his wife grace and forgiveness. In the last 1/2 of the memoir, Marchenko describes how she found her way back into relationship with God. She cites scripture when she begins to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help her recover, specifically 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul says “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” She doesn’t sanitize or beautify the process. There are no claims of “I just prayed and God magically healed me.” No…she is candid and honest about the fact that she still has many days where the best she can do is help the kids get ready for school before falling back into bed. She is real about the stumbles and setbacks. But all the while, she is growing and fighting for restoration. I, too, have wrestled the beast of major depressive disorder for my entire adult life. Reading Still Life was cathartic for me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so understood or so hopeful. Not only did I leave the book feeling hope, I also learned a lot about how to approach God with this pain I carry. I have a gameplan. I am so grateful to Gillian for sharing her heart in all of it’s messiness with all who will listen (or read). This book should be required reading for all Christians because depression is real and the typical Christian response is often not healthy or helpful. If you or someone you love fights depression, read this. Highlight it. Take notes. And take hold of your life and your Jesus. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately. Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433. Immediate Medical Assistance: 911. Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863. I received a digital copy of Still Life courtesy of InterVarsity Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lori Wasson

    "Still Life" talked about one woman's journey through depression. I thought the book was very raw and honest. Gillian explored all the reasons for her depression...family history, biochemical, post-partum, and the stress of taking care of two children with special needs. She went into great detail about how depression affected her life and that of her family. She was very honest about how she felt and I felt that I could easily relate to her. She made such good points in the book, with the overa "Still Life" talked about one woman's journey through depression. I thought the book was very raw and honest. Gillian explored all the reasons for her depression...family history, biochemical, post-partum, and the stress of taking care of two children with special needs. She went into great detail about how depression affected her life and that of her family. She was very honest about how she felt and I felt that I could easily relate to her. She made such good points in the book, with the overall theme that even though living with depression made for a difficult and challenging life, that it was still life. Her story was not wrapped up in a nice, tidy bow. Gillian made it clear that she still struggled and that her recovery will be a life long process. Rating: 5 out of 5 This book was given to me by Intervarsity Press and NetGalley in exchange for a review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lana

    Very rarely have I found a Christian memoir that deals with depression in such a way that I'm not completely turned off by it. Gillian Marchenko did what I thought was next to impossible. Her faith was real and true, but not the kind that called attention to itself as the kind that instantly heals because, well, Jesus. I wish I had been able to read this twenty years ago when my life had fallen apart due to Christians who seemed to think that was what was supposed to happen. I received this book Very rarely have I found a Christian memoir that deals with depression in such a way that I'm not completely turned off by it. Gillian Marchenko did what I thought was next to impossible. Her faith was real and true, but not the kind that called attention to itself as the kind that instantly heals because, well, Jesus. I wish I had been able to read this twenty years ago when my life had fallen apart due to Christians who seemed to think that was what was supposed to happen. I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Collin Huber

    The book turned out to be something other than what I expected, but I don't mean that as a criticism. Gillian very eloquently invites her readers into a firsthand experience of major depression and how it influences every aspect of life. It's raw and gritty, but not to the point of glorifying brokenness like so many do today. She's honest about the pain and doubts that accompany depression, but consistent in pointing out the spiritual truths that grant hope in the darkness. It's well worth a rea The book turned out to be something other than what I expected, but I don't mean that as a criticism. Gillian very eloquently invites her readers into a firsthand experience of major depression and how it influences every aspect of life. It's raw and gritty, but not to the point of glorifying brokenness like so many do today. She's honest about the pain and doubts that accompany depression, but consistent in pointing out the spiritual truths that grant hope in the darkness. It's well worth a read and a powerful account of struggling with depression as a committed Christian.

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