Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be giving you a sneak peek of Rachael’s upcoming book “Learning to Breathe” and giving away one copy a week! To enter, all you need to do is publicly share one of the #LearningtoBreathe blog posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and comment on our post that you’ve done it! Winners will be picked at random and prizes sent out after the 16th August.

It’s hard to describe how depression feels. It’s unending grief and terror, blankness and a sense that you are experiencing the world through a dirty lens – everything is dimmer and murkier. The overwhelming experience of depression for me is one of exhaustion. Sleep is never enough to lift the tiredness that seeps into every cell of my body, making every step feel as though I’m trudging through lead. I was worn out and wondering where on earth God was in the midst of depression.

And whilst I don’t think it was ever explicitly expressed to me, the idea that you had to be happy to be a Christian, but I equated joy with happiness. I wanted to tell people about Jesus, but I didn’t think crying was a particularly good witness. In my desperation and guilt, I studied the Bible like never before. I clung to the verses I’d been given by my friends and my youth worker, trying to squeeze as much hope as I could from the words.

One that was given to me quite early on was from Paul’s second letter to Timothy (nkjv): ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ Paul was Timothy’s pastor and he writes to him here in such a tender and caring way. Verse 4 says that Paul recalls Timothy’s tears and that brings to my mind the shepherd of Psalm 23 leading his flock home.

It’s a vision for what good mental health can look like and it is something I’ve returned to time and again in the years that have passed since. I didn’t want to be afraid of life, I didn’t want to hate myself, I didn’t want to feel like I was losing my sanity.

The words offered me a hope to fix my eyes on when all else seemed hopeless. Power, love and a sound mind were what I craved. Power over my emotions, so that they wouldn’t overwhelm me day after day; a sense that I was worth something, anything; and the ability to feel as though I was in control of my own mind and heart and could work out how to deal with emotions without destroying myself in the process.

©Rachael Newham, Learning to Breathe, 2018, SPCK. Reprinted with permission.

If you’d like to pre-order Rachael’s book, you can find a list of retailers over at https://rachaelnewham.com/learning-to-breathe/