Katherine Welby-Roberts writes as if she is sitting at the kitchen table with you, coffee in hand, talking about life and all its ups and downs. It’s engaging, charming and brutally honest. The kind of honest we generally only get with our best of friends.
Katherine points out that this is not a self-help book with a traditional ‘Do these 3 steps and you’ll be a better/healthier/more spiritual/happier person’ approach. Rather this is a gentle nudge to the reader to be honest with themselves about their own inner life, to be kind to themselves in a way that mirrors the way that God loves each of us.
Katherine takes the reader through 9 chapters which look a different aspects of her own struggles with mental health and the thought patterns which often characterise our inner lives, either consciously or not. She shows us how these aspects are intertwined and have complex layers within layers. In each chapter she asks herself and the reader a question for deliberation and the chapter ends with some of her own reflections on this question.
For me the strength of this book is this encouragement to examine our own inner thoughts carefully and without judgement. I connect with Katherine’s explanations of how much we tie ourselves in knots with over-thinking in negative, disruptive, destructive patterns of thought, and the courage it takes to examine these and ask God to help us overcome them is something I admire.
I’m sure that this book will encourage many readers who identify with the issues Katherine talks through. Even for those who don’t recognise their own struggles in Katherine’s experiences this book is useful prompt to tackle deep-rooted issues of identity which might lead to or exacerbate depression and /or anxiety.
As those working with young people then the questions Katherine asks are ones we might ask our young people, gently, without necessarily expecting a full reply – or any reply at all! Katherine urges us to be honest with ourselves and that is an important thing to bear in mind when talking to a young person: we should not always hide our own imperfections and difficulties but be prepared to be honest when the time is right.