Monday, June 13, 2011
Book Review - Hiding Behind a Mask
Recently author Cheryl Bolton Van Winkle contacted me to review her book Hiding Behind a Mask: Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder. As she is also a Christian and my 11 year-old son has struggled with Bipolar symptoms for most of his life, her title piqued my interest. While not diagnosed as clinically depressed, from April 2009 to April 2011 I was on medication to deal with the despair and situational depression I’d been dealing with in parenting my son. So I felt that I could relate to this book on a number of levels.
Cheryl has struggled with depression for most of her life, and she has been through quite an ordeal. Thankfully, the Lord has been with her and has brought her much comfort and help, both through medical science and through spiritual healing. She has bathed herself in God’s word probably more times than she can count, and as God has lifted her out of the black pit of depression, He has allowed her to go on to minister to others. This book not only details her journey from childhood to the present, but it also gives advice for others who are struggling with depression or are caregivers of those who do.
On many levels, I enjoyed Mrs. Van Winkle’s work. Like her, I know the pain and despair that can come upon you in times of grief and depression. I appreciate the fact that she sees medication as a tool, a viable choice even for Christians. It is not her only tool, as she also relies on the Lord for comfort and strength. I am no longer medicated, but my son is, and while his meds are an essential part of his treatment, he is not a robotic, perfect child. He still has his hard days, and I still pray for him and share God’s truth with him on a regular basis. I’m glad that Cheryl has that perspective—meds are okay. However, they aren’t the complete solution—we still need to rely on the Lord for strength, just as everyone should.
While I enjoyed the overall message of Hiding Behind the Mask, the writing can sometimes be inexperienced in tone. It’s clear that this is just a down-to-earth layperson who is sharing her heart with the world. This title may not win stacks of awards in writing style, but Van Winkle’s heart is well intentioned. She has been to the darkest corners of her humanity and has been rescued by the One who loves her more than she loves herself. Her struggle has been a long and hard one, and in Hiding Behind the Mask she endeavors to reach out to others and minister to them in their times of trouble. In that regard, I wish Cheryl all of God’s blessings as He bestows upon her a crown of beauty in exchange for the ashes of her inner turmoil.