Book details
Joy Interrupted: A Memoir of Depression and Prayer

Joy Interrupted: A Memoir of Depression and Prayer

Geoffrey R. Lilburne
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Geoffrey Lilburne is a retired Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. Joy Interrupted is his honest account of the experiences of depression and anxiety that affected his private and professional life; and of the various treatments offered to help him live with the difficult stresses of mental illness. Significantly, it relates how a discovery of prayer and spirituality enriched his life and helped him find ways of negotiating the various difficult symptoms of mental illness, prompting him to offer a path that may help others as they seek to live with their depression and rediscover their joy.

Reader reviews
  • Joy Interrupted

    Posted by Elaine Furniss on 03/22/2019


    What’s scary is when a book sheds light on one’s responses and defines anew that ‘down’ feeling, the difficulty of seeing past the monotonies of the day to come, the phone that never rings and how easy it is to project meanings into that, and the reviewed experiences of fifty years past. I found all of this in Geoffrey Lilburne’s book.

    The memoir begins when the author is a teenager, and feeling the darkness of depression and wishing that death had overtaken him overnight. The burden of depression is shouldered alone and linked to it is the conversion to Christianity perhaps as an antidote to the sadness of earlier depressive experiences, although the writer denies this conclusion.

    The reader follows the writer through university, marriage and moving to a new part of WA and then to Melbourne for theological studies. With this comes the move from a more conservative take on faith and the subsequent felt isolation from former more conservative colleagues. In the background the writer becomes a pawn in the chemical responses to depression entering the pharmacological market post-war, and in moving overseas for graduate study, get further drawn in to what he describes as ‘a culture that was already saturated with therapeutic insights’ (p30). He describes the isolation felt while in the midst of depression (even from God) while remaining grateful for the responses of psychiatry and spiritual direction which had come his way.

    In reading Lilburne’s book I am drawn back to a useful text from Spiritual Direction formation: Transforming our painful emotions by E. & J Whitehead. Although they don’t address depression per se, but they do address loneliness or lack of connection: ‘Loneliness signals a relationship in pain’ they say, ‘ the sense that we are adrift, without the bonds that effectively link us with other people. To deal effectively with loneliness, we must identify where the pain is pointing. The remedy is easier when we know where the hurt is’.

    Another book which has informed my reading of Lilburne’s memoir is Johann Hari’s Lost Connections. Hari also navigates the fog of pharmacological responses to depression and the way in which falling for this lie, puts one in a dead end street with nowhere to go. Hari provides a range of heartwarming solutions to the loneliness and isolation of depression and one is left with the joy of knowing that re-forming social and community connections, often beyond one’s definition of what PLU connections might look like and moving beyond the god of individual success , requires courage and a realisation that the pain of depression isn’t an enemy, it’s an ally ‘leading you away from a wasted life and pointing the way toward a more fulfilling one.’

    I found LIlburne’s book useful in that it led me to a wider reading and rereading of other books on the topic. I’m glad he has found joy in a closer friendship with God. I hope that he also finds it in broader connections in his life.

    Elaine Furniss,
    Equip, April 2019.


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