Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About


Ryan Casey Waller


Thomas Nelson

Publication Date:

 January 5, 2021




256 pages


Ryan Casey Waller didn’t think he had a drinking problem. Then one day he showed up drunk to give a sermon at the church he was pastoring. What followed was a difficult journey of figuring out why he’d been abusing alcohol and realizing he struggled with depression. As he learned how to handle his own struggles, Waller found tools to help others with mental illnesses as well. In this book he shares what he learned from his recovery journey, coupled with practical tips for people with suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression. Along the way, he gives advice to Christians who may not struggle with mental illness about how they can help, highlighting how hard it is for suffering Christians to find the empathy they need.

Each chapter starts with a two-page scene where Waller describes an event from his journey through alcoholism and rehab. These scenes are raw, giving a colorful and personal picture of the shame he felt and had to overcome. Difficult as these scenes are to read, the fact they’re so personal makes the book compelling in a way that many suffering and survival memoirs don’t pull off. Somehow, writers who talk about pain in very general terms aren’t very appealing, while people who tell their individual stories well have universal appeal. Why writing works this way is hard to say. Perhaps telling an individual story well creates enough specific detail that all kinds of people can see parts of themselves in the story. It may also be that talking honestly about suffering makes it clear the writer really gets it, whereas writers who talk in generic terms feel like they’re keeping readers at a distance even though they’re supposed to make readers trust them. Regardless, Waller’s choice to be honest makes him easy to empathize with, less like a professional giving a sanitized lecture and more like a fellow sufferer helping readers along their journey.

The main content for each chapter is written in a cheerier style with lots of self-deprecating humor and helpful insights. Waller is careful to point out there’s a lot that humans don’t know about mental health and mental illness, and each patient’s journey is a bit different. However, he can explain what basically depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior look like and what helps. He particularly highlights the difficulty many people have talking about their mental health issues with other Christians. Many other writers have made this point (for example, Ted Roberts in Pure Desire), but many imply it rather than say it out loud. Waller comes out and says what far too few pastors will say: Sunday is the most awkward day of the week for Christians with mental health problems. In doing so, he creates room for a much-needed discussion about what churches haven’t been doing well, and why it’s vital they start talking about mental illness. After all, as Waller reminds us, America’s rising suicide rate shows there are people out there literally dying because they can’t find communities to help them.

In short, Waller does a great job of explaining why mental health is such an important subject and what Christians can do to create healing spaces for people with mental illnesses.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4.5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians seeking to understand depression, suicide and anxiety better.

Christian Impact

The author carefully unwraps misconceptions that many Christians have about mental illnesses, giving a theological dimension to the discussion. He’s careful to avoid giving quick and easy answers which aren’t Biblical, encouraging readers to lean into the reality that while the Bible doesn’t give a single definitive answer to the problem of evil, it shows how Christ has overcome it.

Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don't Want to Talk About

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