Loved Back to Life: How I Found the Courage to Live Free
Sheila Walsh (@SheilaWalsh)
NEW! February 2015
I read the paperback edition.
Sheila Walsh Found the Courage to Live Free
What a beautiful testimony from a beautiful woman! Sheila Walsh reaches down deep to give us a heartbreaking and heartwarming testimony of how her rise to success was masking a deep, debilitating depression. Rather than admitting she had a problem, she threw herself into ministry for every waking hour—a very public, exposed ministry as a singer and then as co-host of The 700 Club.
When it finally became too much, she walked away from a promising career and checked herself into a psychiatric hospital, despite critical comments from friends and colleagues who said she was ruining her career and tarnishing the ministry she worked for.
I’ll admit, I pre-ordered Loved Back to Life because I couldn’t wait to read it. I have bipolar disorder and wanted to know what goes on in a psychiatric hospital, in case I ever end up in one. On this voyeuristic level, Sheila Walsh didn’t disappoint.
By the time I got to the hospital parking lot, it was dark. All I could see was the low, brick building of the psych ward that was connected to the main hospital.
I sat in my car for an hour, sheltered from the chilly autumn air, safe from the unknown. I knew that once I walked through those front doors, nothing in my life would ever be the same. I wondered how I ever ended up like this. . . .
As I sat there looking for the strength to get out and walk that short distance to my new home for a time, it began to rain. As the drops splashed violently on my windshield, I prayed through my own tears: “Lord I am so sorry that I have let You down. I am so afraid. I don’t even know if I am doing the right thing by being here. It feels like I’m running away, but I don’t know where else to go. Please help me.”
I got out of the car and stood for a moment watching my breath dissipate in the chill. I opened the trunk and pulled out my suitcase. It seemed very light, and I wondered what I might have packed the night before.
I walked up to the door and pressed the buzzer. It opened, and I walked in. A young nurse took my suitcase and asked me to sit down in the lobby for a few moments. She looked as if she was about my age, dressed in white: clean, clinical, safe. . . .
When my nurse came back, she took my blood pressure, commenting it was very low. Then she took a Polaroid picture of me. That felt strange, hardly a moment I wanted to treasure forever. . . . Then she took my temperature and showed me to my room.
It was simple and sparse, a bed, a table, a chair, and a small wardrobe. Everything was neutral and quiet.
“I need to go through your things. It’s hospital policy,” she said. I wanted her to smile, to say something kind, but she seemed detached. I wondered if this was because she knew what lay ahead of me.
I sat on the edge of the bed and watched as she put items to one side. My hair dryer, my makeup, my belts and panty hose—anything I could use to hurt myself. I told her I had no intention of blow-drying myself to death! She didn’t laugh. She asked me if I needed anything and then left for the night, telling me that someone would check on me every fifteen minutes until morning. I realized I was on suicide watch.
I sat there for a while. Alone, numb, and cold. How is it possible that this morning I was on national television, beautifully dressed, part of a respected Christian ministry, and now I am locked up in a psychiatric ward, not even trusted with a hair dryer?
–Sheila Walsh, Loved Back to Life, page 25.
Beyond my voyeuristic desire to take the fear out of a psychiatric hospital, I also needed to read someone’s testimony so I could hang on to hope that there are happy endings. The author didn’t disappoint on that front, either.
Sheila Walsh’s candor with her experiences and personal feelings was both gripping and difficult for me to read. She takes time to unpack specific lessons learned in her private and group sessions, devoting entire chapters to fear, shame, and loneliness so readers could understand and apply those same principles to their lives. Sometimes this felt too close to home and I’d have to slow down and take a break from reading after a few minutes so I could absorb and recover from what I was reading. It was that powerful.
I really applaud Sheila Walsh for sharing her mental illness with the world because there are so many people who face the same struggles, fears, and resistance from themselves and others. The Church, in particular, has a long way to go toward understanding and acceptance of mental illness.
If you or anyone you know struggles with depression, you need to read Loved Back to Life. It will help you understand what those who struggle with depression are experiencing and how you can love them back to life (and what not to do or say, too).
I give Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh five cups of love.
|Loved Back to Life: How I Found the Courage to Live FreeBy Sheila Walsh / Hampton Group
Talented and beautiful, 700 Club co-host Sheila Walsh was at the pinnacle of her career when she chose to walk away; and check into a psychiatric hospital. In this expanded edition of her best-selling memoir Honestly, she shares the struggles that brought her to her knees and the story of how God lovingly came to her rescue.
|Loved Back to Life: How I Found the Courage to Live Free – eBookBy Sheila Walsh / Thomas Nelson|