I stumbled upon this book when I was at my brief EWTN visit last summer.  It was atop a stack of books and magazines in the great room of the guest house where I stayed, and I picked it up, curious and intrigued.  After a moment, I decided I would swap this book for another I had finished on my trip.

A few months later, I discovered the author, Virginia Pillars, on social media.  We briefly connected, and I realized it was time for me to start reading the book.  The initial intrigue I felt was due to the fact that I also have mental illness in my family.  We do not have a history of schizophrenia, but bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder are both quite prevalent.  Plus, with my background and interest in psychology and counseling, I knew it was an important read.

Pillars’ book is a memoir, which is very fascinating and well written.  She describes her family’s journey through her daughter’s diagnosis of schizophrenia and several hospitalizations, as well as other tragedies they endured in only a two-year span: the death of her infant grandson and her daughter-in-law’s bout with cancer.

What sustained Pillars through all of this?  Her faith.  Like most of us, she was shaken and her faith was also tested, but she very honestly explains how she moved from discouragement to hope – through reading her daily devotionals to helpful books and connecting with close friends and family members, many of whom were true godsends to her at the time she needed the most encouragement.

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is a book that will both inspire and inform anyone who is struggling to understand a loved one’s diagnosis of mental illness.  In addition to the eloquent underpinning of her grief journey, Pillars includes a short list of helpful resources for her readers to peruse more thoroughly, including the NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) website and the books that helped her understand mental illness in general.

Above all, the best point she makes is how important it is for each of us to do our part in helping to change the culture of stigma surrounding mental illness.  If we learn how to advocate for those who suffer in this invisible way, we can help change people’s hearts and minds about mental illness.  The truth remains: we often fear what we do not understand.  Education and advocacy are key to unraveling the mystery of mental illness, and Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is a smart resource for those who work in the mental health industry or as a personal companion through the toughest moments you will face with your loved one.

Copyright 2017 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.