Speaking subjectively, I found much in Facing the Darkness that I think could be useful, but also much that was painful to think about. Thankfully, this is not a book of twee, inspirational passages or bullet-point presentations guaranteed to "fix" you if you just try hard enough. It's a book which acknowledges how grindingly awful depression is, and then says, "Well, since we're here, let's take a look at what's going on, shall we?" It also is written in such a way as to allow that examination to be deeply personal.
Much of the approach here is one of mindfulness, which is such a buzz word these days. I don't think that the M-word is ever actually used in Facing the Darkness, but the techniques are certainly there. I didn't, personally, find this particularly calming, but I see how it can be useful. The clue is in the book's title - running away isn't enough. Sometimes, reading this book was a bit tough. I don't want to create the feeling that this book is somehow brutal, however. Far from it. It is as gentle as it can be and still be helpful. After all, there is no point in telling someone who is already miserable to just be complacent about it. (That's even less use than pictures of kittens with inspirational quotes added.) No, this book just gently suggests, little and often, that you take a look at how you're feeling, maybe at why, maybe try to understand yourself a little better in small doses. And when it's not a good day to do that, it gives you permission to crawl under the bedclothes, or just sit with a cup of tea.
Interspersed with Cat's writing, are a number of short contributions from Pagans who have struggled with depression. Some of these made very good reading, and I think that it was a fine idea to include them. Everyone who picks this book up will probably find identification with some of these writers.
At just over a hundred pages, Facing the Darkness is quite a manageable length, and is definitely a book to dip into, rather than requiring a cover-to-cover approach. Of course I did read it cover to cover, because of this review, but I think that the way I would get the most out of it is to go back and mark the passages that I know will be helpful when I find myself in a dark place.
If this book has a fault, it might be lack of enough organisation. Although an attempt has been made to set the "exercises", or what I would call "things worth trying when you need a bit of help" apart by using bold print, I found it hard to locate passages I liked when I went back to look for them. Somehow the many short chapters make the book as a whole a little amorphous.
I do think that the best way to use this book is as a kind of first-aid kit. Look it over, mark the bits that you think will help you the most, and keep it somewhere handy. Thank-you, Cat Treadwell, for taking the time to write this!