"From Pastor to a Psych Ward" by Steve Austin Review
This book was provided to me in audio form via the author in exchange for an honest review.
From Pastor to a Psych Ward: Recovery From a Suicide Attempt is Possible, is a series of mostly autobiographical essays written by Steve Austin. Austin, a once successful workaholic Pastor, always covered up his mental health issues due to the church's stigma of talking about said topic. After being dismissed from his church due to a misunderstanding, Austin attempted to commit suicide and failed. This book focuses on his recovery, and has a strong message for others who have also attempted suicide.
This book takes on two personas. At times it is Austin reflecting on his life, mental health, and his healing process after his suicide attempt. At other times it is a self help book for those who have also attempted suicide or who have had suicidal thoughts. The book is very short, almost to the point of feeling incomplete, with bursts of fabulous writing. The honesty which Austin puts forth is very astounding and important, especially when it comes to discussing stigmas in the Christian church.
From Pastor to a Psych Ward is geared toward the Christian demographic specifically, with several sentences making the claim that Jesus is the answer, and that the grace of God is what redeems us all. I think this book is very powerful as it meets Christians where they are and speaks starkly about mental health in relation to the church. The book can be read by those of different faiths but they will get something very different out of the book than Christians. They may take more away from Austin's honesty and self-reflection. While Christians may get that bit too, they will be reading a book geared toward their beliefs and so it becomes much more of a self-help book than anything else.
Austin reads the audiobook and does very well. Every chapter begins with the same music snippet which became quite annoying after a while. There is also a chapter very early on in the book which is from the perspective of Austin's wife yet it is still read by Austin. This was very confusing and left me wondering why there was no introduction to this bit beforehand.
From Pastor to a Psych Ward is a nice quick read. The most important takeaway from the book is its strong message of destigmatizing mental health, specifically in the Christian church, and showing that life is manageable if one takes the proper steps toward healing and coming to terms with their mental health. Although the book caters to a specific demographic, is also manages to be discreet enough that anyone can approach this book and not feel bogged down by the Christian message if they do not desire it. It is well written and honest.
I give From Pastor to a Psych Ward 3 out of 5 stars.