“Messy Hope” by Lori Wildenberg

Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation

Lori Wildenberg
Iron Stream Media (2021)
ISBN: 9781563094781
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (11/2021)

On a personal level, “Messy Hope” hit me where I lived. In essence, Lori Wildenberg, author of this incredible book, opened her heart and her life to readers. Here, she speaks about how her own beloved daughter fought to overcome depression for many years—to the point where, when she was at a collegiate level, attempted to end her own life. In my own world, when I was the overwrought teen in the 80s, that depression, anxiety, and feeling of absolute hopelessness took over my life. Now, as a mom, playing the pivotal role in my own daughter’s life, I now understand (unfortunately) the pain my own mother must have been feeling, and how hard and difficult her own journey must have been while I was sitting in the proverbial darkness, not talking to anyone.

I have to say, this is a fantastic book to have around nowadays. Although depression has not changed in decades, the pressure, tension, and stress present in 2021 is a lot different than it was in 1980. I was not living in a world that had pandemics or even bullying to the horrific extent that exists today. This author points out the basics, but these particular basics are ones that get lost in the shuffle a great deal. In this author’s life, she states that our children are not immune to difficulty and disappointment. Easy to understand, right? But if you understand this basic fact, it teaches you immediately that sighing, rolling your eyes, or getting annoyed and basically offering the “get over it,” advice to your child is simply not the way to parent; it’s not the way to actually help them out of the darkness and give them that spark of hope they need to deal with the depression they feel.

Worrying about being a failure. Worrying about the fact that you simply don’t fit in with the rest of the people in school. Worrying or saddened by the fact that when you go to school, you’re constantly getting bullied because you’re not pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough—anything that makes others tease or make fun of you. All of these things happen on a daily basis to our kids and hurt their heart and soul so much that they feel like there’s no point in sticking around.

Wildenberg walks the struggling parents out there through this journey of sadness and helps them learn skills on how to keep their teen/YA/pre-teen safe and alive. It is a nasty statistic, but true, that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people today. As parents, we need to find a way to explain to them that the future improves; that their lives will become so much better if they just stick it out and rely on the family that loves them when they feel down or need that extra strength to get through those dark days. This book offers practical ways to bring about happiness in your child’s heart and their daily life. It is literally a book that the parent can use as the ultimate “bible” to help children overcome depression and anxiety, which seems to have become the new “normal” in 2021.

The realistic, practical intelligence of this book is needed. And although I wish my own mother had this book at her disposal in 1980; I am extremely grateful that I have it to turn to nowadays. I recommend all parents get this awe-inspiring and extremely helpful book today!

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