I was not-so-recently sent a copy of the book Oh! You’re One of Those People…: A Whimsical Two Year Journey of Depression, Desperation, and Detainment
and, after months of neglecting my commitments, am finally posting a review.
The subtitle says it all: A whimsical tow year journey of depression, desperation, and detainment. The book is, indeed, whimsical and surprisingly light, considering how dark the material sometimes gets. Despite Mr. Schaefer sharing his story of depression and homelessness, I was smiling most of the way though, which I believe to be his intention.
Mr. Schaefer’s story starts with a sudden crash-and-burn. He loses his job, his new house, his new car, his wife, and his family in quick succession. Soon he is near suicidal and winds up hospitalized for the first, but certainly not the last, time. He is diagnosed with severe depression and decides to head back to live with his only surviving close relative, his mother.
Throughout the book things go from bad to worse. He winds up moving away from his mother in search of work but is unable to find anything. He runs out of money and survives on the kindness of others and, admittedly, on petty theft. A relative lets him use her credit card to buy pizza, a crime which he is eventually sent to county jail for. He spends time in homeless shelters (read: church basements) or wherever he can lay his head.
On the bright side, the book also has a lot of stories of kindness, most often by people named with some derivative of Christine (Chris, Christy, Christina, the list goes on…). Churches help out, too, including a local pastor. But it was also in a church where he heard the phrase, “Oh! You’re one of those people,” meaning one of the people that slept in the basement of the church.
Ultimately, Schaefer is able to right the ship. He eventually finds work, first part-time, then full-time. He goes back to college. He builds more stable relationships. The story, thankfully, has a happy ending.
Oh! You’re one of those people gave me a new perspective on both depression and homelessness. The picture of homelessness in The Concrete Killing Fields and Homeless at Harvard is of a segment of the population that seems to be perpetually homeless, either because of severe substance abuse or mental illness. Schaefer’s story is quite different. In his case, a cataclysmic life event led him to homelessness, but he was eventually able to recover. I am grateful for this broadened perspective and I am grateful for Schaefer being willing to share his story with humility, openness, and charm.
From a pastoral perspective I was actually quite encouraged. Despite the fact that Schaefer met his fair share of judgment in some churches (hence the title of the book) he seemed to see a lot more kindness. Schaefer was able to find help, both physical and spiritual, from local churches and pastors. They were able to help him when he was “down on his luck” and their generosity had lasting value, it did not simply perpetuate problems.
Note: Special thinks to Samantha Lien from JKSCommunications for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.