About me

I am Katharine Welby-Roberts, I am a Christian and am trying to work out how that works in a world like this. I find that the older I get the more I wonder at what goes on around me. We live in a world where anger is the automatic, forgiveness is often considered weakness, your neighbour is a stranger and we are all islands.

I live with depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue, which leaves me stuck at home a lot of the time. I spend my time writing and resting. When I write, I write on issues around mental and emotional health, suffering, faith and the bible. This blog is the place I explore life and try to work out what it is that is happening in my head.

I love the bible and talking about what it says, I love looking at issues of character and how we relate to each other, I love looking at what is going on in the world around me. I love silliness, fun, excitement and oddities.



  • Hi Katharine
    I’m really impressed by the clarity and warmth with which you talk about depression. It is something that people need to discuss – why should a condition that affects a quarter of our society still be taboo? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the ‘black veil of nothing’. I write for The Independent and have covered mental health issues at length. Would love to offer you an interview – would you be able to contact me?
    All the best

  • Hi Katherine,

    I am a Pioneer Minister working fort he Liverpool Diocese. I have been following your blog, having a family member who lives with a serious mental health condition. I am involved with putting together a ‘coffee table’ book on ‘Scouse Spirituality’ sponsored by Merseycare. We were wondering whether you might be interested in writing one of the forward’s.

    Revd. Keith Hitchman
    City Missioner, River in the City (Diocese of Liverpool)
    Force Chaplain, Merseyside Police

    t :: 0151 345 7154
    m :: 07810 558063
    w :: riverinthecity.net
    tw :: Keith_Hitchman
    fb :: facebook.com/RiverInTheCity
    linkedin :: keithhitchman

  • Katherine, I have just read the Cole Moreton interview in the Sunday Telegraph and I guess many now will be writing to you as I am. But I think that what I will now be saying is different from most others. It is to say most depressions are easy to recover from and to that does not require a lot of talking and ruminating about “what is going on” or medication. That depression is all about dreaming too much and recovery for most depressions is quick. This is based on the Human Givens approach. Have you heard of HG? It is about to get recognition from NICE – it is not wacky but scientific and now proven.

    I have a website and a newly begun Depression help blog and when you have time, do look at them and maybe follow the links to the official HG websites. My website which has some wonderful living testimonials and case studies that I am sure you will relate to.. Listen to my YouTube invitation..

    I have no idea where you live now – maybe not in Hackney anymore which is close to me. Either way, perhaps you might be moved to make contact.

    • I have read up on the Human Givens project. It sounded like stuff I thought about, things which already made me excited and then… nope. True human givens are the light in the middle of the lantern that faiths usually address. Faiths are adressing the same basic humanity and practical problem solving, becoming increasing formalised. I see my God as more than an imaginary number, but I recognise he functions in that way, as if a focus in one lifelong mindfulness exercise. To keep putting my eyes on the prize and transferring responsibility to him pulls me through the dark times without denying the validity of that sdide of human experience. Most Gods or philosophies are some sort of imaginary number, in at least one facet, one that makes our life equations work better. I hoped to find this sort of open synergistic discussion at Human Givens. But rather than a collaborative and open philosophical project that acknowledged and developed established philosophical ideas, I found an arrogant and cultish discussion. At the first point I encountered Human givens, it seemed the language was all determined to pull you into a particular way of thinking and talking and making big claims for it. I wrote you an e-mail. it seems to have changed. i doubt it was my e-mail that changed it. But still, the anxiety remains.

      It will sound picky, but just one thing I noticed in my recent quick look, was about Maslow’s triangle. I think a lot about Maslow’s triangular heirachy of needs. I think though, it’s never one rigid flow upwards, towards meeting needs, more of a cycle. And that spirituality can be found in all material and mental conditions. That doesn’t quite fit with the line of argument presented there. I see big efforts and probably more than a little grains of truth. But not ready to go there just yet. Maybe not ever.

      It’s interesting that the Japanese find spirituality and comeliness in suffering. Sadness is not such a terrible place to be, depending. Even if it feels like it,. Compassionate western rationalist thinking sees a different approach. but I think I would rather see moods as sometimes a functional and appropriate response, albeit that can be momentum-fed functional issues that need tackling and not just from a symptom-based approach, but more holistically.

      As Christians, not nominals, we ought to know that even frequent experience of transient pain is something valuable that often comes with a compassionate and wise heart. And indeed is transient, giving way to joy, as the bigger picture becomes our focus. The shortest and most famous verse in the bible is “Jesus wept”. The man who cried out ‘why have you forsaken me!’ to his own nature and father, Almighty creator God, broke death; and rose and ascended back to his place in the Godhead, as the full expression of God. Have you seen the united humanist meme about leadership: the fresco marked ‘boss’ has directions given by the man who sits on top of the block pulled by the slaves; the ‘leader’ stands at the front of the line and leads his followers in heaving the block. Jesus was the latter. He’s like the song by James. Sometimes all we need is to find ourselves ridiculous and still sit down in the best company. I appreciate you trying to help, but I wanted to put forward my bit.
      The church got hijacked by power heirachy as an inspiring story about submission and leaders coming alongside the people (Evita! Evita!) and therefore another tool useful for oppression. The church is still recovering from that (except the real church is the informal network of properly spiritual people and not all the pompously announced and divided ‘church’ we see as a lot of the outward sign), and it makes me decidedly sad and frustrated. but that’s a good thing. We need to focus on the compassionate meeting of needs. Far, far more. As much as we do it for the least of people (I try not to judge people as ‘the least’, mind) we do it for Jesus. I intend to be part of that probably-not-televised revolution.

      That’s all I can offer.

  • Thank you for your reply. And I am sorry that Human Givens disappointed you and that you found it arrogant and cultish. I think to be honest that in some ways we are arrogant because, in the field of mental health and healing, there is so much rubbish especially from the so called experts. This includes official and semi official websites. And there are private blogs and forums, for sufferers of depression which reinforce this negative and defeatist attitude to depression. That depression is an epidemic, with many causes (genetic, medical, existential and social) and it is all very deep and hard to understand – and so on. And so we must all tiptoe around quietly and trust the medical “experts”..

    But this is just not so for the large majority of those suffering depression. I know this not just because I understand what HG says but because of my direct experience as a therapist and those of other HG therapists.

    In my frustration I have started a Depression Help Blog – http://depression-help-blog.feelbetter-counselling-eastlondon.com/depression-links/ linked to my website – http://www.feelbetter-counselling-eastlondon.com/depression.html

    But we are definitely not cultish, though we do stand a little apart from the conventional and are arrogant, I have heard this before. As it happens there was a time when I was briefly involved in a cult. It was about control, by the offering of special knowledge after initiation and then by exploiting that control financially and even sexually. And finally by scaring and threatening members if they wanted to leave. This is definitely not HG – all I am ever asked from them is my annual subscription to the Institute which is £90. And I can leave whenever I choose and think and write whatever I like.

    You talk about needs and you are right that there is nothing wrong with sadness. In fact it is our emotions that are our greatest communicators. And like you I am not entirely happy about how HG talks of needs. For me being in control of your emotions sufficiently to be able to read them so that you make a decision or take an action and then (and this is the crucial bit) take responsibility for the outcome. I think that from your reply to me, that you feel the same? Action and needs getting met for work and relationships is the crucial thing for most people. And that is very HG – rooted and grounded.

    I have not talked of spirituality and I suppose that this reflects my lack of empathy with this right now in my life. Your quest and yearning has to find expression in right action I would say and not get lost in too much rumination. That prayer stills the mind as you connect to something deeper and this then energises you. And it must be that the organisation or structure that you belong to does not get in the way. That is compassionate. Would you agree with that I wonder?

    Good talking to you

  • Hi Katharine, I saw you breifly at 6.20 this morning (15-05) on BBC Breakfast. It was refreshing to hear some one talk openly about depression. I have suffered for yrs beginning with working nights I got SAD from not seeing daylight. But more recently these last 18 months have seen my world fall apart, a break upn, lost my job, and then being denied to see my daughter who was born last september.

    I too planned suicide on a number of occasions or just walking away, but thro faith, family and friends I am a lot bettter but still depressed deep down as I battle to see my daughter.

    I was discriminated by the ESA and JSA during my period off unemployment.

    Keep up your great work and please do contact me, it would be great to share more details about this woth you If it could help.

    God bless all you do

    Peter Kirby

  • Katharine, after seeing your piece this morning on the BBC News website, I’ve looked around the Internet and though there’s organisations that do tremendous work with young people suffering depression the majority seem to concentrate on counselling. Counselling is essential but outside of it, people suffering with depression need a creative path. I suffered with depression for years but found creating a business and two charities which are business creators has made me a lot happier and fulfilled. The charities have (in more cases than not) guided young people into starting their own businesses and created employment. The latter charity has done the same for another community of people. There’s a model somewhere in my mind where churches who are often at the heart of their communities, foster and encourage enterprises for the common good.

  • Very moved by your bit on BBC Breakfast – I have helped support many friends with Mental Health issues and visited some of them under section. We will be remembering you in prayer in chapel on Sunday – hang on in there!

  • Hi Katherine
    Thank you, your film on BBC Breakfast has made understanding my own depression that little bit easier for my Dad, he called me to tell me about your film and told me that one day people will be open and talk opening about having depression like they do with cancer now.
    My Dad the only other real support for me other than the Dr’s who treat me for depression. For friends and family it is an overwhelming and frightening illness for them, making the isolation of depression compound. Keep talking about it Katherine.

  • Hi Katharine. I watched the BBC feature on your story a couple of nights ago in Asia. Just want to share this with you – I found a book by Dr D Martyn-Lloyd Jones (written some time ago) entitled “Spiritual Depression”. It may be out of print but perhaps some of the shops in UK which carry old books may have this. It may be helpful – I hope so as I am also finding myself helped by what I have read so far. Just wanted to share this resource. God bless you.

  • I have commented before on this thread and have been moved to do so again, having read the heartfelt and heartrending comments of Alexandra and lee emma and Peter Darren and Richard. All have either suffered from depression or have seen loved ones who have. It is so easy therefore to conclude that depression is an illness and recovery is hard.

    But what if that was just plain wrong. That depression was not an illness but the natural response to a brain that was locked in more and more exhaustion. And that recovery for most sufferers was not too difficult. Imagine how wonderful that would be but also so very disconcerting.
    I have a new blog which makes this argument http://depression-help-blog.feelbetter-counselling-eastlondon.com/

    Do look at it

  • Hi Katherine, love your blog. I was just wondering if you would be up for an interview in iBelieve magazine. I couldn’t find contact details so excuse me posting here. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • Katharine, I saw your piece on BBC Breakfast. Thank you for speaking openly on a subject that some of us other sufferers are unable to discuss in such an articulate way. Depression is a lonely illness, in my experience.

  • Hi Katharine, I recently saw your interview for the BBC and I just wanted to say thank you for doing it because it was really helpful to me, to hear you express things that are part of my life. I really appreciate it.

  • Hi Katharine,

    I heard you speak at St Barnabus church last Friday during Epsom mental health week and was totally blown away by your bravery and honesty. I understand what you said about being overwhelmed by everyone else’s pain and misery when your blog and twitter we’re picked up by the press so I will keep it short. I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 15 yrs old. Unfortunately the psychiatrist at CAMHS prescribed me Seroxat, a drug which is now illegal to give to children. I am sure you have seen the tv programs and press coverage on Seroxat. It was discovered years later by Dr Healey that it made patients more suicidal and aggressive and the withdrawal was worse than coming off heroin. So I understand your cynicism with regards to doctors. My symptoms therefore got worse and worse and I made two serious attempts on my life between the ages of 19 and 20 and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

    The good news is I am now 31 and married to a wonderful man called Ross. Congratulations on your recent engagement. Meeting Ross when I was 23 was a turning point in my recovery. I wish you and Mike all the luck in the world. My condition is chronic, but it is one I have learnt to manage through exercise, reading, yoga, meditation and lots of sleep. I am a qualified occupational therapist but unfortunately I had a very similar experience that you had with the police working in nhs. It makes me so angry that the nhs advertises themselves a positive employer of people with mental health problems.

    Anyway as you well know society has a long way to go with regards to how it treats people with mental health difficulties. Good luck with everything. I think what you are doing is so important. I too have a blog, a food blog called surreyKitchen.wordpress.com because cooking is my meditation now.

    All the best

    Emma xx

  • We always assume devotions should be mediated via language. Being ‘Language Challenged’ myself I’ve worked out a non-language devotional time. Surely we can be open minded enough to work out ways to engage with God in ways that are special to us and our abilities.

  • I came across your blog by accident today, I believe a link from /r/Christianity. I couldnt stop reading it. It was like you were specifically talking to me and the struggles I have with depression and my messed up head. Most times, I feel like I’m losing my mind because of the constant internal conflicts. I can completely relate to the issues you have and the questions you raise. I just cant get things sorted out. I love that you raise questions that most churches and “religious” people are too afraid to deal with. That I’m too afraid to ask other Christians, in fear of how they’ll look at me…..as an outcast or unbeliever. How dare I have any doubts. I’ve been struggling with these feelings for so long I dont even know If I can change but reading your posts have given me a glimmer of hope. I dont really know what I’m trying to say, but I enjoy your writings and I’m glad I stumbled upon your site. Thanks.

  • Katherine – I am the Diocesan Youth Officer for St Albans Diocese and I wondered how I could get in touch with you about a possible speaking engagement at an event we’re holding in St Albans Cathedral in October.

  • Hi there,

    I’d like to say thank you for your writing – I am also a Christian in my mid-twenties, with recurrent depression. It’s refreshing to read something that feels as though someone else has walked through this too. It can be so very isolating, and so often there are so many unanswered questions. I hope you are doing well and look forward to reading more here and on twitter. With love, Charlotte.

  • Father, I give thanks for the huge purpose you have given Katharine. Thank you for the way in which she shares so honestlly and openly; the way in which so many of us feel either unable or inadequate. Thank you for the way, in which through you, she is touching hearts of many who are crippled and debilitated by this horrid illness. Please bless her, bring her healing and may she continue to touch many more who like me think ‘I am the only one’. Thank you Father for Katharine. May she realise how valuable she is by the comfort and reassurance she brings to so many. In your precious Name, Amen.

  • I came across your blog from an article I just read on the Daily Mail. I have read a couple recent entries and it was really overwhelming that a stranger has put into words how exactly how I feel and also comforting to know I am not alone. It was really emotional and put me on the verge of tears.

    I look forward to reading more entries when I’m not at work.

  • Hi Katharine I hugely respect and admire your openness regarding your experience of depression. You see so clearly that depression and mental illness isn’t just a personal phenomena. Mental illnesses or dis-eases are also natural responses of having to live within systems that place humanitarian well being as secondary to fiscal growth at any cost. It’s such a vast topic, but I think being brought up with a strong religious belief that we are ‘guilty sinners’ rather than evolving souls/beings who are growing, sets up a horrible mental tension within. Being the daughter of a rector and granddaughter of a bishop, this has was my experience,anyway! Nowadays I honour the underlying values of Christianity, but don’t feel I need to go to a church to develop spiritually. Thanks again for sharing and helping break the unhelpful taboos surrounding depression.

  • I’d love to know if you compare the EU to say, yodelling hippopotami conglomerating to address a stay/leave referendum 🙂

  • Hi Katherine,
    Thanks for sharing. We are missionaries living and working in outside the UK. 4 yrs old we were literally dumped by our sending church and have lived a nightmare ever since. I live with chronic fatigue, depression and chronic pain. We are still expected to minister and we do. Unfortunately for us, there is no “support” network” just us. Last time I shared my struggles with a friend in ministry I got called everything from faithless, to an emotionally sick sinner. He then when on to write a 6 part series on his blog about “emotionally sick Christians” and how they were faithless and most probably “not really saved”. Writing about my situation(without my name thankfully) in detail as his prime example. That said, I am hoping and praying there is someone out there in the “church system” who can help the church start to see these things differently.

    • Hi, I’m sorry to hear your journey! Some people have an ‘interesting’ idea of faith and love, to put it mildly. Sorry I took so long to get back to you. I was locked out of my site.

  • Catherine , I heard you today on premier radio, talking about how hard you find. It to love yourself, I cried all my life I’ve struggled with this, I be always gone to a church, maybe having occasional breaks, I never feel I match up as a Christian, I know I struggle with depression and anxiety. Which hasbeen worse since my daughter took her own life five years ago. I hope you won’t be burdened by my message. You have given me hope.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so sorry for your experience. It is so hard and you have my sympathy and prayers. I am not burdened, and I am glad that I, in a tiny way, have been able to offer some hope. Thanks for commenting, encouragement is always gratefully received. x

  • Hi Katharine.

    Saw you on TV this morning and was so pleased to hear that you are now married and have a little boy. I am sure you will treasure the wonderful gift that you have been given. It was wonderful to see you looking so well and positive. As I like cake, that is as good a reason to go out and find your book. Please remember me to your parents, Tim and Peter. Remember, ‘if it’s to be it’s up to me’ and success comes in cans not can’t’

    • Wow! Mr Savage! What a blast from the past! I will certainly say hi to everyone from you. And thanks for the encouragement, always appreciated!

  • Hi Katharine – I’m currently reading your book I Thought There Would Be Cake and am finding it very interesting. I’ve had depression and anxiety for the best part of 20 years and many of the issues you raise I can relate to especially those involving inner conflict etc. You write very clearly about these issues and I am sure they are more common than people realise. Thanks for sharing your insights and your experiences it is a very brave and generous thing to do.

  • Just heard you on r2….what a refreshing voice you have in this world…
    Many congratulations on your journey it’s a beautiful one and one of great encouragement, intelligence and truth.
    It is voices of understanding and pragmatism like yours that will help people come to terms with who we are in all our imperfections.

  • Hi Katherine

    I’ve live with mental illness sinc a child as young as 3 ! I’m now 55 ! I function but feel I live in a Constant dream and often wonder whether I’m part of someone else’s nightmare ! I think I shut down during my school years as a result of constant bullying ! As I say I live a normal life and have 2 grown up girls . I found your talk on BBC radio 2 very inspiring ! The only person that understood me fully was my mum in whom I’ve lived without for 25 years

  • Really appreciated your book and it resonated on so many levels; thank you. Anxiety and depression are my twin impostors. I am trying to gently encourage my church to be a place where there is no stigma surrounding mental health and have referred to your book in a recent blog. Once again many, many thanks.

  • Probably a really stupid question … but how do i subscribe to your blog? I have looked on your pages and can’t find a subscribe here box anywhere.
    Many thanks

    • Sorry, I have hidden from my blog for a while… I need to work that out because at the moment you can’t and I am about to start writing it more again! Sorry for the delay…

  • I trust that you read The Masks of Melancholoy by Dr John White who was an Associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba in Canada
    He continued John Wimbers work after John Wimber passed away. He has written a considerable number of other books such as the fight. The Shattered Image When the Spirit comes with Power, The Race, etc. Then there is Manic Depression and Schizophrenia The Nutrition Connection by Dr Carl C Piefier where the writer speaks about nutrition being very important for us to be healthy.

  • Do you visit health stores? We have a health store called Natures Way which is at Ballyhackamore in Belfast. There is a free health magazine available there which offers good advice for daily living. I find that it’s worth reading. I hope you appreciate nature. We as a family belong to the WWT whch is the Wild Fowl and Wetlands Trust. God can be seen in nature as we observe nature interacting with itself!

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