More than 15 million adults and their immediate families in America today must cope with a patient suffering from severe mental illness. In too many cases, these families cannot or do not know how to get help for their loved ones. SANDY’S GIFT WALKING WITH THE LIGHT (Cedar Forge, 2017, softcover) by William P. Dunn IV is an intimate and shocking true story that tells of the tragic plight of Sandra Dunn, a mother and loving wife whose life takes a tragic turn when she suddenly falls victim to severe mental illness; how the healthcare profession and the law prevented her from getting the treatment she needed; how it destroyed her family and nearly got them killed. By sharing his story, Dunn hopes that people will have a better understanding of the ravages of mental illness and know how to cope with them better.
Sandys Gift Walking With The Light
Book Title: Sandy’s Gift: Walking With the Light by William P. Dunn IV
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 316 pages
Genre: Memoir / Spiritual / Psychology
Publisher: Cedar Forge
Release date: February 14, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (This book is rated PG+M because of mature subject / mental illness. No obscenity or sex.)
Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads
William P. Dunn IV worked on Wall Street in the U.S. Government bond market where he worked his way up from the back office to the trading desks. After twenty years on Wall Street, he became a financial advisor in northern New Jersey. He continues to work as an investment advisor. He is a graduate of Thiel College where he earned a dual degree in Economics and Business Administration. Today he lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and is a proud grandfather.
My review: 3.5/5
I think that one of the hardest struggles for a family to face is to see their loved one’s mental health deteriorate. This is especially hard on spouses who gradually watch their partner morph into another person and must stand by and watch helplessly. In sharing the story of his own family, William Dunn has allowed us to get a close insight into just how hard that can be.
This is a hard story to write and the author’s seems to struggle a bit to give facts and yet make it personal. However, the style doesn’t take away from the essence of the story.
Dunn shares how they met and married and began a life together, started a young family with two daughters, and then gradually he began to admit to the fact that all was not well with his wife. How he struggled to keep it all together, working, looking after his wife and raising his young daughters, is very moving.
What is heartbreaking is how author had to fight the mental health system, who turned down his request for residential care for Sandy. The court ruled that she should get care at home. However, the home care service did not follow through. That the people who need care are not supported by the system in America, even in these modern times is rather shocking. The book does well to bring attention to the drawbacks in the system, so that action can be taken that more families do not have to face similar difficulties and patients not get the care they deserve.
Sometimes I think we love to hold on to our pain. Perhaps, it’s something that makes us comfortable. Or maybe it’s something that gets us attention. Or the pain is such a part of us, that we can’t imagine life without it. Holding on to it, while we should let go of heartache.
And when I speak of heartache, I don’t mean something caused by loss of romantic love. Many relationships cause us heartache.
Let Go of Heartache
I’ve done this. Allowing pain to stop me from being happy. Allowing it to hold me back from following my dreams. Wanting so badly to make the pain go away, and yet not really taking that one step of letting. Of cutting off from the person who causes us pain.
We want to make him love us. We run after her and it only increases the pain. We tie ourselves to these people or attempt to tie them to us. Desperate. Hopeless. A wife holds on to her abusive husband. A man holds on to a girlfriend who tells him she doesn’t love him. A daughter holds on to her mother who disrespects her, hoping someday to win her approval….. We’re not ready to move from the loss of a loved on. Not ready to dare to look for love again….
Just the other day, Carol Cassara shared a quote on Instagram that spoke to me very deeply.
“You’ve got to learn to leave the table
When love’s no longer being served”.”
― Nina Simone
Strong words. And true. But so difficult to follow. Our mind plays all sorts of tricks on us. We feed it with all sorts of stuff about loyalty and how noble we are to hold on. Perhaps, it’s not loyalty but comfort. It’s not love, but need.
Difficult questions. But the kind we need to ask ourselves from time to time.
Here’s one of Osho’s stories which talks about how our mind can sometimes hold us captive.
Junaid was going through the market-place of the town with his disciples. And it was his way to take any situation and use it. A man was dragging his cow by a rope, and Junaid said ’Wait’ to the man, and told his disciples ’Surround this man and the cow. I am going to teach you something.’
The man stopped – Junaid was a famous mystic – and he was also interested in what he was going to teach these disciples and how he was going to use him and the cow. And Junaid asked his disciples ’I ask you one thing: who is bound to whom? Is the cow bound to this man or is this man bound to this cow?’ Of course, the disciples said ’The cow is bound to the man. The man is the master, he is holding the rope, the cow has to follow him wherever he goes. He is the master and the cow is the slave.’
And Junaid said ’Now, see.’ He took out his scissors and cut the rope – and the cow escaped.
The man ran after the cow, and Junaid said ’Now look what is happening! Now you see who is the master; the cow is not interested at all in this man – in fact, she is escaping.’ And the man was very angry, he said ’What kind of experiment is this?’ But Junaid said to his disciples ’And this is the case with your mind.
All the nonsense that you are carrying inside is not interested in you. You are interested in it, you are keeping it together somehow – you are becoming mad in keeping it together somehow. But you are interested in it. The moment you lose interest, the moment you understand the futility of it, it will start disappearing; like the cow it will escape.’ – The Sun Rises in the Evening, by Osho
Let go of heartache. You can do it. I know, I did.
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Anyone who knows me knows how crazy I am about dogs. I’ve often written about the difference Pablo makes to our lives. Dogs have so much compassion and are such a healing influence. When Sage Adderley asked me if I’d like to join this book tour, there was really no question that I would.
Further Than Yesterday: That’s All That Counts
By Medric “Cous” Cousineau, SC, CD
Invictus Maneo Publishing
A high-functioning, Royal Military College graduate becomes a naval aviator in a high stress career. What grips him and pushes him to the very brink of despair, so close that he almost steps off into a black abyss that is terminally irreversible?
Further Than Yesterday, is the first hand account that answers that question. The story chronicles of a journey of hope that delivers a unique perspective of the battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) including the devastating effects of Institutional Betrayal by the Armed Forces. The desperate suicidal aviator is saved by an unlikely partner, Thai, a service dog trained to intervene in PTSD.
Captain (Ret.) Cousineau’s story starts out following a young officer’s career that showed great promise before quickly turning into a sojourn in a personal hell that threatens his life, his marriage and his family after a perilous, daring high seas rescue. For the rescue, Cousineau became the first RMC graduate to be awarded the Star of Courage.
With stark candor, the first person account follows not only his struggles to deal with a devastating injury and the complexity of addictions, but parallels the evolution of a misunderstood injury that has become the scourge of modern militaries and the societies that they protect.
Decades in hell are replaced with a new outlook and a burning desire to help others obtain help through the acquisition of highly trained specialized service dogs to help veterans combat PTSD. The challenges of PTSD and the horrific effects on a family left Cousineau in a position where he needed outside help to secure the greatest aid to his recovery and re-integration with his family. Paws Fur Thought became his way to give back that which he was so freely and fortunately given.
To fund the Paws Fur Thought Initiative, Thai the Service Dog and Cousineau undertook a grueling Long Walk to Sanity, a thousand and sixty five kilometer march over 50 days, during which he was forced to look deep inside himself and his injury, learning essential information in the process of teaching others about PTSD, the misunderstood mental injury that carries a huge weight of stigma.
Further than Yesterday will challenge the reader to confront their own humanity, and their society’s betrayal of its military veterans. The story is a raw, brutal and poignant journey that confronts head on mental health issues including the “Black Dog” of depression and suicide.
About the author
Cous, a Royal Military College graduate with a degree in English, was injured doing Search and Rescue in 1986, and was awarded the Star of Courage. He has battled PTSD ever since, and in 2012 was paired with his PTSD Service Dog, Thai. As a result, his wife Jocelyn and he co-founded Paws Fur Thought, an initiative that fund raises and advocates to pair other disabled veterans with their Service Dogs. “Further Than Yesterday” is the first volume of a pending trilogy. Cous has been awarded a Mental Health Inspiring Lives award and recognized as the PetLynx Urban Animal Innovator of the Year in 2014. When not busy writing and delivering motivational speeches, Cous can be found reading, traveling, studying history, fishing, listening to music and walking his dog at the beach. Cous also shares the house with his wife, her service dog, several cats and their grown daughter Jennifer when she chooses.
On Facebook: Paws Fur Thought –
On Facebook: Further Than Yesterday –
On Twitter : @pawsfurthought1
Buy on Amazon
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Why Did She Jump : My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder
by Joan E. Childs, LCSW
There is one day in Joan Child’s life that she wishes she could do over: the day her daughter Pam, a brilliant psychotherapist, plunged from a fifteen-story building to her death. But despite the coroner’s report of a suicide, Childs explains why her daughter’s life was taken by the most unforgiving of executioners: bipolar disorder. It was the delusions, not her daughter, who made the final decision.
Why Did She Jump? is an intimate, uncompromising delve into one mother’s search for peace amid the chaos surrounding her daughter’s tragic death, and a masterful recounting of the events leading up to the fateful day, lifting the veil of shame and secrecy to forge a path to understand bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.
Ironically, both Pam and Joan were noted psychotherapists, and yet, even with their credentials and medical knowledge, Pam still could not be saved. In heartrending prose, Joan recounts the vivid memories of Pam’s life—the extreme highs and lows; the many red flags that were missed by well-meaning parents and overburdened medical systems; how her daughter toggled both worlds as a brilliant therapist who healed unreachable patients as she was unraveling herself; and how she fooled everyone into thinking she was stable.
Joan E. Childs has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1978 specializing in change work for human potentiality, personal growth and self actualization. She was chosen to be the first affiliate of the John Bradshaw Center in the United States and is a consultant to many corporations, hospitals, universities and academic institutions. As a resource program presenter specializing in women’s issues, couple and family relationships and personal effectiveness, she has appeared on many radio and television shows and before live audiences. She is the author of The Myth of the Maiden: On Being A Woman which was published by Health Communications and released in July, 1995. Ms. Childs is a Certified Hypnotherapist, EMDR (eye-movement and desensitization processing) specialist, Master level Neuro-linguistic Programmer, Diplomat of Clinical Social Work and Pairs Leader.
My review [rating=4]
Losing your child is a terrible tragedy. Having your daughter choose to take their own life is even worse. Imagine then, if you are a trained psychotherapist and your daughter too is one – and yet you and she are unable to stem the tide of bipolar disorder that takes hold of your daughter’s mind. Eventually, the author’s daughter, Pam took her own life, unable to find her way out of the clutches of this dark mental illness. Tragic, doesn’t begin to describe this.
I marvel at the way Joan Childs channelised her pain to share her journey of healing with the world. Her honesty and insight comes through as she reveals how she coped with Pam’s death both as a mother and a professional. Not allowing the terrible grief that threatened to consume her and her family, the author found a way to forgive herself and her daughter. This brought healing to the family and finally, she was able to let go.
This book will makes for a cathartic read for all who have lost someone so tragically.
I received this book from the published via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Pam’s struggle with her demons had been going on much longer than any of her family, friends, or coworkers realized. Fearing we would make judgments, she suffered mostly in silence because she knew that we would have difficulty accepting and understanding her belief system. As a trained clinical psychologist, Pam knew how preposterous her belief system sounded to others, not unlike some psychotic patients she treated and often referred to psychiatrists for medication.
When she did share her thoughts and beliefs with us, all we could do was try to reason with her, hoping to bring her back to her senses by alleviating her fears. We tried to be sympathetic and supportive, but none of us could fight the demonic force that resided in her mind, dictating the course of her events. Nor could her psychiatrists, numerous psychologists, colleagues, friends, rabbis, priests (both Christian and Muslim), and spiritual healers, including channel psychics, shamans, a Qigong master, as well as a series of fortune-tellers, psychics, and demon chasers in addition to a multitude of psychotropic medications. The demons grew larger in time—invading her dreams, convoluting her thoughts, and sucking her spirit out of her body like a vampire devouring its victim’s life force. This is why I know suicide was not her conscious choice. Rather, it was the manipulation and delusionary demand of the demons that possessed her mind and sentenced her to death. Her destiny was no longer her own. She fell into a trance reinforced by the hallucinations of her psychosis. Like the mythological Persephone (daughter of the Greek goddess Demeter), Pam, too, was abducted into the abyss, but for Pam it was forever.
Day 3 – September Blogging Challenge #septemberchallenge
I hope you are enjoying the challenge so far. ‘Challengers’ please add you link to the linky on my post for the day. Do comment on my post and 2 other posts linked before yours. If you are the first person to link, then visit the previous day’s post and comment on the last 2 blogs linked there.
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If you run out of ideas, you can find plenty here Blog Hops and Writings prompts.
Enjoy writing, connecting and sharing!
When I came to know that Ruth Curran, a wonderfully smart women, I met through a midlife group, had recently published her book, I wrote to her immediately for a chance to share details of her book and interview her here. I’m happy to introduce to you Ruth and her new book, which I hope to review soon.
Description of Being Brain Healthy
The journey to wellness when coming back from a brain injury can be a long one. It is one author Ruth Curran knows well. Faced with myriad cognitive challenges after her own traumatic brain injury resulting from an automobile accident, Curran decided to “turn up the volume” on the things that she loved in order to expedite the healing of her brain. She found ways to work through the discomfort and discouragement that can plague those suffering from traumatic brain injury as well as other conditions, chronic illnesses, and age-related changes that affect cognition and brain health.
In Being Brain Healthy, Curran shares her 18-month path to recovery along with the techniques she used—and continues to use—to amplify her everyday experiences with the goal of maximizing brain health and function. Her book is one of hope, not only for those whose brains have been compromised through injury or illness, but also for anyone who wants to think better and improve their cognitive abilities.
Curran has the unique ability to share her insights on brain health and healing in a manner that makes complex neuroscience matters make sense to even those taking their first frustrating steps toward recovery. Convinced that everyone can build better thinking skills and work their way out of what she calls “the fog” regardless of its cause, Curran shares how she did exactly that and made her entire life more fulfilling.
Being Brain Healthy combines the most cutting-edge research with what works in practice and fits in daily life. Curran helps readers understand how the brain and body work together and how the partnership between the two can be utilized to create a more healthy brain. Curran outlines how the newest science, activities, and exercises can help those with thinking challenges make the most of every day. Her “being” brain healthy methods—and book sections—include Be Active, Be Social, Be Engaged, Be Purposeful, and Be Complicated.
Also included in the book are personal stories from individuals on their process recovering from brain challenges. Their accounts along with insight and information from Curran will inspire readers to amplify their experiences and take their own brain functionality to the next level.
About Ruth Curran
Ruth Curran drew on her experience successfully overcoming a traumatic brain injury suffered in an automobile accident to become an expert on maximizing brain health and function through lifestyle modification and “turning up the noise on life.” Curran is passionate about the connection between the brain and daily functioning and believes everyone—regardless of age or stage of life—has the ability to use neuroplasticity to live a richer, deeper, more fully engaged life. She has created a series of photo-based thinking puzzles, games, and apps that help players work on cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and executive functioning. Curran has a master’s degree in cognitive psychology as well as more than 28 years of experience as a strategist, business development executive, and organizational behaviorist. She shares her insights and proven techniques for amplifying everyday experiences in Being Brain Healthy and at www.craniumcrunches.com/blog.
Ruth, I’m curious to know if you grew up in a home that promoted reading or writing?
My mom was a teacher and preached the value of books, good grammar, and an ample vocabulary. She shared her love of reading with my brother (a recently retired high school English teacher) and me. It seemed as if my mom always had at least three books on her night stand, a newspaper in her lap, and a stack of New Yorkers waiting for her. As I got older, books were my escape. When I was a teenager my aunt got me into reading mysteries. We picked authors (and their detectives) and followed them from start to finish. I waded my way through bogs, pubs, and smoke filled interrogation rooms, and strolled the streets of so many foreign cities courtesy of amazing mystery writers – ones that took me somewhere I had never been and seamlessly planted me right in the middle of daily life. I am always reading something, listening to at least one audio book, and have a stack of publications calling me. I guess I paid attention to my mom!
Have you always wanted to write a book or were you compelled to write this one for personal reasons?
I remember the day that my freshman English teacher, Mrs. Chang, told me I was good writer. I was shocked. My handwriting and spelling were (and still are) horrendous so I was used to pages filled with red marks and comments about the benefits of taking my time and neatness – nothing beyond the surface and certainly nothing about the quality of my writing.
Enter Watergate and Woodward and Bernstein and my passion for writing took another turn. I was going to be a great investigative reporter uncovering the lies and injustices in the world.
Life, as it does, eventually led me in a different direction but every job I had involved some kind of writing. I don’t think I ever saw myself writing a book until recently. This book got in my head a couple years ago and it was not letting go. I started out writing a much expanded version of my blog on brain health, brain healthy lifestyles, and that connection between how we act and how we think. It was good information with great practical, everyday applications but it was not relevant.
After some persistent questions and urging from a dear friend’s husband (who is also a treasured friend but she came first), I got it that I had to tell the story of how I got here and to own the fact that the value of my journey was being lost – especially if I just kept it locked up in a safe in my head. There are moments in our lives that feel safer tucked deeply behind the curtain. I was afraid of again finding myself vulnerable and exposed, and that made me horribly uncomfortable. That piece, just like the practical pieces, became something I needed to get out. My accident and the 18 month journey out of the paper bag that was my life poured out and the rest made sense.
I’m always fascinated about the famous ‘writing space’. Do you have a dedicated writing space?
I guess the song Poppa Was a Rolling Stone applies here: wherever I lay my laptop is my home or, in this case, my writing space. It is that feeling when I place my fingers on the keys – the one that allows my thoughts to connect with the screen – that makes a mobile writing space possible. Since writing has always been a part of every job I’ve had or project I’ve been involved with and many required travel, I had to develop this habit. It got easier over the years and now this whole traveling office feeling is very freeing. I do have favorite spots and favorite parts of the day (see photos).
How do you warm up to write? Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
I really don’t have any pre-writing rituals. Some days I have to push myself to sit down at my laptop but most days, once I do, often I have to be reminded to get up! I hit “grooves” where everything flows – not always good stuff but it flows!
This is a bad question to ask. But do you only write? Or do you have a ‘regular job’?
Cranium Crunches and Brain Based Solutions Inc., both my companies, are my main focus these days. Cranium Crunches is a photo-based interactive puzzle and game website with two blogs and a whole bunch of information about the brain, and it requires new content all the time. I take photos, create puzzles, keep the content fresh, and promote it. Brain Based Solutions Inc. is a vehicle for brands and destinations to promote their products, services, and offerings through customized puzzles and games that feature their photos. Same drill but these puzzles, games, and content are branded for others. I also am working with my husband, a serial entrepreneur/inventor, to find the right market and the most appropriate approach to roll out a small yet powerful wind turbine (fits in a suitcase) that I believe will change the face of medical relief efforts around the world. All keep me incredibly busy and fulfilled!
Ruth, I know you and your husband had a fascinating adventure recently. Please tell us about your recent trip and the purpose?
My husband and I took a trip to Anse la Raye, St. Lucia with Global Volunteers. This is a demonstration project intended to show how providing services essential for brain development in children by working with families through local organizations can raise the IQ of a community. This whole concept fit so well with my approach to brain health and I am a huge proponent of promoting personal brain health by finding and serving a purpose. So, that is why we went. I worked in the Primary School and my husband worked in a last chance school for those 16 to 20. It was an amazing, perspective shifting experience and not at all what we thought we signed up for but oh so good. We walked away with a new understanding of how we fit in the world and how much we, as individuals and together, can really do to change lives.
What are two of the most important things we can do to keep our brains healthy?
Move your body and smile. Your brain will reward you when you feel good and you make efforts to take care of your heart, so do that every single day. Music, laughter, hanging out with those you love, taking walks, challenging your thinking – all those things that make you feel good and accomplished will help you support your brain health. Add in some heart pumping exercise and you take that all to a new level.
Thank you, Ruth. May we all continue to be seek to be brain healthy!
I’m undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
I Will Never Forget: A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia
by Elaine C Periera
Published by iUniverse
ISBN 1475906900 (ISBN13: 9781475906905)
It is extremely difficult to watch a loved one decline as dementia ravages his or her mind, robbing him or her of memory, thinking abilities, and judgment. In her touching memoir, I Will Never Forget, Elaine C. Pereira shares the sometimes heartbreaking and occasionally humorous story of her mother’s journey through dementia, as seen through the eyes of her little girl.
Pereira begins by oﬀering entertaining glimpses into her own childhood and feisty teenage years. Through it all, Pereira shares how her mom’s unconditional love and creative parenting style helped mold an opinionated young woman into a resourceful adult who eventually would move mountains on her mother’s behalf. As Betty Ward slowly begins to wander down the dark and narrow corridors of Alzheimer’s, Pereira details her mother’s amazing ability to mask the truth until something as innocuous as a drapery rod suddenly launches a waterfall of events. As their roles shift and a new paradigm forms, Pereira transforms into a caregiver who blindly navigates dementia’s unpredictable haze while her mother orchestrates Houdini-like disappearances and surprisingly rallies to take charge of her own destiny.
I Will Never Forget shares a powerful, emotional story that can help people aﬀected by dementia take comfort in knowing that they are not alone.
The author shares the impetus for writing the book:
My mother’s is a story that needed to be told. She was a kind, brilliant and talented woman all of my life until Dementia took hold distorting her persona and leaving an agitated, bewildered and compromised person in its wake.
In the shadows of WWII, during an era when very few women attended college, my trailblazing mother earned her Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry and later on acquired a Master’s in Education.
Many years later, though, after experiencing a decade of unspeakable tragedies, Mom began to exhibit uncharacteristic and disconcerting changes in her personality. Episodes of irrational behaviors, paranoia, flashes of hostility and illogical thinking, replaced her formally patient, bright, organized and articulate essence.
In what would be her final months, as my mother continued her rapid descent into Dementia’s clutches, her once strong voice faded away. Our quiet visits together afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the vivacious life that defined her. I was determined that she would not be remembered as a withering mumbling older woman but as the strong, courageous and gifted lady who was my mom.
I am humbled and honored to have been able to give back to the woman who gave so much and blessed to have many great friends and family who supported me in my endeavor to write I Will Never Forget.
And another excerpt:
I envisioned dementia as a smoldering fire, its smoke whirling up and down, in and out, around and through Mom’s brain. It would choke her orientation to time, cloud her vision or pretzel-twist her gray matter. It always lay in wait, concealed in the crevices of her short-term memory centers, fogging judgment, reasoning, and logic. For a while, it would remain dormant, having already ravaged parts of her mind permanently until, like wildfires, something sparked it to flare up, engulfing and consuming its insatiable appetite for brain cells.
Mom would never get better. All I could do was be there for every step of her journey through hell and pray that was enough. She deserved better; everyone did. She deserved to go out with her boots on, not have her mind chipped and chiseled away piece by piece.
About the author
Elaine Pereira retired in June 2010 as a school Occupational Therapist where she worked with special needs children. She lives in southeastern Michigan with her husband, Joe. Between them, they have five children — Joe has three sons and Elaine has twin daughters-and soon-to-be five grandchildren. Elaine has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Wayne State University. Elaine is the author of I Will Never Forget and she was inspired to tell her mother’s incredible story in part to help other caregivers coping with memory loss issues in their loved ones.
Having watched, from a distance, friends and family who have suffered from the what Alzheimer’s does not just to their loved ones but to the entire family, I was keen to get an insider’s view. Elaine’s story is told in a warm and personal way, allowing the readers to see Betty Ward, her mother, for what she was before the illness struck and later as her mind was taken over by Alzheimer’s. This makes the story even more poignant.
Although each patient and situation is different, Elaine’s lucid style of writing and her honesty about her mother’s journey and her own role as a caregiver, makes this book a great read for those who have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and anyone who wants to know more and spread awareness about dementia and dementia related diseases.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.