More ways to win over depression

Sheila was Walsh an accomplished singer when she became co-host of The 700 Club. She seemed to be at the peak of her career publicly but privately she was careening downward. One evening she left the studio on the verge of suicide and checked into a mental hospital .

In another post I told you about depression from the viewpoint of blogger Darren Rowse of ProBlogger,com. He shared how he has dealt with depression, steps that I endorse and recommend to my patients. In this post I talk about another public person who has depression and uses her insights to help others.

Sheila Walsh-singer, speaker, author

Sheila was an accomplished singer when she became co-host of The 700 Club. She seemed to be at the peak of her career publicly but privately she was careening downward. One evening she left the studio on the verge of suicide and checked into a mental hospital .

Since then she has lived with depression but not under the weight of depressive feelings.

” After entering the hospital, Sheila went through therapy and evaluation. Along the way, she discovered things about herself that were harmful. For example, when she was unable or unwilling to deal with what was true about her life, she buried it.

“You can try for years to deny the things that are tearing at your soul, but they will not go away. They thrive in the shadowlands, and if you don’t deal with them, they will one day deal with you.”

Sheila

Her doctor determined that she was severely clinically depressed. She had all the classic signs:

  • insomnia,
  • loss of memory,
  • loss of appetite,
  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness,
  • loss of emotional control, and
  • an unbearable sadness.

Sheila’s doctor helped her understand that mental illness is a reality, a treatable reality, and there is no shame there. Through prayer, reading the Bible, therapy, and medication Sheila began to manage her depression. At the end of thirty days, Sheila left the hospital and returned to CBN to say goodbye. ”

from CBN.com

Sheila’s top 4 tips

In a radio interview with Jenny Dean Schmidt of Channel Mom, Sheila lists 4 things that help her deal with depression.

  • walking her dogs
  • listening to worship music
  • sleeping well
  • staying in touch with trusted friends who “know all about me”

“a kind supportive boss”

In this interview with her former boss, Pat Robertson, Sheila explains how his kind and caring support, medication, and her faith helped her overcome depression .

These are all similar to things Darren mentioned in his article- exercise (walking), getting a dog, telling friends and family, medication, and prayer/meditation.

(This post contains affiliate links which, by paying a commission if used for a purchase, help fund this blog. )

How Sheila was “Loved Back to Life”

In this book, Sheila tells her story of her recovery from depression.

Sheila’s “Unexpected Grace”

I enjoyed Sheila’s story about supporting her mother-in-law through a cancer diagnosis.

Unexpected Grace is a tender account of the relationship between a mother and daughter-in-law and how they discovered extravagant grace in the midst of what could have been the most tragic experience of their lives. Their story will encourage you and help you see how God can bring good out of even the bleakest circumstances. “

Sheila Walsh

available on Kindle Unlimited and Audible

I hope you enjoy listening to Sheila sing You Raise Me Up

If you haven’t read it already, please read my post about how Darren Rowse manages to control his depression.

How to relieve depression in 11 simple steps

If you are depressed and thinking about or planning suicide, please stop and call this number now-

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

watercress words-exploring the HEART of freedom from depression

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

How to relieve depression in 11 simple steps

Not everyone needs antidepressant medication, but when they do, it can make a dramatic difference. Medication needs adequate time and dosage to be effective, and once that is reached should be continued long enough for the depression to stay in remission.

When I started this blog I knew nothing about blogging so I looked for resources to help. One of the best I found was the ProBlogger Podcast by Darren Rowse- and it is free.

(This post uses several affiliate links to Darren’s website and other affiliates-these are ways for you to support this blog at no cost to you. )

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. He is active on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

I loved listening to his Australian accent (which I rarely hear living in Oklahoma), appreciated his easy to understand instructions, and connected with his genuinely friendly attitude.

First, mid-life crisis

In 2018 Darren extended his influence through a Facebook group called Find Your Spark, which is for

people who have the common goal of finding their spark in life.

Darren Rowse


That year Darren wrote an article for Medium explaining how he was experiencing a mid-life crisis. The Facebook group started as a place for people who read Darren’s ‘sparks article’ and wanted to take part in the resulting 30-day challenge. Now anyone is invited to join the group.

Then, depression

Early in 2019, Darren shared in the group that he had been dealing with depression several months before. By that time he was doing better, and after receiving much positive feedback in the group he wrote another article for Medium explaining what had helped him manage the depression.

I appreciate the first thing he said was “I am not a doctor so I am not giving advice.” But he thought what helped him might help others, and since I am a doctor and I agree that these things are helpful, I am going to share them with you and add my thoughts on each. Of course, if you want to go straight to Darren’s article, that’s fine too. Here is the link-

11 Things That Have Helped Me With Depression

1. Talking to my Doctor

Not everyone with depression needs to see a psychiatrist; there may not even be one near where you live. Family physicians receive extensive training in depressed mood, as well as the physical problems that can precipitate or result from depression, like sleep problems, weight gain or loss, chronic pain, and fatigue.

2. Medication

Not everyone needs antidepressant medication, but when they do, it can make a dramatic difference. Medication needs adequate time and dosage to be effective, and once that is reached should be continued long enough for the depression to stay in remission.

3. Exercise.

I routinely recommend that depressed persons exercise; actually, I recommend it to everyone. Done properly, it almost never causes a problem, and is known to improve depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.

Here’s a post that offers you some motivation to move more with confidence and purpose.

4. Getting a dog

Probably any type of animal contact helps lift one’s mood. I found this true myself this summer when my husband was recuperating from an ankle fracture. Since he was non-weight bearing in a cast, he was confined to home except trips to the doctor so I stayed home with him other than work. During this time, we took care of a friend’s cat while he was out of town. We had not had an animal in our home in a long time but we quickly bonded with the kitty and found her entertaining and calming. Her presence took our minds off the pain and uncertainty about my husband’s injury.

In this post I explained how animals can help people heal .

People Whisperers

5. Telling friends and family

I agree with this as long as those friends and family are supportive. I would start with those closest, who probably already realize something is wrong. You do not need people who will blame you for your depression, tell you to “just snap out of it”, or advise unsound treatments.

6.Improving my diet

Like exercise, this one is universal. Even people who aren’t depressed can benefit from eating more plant based whole foods, like the ones I discussed in this previous post.

7. Journalling

Whether you call it a diary, journal, or blog, expressing ourselves in writing can be therapeutic. Or for some people it may be another form of writing, like poetry, essays, short stories. Other forms of expression like the visual and performing arts, photography, crafting, sewing, and needlework can be soothing, calming, and satisfying.

Digital Photography School Resources : Photo Nuts and Shots

8. Reading

Obviously, you’re a reader, although you may not be doing it to treat depression. I think this can help 2 ways.

First, by reading books and other media specifically about depression to learn more about its causes and treatment.

Second, by providing an outlet for fun, humor, reflection, learning, thinking, growing- all of which can deflect depressive thoughts and attitudes.

Come Read with me-Tyndale Rewards.com
Reader Rewards Club

9. Creating new projects

Much of this I alluded to in #7, but consider taking on new work projects, community activities, and family events. People with depression often feel overwhelmed, so don’t rush this one, so as not to aggravate those feelings.

Digital Photography School Resources

10. Volunteering

Depressed people often feel isolated and lonely and may avoid other people. Volunteering can make it easier to connect-unlike social events, volunteering usually has a set agenda so you know what you’re going to do and even say. That can take the pressure off trying to make small talk and be sociable when you don’t yet feel so. Sharing with others who need our help makes our own problems seem less intense.

Your community likely offers numerous opportunities to volunteer. Also check out this list for other opportunities to get involved in helping others.

Sharing the HEART of health

11. Prayer/meditation

Sometimes it has become almost a cliche to say to someone who is hurting, “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” But I think if we say that, we should mean it. Sometimes it can be hard to pray for oneself or to ask others for prayer, it may seem selfish or weak.

But prayer is an integral part of most faith traditions that I know of; Christians are encouraged to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Thinking and meditating on scripture and other words of “faith, hope, and love” can counteract the negative thinking that usually drives depression.

You’re not alone.

Darren and I want to assure you there is hope for depression and you do not have to suffer alone. Start with your doctor and check out any other resources in your community and on-line. As Darren said at the end of his article,

if you know someone with depression who needs to read this — please pass it on.

Dealing with suicidal thoughts

Depression sometimes leads to suicidal thoughts, which may progress to plans, attempts, and loss of life. In a future post I’ll share how one well known woman faced and survived suicide. Read more now in this article by psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Welby

Suicidal thoughts and suicide prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

watercress words- exploring the HEART of mental health

In an upcoming post, I’ll share about a woman entertainer and author who also confronted depression and won.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Max Lucado helps you discover a plan for a life filled with joy with the How Happiness Happens Pre-Order Promotion at Cokesbury. Valid 8/1-9/16. Shop Now!

Revisiting Hemingway’s homes

This past summer my husband and I visited Michigan for the first time and stayed in a charming little town, Boyne City.

While visiting friends there, we learned that Ernest Hemingway’s family owned a cottage on near-by Walloon Lake. Unlike his home in Key West Florida, the Michigan property is a private home and in recent years was purchased and renovated into a beautiful modern structure which still preserves the spirit of the original home, where Ernest’s mother Grace lived. Here is a link to an article about the new house with photos that show how beautifully the new owner has honored the Hemingway family.

New Home on Walloon Lake

Working with local builders, the new owners “set out to modernize the cottage while making every attempt to take it back visually to the early 20th century, when Grace Hemingway summered here—and her son Ernest would row over from Windemere, the family cottage across Walloon Lake to work on the farm.

For recreation, he’d hike down Sumner Road to the tiny hamlet of Horton Bay where he became friends with the Dilworth family. Hemingway readers will remember the Dilworths from the Nick Adams stories that Hemingway penned in Paris where he and his new wife, Hadley, moved after their wedding in Horton Bay. And after they’d spent their first night as newlyweds in Grace Cottage. ” (from the article by Lissa Edwards)

a marina on Walloon Lake

The discovery was interesting none the less, and we understand why his family enjoyed living in the area. The towns are old and historic, the architecture quaint , the landscaping beautifully tended, and the lakes and boats beckon even land lubbers like us. Here are a few photos from this recent trip, followed by a past post where I explain what I learned from visiting Hemingway’s Key West home.

Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity

Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his popular novels, including To Have and Have Not, in the study of his Key West Florida home.

The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved as it was when he and his wife Pauline lived there and is open to visitors, like myself, when I visited there a couple of years ago.

the study of Ernest Hemingway, with a cat sleeping on the floor

Chaos

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway displayed mood swings and abused drugs and alcohol. Despite numerous psychiatric hospital stays where he was treated with ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, he struggled with chronic depression.

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961.

CATWALK

Creativity

While dealing with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries, he continued to write prolifically and successfully, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea.

photos of Ernest Hemingway displayed at his Key West home

He wrote acclaimed novels, several of which became major movies. His personal life was not so successful; three of his four marriages ended in divorce.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels and movies 

(an affiliate link, if you use it, at no additional cost, this blog will earn funding.)

The challenge of mental illness

Mental illness often runs in families. Ernest’s father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, a gynecologist, suffered from manic-depression and died by suicide.  Ernest and his siblings likely inherited it from their father.

2016-06-16 10.05.16

Sadly, it did not end with him. His granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, a fashion model and actress, dealt with depression, alcoholism, and bulimia.

She died from an apparent intentional drug overdose at age 42.

Her sister Mariel reflected on her family’s troubled history in

Finding My Balance 

Finding My Balance

“A lonely life”

SOLITARYWRITER

Ernest Hemingway could not attend the ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize. He wrote a short speech which was read by John C. Cabot, the Ambassador to Sweden. In that speech he wrote, 

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

HEMINGWAY'S STUDY-CHAOS AND CREATIVITY

Hemingway’s cats

At least 40 to 50 cats live on the grounds of the Hemingway House;  many of them are descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats. They live peaceful, serene lives, far different from the people who lived there long ago.

What you should know about suicide from the NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States.
  • People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems.
  • Suicide may occur with  serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.
  • People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men.
  • Women  and teens report more suicide attempts.
  • Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.
  • If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously.
  • Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is available 24/7.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby says this about managing bipolar disorder(a form of chronic depression).

“A key to managing bipolar disorder is to recognize early relapse warning signs. Medication will minimize, but not eliminate, mood swings for many people coping with bipolar disorder. “

On her blog she offers offers these Keys to Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Understanding mental illness

I hope you will use the following links to resources to help you, your family, or anyone you know who does or may suffer from mental illness. There is help and most importantly, there is hope.

Warning signs of mental illness

“Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear “out of the blue.” Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that “something is not quite right” about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.”

Technology and the future of mental health treatment

“Excitement about the huge range of opportunities has led to a burst of app development. There are thousands of mental health apps available in iTunes and Android app stores, and the number is growing every year. However, this new technology frontier includes a lot of uncertainty. There is very little industry regulation and very little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.” (affiliate link used)

Suicide prevention

“The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just go away on their own. “

sharing the HEART of health

Thanks for joining me to tour the unique home of Ernest Hemingway, using photos I took myself.

Please consider helping support this blog by using my affiliates. You’ll find links in the side bars, on the home page, and on the resource page.

Thank you for following  and sharing Watercress Words.

always exploring the HEART of health ,  Dr. Aletha 

man and woman with Key West visitor sign
My husband and I upon arriving in Key West, Florida the farthest south city in the U.S.A.

Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his popular novels, including To Have and Have Not, in the study of his Key West Florida home.

The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved as it was when he and his wife Pauline lived there and is open to visitors, like myself, when I visited there a couple of years ago.

the study of Ernest Hemingway, with a cat sleeping on the floor

Chaos

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway displayed mood swings and abused drugs and alcohol. Despite numerous psychiatric hospital stays where he was treated with ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, he struggled with chronic depression.

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961.

CATWALK

Creativity

While dealing with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries, he continued to write prolifically and successfully, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea.

photos of Ernest Hemingway displayed at his Key West home

He wrote acclaimed novels, several of which became major movies. His personal life was not so successful; three of his four marriages ended in divorce.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels and movies 

(an affiliate link, if you use it, at no additional cost, this blog will earn funding.)

The challenge of mental illness

Mental illness often runs in families. Ernest’s father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, a gynecologist, suffered from manic-depression and died by suicide.  Ernest and his siblings likely inherited it from their father.

2016-06-16 10.05.16

Sadly, it did not end with him. His granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, a fashion model and actress, dealt with depression, alcoholism, and bulimia.

She died from an apparent intentional drug overdose at age 42.

Her sister Mariel reflected on her family’s troubled history in

Finding My Balance 

Finding My Balance

 

 

 

“A lonely life”

Ernest Hemingway could not attend the ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize. He wrote a short speech which was read by John C. Cabot, the Ambassador to Sweden. In that speech he wrote, SOLITARYWRITER

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

HEMINGWAY'S STUDY-CHAOS AND CREATIVITY

Hemingway’s cats

At least 40 to 50 cats live on the grounds of the Hemingway House;  many of them are descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats. They live peaceful, serene lives, far different from the people who lived there long ago.

What you should know about suicide from the NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States.
  • People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems.
  • Suicide may occur with  serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.
  • People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men.
  • Women  and teens report more suicide attempts.
  • Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.
  • If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously.
  • Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is available 24/7.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby says this about managing bipolar disorder(a form of chronic depression).

“A key to managing bipolar disorder is to recognize early relapse warning signs. Medication will minimize, but not eliminate, mood swings for many people coping with bipolar disorder. “

On her blog she offers offers these Keys to Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Understanding mental illness

I hope you will use the following links to resources to help you, your family, or anyone you know who does or may suffer from mental illness. There is help and most importantly, there is hope.

Warning signs of mental illness

“Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear “out of the blue.” Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that “something is not quite right” about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.”

Technology and the future of mental health treatment

“Excitement about the huge range of opportunities has led to a burst of app development. There are thousands of mental health apps available in iTunes and Android app stores, and the number is growing every year. However, this new technology frontier includes a lot of uncertainty. There is very little industry regulation and very little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.” (affiliate link used)

Suicide prevention

“The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just go away on their own. “

Thanks for joining me to tour the unique home of Ernest Hemingway, using photos I took myself.

Please consider helping support this blog by using my affiliates. You’ll find links in the side bars, on the home page, and on the resource page.

Thank you for following  and sharing Watercress Words.

always exploring the HEART of health ,  Dr. Aletha 

man and woman with Key West visitor sign
My husband and I upon arriving in Key West, Florida the farthest south city in the U.S.A.

“It’s time to break the stigma of mental illness.”

 

Pastors Rick and Kay Warren are the parents of a young man who suffered from mental illness and committed suicide. They are committed to destigmatizing this illness and helping other families cope.

 

Suicide seems random but is predictable. The majority of people who commit suicide have suffered from mental illness for a long time, and may even have had previous attempts;  unfortunately, acquaintances, friends, even family may not know this.

Here are some facts  about suicide

  • Most suicide victims in the United States are white men.
  • Guns are the most common means of suicide, followed by suffocation and poison.
  • There is often a family history of mental illness and suicide .
  • Major depression is the most common cause of suicide- 90% of victims.
  • Suicide may be triggered by recent or prolonged stress and loss, serious health problems and chronic pain.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think may be at risk of suicide. You may save that person’s life. Here are some resources to help you know what to do.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National Alliance on Mental Health

Desiring God depression articles

Print resources (purchase through these affiliate links may pay a commission to this blog; thank you)

New Light on Depression

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Night Falls Fast; Understanding Suicide

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Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Love

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Loved Back to Life

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How you can save a life; two things to know this month

It seems every month, week, and day there is an event for awareness of some condition, disease, disability or other designated group. I can’t keep track of all of them, much less observe them all, but September is designated for awareness of two conditions that I want to mention.

Childhood cancer is ,fortunately, an uncommon disease compared to other conditions but still ranks within the top 5 causes of death in children and adolescents. Because so relatively few cases occur, there has not been as much research done and therefore not as many drugs or treatments available as other diseases.

One of the first patients I cared for when I started practicing over 30 years ago was a 5 year old boy who developed a brain tumor. With treatment he lived about a year following diagnosis, leaving his parents and siblings devastated. I am sad  to realize that he would now be a young man, probably with children of his own.

About 6 weeks ago,  my friend’s 13 year old son  was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Both she and her husband are physicians so they are familiar with the seriousness of his illness, as well as the potential risks of the treatment. But they are fighting the disease with the best medical care available, as well as  many people’s prayers,and are hopeful for a full recovery.

Even When I’m Gone is a song written and recorded about Kendall, a 17 year old girl who died from leukemia. She dreamed of sharing the story of her struggle and helping others also afflicted. ( this is an affiliate link from which this blog can earn a commission from purchases)

September is also recognized as Suicide Prevention Month.

Leading causes of death in the United States by age, most recent statistics
As the chart illustrates, suicide ranks within the top ten causes of death for everyone except the youngest and the oldest of us. And like other forms of violence, suicide should be preventable.

The Veteran’s Administration has made the prevention of veteran suicide a priority. It is a tragedy that any person would cause their own death. And it is hard to understand how someone who has survived the rigors of military training and service would later want to take their own life.

My husband, a VietNam veteran, recently reached out to a young veteran whose family is concerned. While serving in Afghanistan, this soldier’s team was ambushed; one soldier was blown apart by an IED (improvised explosive device). The veteran finds it hard to talk about what happened, and has become withdrawn. My husband shared his traumatic experience in VietNam and encouraged the ex-soldier to find someone to talk to and process the feelings about what happened. And we are praying for peace and healing also.

If you know a veteran, follow this link to learn how you can recognize behavior that might lead to suicide and how you can help.

If you are a veteran, I thank you for serving our country and urge you to receive the help that you gave us; call the crisis line at 1-800-272-8255, press 1 .

Contact the veterans' crisis line for help.
Contact the veterans’ crisis line for help.
This is a short post so I encourage you to visit the links which have information worth your time. And please share what you learn on your blogs, social media and email. Let’s all be “aware”- you may save a life.

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

A review of the medical consequences of interpersonal violence

I read the newspaper article in disbelief, then grief; a family of five, parents and three children, murdered in their home in my community. Even more shocking, the assailants were their other two teen-aged children!

Things like this just don’t happen here, a suburban city that is quiet, peaceful and secure. Statistically, one of the safest cities in our state and even the country. But that doesn’t make us immune- violence can happen anywhere to anybody.

“siblings charged with first-degree murder in stabbings of family members”

I  know. Two of my husband’s relatives were murdered. One of them survived multiple wounds from a vicious assault, only to die from a second attack.  The other one died from an in-home attack, a case that is still open and cold- the killer has never been arrested and brought to justice.

I have served as the doctor at a summer camp for children in foster care . Almost all had suffered physical abuse .

“Mother accepts plea deal, prison time for committing child neglect, abuse “

What is interpersonal violence?

The World Health Organization defines interpersonal violence as

“the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person, group or community that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”

The major agencies that track statistics on interpersonal violence, call it

  • “a pervasive public health, social and developmental threat.”
  • “a leading cause of death, particularly in children, adolescents and young adults.”

“Reporter, photographer  shot and killed during live report”

Did you know that exposure to violence can

  • Cause immediate physical wounds and
  • Result in long-lasting mental and physical health conditions?

Violence matters because it 

  • Directly affects health care cost and payments
  • Indirectly stunts economic development
  • Increases inequality
  • Erodes human capital

Violence causes physical injuries many of which are fatal or leave permanent disability. Other results include sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancy and pregnancy complications.

“Elderly woman beaten to death by two people she lived with. “

Medical effects of violence

Violence contributes to several chronic medical conditions   although the exact relationship is not  clear.  These include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease (possibly due to smoking), diabetes, alcohol abuse and obesity.

“Rape charges filed against man accused of attacking pregnant woman “

Mental and emotional effects of violence

Exposure to violence leads to multiple types of mental and behavioral disorders :depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sleep and eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide attempts. Adults who experienced childhood trauma struggle with stress due to finances, family and jobs. Abused children often  commit crime as adults.

“Teen suspected in violent crime spree arrested”

Our health care system encourages prevention, but tends to focus on the prevention of cancers, heart disease, infectious disease and dementia. But given the far reaching consequences of interpersonal violence,,preventing the resulting health problems is just as important. The  multiple factors that contribute to violence makes that a daunting task.

Violence is   a public health, social and political problem. But physicians, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement deal with the effects in the course of our work every day.

“Deadly violence has become all too common in one neighborhood”

Opportunities for prevention

The article concludes with a summary of “opportunities for prevention.” The emphasis is on starting in childhood to address the factors than can lead to violence and to focus on the family unit and schools.

What can we do to prevent violence ?

  1. Early childhood visitation
  2. Parenting training
  3. School-based social-emotional learning approach
  4. Early childhood education , Head Start as an example
  5. Public policy; for  example , addressing laws related to alcohol sales, since alcohol consumption is associated with violence
  6. Therapeutic approaches , including CBT- cognitive behavioral therapy

“Mothers band together to protect Chicago neighborhood”

See this CBS news report on how simple plywood signs are stopping violence in Chicago

RESOURCES ON VIOLENCE PREVENTION

 

Read a  true story about surviving violence

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The Rising -Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town 

by Ryan D’Agostino

The Rising by Ryan D'Agostino

The astonishing story of one man’s recovery in the face of traumatic loss—and a powerful meditation on the resilience of the soul
On July 23, 2007, Dr. William Petit suffered an unimaginable horror: Armed strangers broke into his suburban Connecticut home in the middle of the night, bludgeoned him nearly to death, tortured and killed his wife and two daughters, and set their house on fire. He miraculously survived, and yet living through those horrific hours was only the beginning of his ordeal.

Broken and defeated, Bill was forced to confront a question of ultimate consequence: How does a person find the strength to start over and live again after confronting the darkest of nightmares?

In The Rising, acclaimed journalist Ryan D’Agostino takes us into Bill Petit’s world, using unprecedented access to Bill and his family and friends to craft a startling, inspiring portrait of human strength and endurance.

To understand what produces a man capable of surviving the worst, D’Agostino digs deep into Bill’s all-American upbringing, and in the process tells a remarkable story of not just a man’s life, but of a community’s power to shape that life through its embrace of loyalty and self-sacrifice as its most important values. Following Bill through the hardest days—through the desperate times in the aftermath of the attack and the harrowing trials of the two men responsible for it—The Rising offers hope that we can find a way back to ourselves, even when all seems lost.

Today, Bill Petit has remarried. He and his wife have a baby boy. The very existence of this new family defies rational expectation, and yet it confirms our persistent, if often unspoken, belief that we are greater than what befalls us, and that if we know where to look for strength in trying times, we will always find it.

Bill’s story, told as never before in The Rising, is by turns compelling and uplifting, an affirmation of the inexhaustible power of the human spirit.

reprinted from a Goodreads review