That is the case with many of the mentally ill we see in our cities. In her emotional memoir, Katherine Flannery Dering describes the impact on her extended family of their ill brother, Paul, as they struggled to care for him in life and in death.
April 13, 2014 – Shot in the Head A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle chronicles the Flannery family and their brother, Paul, who suffered from treatment resistent schizophrnenia and then passed away with lung cancer. Paul was one of 10 children and developed schizophrenia at age 16.
In the majority of cases, this mental illness can be treated reasonably successfully and, with support, the individual can live in the community and enjoy a reasonable quality of life. Paul, unfortunately, was one of the 25% for whom no medication works properly and his parents were forced to have him hospitalized.
Over the course of many years and until her death, Paul’s mother made a weekly treck to whatever hospital he was housed in to visit and to offer support. Not long after she passed away, Paul became one of the many ill people moved out of the institution and into a series of inadequate housing and support arrangements.
His siblings were left to supervise his care despite their having families and busy careers of their own. They had him over for family events and tried as best they could to include him even though, at times, he could be threatening and disruptive. They would get calls from friends and neighbours telling them of seeing him wandering the streets of White Plains, NY.
And then Paul developed lung cancer and the family shifted into high gear to ensure his proper care and to help him navigate the complex system.
After his death, sister Katherine Flannery sat down to write his and the family history in a book that librarian, Ann Cloonan, called “so powerful and emotonal”. Author Randye Kaye said that this book “will open the reader’s eyes to the effects of schizophrenia, the need for change, and the power of family love.”
In 19 reviews on Amazon thus far, the book has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 with words used to describe it like “amazing”, “touching”, “courageous”, “memorable and honest” and “couldn’t put this down”.
For readers who wish to learn more about the background of those they see wandering our streets and the impact their mental illness has on their struggling families, this is the ideal book. As Dr Fred Frese who also has schizophrenia stated “This eye-opening account of the realities of having a seriously mentally ill family member should be at the top of the “must read” list for anyone involved with, or otherwise interested in, improving mental health services for those who are most in need.”
And for those who do have a mentally ill relative, this book will offer insight into how another family coped.
Shot in the Head A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle, 978-1927637210, 226 pages, $19.95 paper, $9.95 kindle, is distrubuted by Ingram and is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers. It is also available in various e-book formats such as kindle, nook, kobo, google and Apple. For more information, please visit http://bridgeross.com/shotinthehead.html
Author Katherine Flannery Dering discusses her book with jounalist Adina Seward in a diner in Westchester, NY
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