- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: Bridgeross Communications (March 24, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781927637210
- ISBN-13: 978-1927637210
- ASIN: 192763721X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,468,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shot in the Head a Sister's Memoir, a Brother's Struggle Paperback – March 24, 2014
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"Both universal and personal, Katherine Dering's Shot in the Head is the story of a family just barely holding on. Dering unspools her story with urgent compassion and grace." Elizabeth Eslami, author of Bone Worship and Hibernate and the 2013 winner of the Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction. "So powerful and emotional" Ann Cloonan, Director, Bedford Free Library, Bedford, NY
From the Author
This book is about the year in which my family and I struggle to support our brother Paul deal with his dual torments of mental illness and lung cancer, with a look back to the years leading up to this crucial period. As I become reacquainted with Paul during his difficult last months, I reflect on the state of care for people with serious mental illness in America today. And I meditate on faith, death, and what it means to be a human being, ultimately finding the caregiver's journey to be redemptive.
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Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that destroys the life of the sick person. Each family member must find their own way to deal with the heartbreak of seeing someone they love go from happy and loving, to a dark world of delusions. It leaves their families struggling to make sense of the insane mental health system, and the continuous attempt to normalize the life of someone living inside a delusion.
Dering's style of writing keeps the story moving, while providing many contrasts and insights about schizophrenia and the human emotions that are challenged in adult siblings of the ill person. Her story masterfully presented the inevitable chasms this illness causes in a family, without judging anyone. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a family member or friend who struggles with mental illness. You'll know you're not alone, and your experience isn't unique. For anyone else, it's a well-crafted story that won't disappoint.
It's heart warming- Katherine shares some of her most personal thoughts and feelings that allow the reader to empathize with her experience. We live through her childhood experiences as well as some key adult transitions, which allows us to know so much about Katherine and her family. I even learned some new things about our family since I am 10 years younger and missed the early years! I'm reminded of a few other memoirs like Eat, Pray, Love or Angela's Ashes, where the author is struggling through difficult life decisions or transitions and we are able to relate to the author as if we are there living through the struggles as well.
The general theme is universal- many families have made sacrifices in order to support someone struggling with mental illness or end-of-life decisions and situations. This book deals with both. Our family happened to falter at some points and rally at others. We went from little communication to constant communication. I think Katherine shared what worked and didn't work in a way that others will learn from.
Katherine is so honest about her thoughts and feelings. Most people will relate to the difficult balance between trying to keep life on an even keel, maybe even ignoring that there's anything to worry about, and stepping in to rescue or help a sick relative. What would we do in that situation? How might we have handled it differently? Mental illness is one of the most feared and stress-inducing diagnosis a person can have, sometimes even more so for the family caregivers. Nothing is easy, but the system is so broken there are often no answers and only bad news at every turn. Mental illness is a very popular issue since Sandy Hook (I live just 20 minutes away), and I know that there is NOT enough infrastructure to help those in need. Katherine reveals some of the greatest flaws when "recovery" is the only direction the system knows and safety nets have all but been eliminated.
I am overjoyed and proud of the way Katherine tells the story. She is a truly gifted writer with a Master in Fine Arts and years of writing experience. Not everyone can or should write a memoir, but Katherine allows the reader to see and feel the events, the characters, and our family in a way that draws the reader in and captures their heart. Many readers have said they couldn't put it down. I read it in two sittings and keep going back to it in my thoughts.
This book appeals to anyone with an empathetic heart, who likes to hear about families who support each other and work through difficult times. We are an unusual family for sure, with 10 kids covering a 17-year age span. Though we didn't realize what was evolving at the time, we certainly learned a lot and Katherine has given a tutorial on how to come together for the sake of love.