Wkly Brief – Book Review: Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery


It takes courage for a parent to tell the story of her adult child’s struggle with mental illness and his confusing, heart-rending path to recovery. In Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery, Janet Singer shares her son’s battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), from its onset during his freshman year of college, through senior year when he graduated. This is a story of the strong, young man, but for me, it is also the journey of a mother who refused to give up hope. She fought for information and enlightenment from the experts, only to find that those experts often had their own agendas and frailties.

While Ms. Singer tells the story of her family’s journey, Seth J. Gillihan, PhD provides the reader with gray text boxes that educate about OCD, medications, evidence-based treatment, and outcomes. Both the narrative and the information are straight-forward and easily absorbed. The book concludes with six pages of mental health organizations and OCD resources.

In Overcoming OCD, the author gives insight into the complexities of co-occurring disorders and the trial-and-error approach to medication. We see the tightrope Ms. Singer walks between advocating for her son and overstepping, and between following doctors’ orders and questioning their methods. Ultimately the author decides to trust her instincts, which are based on the relationship she has with her son, the child she had known since the day he was born.

It should be noted that the medication information in the sidebars appears to be at the class level, which means the side effects may or may not apply to the specific medications listed. In addition, medications mentioned in the narrative were prescribed based on Ms. Singer’s son’s symptoms. As Ms. Singer mentions in the book, medications that work for one person may not work for another.

I recommend this book to anybody supporting a loved one in managing a mental illness. The reader will discover he is not alone, there are resources and help available, and most important, there is hope.

Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery was provided to me at no charge in exchange for my review. However, I do not know the author, nor would I recommend a book that I did not read.

Note: for more information about mental illnesses, co-occurring disorders, and medications, consider taking the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s free Family-to-Family class. Family education and support can aid in a loved one’s management of the disease and recovery.

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Easter Blessings

DSC_0756His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.” Matthew 28:3

 May today bring the rebirth of your dreams and the renewal of hope.

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Wkly Brief – Twitter Authors 04-2015

SummerAmidst the foot-high snow is one bare patch of garden. It’s a garden we had cleaned out last fall, removing the bulbs and spreading them among other gardens. Yet in one place smooth green leaves, tinged yellow from the salt used to remove ice dams from our roof, pop through the soil. They give hope that snow will melt and summer will arrive (although I’m not as sure about spring).

Over the winter, as I focused on writing, my book stack grew as high as the snow mountains. Gifted books and second-hand store finds overflow shelves, beds, and desks.  Lately though, perhaps because of the NH Literary Hall of Fame inaugural event, I’ve been reading more. Last month, New Hampshire writers gravitated to the top of my pile; both The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (paperback) and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (audible) are underway.

ScironThis month, my Twitter Authors pick is David Rashleigh’s ScironSciron has been downloaded to my iPhone, so its available when I have a moment to spare. Rashleigh’s combination of history and mystery makes this book an entertaining read.

Many of the books on the Twitter Authors list are gems. Perhaps others aren’t. I’d like to know what you think.  If you choose to read one of the books below, please share your review here.

warnurseHere are April 2015’s Twitter Authors books:

  • Historical Fiction: The War Nurse: A WWII Historical Family Saga by R.V. Doon (@rvdoon)
  • Children’s Story: The Dragons of Ordinary Farm [Grades 5-8] by Tad Williams & Deborah Beale (@MrsTad)
  • Suspense: Over My Dead Body by Bruce A. Borders (@BruceABorders)
  • Thriller: Trident’s First Gleaming: A Special Operations Group Thriller by Stephen Templin (@Stephen Templin)
  • Short Stories: The Art of Caring: Zen Stories by Dan Glover (@DanGlover1)

Want more titles?  Here are my Prior Month’s Lists.

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Quiet: Introvert Thinking (Or Proud to be an INFJ)

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet, by Susan Cain, was the book I chose to bring with me to a slew of Doctor’s appointments. “Perfect,” I thought. “I can skim through this quickly while waiting. I waived my husband off, suggesting that he run errands. As the frosted glass door closed behind him I sighed in bliss, ready to let the skimming begin.

But alas, skimming was not in my future. Instead, word-by-word, Quiet pulled me in with stories of Rosa Parks and the Harvard Business School.

After one chapter a nurse asked what I was reading. She was puzzled to learn that there was a book written about introverts. Hovering above us were the unspoken words, “rather a long book for a boring topic.”

Later, my doctor, after admitting he was an extrovert, said, “it must be very lonely to have so much quiet time.”

I laughed, “It would be very lonely for an extrovert, but for an introvert, it is a gift from heaven.”

Reading Quiet was like sitting on a cozy couch with a good Continue reading

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Wkly Brief – NH Literary Hall of Fame

Robert FrostWere you raised on poetry, the way I was?

In the evenings, did your mother tuck you in, and sit on the edge of the bed with a poetry book, while your older brother leaned against her shoulder and pointing to pages?

Did you fear the Crazy Old Vinegar Man and search for the North Wind when the moon crumbled?

Did you learn about poet laureates before you could read, and memorize John Masefield’s Sea Fever? Not because you had to, but because the words haunted your dreams and you wanted them for your own?

Have you kept journals of your favorite poems? Have you written your own poems, and squirreled them away, where only you and your children — if they are unlucky to be caught when you are nostalgic — hear your rambling words?

When I was a college sophomore, I slipped into the front row seat in an English Literature class. I remember the building I was in, the seat I occupied. The windows were behind me; I didn’t look out. For me, that was an amazing feat. Ask any of my high school teachers and they would say, “Her? She’s a dreamer. Always staring out the window.”

But this day, when I was a bit older than nineteen, I gazed at my fifty-something professor, adoring his words; their words: Tennyson, Browning, Keats, Wordsworth. I wonder what he must have thought, when this star-struck co-ed begged to be added to his class? Did he go home that evening with a spring in his step, and a secret in his soul.  If so, I never knew, my head was buried in the two-thousand page book, falling in love with poets long gone.

Among the great poets is Robert Frost.  “He’s a poet laureate too,” Mom told me. My grade-school eyes grew wide; I was surprised to learn there was more than one.  And she read me The Pasture.

Ten years later, I was in a cap and gown. My sister handed me a picture book filled with Robert Frost’s poems.  “Thought you might enjoy this as you head for New England next year,” she wrote. The book came with me, and we stayed in New England.  Mr. Frost’s words described my life in NH’s rural woods as I became a wife and mother.

Twenty years later, it was my daughter’s turn to learn a poem. It was a chore for her, but a joy for me. Together we learned The Road Not Taken, and as we grew up together we have both come to know the wisdom of his words.

On March 28, 2015, Robert Frost will be inducted into the New Hampshire Literary Hall of Fame at Southern New Hampshire University.  He is one of four inspirational inaugural inductees, with Donald Hall, John Irving, and Grace Metalious.

In two weeks, as each name is called, we will all remember that these four people chose their paths, and in doing so, left their legacy.

To quote Mr. Frost,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and [they —

They] took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”[1]

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1) “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost; Robert Frost: A Tribute to the Source (page 91); compilation by Dewitt Jones and David Bradley; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York (1979).

Dedicated to Eileen Byrne (October 27, 1962 – March 18, 1979).

Forever in our hearts.

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