A bittersweet memoir about life and loss. When her mentally ill brother developed lung cancer, author Katherine Flannery Dering had to overcome her reluctance to deal with the troubled man and step up to help in his care. While maneuvering through the maze of our mental health system, she (and her eight siblings) got to know social workers and the employees of nursing homes on a first name basis, saw friends and family less often, missed work, and ate fewer meals at home and more fast food. Along the way, she changed in unforeseen ways, and her perception of her ill brother, Paul, changed as well.
"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
OhioStateUniversity Prize in Short Fiction.
"During the past half century our treatment system for persons with serious mental illness has become a fragmented disaster. Katherine Dering's book is about her middle class family's odyssey during this time as it tries to ensure that her brother with schizophrenia receives adequate services. The book is an extremely well crafted, compelling drama about how a large group of caring siblings interact and cope as their brother becomes severely ill, is repeatedly hospitalized, and endures various attempts to "transition" him into the community. 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.
Fred Frese, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychiatry Northeast Ohio Medical University Coordinator, Recovery Project
"When mental illness happens, it affects the whole family. Much has been written about the effect on parents, but not enough about the grief - and importance - of siblings. You will fall in love with the Flannery clan, who stepped up to support their brother Paul throughout his sad journey with schizophrenia. This book takes you through the frustration, the loss, the mistakes and wishful thinking - and, ultimately the love and support that shines through it all - as the family struggles to understand the illness and the system, stay together, and also show Paul how much he is loved - all while trying to focus on their own lives as well. This is a readable and important book that will open the reader's eyes to the effects of schizophrenia, the need for change, and the power of family love."
Randye Kaye, author, Ben Behind His Voices: One Family's Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope
"So powerful and emotional" Ann Cloonan, Director, Bedford Free Library, Bedford, NY
Also from Goodreads:"Overall, a very compelling and thoroughly moving read, and a great effort for a first book. Katherine's story of her brother serves to reminds us all of our humanity, of the fragile nature of existence we lead and how precious it is."
An article written about Paulby his twin sister that appeared in the journal, Psychiatric Services stated that:
"Paul was among the thousands of patients who were released from the New York State hospital system in the deinstitutional-ization process. Although a noble ideal—that all have a right to live with other members of society—there are some in the mentally ill population who should never be expected to live on their own and who need constant supervision. Paul was one of them."
About The Author
Katherine Flannery Dering holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville
College. Her poetry and essays haveappeared in Inkwell Magazine, as well as The Bedford Record Review, Northwords Press, Sensations Magazine, Pandaloon Press, Poetry Motel and Pink Elephant Magazine. A narrative non-fiction piece, which later became a chapter of Shot in theHead, was included in Stories from the Couch, an anthology of essays about coping with mental illness.
Earlier in her career, Ms Flannery Dering earned an MA in Spanish Literature from SUNY Buffalo, where she was an instructor of Spanish. She also holds an MBA fromthe University of Minnesota. After a 25 year career in business, she is the retired chief financial officer of Provident Bank, a large community bank in Rockland County, New York. She now serveson the board of directors of The Westchester Bank, in Yonkers, New York.
Katherine and Paul on the Hudson River
Shot in the Head A Sister's Memoir A Brother's Struggle ISBN 978-1-927637-21-0, 227 pages, 19.95 Distributed by Ingram and available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble , Kindle, Kobo and at other retailers.