Book Review: The Berkshire Eagle

Book Review: True story of woman’s abuse is open, honest

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“The Shattered Oak: Overcoming Domestic Abuse and a Misdiagnosis of Mental Illness”

By Sherry Genga

By Colin Harrington

“The Shattered Oak: Overcoming Domestic Abuse and a Misdiagnosis of Mental Illness,” by Sherry Genga and published by Safe Goods Publishing in Sheffield, is based on a true story. It is a story of open and honest reflections of personal experience with domestic abuse, the profound realities of recovery and a startling, and ultimately triumphant, resolution.

The story ends well through the interventions of a therapist, a very sharp nurse and the National Institute of Health (NIH). Or. as the story’s hero describes it, “a little slice of heaven carved out just for me.” This is a story of straight-forward disclosure in the first-person narrative that informs, inspires and provides one person’s path through the wilderness of family dysfunction, abusive hardships in the extreme and extraordinary insights.

Narrator Barbara’s “whole life changed” when she married the charming, intelligent and talented man named Innocent. Barbara could not have predicted how horrendously violent and abusive Innocent would become, in spite of how he provided so well for her and her three daughters and created a lovely, upscale home for them. Barbara is “drawn to putting (her) thoughts down on paper.” Her journal entries are a solace and a method of keeping track of reality. With her husband’s lies and her discovery of shocking secrets of his past life, Barbara recalls her past in order to fathom how she finds herself in a relationship with a man who brutally beats her regularly. The fact is, she remembers a childhood without love, extreme poverty and want, and with these revelations, a deeper understanding of herself. She is also well aware that her husband, too, suffered torment and abuse himself while growing up in an alcoholic family.

In spite of the kindness of a therapist and a courageous divorce in which she attains freedom from abuse for herself and her daughters, Barbara cannot shake a profound depression that leads to three suicide attempts. Deeply religious and spiritual, Barbara prays for enlightenment, or at the very least, a release from mental torment. But when she is committed to a mental hospital, she experiences a jolting loss of personal freedom and brutal treatment. It seems that she has gone from a life of torment to a life of torment in a new kind of hell. But through the attentive and kind professionalism of a nurse named Nancy, who notices markings on her body that seem to indicate Barbara has an undiagnosed medical condition, just recently discussed in medical journals, Barbara is released on medical advice to an NIH hospital in Bethesda, Md. It is at that point that her story mercifully changes for the better in her climb to effective treatments for Cushing’s disease, pituitary cancer and a chance to recover her life.

Barbara’s treatments at that time were part of a ground-breaking clinical study. The effects of high degrees of stress are just now being understood when it comes to trauma and abuse. New insights into Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Cushing’s disease are important medical aspects of domestic abuse situations. This book is a good resource for those in need of help and it tells of how one heroic soul faced down extremes of abuse and trauma with love and determination to recover her life.

In her post script, the author writes, “Some stories are meant to be a secret and some stories are meant to be forgotten. Some stories need to be heard to help the survivor live. There is help for women battling domestic violence, child abuse, suicide and Cushing’s disease.” There are links and resources for that kind of help at the end of the book.

Colin Harrington is the events manager at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox. He welcomes readers’ comments at charrington686@gmail.com.

Dr. Jo Anne White

TV & Radio Show Executive Producer & Host

Power Your Life TV

Tune in and join us on July 3, 2019 at 12:00 Eastern time

Podcast Sherry Genga

Listen to Embrace Change with Kate Olson

Learn more about The Shattered Oak by clicking on the link below.

Inspiring, positive and helpful advice to overcome mental health, depression, domestic abuse and suicide.

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/966-embrace-change-radi-29418070/episode/surviving-healing-from-domestic-abuse-30835264/


Can suicide be in your family’s future?

With suicide you never know what thoughts are racing through the saddened mind. Sometimes we can’t fathom that our friend, sibling, mother or father committed suicide. People around them felt like they were so happy, always laughing and smiling, never revealing signs that they were so depressed. Look at Robin Williams the famous comedian, who was always passing a joke. Suicidal people wear a mask and rarely share their true self or feelings. Whether they are ashamed of their depression or feel alone where they cannot trust anyone, they keep their thoughts a secret. Suicidal people want their privacy and don’t have the courage to ask for help when their mental state manifests the thoughts of choosing death. They may feel like they are in a vacuum, with darkness slowly seeping in and their breathing trending toward hyperventilation. Suicidal minds can feel blurred and even upside down, bringing them to the brink of insanity. In successful attempts, their demise is silent and not very forgiving. I know first-hand as a family member experienced several suicide attempts.

As I described in the book, The Shattered Oak, the victim was a recipient of domestic abuse from her husband. She took solace under the strong oak tree in her front yard. As she sunk further into mental illness, the oak too became distress and ill. In Barbara’s case she was lucky by surviving three suicide attempts. As we know some aren’t so lucky. I think most of us do occasionally struggle with depression but most filter it back out and let it go. Sometimes struggling makes us a stronger and gives us perspective to let go of our past and absorb our mistakes along the way. Most of us struggle with self-worth issues, but normally we rise to the occasion and succeeded. Depression can intervene in the thought process and cause us to focus on the negative. Psychologists continually try to understand why a person’s negative view of their situation outweighs their desire to live. Clinical studies have shown that stressful situations can actually bring on a form of mental illness where the person is not totally in control of their decisions. For the families of those victims many questions go unanswered.

Surviving suicide attempts and addressing mental illness can alter our viewpoint. Life is meant to present choices from our experiences that can change us for the positive. Barbara recovered after living through heartaches and burdens that transformed her future. Even this of us who live relatively normal lives, can learn that we have the sole capability to make beneficial choices in life. It’s how we elect to see, digest and live our lives that matters. The survival of the victim and her family in The Shattered Oak inspires us and reminds us that if we are struggling from thoughts of suicide from domestic abuse there are resources available. Family members should watch for the warning signs and not let the victim distance themselves from everyone. Suicide is on the rise and it is time we looked more closely at the link to stress from variety of conditions including domestic abuse, as a primary trigger. http://www.theshatteredoak.com


Press release

For immediate release                             Contact: Nina Anderson 413-229-9042

February 1, 2019                                                                                              

Powerful woman’s story on domestic abuse, suicide attempts,
mental breakdown and recovery

Sheffield, MA -Based on a true story, The Shattered Oak is a book that gives the reader insight into the mind of a spousal-abused woman. As most accounts regarding mental health issues come from the medical or psychological viewpoint, we rarely feel the trauma the individual experiences. Barbara takes us inside her emotionally charged existence, letting us experience the anguish of domestic abuse, divorce, attempted suicides, and incarceration in a mental institution. A savior finally unravels the mystery surrounding the contributing factors to her dysfunctional mental state and leads her on the path to recovery.

This book is a must-read for anyone going through domestic abuse or depression, including family members who are trying to make sense out of the situation. According to Dr. M. Tuttle, “We, as physicians, must always question that the obvious answer may not be correct. Medicine is a career of learning, unlearning, and learning anew as new diseases and cures are discovered. We should never avoid questioning a diagnosis or treatment as was well demonstrated by this book.” The Shattered Oak reveals the circuitous path victims of emotional or physical trauma follow to make sense of their depression and suicidal thoughts. At a time when these maladies are on the increase, we should pay attention to potential triggers and look outside the box to find solutions. The Shattered Oak is a riveting account of Barbara’s journey as she relates to the once alive and vibrant oak tree in her yard that slowly dies as she progresses down the dark path of mental illness.

The author, Sherry Genga experienced Barbara’s trauma first hand, “Growing up in a small town in Connecticut, I am a firm believer of everything happens for a reason. Barbara’s story has a profound stance on the world. The more I share the story, the more I see a strong perspective of healing the delicate minds that are so unbalanced. I have learned so much while writing The Shattered Oak and feeling Barbara’s emotional pain, that I have mapped out my own path for a more positive life.”

-This book is now available in bookstores and online, and through the publisher’s website www.SafeGoodsPublishing.com

-end-

Safe Goods Publishing, 561 Shunpike Rd., Sheffield MA 01257