Help for those with mental illness – a look back.

Help for people with mental illness arrives late

in North Carolina.

Dix Hospital, 1872, Labeled “Lunatic Asylum”

In my research for second book in The Nash Sisters series, I learned much about mental illness diagnosis and treatment. One author I discovered in the process was Natasha Tracy.  In an article on HealthyPlace , she wrote this in The History of Mental Illness.

The history of mental illness goes back as far as written records and perhaps took its first major leap forward in 400 B.C. when Greek physician, Hippocrates, began to treat mental illness as physiological diseases rather than evidence of demonic possession or displeasure from the gods as they had previously been believed to be. Asylums for the mentally ill were established as early as the 8th century by Muslim Arabs.

As I kept digging to understand mental illness treatment, I found that North Carolina was slow to address the problem until Dorothea Lynne Dix came to town.*  In 1825 and 1838, NC was one of only two states that had not allocated dollars to build or create hospital space to care for those with mental illness. In the 1840s, Dorothea Dix made North Carolina her focus.  She worked to bring awareness to the General Assembly of the treatment needs for those with mental illness. It wasn’t until 1849 that legislation passed. The first state hospital opened to its first patients as Dix Hill Asylum.

One of the Nash Sisters was sent to Dix Hill for the first time in 1931. Because of advances in understanding mental illness and improved treatment, Caroline Nash learned to manage her illness.

* Harry McKown, UNC – North Carolina Collection

Mother’s Day – Where it Began

Mother’s Day 2020 is right around the corner.  This year it falls on May 10, 2020.

Today many people, as did one of the U.S. founders of a day for mothers, think this day is too commercial and the original meaning is lost. Here is a little history of why we began celebrating mothers.  

Recognition of mothers can be found as far back as the Greeks and Romans.  So, Hallmark did not invent a mother’s day.

An official proclamation, written by a woman, about the power of mothers in the United States began after the Civil War. In 1868 a proclamation announced a Day of Mother’s Friendship. The purpose was to motivate mothers of the Union and Confederate soldiers to gather and promote reconciliation.

A few years later, in 1872, it was named a Mother’s Day of Peace, as an anti-war observance.  Ironically more major wars were yet to come.

In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation that the second Sunday of May “be a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country”.

The Nash sisters remember best the resolution in 1945 by congress and President Harry Truman that there be a Mother’s Day to recognize American mothers “as the greatest source of the country’s strength and inspiration.”

The Nash sisters understood how important their momma was and liked celebrating Mother’s Day, even after she passed.  Caroline Nash expressed her opinion about the subject.  “I want to know when they will proclaim a children’s day.  You see, children are the only ones who could make mothers.”

Recognize your mother or any woman in your life with a gift of reading and solitude. Order a copy of The Nash Sisters A Story of Family Sticking Together When It Counts through Amazon.

Annie’s 1927 Nash Ambassador

In my novel The Nash Sisters,  Annie brings home a new car. It was a 1927 Nash Ambassador similar to the one pictured above. Annie tells her sisters how she got and paid for the “fabulous car”.

Toni was so sweet to buy this one in green. I love green. When I told them Toni had paid just over $2000 for it, Ethel’s eyes opened wide like a bullfrog and her mouth dropped open. She said “Good God, $2000!  I could buy a lot of land for that!”

Diane snickered and asked me what I had to pay Toni. I rolled my eyes and gave a coy smile. We all giggled. They did not want to know.

Order your copy of The The Nash Sisters  A Story of Family Sticking Together When It Counts

Click here to order from Amazon

The Gift of Reading.

It is for adults, too.

Woman sitting and reading a book

I have a friend who gives her children a new book every day from December 1 until Christmas Day. Another family I know adds books to the gifts it gives the children for each day of Hanukkah.  Both families use it as a way to celebrate books, but also enhance the ritual of nighttime reading.   Snuggling together with children to explore a different time and place with a real book makes getting ready for sleep a loving experience.

Why not give the gift of reading to the adults in your life?

Choose a book to share. Buy a copy for you and one for them. Read during the holidays and talk with your friend about the story, the characters, and how it might relate to you. This could be a sort of secret book club.

I’ve got one you might like. I just published my first novel, The Nash Sisters. It is historical fiction about women who struggle yet thrive through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Their love and conversations hold them together as life brings death of loved ones, mental illness, prejudice, and poverty. When they move away from each other their conversations continue in Round Robin Letters so they stay in touch at a time when there were no phones or email.

Here is what people are saying about The Nash Sisters A Story of Family Sticking Together When It Counts

“I so enjoyed this heartwarming book!  I could not put it down! You are an extraordinary writer and you must continue writing stories about these sisters!”

“If you appreciate the dynamics of sibling relationships and tales of strong women who struggle and endure, you will enjoy The Nash Sisters!”

“The Nash Sisters is such an extraordinary and heartwarming book! I could not put it down. Looking forward to more stories about these sisters!”

An Emotional Path

Writing Fiction

I have enjoyed writing in a journal for many years. That process allowed me to release emotion to the paper so I could move on. It also facilitated learning by re-reading my words later – after I had gained some perspective.

That writing began to organize itself through creating fiction. In February 2019 while attending a writing class we were challenged to be ready to read aloud from our “book”. At that point the book was not ready (nor started). So I now had a new deadline. I wrote the first chapter for the reading. Last month, October 2019, I finished the writing and re-writing with my editor. It is now published!

What a process it was! I cried like a baby when I wrapped up the story and stopped typing. I was emotional when the editor said it was good – validation from others. With each level of editing and re-write, I found new ways to make the characters stronger and the circumstances more compelling. But I had no idea where this talent was coming from. The story was telling itself. That was a little intimidating and frankly bewildering.

The next six months of work were challenging. I wanted it to happen/finish faster and other times it was too fast. When I saw the cover produced, again I wept. I had created something I never really thought I could. Exhilarating!

If no one every buys the book or reads it other than family, that will be okay. I did something new in my advanced age.

I Fell in Love with Reading

Reading for me is learning.

Cyprus, library of restored Mediterranean town house
I am of the generation who likes to read from a book - not from a e-reader. I like the smell of a book, the feel of the pages, and be able to easily page back to find something I want to understand better.

Most of my career I have read to improve my skills and talents in teaching children, managing processes and leading adults. I love to read then teach others through consulting, coaching, and training what I have learned.

Reading has also been central to my happiness in life. I can’t remember the first book I read that was not assigned to me by a teacher, but I know the ones that first made me fall in love with books – Cold Sassy Tree, Fried Green Tomatoes, Rainey, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

What books did you fall in love with as a child?

The Nash Sisters

Novel coming soon!

Now available!

I only began writing fiction this year. It was about time.

I am an observer and conversationalist.  Most of my life I have been writing what I see and insight I gain through conversations.  These “stories” have filled my journals. 

In our family while waiting with others during weddings, long weekends at the beach, caregiving in sickness or healing, and even when someone is approaching death, we talked about our life memories. 

The interesting thing is the more time you reminisce with family and friends the more the stories change.  They resemble your memories but with new perspective.  This change can be surprising.