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Ken Hersh (My Husband) Gives an Outstanding Commencement Speech at St Mark’s School of Texas

  • May 21, 2017

This is a deviation from the typical Struck by Living entry, but I had a moment this week when I was struck in awe by how lucky I am to be alive and well. Ken (my husband) gave a commencement speech at St. Mark's School of Texas Friday night (5/19/17). The skies looked threatening, rain fell and a little lightning flared in the distance. He never wavered, even when they moved to cover the diplomas from the rain. That's just the kind of guy he is.  So nice to see Ken be honored by a school he loves so much and was so instrumental in his development. This is one of the first graduations I've attended where I just sat back, took it in and did not even once look at my watch. We are lucky to be here and alive. A number of people have asked for Ken's speech, here it is. He edited out his recitation of the ingredients of the Big Mac (frontwards and backwards in less than 2 seconds). Here is the speech (with jokes) https://www.smtexas.org/page/end-of-year-2017/commencement-2017. Written version is below. Enjoy! Be Uncomfortable St. Mark&rsquo...

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UTSW Peter O’Donnell, Jr. Brain Institute Cocktails and Conversation

  • March 24, 2017

On March 8, 2017, Bonnie and Peter Smith hosted an event as part of the UTSW Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.  I was on a panel with Dr. Marc Diamond – brilliant UT Southwestern research who is Director of the Center for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases and, moderated by Dr. Mark Dr. Mark Goldberg, Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UTSW, Do you think I was a little intimidated? Yes! Mark proved the most genuine moderator, he’s a friend and fellow lover of the arts (especially music, in Mark’s case). He bounced back between the two of us with ease and equal respect. The three favorite questions he asked of me were: What is your dream for the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care? I answered my dream would be to have eventually two things. 1) Some type of tool to help primary care physicians to better detect depression and bipolar disease at an early level, where we have the best chance of success for management of the disease and allowing people to live full, healthy and productive lives. 2) Tools to help physicians to direct people to the best portfolio of...

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Savor the Moment - A Year’s Worth of Peak Experiences this Month

  • December 10, 2014

I read Rick Hanson's Buddha's Brain this month and am trying to put into practice his idea of savoring experiences. His theory is our brains are predisposed to negativity. In this TED talk, he mentions that for every five positive experiences we have, one negative one wipes them out. This worked well in prehistoric humans - the person entranced by blue sky often ended up being lunch. But in today's world, that receptiveness to negativity can leave a person anxious and depressed. I've been trying to savor things on a daily basis, but this month I had three major experiences specifically related to Struck by Living - I only have a few minutes this morning, so I can only elaborate on one. Here are the three highlights from last month: 1. Jordan Harris Foundation luncheon on November 7 - more on this one in a moment. 2. Release of the Mental Health Channel's documentary. Jeff Fraley and his group had me go back to the mountain where I attempted suicide in 2001 and tell the story to my now 20 year-old son. I've blogged about this for Pscyhology Today: An Unexpected Thanksgiving Story and here is the link to...

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Decidí Vivir Celebration

  • November 03, 2014

When I asked Jorge Correa about what we should do to launch Decidí Vivir to reach Spanish speakers, he wisely advised, “Latinos will come to a party, but they are not going to come to a talk about depression!” Listening to his advice, we garnered some good food and drink and put our depression experts on a glistening green-blue stage with a castle in the background. I knew it was going to be an interesting night when a young from the catering staff asked if he could have a book. “My brother,” he told me, “Killed himself when he was 19.” We spent several minutes talking before the event. It was clear this young man had not told his story to many people, certainly not a stranger he had just met. But as has happened many times before, being open about my story swings wide the door so others can release theirs. He seemed visibly relieved to know that someone else could listen without judgment. I told him as I tell all people who have lost loved ones: “What your loved one did is not out of lack of love for you.” ...

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Celebration Book Release Decidí Vivir by Author, Julie K. Hersh

  • October 09, 2014

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Hersh Foundation will present a celebration of the book release, Decidí Vivir on Tuesday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Dallas Children’s Theater - Rosewood Center for Family Arts located at 5938 Skillman Street. In a collaboration of culture unique to Dallas, Texas, four families from three different countries have worked together to bring a story of hope to those suffering from depression. “This book is a collaboration of kindness” Dallas resident and Chilean native Andrés Correa heard Struck by Living author Julie Hersh speak on KERA when Hersh originally released her book in 2010. Struck by Living traces Hersh’s trek through depression and recovery beginning with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Knowing that his mother suffered from depression, Andrés recommended the book to his father, Jorge Correa, Spanish Teacher and Community Service Director at St. Mark’s School of Texas. Jorge then translated the book page by page into Spanish, reading it to his wife as she received treatment in UTSW, the place where coincidentally Hersh had been hospitalized. When Jorge reached out to Julie to thank her for writing ...

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UT Southwestern Grand Rounds

  • December 12, 2013

Very exciting event last week. I was asked to speak at UT Southwestern Psychiatric Grand Rounds. Engaging event, lots of great questions. I want to post the latest Struck by Living Stay Well list here - as I promised some I would publish this digitally for them. Special thanks to Dr. Madhukar Trivedi for this opportunity! Struck by Living Top Ten for Mental Health Brain Protection for Adults– Julie K. Hersh Mental illness, like many diseases, is prime example of “what comes first?” Do genetics cause mental illness or does the environment breed it? I always answer “both” to this question. How we react to our environment determines our mental health, oftentimes more than the environment itself. We’ve all seen one person devastated by failure or disappointment, while another person uses that same situation as motivation for future success. As Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is that one that is the most adaptable to change." This list has undergone various iterations – showing that a mental health list changes for different phases of life. The first five items...

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October Events - ND, Galapagos, Pscyhology Today and Managing Depression article

  • October 27, 2013

October has been one of those months where I look back and think - how did this all happen? The month began with seeing an amazing production of "Raisin in the Sun" at the Dallas Theater Center. Incredible show, Liz Mikel as Lena gave an outstanding performance as well as Bowman Wright as Walter. Written over 50 years ago, this show tackles tough issues of poverty, family dynamics and competing dreams. Although it's constantly advertised as a show about race, I believe that narrow focus misses the point. This is a show about supression of dreams and resilience. What Hansberry (the late playwright) does so deftly is she writes a character that is flawed, but empathetic. This is great, great writing. I know I saw this movie years ago with Sidney Poitier, but the themes resonated so much more strongly seeing it as an adult. After watching a stunning ND victory over ASU on October 5, I headed up to ND to give a talk about managing mental health at college. The ND student body had their first week-long focus on mental health - calling it the "Irish State of Mind." All sorts of activities spanned the week including my talk,...

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Think Pink: University of Notre Dame/NAMI Project Hope Walk

  • October 04, 2012

The Notre Dame/NAMI Project Hope Walk, artfully orchestrated by ND Senior Amanda Bruening, took place on a crystal clear fall day starting at the “Rock” (Knute Rockne Memorial Gym). About 200 people donned white t-shirts and listened to Amanda tell the story about her younger sister who died by suicide at age 12. Amanda showed the unwavering conviction of a Survivor determined to change the way the world’s view of mental illness. I’ve been to a lot of these events in the past two years. Amanda’s heartfelt eloquence on that bright fall day stands out in my mind as one of the best I’ve heard. Registration prior to the walk Julie Hersh, Amanda Bruening, Tom Seeberg We then headed across campus and for a walk around St. Mary’s lake. I wish I’d thought to take a photo, but I was too busy talking with an impressive young ND freshman (Juan Jose Daboub) and other ND students. The leaves are just beginning to turn – flecks of yellow and red. The walk culminated at The Grotto, built in memory of St. Bernadette’s grotto at Lourdes. Many...

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Walk for Hope Talk in Harrisonburg, VA/Trip to the University of Notre Dame

  • April 12, 2012

Wow, very exciting weekend. Saturday i went to the Walk for Hope - an amazing first time event for suicide prevention and depression awareness. My friend Bib Frazier who lost his son to suicide was the catalyst for this event, as well as Pam Resse Comer from the counseling group at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Four schools participated as described below. I was sending out an "enhanced" version of my speech to a few folks and thought it might be helpful here too. I try to do my speeches without any notes, so I didn't say what is listed here word for word. This actually has more than i said (sometimes I forget something because I don't use notes - but I have found I am for more effective presenting without them) with links and photos that were not included in the speech. The only problem with giving you this speech in writing is my sense of humor does not come through at all. But those of you who've seen me can probably imagine the hand motions and expressions that change a sentence from somber to funny. Hard to do on paper. Need my theatrics to pull...

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Memory and ECT

  • February 24, 2012

This recent Psychology Today blog titled Memory and ECT was inspired by an event we held at the Dallas Children's Theater. After mimosas (we were bumped from the prior week on Dr. Oz due to the orange juice fungicide situation, found some humor in that), we entered the theater and watched the segment on Oz. Then I moderated a panel with my good friends from UT Southwestern. I had asked Dr. Husain if he would come to back me up in case there were questions I could not answer and he said - "All three of us are coming!" (the lead physicians for ECT at UT Southwestern). I knew with all that brain power in one spot, we couldn't waste it. I asked if everyone would particpate in the panel and all agreed. Dr. Raza, Dr. McClintock, Dr. Husain, and me (Julie Hersh) The result was one of the most thoughtfu, informative discussions about ECT that I've ever experienced. The audience had tough questions which these men answered with patience and respect. We had some fun too. I gave away theater tickets to a few Dallas Children's Theater shows as well as to "GIANT" the production...

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Testimonial

"My grandmother’s suicide had a terrible impact on my mom. Usually fun loving, humorous and jovial, my mother occasionally required hospitalization for depression throughout my childhood. Julie Hersh gives us a documentary ride in the mind of a potential suicide victim, and shows us her road to survival as could only be provided by one "who's been there."  Struck by Living is a story of courage, love, hope and victory."

Ruth Buzzi
Ruth Buzzi comedienne, actress, Golden Globe winner, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
About Struck By Living

In Struck by Living, Julie Hersh picks apart the irony of her life with humor and brutal honesty. Despite a loving husband, healthy children, financial security, Julie attempted suicide three times. With the help of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), Julie broke the deadly course of her disorder. Now well, Julie promotes the importance of mental health with collaborations with other artists and organizations.

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