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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...


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,...


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...


Hildegard: The First Encounter

  • August 19, 2012

My relationship with Hildegard jump-started due to a colorful postcard of a woman with smoke coming out of her head. I’d stumbled into a funky, now defunct art gallery in the summer of 2008, a few yards from the four-way stop in Pecos, NM that marked the center of town. The blue of her gown caught me first. Offset by sun-hued yellow, a series of letters framed her body. Japanese, Chinese, petroglyph-type symbols enwrapped this dark-skinned beauty so intent on her work. I was taken. I read the bio on the back of the card. Hildegard Von Bingen: Artist, writer, physician, mystic who came up with her own language. Hildegard seemed the female DaVinci of the 1100s. A switch in my brain flipped. Hildegard should be my muse, my visual mentor as I finished my book. I bought the postcard. I wanted the artist to make me a poster-sized image of her Hildegard to hang above my desk. The back of the card had a badly smudged name with no website. Taking to the Internet, I began a game of trial and error to find the artist. I’m not usually an artist-stalker, but the quest for Hildegard...


Know Yourself: A Message from Hildegard Von Bingen

  • August 18, 2012

At the risk of sounding, well, crazy, I want to let you know that I'm being followed by a 12th century mystic. Not literarlly followed, I haven't had a vision or visitation, I'm not hearing voices or anything like that, but Hildegard Von Bingen has appeared so frequently in my life lately that I've decided it's time to give her some air time. For those for whom Hildegard means nothing (probably most of you), Hildegard was a mystic, artist, playwright, physician, musician, herbalist, who happened to create her own language and build a monastery for women in a time where most women lived as virtual slaves of their husbands. Hildegard's medical approach was holistic and simplistic. With observation, listening, taking a pulse and examining urine, she'd give a herbal medical prescription. However, with each prescription came an assigned regimen. More or less exercise, what foods to eat, level of sexual activity all were gauged to obtain a balance. Hildegard viewed each person individually and in the perspective of his or her environment. A master gardener of people, Hildegard understood that health was a process that required tweaking and constant refinement. She gauged her patients' viriditas, their greenness or vitality. Just...


A Positive Change with Nature’s Help

  • July 19, 2012

Just got back from a trip to San Francisco and Santa Cruz - the trip initiated because of the need to drop my teen daughter at camp, but evolved into sort of a selfish pleasure trip for me. My daughter had never seen San Francisco before, so we did the full fledged unofficial tour starting with dim sum at Yank Sing in Ricon Center. Enjoyed a steamed shrimp dumpling with a ginger sauce - served on a spoon - of which i could have made an entire meal. Wonderful explosion of flavor. Eggrolls were deemed "best ever had" by my daughter, I'd have to agree. View from the wharf in San Francisco We then meandered over to Pier 17 in a crisp cool weather, heaven for a couple of Texans fresh from the swelterland. We put our names on a waiting list for the TCHO chocolate tour - if you want to do this, I'd recommend signing up in advance. We went on a Tuesday and the list was already full an hour ahead of time. TCHO transforms chocolate decadent pleasure into an art form - each bittersweet chocolate enclosed in a colorful-flavor oriented wrap. We learned to snap,...


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...


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...


Brice Beaird’s Song “Hold on to Me”

  • November 17, 2011

Meeting Brice Beaird has been one of the highlights of my book tour. Brice wrote a song, "Hold on to Me" inspired by my book. My PT blog A Song that Heals tells the remarkable story of how the song was created, produced by Gary Powell and recorded by Helen Darling. We even made a music video!


Impressions of the American Association of Suicidology

  • June 14, 2011

Here's my impressions of the American Association of Suicidology. This was a great week, even in Portland, in the pouring rain. Caught up with some friends from Octel (this is the high tech company where I worked many moons ago) who live in Portland that I had not seen in over a decade - Maren Symonds and TC Schuler. The day I saw Kathie Russo (talk about this in my Psychology Today Blog) I decided to go for an early morning run by myself along the Wilamette River. Sort of a drizzly but beautiful morning - cherry blossoms dripping from the trees. About 30 yards ahead of me on the path I saw two men. One yells loudly to the other, the other falls down and begins going into convulsions. I'm struck with the dilemma - do I turn around and run the other way or see if I can help? I wasn't sure if this was a drug deal gone awry or someone having a heart attack. I saw a woman coming toward me on a bicycle (she clearly decided it best to not volunteer). I stopped her, convinced her to go over to the men with...




"It is my pleasure to recommend Julie Hersh as a public speaker. She is well qualified to speak on the topics of depression and suicidal behavior. She is knowledgeable about contemporary psychiatric treatments and has been diligent in seeking information from medical experts in psychiatric medicine. She is an articulate, engaging and authoritative speaker who ably communicates her important public health message."

Charles Kellner
Charles Kellner, MD, Director of ECT Services, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
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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