No More Secrets – A Family Speaks About Depression, Anxiety and Attempted Suicide, by John and Patricia Gallagher. The Gallagher Family, Box 561, Worcester, PA 19490. The Gallaghers welcome interviews, consultations and speaking engagements. They live in a Philadelphia suburb and are able to travel nationwide or worldwide to share their message of hope.
Office: (267) 939 0365
Main website: http://www.patriciausa.com
Reviewed by Joan McKamey, editor of Every Day Catholic, a monthly publication for adult faith formation from St. Anthony Messenger Press. She interviewed John Gallagher for its October 2009 issue on suicide.
MOVING PAST the shame and stigma of mental illness and suicide attempts is a major step toward emotional and relational healing. John Gallagher took an important step toward personal and family healing after reading of a courageous 19-year-old survivor of a suicide attempt much like John’s.
This young man had shared his story in the hope of preventing others from attempting suicide. Following that lead, John decided to break the silence he had imposed on his family for the nine years since his own suicide attempts. This book is part of their healing process.
The Gallaghers’ “picture-perfect” life was threatened by impending layoffs at John’s workplace. Worse than the possible loss of livelihood is what worry about this did to John. He was in such a state of anxiety and depression that he attempted suicide twice—first, by inhaling car-exhaust fumes and, second, by jumping from the third floor of a hospital. Focused only on ending his suffering, he was unable to think of the effects his actions would have on his family.
John entered treatment for anxiety and depression and received care for his shattered legs. He was on the mend, but his family still had a lot of healing to do. His wife, Patricia, wanted to talk about what had happened, but John didn’t want to talk about it or want anyone to know about his suicide attempts. Their four children—Robin, Katelyn, Kristen and Ryan—were told to say that their father had been in an accident or had fallen down the stairs.
It was as if, Katelyn writes, everything had been turned upside down. She asked to do the pictures for the book. Her efforts appear here, along with many other family photos. On a page with the heading “Why These Pictures Are Upside Down” are two photos—both upside down. One is of the family at Ryan’s First Communion. The other is of their house.
No More Secrets was a collaborative effort, making it unique because of the many perspectives and experiences shared within it. John, Patricia, their four children and Patricia’s mother each contributed a chapter. No More Secrets is the Gallagher family’s acknowledgment that something traumatic happened to them and that sharing their story is a means to their own healing—individually and as a family—and an effort to reach out to others. They hope that their story will keep other families from experiencing similar pain.
No More Secrets is a self-help book of a different kind. It’s not written by experts in the fields of depression, anxiety or suicide. It is a very heartfelt and sincere sharing of the “expert” experiences of seven family members whose stories are intended to offer consolation to those struggling with these issues and to encourage them to seek professional help.
Beyond the personal stories contained in the first part of the book, No More Secrets offers “Frequently Asked Questions About Depression” and an extensive list of resources: organizations, self-help groups and Web sites.
The final section of the book is a collection of encouraging stories and uplifting responses to a number of questions the Gallaghers posted on the Internet. Topics range from “What to Do When You Are Sad” to “What Money Can’t Buy.”
The book includes a reading-group guide, information about the “Team of Angels” pin and prayer ministry, and the family’s new effort to reach out through group presentations about depression. This effort is called the “Real Dads. Real Men. Real Families. Real Depression Campaign.”
Sharing a story of this nature is a courageous undertaking. No More Secrets will speak words of encouragement and consolation to those who suffer from depression or anxiety and their loved ones. It doesn’t answer the question of why bad things happen to good people, but it does offer a story of hope for times when such things occur.
You can order No More Secrets – A Family Speaks About Depression, Anxiety and Attempted Suicide on Amazon.