This is the complete Hancock Herald article.
Hancock Herald Hancock, NY (December 5, 2012)
Dave Elder, a graduate from the class of 1969 of nearby Vestal in the Triple Cities area, recently wrote and published his first book, called Expecting the Broken Brain to Do Mental Pushups -- a Personal Journey to Understanding Schizophrenia and Depression. The cover of the book features a picture of another Vestal graduate, but one from a much earlier time -- the class of 1942. Dave's mother Geraldine taught him a lot about schizophrenia, without ever intending to do so. Growing up, he accompanied her on more than one trip to the New York State Hospital in Binghamton, among other adventures, a few of which he details in his book.
Why write a book about schizophrenia and depression? About a decade ago, when Dave finally reached a basic understanding of schizophrenia and depression, he started to notice how much other people continue to misunderstand these conditions, just as he had done. He realized that this basic knowledge of schizophrenia and depression which he arrived at through the help of a few professionals as well as from his own experiences as a caregiver, still for the most part eludes the general public, as the understanding of these conditions has largely not filtered down to them from those at the professional level. Dave doesn't fault professional psychiatrists and psychologists for not making their knowledge better understood by the general public, because they usually have more than enough to do just treating their patients and trying to advance their own understanding, but the persistence of this general misunderstanding of schizophrenia and depression gave Dave a compelling reason a write about his experiences with them, and an even more compelling reason to get the message of his book out to the general public.
Dave had one other compelling reason to finish writing his book -- the September 2011 flood. His home in Vestal had no electricity for about six days following the flood, and the Vestal Parkway was under water for much of that time as well, so since he couldn't do much else, he wrote about half of his book in those six days, sitting out on his front porch enjoying the beautiful sunny late summer weather that followed the storms and the flood. Before the flood he had written a few chapters, but the circumstances of the flood force upon him the time to nearly complete writing the story.
Dave's story comes from a different perspective than most books on the subject -- that of the caregiver, which was a position he found himself in due to the circumstances of his life. Some of those suffering from mental issues have written books, such as Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar which Dave mentions in his story, and mental health professionals have also shared their knowledge and perspective in books such as Dr. Nancy C. Andreasen's landmark The Broken Brain, but Dave has yet to find any books on these subjects written from the caregiver's point of view. He hopes that sharing his personal journey from that caregiver's perspective can help others who find themselves in the same role to get to a basic understanding of schizophrenia and depression sooner than they might have otherwise, and he also hopes that the book can help to widen the dialog among the general public about these mental issues.
Though it has nothing to do with his book, Dave did share with the Hancock Herald staff a few of his memories of Hancock that he has from growing up. He remembers that when his parents and grandparents would drive over to visit the Catskills, they would often stop in Hancock for a coffee break or a meal. He recalls that Hancock felt like the last outpost of civilization before venturing into the wilderness of the Catskills. He also remembers seeing the highway construction crews cutting through the side of Hawk Mountain east of Hancock, making way for the four-lane divided highway version of Route 17 that would soon replace the old three-lane undivided version. Dave says, "I remember my grandparents telling me that the hairpin turn at the top of Hawk Mountain was the scene of a number of serious car accidents, and they kept a close watch on the road ahead any time they drove up over that turn." To this day, he often thinks back to the sight of those rock-cutting crews as he drives through that Hawk Mountain cut on the present-day Route 17.
You can find Dave's book in the Triple Cities at River Read in Binghamton and Books I Should Have Read in Endicott. Amazon.com also has copies for sale, both in print form and as a kindle download, and you can find out more about the book from the website MentalPushups.com.