As a mental-health patient, Terry Dorn was discouraged from being a writer and publisher. He proved them wrong in short order, publishing a book collecting the creative talents of mentally challenged people in Washington state. Now, Dorn is sharing the remarkable story of faith and experiences that led him to that and other triumphs in The Cross & the Psychiatrist. The book tells of an existence that hit rock bottom and lays out the simple ingredients that can rebuild anyone’s life. Because of an injury, Dorn lost his successful business, and was divorced, desperate and homeless by 1990. Social service agencies directed him to therapists, who diagnosed Dorn with bipolar disorder.
Homeless and mentally ill would be enough to crush most people’s drive. But not Dorn’s. Frustrated by others’ ignorance and misunderstanding, Dorn singlehandedly pushes to publish a compilation of prose, poetry and art by Washington’s mentally ill – despite what one caseworker tells him is a “delusion of grandeur.” Against all odds, he raises the money and travels to countless social-service centers to collect material for the project, which was published in 2001 as “Our Memories” and has helped change opinions about what’s possible by the mentally ill. It’s an effort he follows up with “The Insider,” a newspaper for mental-health consumers which promotes hope and recovery. What helps him accomplish these outsized goals is an enduring faith in God, a determination never to give up – and an adorable puppy called Wayne, Dorn writes. “Six years of therapy had been almost useless, but after a little less than a year with a puppy, I started feeling better,” states Dorn.At once brutally honest and optimistic, The Cross & the Psychiatrist will give those going through similar experiences hope for what they can achieve. For mental-health professionals and caseworkers, the book is an invaluable portrait of the successes and failures of the system in one man’s life. And for general readers, Dorn’s book is a call for respect and understanding – while revealing some life lessons that can help anyone accomplish their goals, no matter the circumstances.
About the Author: Terry Dorn has published a book for Washington state mental health system and has been the editor of a mental-health newspaper. His overarching message is that, he says, “You must learn to turn your problems into lessons.” Terry’s ability to see the good in people has helped many individuals to return to a productive life. He lives in Vancouver, Washington.
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