Sandy's Gift

Book Description:

More than 15 million adults and their immediate families in America today must cope with a patient suffering from severe mental illness. In too many cases, these families cannot or do not know how to get help for their loved ones.

SANDY’S GIFT: WALKING WITH THE LIGHT (Cedar Forge, 2017, softcover) by William P. Dunn IV is an intimate and shocking true story that tells of the tragic plight of Sandra Dunn, a mother and loving wife whose life takes a tragic turn when she suddenly falls victim to severe mental illness; how the healthcare profession and the law prevented her from getting the treatment she needed; how it destroyed her family and nearly got them killed. By sharing his story, Dunn hopes that people will have a better understanding of the ravages of mental illness and know how to cope with them better.

My Review

I have had a slight taste of what it is like to deal with a relative with a mental illness. Although, my exposure was limited. Mr. Dunn did a marvelous job of sharing Sandy's story. Having never met her but reading this book I felt like I did. I think that she would be proud of her husband for bringing awareness to mental illness. What was very unfortunate for Mr. Dunn and his daughters was the lack of compassion, duty, and HIPAA laws that were all put in place that should have helped them but all of these systems failed them. As I was reading Mr. Dunn's story with regards to him trying to get help for his wife, I could not help but feel anguish and frustration.

We have all read stories in the press regarding suicides or mass killings by people suffering from mental illnesses and wondered why didn't these people get the help they needed or we need stronger gun laws. After reading this book and getting a better insight into all of the steps that Mr. Dunn tried to do to get his wife help it is understandable why so many people suffer. Not only the person but their family and friends. I am familiar with HIPAA having to deal with it in my job. It can be both a protection to the person that wants their information protected but also a hindrance to those who like in Mr. Dunn's situation find it a road block to helping his wife. I agree that law makers need to re-evaluate the HIPAA act and how it applies in the mental health arena. This book will stay with you long after you have put it down.

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Meet the Author:

William P. Dunn IV worked on Wall Street in the U.S. Government bond market where he worked his way up from the back office to the trading desks. After twenty years on Wall Street, he became a financial advisor in northern New Jersey. He continues to work as an investment advisor. He is a graduate of Thiel College where he earned a dual degree in Economics and Business Administration. Today he lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and is a proud grandfather.
1) When did you first feel the urge to write this memoir? Can you share what your journey was like from first deciding to write in your hands?                                                                                                                                                       I guess one could say that by about 1 year after Sandy’s passing December 2007 I was still very angry and mad. My thoughts were I wanted to blast all what I call “public dis-servants” for the injustice that took place in my household. The judge and the DYFUS employees for their failure to even show to our home, we were abandoned in my opinion. Then in April of the following year I meet what I thought was just this little local “hocus pocus” lady by the name of Gloria Weichand. That is when the healing really began for me. Events later that took place made my heart change somewhat and I then came to understand Gods calling for me to write this book.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         2) What was the hardest part of writing this memoir? What came the easiest?                                                                               On this one the beginning of the book started on 11/30/2010, I did the first 4 chapters by the new year of 2011. I cried while doing so, and then put it down and by the end of 2011 had completed part 1) Building a life together. Part 2) 160 days was tedious as I need to cross reference all the dates to make sure all was correct and accurate from hospital, DYFUS and police records.  The easiest was the Epilogue and the 5 appendices or shall I call them the “truth”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3) How do your daughter feel about you baring this very private and difficult time. Have they both moved on- let go                                                                                                                                                                                 This is one question that I told both of my daughters that for their protection and privacy I will not answer question’s regarding my girls. This is my story of my life and not theirs. I gave them my word on this and each have a copy but I do not know if either has read this. So for their privacy I promised them I will do my best to keep them sheltered, I hope that this answer is sufficient. I will say that we all have survived a terrible loss and fortunately all are doing well now, for many others this is not the case.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4) For those who have not read the book yet, can you share a little bit about what HIPAA is and how it impacts those caring for a family member suffering from a mental illness?                                                                              HIPAA stand for a law singed back in 1996 the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” Within I this law there currently is a provision called the “patients privacy” provision. This provision gives the patient once attained age of 18 to keep all medical records private. This means without a singed consent by the patient doctors are prohibited by law to discuss to anyone “parent or spouse anything as decreed by this law. In the case of mental health care this must be changed and if not we as a society will continue to read of shooting as is so common place today. The last such occurred in my new home town of Ft. Lauderdale airport. The first reports were of a terrorist act occurring however once it was learned that the veteran had a mental health condition it left the news rather quickly. We have come to accept these atrocities as the new “norm” and citizens should instead be outraged. This law is the hindrance to most families, mine is one of thousands of stories that occur every year.           For most they never discuss what occurs, for myself I want the world to know what those “public dis-servants” did and their names brought public.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           5) What would you most like readers to take away from this book?                                                                                      In my opinion we as a nation do not recognize mental illness as an “illness” and the social stigmatism associated with this disease is unfounded. We celebrate Breast cancer awareness month in October ever year, this year 2107 there will be 40,000 deaths and 257,000 will be diagnosed. Currently in America we have 270 million adults age 18 and above and approximately just under 6% suffer from a severe form of mental illness which is 15 million adults. My family is not the only victim and hopefully by sharing my life’s story some good may occur. I told Leslie the following at Thanksgiving last year in 2016 because I did not write this in the book.   When I called Gloria back in Dec. of 2014 she said to me when she first picked up the phone: “Bill I have been waiting for you call, Sandy came to me 3 days ago in a group session. Sandy says “you need to finish it” I said to Gloria what did you say? She replied that Sandy said “you need to finish it” Gloria repeated. So now I am following Sandy’s wish from beyond as she wants her story told.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6) How can we support friends who are going through an experience like mine? What can be done to ease the burden?                                                                                                                                                                                                 I believe that for each individual there is a different answer to this one. For me some didn’t want to hear anything about what was going on (relatives). I would say to all out there consider this as an illness, the brain is an organ no different than a liver and sympathy is something that all these families need. Unfortunately in many cases, people will withdraw out of either ignorance or guilt as to not knowing what to say or do.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               7) Has the spark of writing been flamed? Do you think you will ever sit down and write another book?                    
     Well the answer is yes to both, I do have an outline started on another topic, however it is on a different subject matter and time will tell when I will start this new endeavor. I may get a little busy with the current book from the feedback I am seeing.


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