Speaking About Depression Project

Truth: A Way Back for a Man and His Family

Our family was profoundly impacted by the devastating effects of depression, but by opening up about it, we have created positive possibilities in our lives. And we have become much closer because of it. This experience inspired our family to write the book No More Secrets: A Family Speaks About Depression, Anxiety and Attempted Suicide. As a family we have been featured in the press and have been guests on television and radio programs. We welcome the opportunity to share our story to help other families. Click the link below to read article.

John Gallagher’s story in Guideposts Magazine

Our website is  www.speakingaboutdepression.com and community blog  – for people who have suffered with depression and their families. Speaking openly about depression helped our family. We hope that this site will help your family too.


Link to my Amazon Author Page with all titles listed

20 Wonderful Things

What is the “20 Wonderful Things” Program?

This refers to the engaging and interactive program that I offer for seniors. I bring in a vintage apple basket and an old suitcase filled with lots of colorful items and we have a wonderful discussion. When I take an item out of the basket, I hear lots of “ooh’s and ahh’s.” Each item reminds the residents of a story, or a a good time in their life. We all share what comes to mind when something is held up to view.

The program is cognitive, tactile, and inspirational. Lots of discussion and laughter! I ask thought provoking and open-ended questions:

  • Who do you love the most?
  • Who loved you the most?
  • Were you ever a Scout?
  • What is your favorite pie?
  • Who was your first real love?

These simple questions slip into the minds of the participants and lots of memories come forth.

The conversation changes from the usual talk about what time is dinner or what staff is on tonight. An interesting discussion always ensues. Then I hold up a variety of props, the 20 Wonderful Things. Listed below are some of the questions and a variety of answers:

  1. Cooking Pot: What is your favorite thing to cook? Tender roast turkey with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh-made popcorn, macaroni and cheese, fish tacos, beef stroganoff, sweet potato pie, collard greens (Talking about all of those good meals lures them back to another time, back to a dining room with heavenly smells, dinner with their grandparents and family. We almost smell the food cooking.)
  2. Ice-cream bowl: Tell me about your favorite ice-cream parlor. What do you like to put on your banana split? Chocolate chips, peanuts, chocolate syrup. Remember Magic Shell? Hot fudge. Whipped cream. Blueberries and strawberries. Chips of dark chocolate. Anything gooey or crunchy. Wheat germ. Caramel sauce and almonds.
  3. Tell me about your favorite playground and what you liked to do? The one with the wooden tractor. The one with the Merry-Go- Round. I liked amusement parks like Woodside Park and Willow Grove Park. I still like the swings and trying to swing your feet to the sky. Flying a kite. Playing King of the Hill. Hanging upside down on the monkey bars. Using chalk to make pictures on the sidewalk. Blowing bubbles.
  4. A cookbook titled Things to Make in Your New Blender. (copyright 1957) What do you like to make in a blender? Eggnog. Milkshakes. Icing for cakes. Margaritas. I used to mix the ingredients for fragrant soaps in my blender. Banana smoothees. Salad dressing. Blind Date Pudding.

We talk about chores, good meals around the table, the flaky crust on a pie they used to make, the hard work they used to do, and the old company they used to keep. One lady said, ” I really like this because you are really talking to us.”

Every resident gets a gift, every time! They can select from our large sack of stuffed animals – a reminder that they are loved! (And then, we ask why they selected the particular animal. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)

Excellent references available. We will gladly provide you with the names of other care facilities where we have offered our program.

To learn more, please contact me or go to the full site http://20wonderfulthings.wordpress.com, which includes some of the story ideas we’ve covered with participants and feedback from the seniors.

Big smiles to our residents

“Patricia, I appreciate the gift of your “throw-away flowers”. I was wondering if we could schedule a time to do it again. They brought big smiles to our residents and made their world a little brighter. It is a shame to waste the beautiful bouquets if they can brighten someone’s day with a colorful surprise. Each recipient had the thrill of feeling special for the day… You are not bringing just a bunch of flowers. You are bringing a bunch of messages that somebody cares. Thank you!”

-Activity Director

Great medicine for the soul

“Hi Trisha! Responding a little late but better late than never! We love that you bring flowers for our residents. Your programs are always so uplifting and beneficial to the well being of our residents – the often forgotten group. The people in the Assisted Living were so thrilled to receive a bouquet of caring thoughts –it was great medicine for the soul. Was great to see you last Monday!”

-Activity Director

You truly put a smile on all of their faces!

“Thanks so much Patricia, for thinking of us, and for taking the time to pick up flowers and deliver them to our residents. You truly put a smile on all of their faces! I think the world needs a little more kindness. Many of the people here have no visitors and never receive flowers… They need support in so many ways and the surprise visit with the flowers had a reaction that I could never have anticipated. I am glad that the day-old flowers could be re-purposed to sprout up spirits here. As I look around, I see your colorful palettes of color on nightstands, windowsills, meal trays and at the nurses’ station.”

-Activity Director