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April 2011 Issue

Karen Troup
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Mother to Share Journey of Healing

Published April 2011

The Mood Disorders Program at the UC Neuroscience Institute is holding two special events Saturday, April 30, at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, including a panel discussion that will feature a Cincinnati couple, Karen and Dave Troup.

Karen Troup, a field service assistant professor in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, lost her 20-year-old son, Jacob Ober, to suicide in February 2010.

Here, she discusses her healing process and her advice to victims of mood disorders and their loved ones.

"The first year’s really awful. We stayed busy, and had a lot of close connections with family and friends. I didn’t take any time off work. There were times when I wished I had just stayed home or taken a month. The faculty, the staff here, everybody was just fantastic. So I was able to be flexible in my job. I did take the summer off, which I don’t usually do. I started back to work this fall and did pretty well for a while, and then, we had the holidays and the anniversary of Jake’s death, and that was bad. But now the business is good.

"I started seeing a counselor right off the bat, and I saw her weekly for a while. In June, we started going to a suicide support group through The Compassionate Friends. I think it’s very important that my husband and I go together.

He would still say, ‘I’m going for you, Karen.’

But I think he has gotten a lot out of it. (Jacob’s father, Dan Ober, died of melanoma in 2006.)

"I sometimes feel like I’m running—running from thinking about what has happened. And it doesn’t mean I haven’t dealt with it. I don’t know how I could have dealt with it any more … I talk to my friends. I go to counseling, and I go to support group, but you know, I’m not real happy with this in my life.

I can’t say I’m not happy with my life; I’m just not happy with this piece of my life.

"We had no warning with Jake, so I don’t know what else we could have done, besides have ESP. But one of the things that I have learned from my support group and through my counselor is that if your child ever makes any comment at all about not wanting to go on, or not wanting to live, or anything that has to do with that, react to it.

So the advice that I would give if one of my friends came to me and said, ‘My son Joey said this to me, and he’s calling from college,’ I would say, ‘Call the campus police. Call his friends. Have them go check on him; have somebody take him to the psychiatric ward—if possible. Do it now. I’m on my way.’

"And my message is to people who are depressed—whether they’re a father or a mother or a child, a friend—is that if you get to the point where you feel like life isn’t worth living, tell somebody how you feel because what you’re thinking about doing is catastrophic.

It is going to devastate those people that love you. You may feel unloved right now; you may feel alone. But you have no idea what you’re going to do. You’re going to leave people behind to feel guilty, to spend their entire lives wondering why.

So tell somebody—get some help, reach out, don’t give up. Because people love you.”

More About the Event: The Mood Disorders Program at the UC Neuroscience Institute will hold two special events Saturday, April 30, at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

The morning event (8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.), "Depression in Special Populations,” is for health care professionals. It requires registration and offers continuing medical education credits. The afternoon event (1 to 5 p.m.), "Depression and Suicide: What You Should Know,” is free and open to the public.

In addition to the panel discussion with Karen Troup and her husband, Dave, it will feature a presentation by Eric Hipple, former NFL quarterback, who has devoted his life to building awareness of depressive illness since the suicide of his 15-year-old son, Jeff.

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