In the spring of 2010, Tabita Green's daughter, Rebecka—then just 13—started to feel depressed and lost several pounds from her already slim frame. Almost immediately, Rebecka's well-meaning health care providers recommended that she take an antidepressant to "kick-start" the treatment process.
Green, Luther College director of web content, wrote "Her Lost Year: A Story of Hope and a Vision for Optimizing Children's Mental Health," to tell her family's journey of surviving a year of modern psychiatry and explore how people might live differently to promote mental health for all people.
"Her Lost Year," chronicles a yearlong nightmare of hospital visits, psychiatric commitments and various cocktails of antidepressants and antipsychotics. Green and her husband, Todd, watched their funny, bright teenager transform into a psychiatric patient, hospitalized numerous times for suicidal ideations and psychosis—unable to function in the real world.
Green—with Rebecka—shares her family's intimate story of despair, recovery and hope throughout the first several chapters of the book.
She goes on to describe what she learned about psychiatry in the U.S.—especially related to kids and teens—and discusses the ever-widening definition of mental illness and the culture of medication as a first, rather than last, resort.
Subsequent chapters cover a wide range of effective, alternative treatment options from taking care of physical needs to specific therapies including family therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, therapies that helped Rebecka and her family heal.
To close the book, Green explores why so many people are struggling mentally and emotionally in the first place. What if we could redesign our society for optimal mental health? What would such a society look like? And what actions can we take now?
"This is a book every parent should read. While the book title is 'Her Lost Year,' it also tells a story of triumph and hope for adolescents and their parents,” said Eric Robinson, associate professor of educational psychology at Baylor University.
Beyond inspiring hope and providing valuable insight into children's mental health care, the book offers concrete steps for action. "There are ways we can transform our homes, our schools, and our society into environments that are conducive to mental health. I hope this book serves as a reminder that many struggling kids are not "disordered"; they're simply trying to communicate that things are amiss—and they are right. It's time we did something about it," Green said.
As director of web content at Luther College, Green manages the team of web content coordinators and web designers that create, maintain and optimize the Luther website.
In 2011, Green left her corporate job to focus on family, health and community building. After three years of research into mental health and resilience for her book, "Her Lost Year," she believes humanity's future health and happiness depends on the creation of resilient, sustainable communities.
Green's blog at tabitagreen.com inspires readers to take action for personal wellness, social justice, and a sustainable future. She has also written guest posts for blogs such as "Write to Done," "Lifehack" and "Search Engine Journal."
As a speaker, Green offers presentations on topics ranging from mental health optimization to simple productivity. She has presented at the National Wellness Conference, offers workshops on time management and health, and is a guest lecturer at Luther College on several subjects, including mindfulness in education.
A native of Sweden, Green lives in Decorah, Iowa, with Todd and Rebecka. Follow Green on Twitter, @tabitag.