Recovery from Trauma with Evonne Agnello

Evonne Agnello illustrates the healing possible by speaking openly about mental illness. She describes her recovery from depression following the suicides of her father and brother. Her colorful slides have clear, simple, messages. There’s even some levity and song.  

Evonne was first treated for depression in college and later diagnosed bipolar II. She describes how she forged a positive recovery and reads passages from her book, “Shaking Shame from Mental Illness.” The stories offer help and comfort to those dealing with trauma or depression. She will explore mental illness from both sides – within the mind of the sufferer and of those watching the suffering – and sends hope for all. She shows that mental illness is highly treatable and manageable and need not poison your life. Her insights may reveal clues to your own experiences, and as one reader found, “…was cathartic on many levels.” Her intention is to broaden understanding of mental illness.

Those who suffer must keep trying to find solutions because the possible and probable result is a life worth living. Writing helped her claim peace about the suicides of her father and brother, neutralize pain, and find meaning in suffering. Painful memories slowly diffused their power to grip her with sadness. Agnello said, “It was clear that it would have been more painful not to have worked toward catharsis, so my motivation was seldom lacking. My compulsion to tell these stories and the constantly refreshing feelings writing them moved me forward.” Her message is an example of the biopsychosocial (BPS) model, popularly referred to as the mind body connection. 

Evonne started writing as a young girl and has never stopped. She worked 30 years as a newspaper journalist, writing stories about others before writing a memoir, “Shaking Shame from Mental Illness.

Evonne has presented her message in five states and Germany. She is active in NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at the local, state, and national levels. She has lobbied both her Statehouse and Congress on behalf of mental health issues and recently completed NAMI’s “In Our Own Voice” training. She is currently a member of her local League of Women Voters Mental Health Study Committee that is conducting a two-year study of local mental health care needs and services.

After receiving her Bachelor’s of Science, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota, she worked in Germany for 18 months. She published weekly newspapers in Nebraska and Minnesota, worked for dailies in Washington and Oregon, and retired as Executive Director of Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association, a non-profit trade association of newspapers in six western states.


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