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Peer Mentor Review: Healing Hearts and Minds

Monday, February 06, 2023

By Karla Deal

Healing Hearts and Minds: A Holistic Approach to Coping Well with Congenital Heart Disease is an utterly unique book. Tracy Livecchi, LCSW (ACHA’s longtime Heart to Heart Program & Mental Health Consultant), and Liza Morton, PhD, combine their professional expertise with their personal experience as patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) to empower their readers. Their work gives much needed attention to the emotional experience of living with CHD, providing every reader with compassion, tools, resources, and hope.

Numerous snippets from patients are included throughout the book. Each one reminded me that I am not alone in my journey with CHD. Written for patients, loved ones, healthcare professionals, and mental health specialists alike, everyone in the CHD community is addressed. As a patient, I found value in reading the guides for loved ones and medical providers. It was moving to read about the CHD experience from their unique perspectives.

This is the book I’ve been looking for. I have never picked up a book that I could identify with more than this one. There is something healing in feeling seen and understood. Healing Hearts and Minds was that for me. It brings much needed attention to the potential impact CHD may have on a patient’s mental and emotional wellbeing. It has helped remove the stigma I’ve often felt around my own mental and emotional health challenges, while improving my understanding of the role my CHD played in my overall wellbeing.

Healing Hearts and Minds tells us that CHD patients are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Learning this removed the shame I often felt from experiencing my own struggles with health anxiety. I began seeing a therapist for health anxiety several years ago. What is empowering about this book is how it has reminded me of strategies and tools I learned in therapy, as well as taught me new ones. For example, having a “brain spa day”—how fun and relaxing does that sound?! This book has been a great compliment to therapy for me.

In my experience as a Peer Mentor, I’ve listened to many CHD patients share their feelings of loneliness while they suffer with the emotional toll of being a CHD patient. This book will be a tool I recommend to my fellow patients from now on—since it is written with sensitivity, compassion, strength, and hope.

This book reminds me of everything I love about the CHD community. I will take this book with me on my lifelong journey as a CHD patient, rereading it from time to time, especially prior to appointments, tests, and procedures. If you’ve been wanting to see more attention given to the mental load and emotional toll of living with CHD, then this book is a must. It is with gratitude to the authors that I highly recommend this book to everyone impacted by CHD.

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Healing Hearts & Minds: A Holistic Approach to Coping Well with Congenital Heart Disease is available now by clicking here.

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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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