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Secret Lives of OhioHealth: Turning Life Lessons Into Books

Angie Yousey, RN, and psychologist Dorienna M. Alfred, PhD, at OhioHealth McConnell Heart Health Center specialize in helping patients recover from the trauma of a cardiac event.

But beyond the walls of McConnell, these two OhioHealth associates have turned their own life challenges into published books, sharing the lessons they’ve learned with the goal of inspiring others.

Yousey’s book, which she wrote with her husband, Chris, draws from 27 years of marriage and experiences parenting six children in a blended family. Titled What You Need to Know to Lead a Marriage Support Group: The Guide to Develop Unity in Marriage, the book is designed to help church officials and other community leaders counsel couples on creating strong marriages that can withstand the day-to-day stress of raising children.

Since it published in February, the book has garnered rave reviews and reached the No. 1 spot in Amazon’s “family, relationships and marriage” book category. It also inspired the couple, who are both pastors, to start their own television show titled Real Marriage on the NOW Network streaming service. The book will soon be rereleased online and in bookstores under the title Creating Unity: The Guide to Leading a Marriage Support Group.

“People used to come to us with questions, and we would always sit down and counsel couples,” explained Yousey, whose six sons have gone on to achieve academic and professional success. “We ended up saying, ‘We’ve got to put this information in a book because we don’t have enough appointment spots to reach everyone.’”

Yousey and her husband continue to offer in-person marriage coaching. Their most important piece of advice to couples on keeping a marriage alive, Yousey said, is to make time for each other.

“A lot of couples let the kids come between them,” she said. “We recognized that one day the kids are going to be gone and it’s going to be just the two of us, and we wanted to maintain our relationship and our friendship.”

Alfred's book, meanwhile, offers a personal account of how she coped with the devastating loss of her first baby, who was stillborn, and the weeks she spent in the hospital on bed rest during two subsequent, high-risk pregnancies. Published as an electronic book in 2015, the book is titled Pregnant with Promise: A Spiritual Journey of Pregnancy, Bed Rest, and Childbirth. It’s now available in paperback and can be purchased online and in bookstores.

Much of the book is excerpts from Alfred’s journal entries, where she details her emotional struggles while confined to a hospital bed during her second pregnancy, worried that, at any moment, she might again lose her child. The entries also draw on the scriptures that helped Alfred navigate this difficult time in her life.

Today, she is the proud and grateful mom of two boys, Brandon, 11, and Jalen, 10.

Alfred hopes the book will bring awareness to perinatal mental health. While pregnant, she experienced depression and anxiety that went largely untreated. She believes the book can be an inspiration to those who have experienced pregnancy loss or complications, and undiagnosed mood and anxiety symptoms. She also believes the book can serve as encouragement to others facing different kinds of challenges.

“If the book blesses even one person, then it was worth it,” she said.

This story was originally published in an internal OhioHealth associate publication.