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Immigrant Audrey Gruss: “My Story Could Have Only Happened In Good Ole USA”

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2023 3:03 am

Immigrant Audrey Gruss: “My Story Could Have Only Happened In Good Ole USA”

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 5, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, The Lithuanian American who created the #1 depression research foundation in the country.

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Tap the banner to order now. And we continue with our American stories and with the story of an immigrant named Audrey Groose. And this is the kind of story that can only happen in America.

Here's Audrey. My parents would never have left Lithuania. My mother was a schoolteacher, and my father was a dashing and quite handsome cavalry officer.

And the two of them met and had me. And unfortunately, when I was an infant, Lithuania was nearing the end of the war, World War II. And my parents fled Lithuania because my dad would have been forced by the communists to work with them. He had actually escaped working with the Germans when they first came up north.

He somehow escaped from a German prison camp because he would not work with them. And then when the communists came down, they, of course, took over Lithuania. And then Lithuania became a republic of the Soviet Union when it was a little bit sold down the river at the Yalta Conference. Roseville simply gave Lithuania and the Baltic countries to the communists, and that was a terrible thing, a terrible period for the country.

What my parents used to say is the communists could take anything and everything away from us, but they can't take away your education and your spirit. My parents fled. They fled by going south. They went into Poland and Germany. They ended up in a displaced persons camp, and my father became commandant of that camp run by the Americans.

And they were very lucky that they had relatives who lived in the United States, in Newark, New Jersey, that were able to sponsor them. It was an amazing story for my parents and very difficult, and I think that the trauma of the war, of coming to America, just the tragedy and trauma of it ultimately, I think, affected my mother, who was very creative and very sensitive. She was a poet. She wrote poetry every day of her life, and my mother loved to express herself through iambic pentameter.

And I would memorize her poems as a child and recite them on Radio Free Europe, because their dream was to go back to their country, where they lived in a beautiful suburb, and I think that every refugee from any country that they love and have a history with has to go through some kind of emotional trauma. And ultimately, it caught up with my mother. My mother had what they called a nervous breakdown in, I think it was the late 50s, early 60s. She simply gave up. We found her, my father found her, kind of catatonic, just not moving in a corner of our home. We didn't know very much. The children, by then, two sisters and I kind of weren't aware of all that happened. But my father said that my mother is sick. She was taken to the hospital. And in those days, nervous breakdown was all they told my father. There wasn't much communication with the doctors. And a nervous breakdown, today we know, is major depression.

And they really did not know that much about it in those days. So we had a very loving, up, creative, fun, wonderful mother that we knew. And when she came home, we knew that somehow her nerves were broken. My sisters and I thought that we did it. We felt very guilty and very scared.

You know, children often take responsibility, thinking that they're involved in everything, in every way. And it was really a very difficult time for both my father and my sisters and I, because we witnessed years of different diagnoses, years of different medications, and kind of this terrible sadness and loss of energy that is a mark of depression. It was at times embarrassing. Mental health was not spoken about. Depression was not a word that people used.

In writing, they used melancholia and talked about Orson Welles or referred to in other literate ways. All those years of my family being aware of my mother struggling with depression, we were unable, unless to the most private of friends, we were unable to share our story. It was terrible at times.

You know, some young friends would make fun. They'd say your mother's crazy or terrible things. And that's how people viewed it sometimes. I remember it was the days of when people had cancer.

You cross the street when someone had the big C because you thought it was contagious, all based on ignorance. So I realized only after my mother's death, 16 years ago, I realized that I might be able to do something in this field. I was devastated when my mother died. And I talked to her psychiatrist. He in turn introduced me to neuroscientists and other people in the mental health field. And I remember someone suggesting that we just open a center, a neuroscience center.

Well, I just didn't feel that bricks and mortar and big bricks and mortar was the answer. I really felt we had to get to the bottom of what's going on in depression and in mental health. And some of the neuroscientists told me that there was a crisis going on in the field of research. Seven or eight of the leading pharmaceutical companies were getting out of the brain biology research fields because it was simply too expensive and they weren't getting new medications fast enough.

It was written up in the New York Times that big pharma is out of brain and bio research. And at that time, most of the basic antidepressants out there were versions of Prozac. Prozac was introduced in 1985. So that was in all that time, we had no new categories of medication. 35 percent of the people who have depression struggle with it and don't have an antidepressant that works for them, where they have terrible side effects. So it's amazing that in 35 years since Prozac was introduced, no new category, all of these facts came into play.

And I thought, why don't I try? Why don't I try to create a foundation for advanced research named after my mother, Hope? What better name could there be than the ironic coincidence that my mother's name was Hope? So I started a foundation, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, named after my mother Hope, what is now the most advanced and number one depression research organization in the country.

We are now in two clinical trials with a major new category of medication. My story is really an only in America story. It could not have happened in other parts of the world because we as Americans are known for our philanthropy. In other parts of the world, in socialized countries in Europe, they are accustomed to the government taking care of them. Accustomed to the government funding scientific research, funding culture, funding all kind of these government securities that are given to people. And people don't feel that they should privately be donating to anything cultural.

They have been taught that the government will take care of it. In America, we know that that is not the way that it happens and that private people can make an enormous difference with their own inspiration, their own aspiration, and their own achievements. I really feel that my story and what I was able to create could never have happened anywhere but good old USA. And great job as always to Joey for producing the piece. And thanks to Audrey Groos for sharing her story, her mom's story, and her rebuttal to what happened to her mom, a beautiful rebuttal. And Audrey is the founder of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

You can learn more about their work and support it at hopefordepression.org. Audrey Groos's story, a great American dreamer story, here on Our American Stories. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 04:39:28 / 2023-04-05 04:43:53 / 4

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