Thanks to WOW! Women on Writing blog tours I’m pleased to welcome author and psychotherapist Linda Appleman Shapiro. I feel so fortunate to have her here on the first day of her tour to promote her new memoir, She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness, published in September 2014 by Dream of Things.
Here’s Linda, as she speaks openly about mental illness coming out of the closet and constantly being in the news. Most importantly, she personalizes what it is like to live with a family member suffering from a mental illness by sharing her experience growing up with a mother who suffered from major depressive disorder.
An Open Discussion about Keeping Secrets about Family Illnesses
by Linda Appleman Shapiro
Secrets about an illness in a family is the breeding ground for a wide range of emotional problems, and, yes, even mental illness. I’ve learned this not only from personal experience, but also from 30 years as a psychotherapist treating individuals and families.
Fortunately, we no longer live in the years when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s when illnesses of any kind were hardly spoken about. In those days cancer and mental illness, in particular, were definitely taboo subjects. Yet, even today there are untold numbers of family members who may know something is wrong but don’t know how to identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness. They live, instead, in silence, not knowing what resources may be available to them. They are at a loss to find anyone who will give them reasons to feel that they are not alone. They feel hopeless and are unable to move out from beneath their personal demons and take no action. They are perpetual victims.
In a New York Times interview last year author Jeannette Walls was quoted as saying: “If you’re to discuss what you’ve been through, people become unashamed of their own secrets.” Those are my exact sentiments! I believe that when lives are personalized we are more able to identify with their authenticity and, in turn, associate with whatever truths we share in common.
I hope that I succeed in doing just that in my memoir, She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness. By taking readers into my childhood home and giving dimension to each of my family members, I trust that in reading my story, the re-creation of scenes and dialogue, as well as the trauma that caused each of us in my family to suffer silently while it joined us inextricably together, will touch the hearts and minds of most readers.
Those who lived through or are living with one secret or another invading their lives will be inspired from identifying with me and then finding solace and hope for themselves.
In the end, what I hope will speak to readers the loudest is the fact that I have not merely survived but have gained the tools (available to them, as well) from exceptional therapists whose insights I sought to enable me to live a healthier and more productive life than would have otherwise been possible.
It’s true that there is not nearly enough money allocated for research and for the treatment of mental illness. Yet, it is also true that in today’s world no one needs to isolate themselves or hide when illness hits.
There is help available and seeking that help is the first step toward health for patients and their families.
She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.
On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.
Paperback: 249 pages
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 2, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #SNHerselfShapiro
She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon and through BN.com, Dream of Things.com and several other on-line book sites listed on Goodreads.
About the Author: Behavioral psychotherapist/addictions counselor/oral historian/mental health advocate and author, Linda Appleman Shapiro earned her B.A. in literature from Bennington College, a Master’s degree in human development/counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, and a Master Certification in neuro-linguistic programming from the New York Institute of N.L.P. She has further certifications in Ericksonian hypnosis and substance abuse/addictions counseling. Linda Appleman Shapiro is a contributing author in the casebook, Leaves Before the Wind: Leading Applications of N.L.P. In private practice for more than thirty years, Shapiro also served as a senior staff member at an out-patient facility for addicts and their families. As an oral historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York’s elderly.
Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008. Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist’s Journey,” named Shapiro top blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.
Married to actor and audiobook narrator George Guidall, Linda Appleman Shapiro and her husband live in Westchester County, New York. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Where to find Linda Appleman Sharpiro
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1698967.Linda Appleman Shapiro
Thanks so much for being here with us today, Linda. And huge success with your wonderful memoir, She’s Not Herself.
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