Linda Appleman Shapiro Marks The 2nd Anniversary Of The Publication Of Her Memoir, "She's Not Herself"

Author - Mari L. McCarthy
Published - October 20, 2016

Linda: Happy 2nd anniversary on the publication of your beautiful, inspiring, healing memoir, She's Not Herself: A psychotherapist's journey into and beyond her mother's mental illness.  CreateWriteNow tribe members: Please read the reviews and purchase it here for yourself or someone you know trying to deal with a parent's mental illness.

This post first appeared in 2014 as part of Linda's WOW Blog Tour.


Shes_Not_Herself_Cover.pngMari asks, "How to write about very sad and challenging experiences and still leave the reader feeling hopeful?"

I suppose the best way to start to answer your question is to say that I would never want to read a book that was filled only with sad experiences, so it was definitely not my intention to write one.

Although it’s true that some people live lives that are far more painful and difficult to navigate than others (and those whose challenges are chronic are to be commended for whatever ways they find to cope) . . . life, for most of us – even those of us who have experienced significant trauma – still brings good days and bad days, joyful days and sad days. The sun rises even when we may not be able to appreciate its light; the dark of night can seem glorious or dismal.
Once I had my ah-ha moment, knowing that there are many ways to educate and that I had a story to tell, I also knew that my story could not focus only on my mother’s mental illness and how I was effected by the multi-generational effects of trauma. I was determined to have my story include the broader spectrum of life in our family, the many other memories I’d filtered and explored through the years as the daughter of immigrant parents at a time when all major illnesses was a taboo subject in mainstream society and more so within immigrant communities where little was known about them and even less information was available to families caught in the grip of despair.

I wanted to write in an engaging enough way to encourage others to bring secrets out from their closet and seek the help they deserve. As with any good story, I needed mine to have a universal appeal where readers could identify with different parts of my life and in different ways but always offering an opportunity to touch the heart, to offer hope, and to allow the mind to sift through it all, adding something that was not readily available or previously experienced on a conscious level.

I never wanted to write a “woe is me” tale, nor did I wish to use my therapist’s voice to lead the narrative. I wanted the reader to be able to enter my world as I remembered it.

In re-creating scenes and dialogue that include the everyday and often times loving and tender moments of family life, the reader becomes familiar with much more than the trauma that caused each of us to suffer in silence.

As Jerry Waxler states in MEMOIR REVOLUTION: Write your story. Change the World, the 21st century phenomenon of memoir writing offers a personal and historical exploration of the need for us all to tell our stories. “Through story,” he writes, “we learn about the journeys of others, learn the rigors and requirements of being ourselves, and then pass along what we’ve learned, developing far greater wisdom together than any of us could develop on our own.”

Although I trust my story speaks to anyone who has grown up with a chronically ill family member, I hope I am also addressing the very urgent need to interrupt the various patterns of family “dysfunction” that do not allow for healthy development. By merging life’s sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery, we bring others closer to understanding the healing power of forgiveness without forgetting. Forgiveness of oneself and forgiveness of the people in our lives is, I believe, the greatest gift we can give and receive, if we are not to remain stuck in the debilitating indignities of shame, suffering, and an unexplored life.

One of many comments which I am so grateful to have received states: “Shapiro shows how trauma affects families through generations, yet she offers hope that things can change. This book is about more than just Shapiro’s relationship with her mother. It explores Linda’s delight with school and learning; her experience with first love and her relationship with her husband; and her efforts to define herself through work and family. It also evokes an iconic immigrant community in Brooklyn with colorful stories from a memorable era. “SHE’S NOT HERSELF” is a beautiful coming-of-age story that has the immediacy of a child’s perspective and the wisdom of an adult’s.”

My hope is that most readers will agree.


Linda_Appleman_Shapiro_Head_Shot.pngBehavioral 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.

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