Book Review: She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro


Linda Appleman Shapiro

How do I even start to review this book? Here is my modest 5/5 review left on goodreads after reading it in 48 hours just because there were other important things to do too:

I may not have a story identical to Linda’s to the extent that it wasn’t my mum, but I identify very much with her childhood. Linda’s is a story above all of survival in the midst of extreme trauma and near loss of one’s own sanity. That she survives and even thrives, to get to the point of working to help people in similar situations or even worse, speaks volumes of the resilence imbued in our human nature. Her’s is equally a sad story of painful traditions sometimes corroborated by religion, but it ends with a lot of hope. This book will definitely make a very good read.

This is what is said on the Amazon: On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda 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 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.

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. 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.

I share three soul searching quotations before urging You in search of healing from similar trauma, to treat yourself to this – at least for the season.

1) “ I hold on to the belief I consider to be most valuable: the need to honour the parts of ourselves that are healthy, the parts that are strong, even when unpredictable situations – our own physical or emotional stressors or those of our loved ones – catch us off guard.

2) Learning to accept my own dark side while honouring my strenghts, I began to understand the healing power of forgiving and was more determined than ever to … merge life’s sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery. Only then was I able to move beyond trauma – as I believe it is possible for others to do – with grace and dignity.

3) In order to confront my demons and not drown in my sorrows, the challenge for me was to learn to forgive – first my family and then myself. I reached out for professional guidance, to break the…cycle of despair, and that’s what I believe everyone in such circumstance must do eventually.

 

Thinking most especially of my friend Linda, and wishing Thumbup so much good tidings too.

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One thought on “Book Review: She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro”

  1. I don’t know how or why I never read your review until today. Dec.31, 2015 (one year after you posted it),but it’s never to late to say thank you. . . and I do thank you for understanding, supporting, and being an advocate for mental health. Sending blessings and all best wishes for a healthy, peaceful and productive 2016! ~ Linda

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