Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guest Post by Author Linda Appleman Shapiro: Making Sure Depression is Given the Attention it Deserves

Throughout our lives each of us develops defenses and strategies that we trust will work to protect us. Yet, whatever psychological waters we have to navigate, we do so without much conscious awareness. What we live with is our norm and, if we’re lucky, we adjust to that norm as best we can despite our genetic wiring and or environmental influences.

However, if one succeeds – as children (and even adults) often do – in hiding the truth from one’s self or one’s family, demons fester. It often takes only a hair-line trigger to set them loose, and then it can be too late for any healthy intervention, as we’ve seen in the growing number of teen suicides, to highlight just one category of victims.

Since illnesses in general are no longer the taboo subjects they were when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s and was so deeply affected by my mother’s mental illness, I appreciate how far we’ve come. But I also know how much still needs to be done to help others know how to recognize when help is needed, to seek it out and even fight for it, using whatever city, government, or private system is available.

​It’s a well-documented fact that secrets about an illness in any family is the breeding ground for a wide range of emotional problems including mental illness. As​ parents, teachers, and health providers we must, therefore, not be afraid to teach the “facts” in order to ​eliminate stigmas. We can't​ afford to ignore what we see and assume that by just wishing away strange and often aberrant behaviors they will not ultimately ​surface and cause irreparable damage.​
Underneath the umbrella we’ve come to label as “mental illness,” there exist many different conditions and diagnoses. If we look only at “depression” there are very specific signs and symptoms. Depressed people do not simply suffer as we all do from time to time from sad days or normal mood reactions to life’s setbacks. Depression includes: feelings of hopelessness; loss of interest in daily activities; appetite or weight changes; sleep changes; anger or irritability; loss of energy; self-loathing; reckless behavior; problems concentrating; and unexplained aches and pains.

Depression also looks very different in children, teens, men and women, and older adults.  Knowing what unique symptoms, causes, and effects exist can only help in finding the best trained professionals who are capable to offer the most effective treatment. And depression can most definitely be treated!

If it is not and a family remains in denial, that family will continue to foster unhealthy relationships ... and the result will be an unhealthy outcome for those whom they more often than not love the most. Avoiding conflict because of a fear of possible rejection accomplishes nothing​ except allowing stigmas and discrimination to abound; the sick become sicker and everyone suffers.

We must open our eyes and keep them open. Our goal must be – even in these very stressful days of 21st century living – to advocate for those in need and to act responsibly whenever and wherever it is humanly possible to do so.

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.

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About the Book:

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.

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 is available through, Dream of and several other on-line book sites listed on Goodreads.

Paperback: 249 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dream of Things (September 2, 2014)
Twitter hashtag: #SNHerselfShapiro

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