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She's Not Herself

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  34 reviews
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 he ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Dream of Things
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 ·  280 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Madeline Sharples
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love survival memoirs and this is certainly one of the best I’ve read. It resonated with me and touched me in many ways: the author and I both grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, we were both children of immigrant parents – hers from Russia, mine from Lithuania and Poland. And most important of all we both had to find a way to grow up and thrive while our mothers were never themselves. The author’s mother suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, my mother battled with possible ...more
Mike O'Mary
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book on multiple levels. It captures life in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, in the 1940s/1950s. It capsulizes the incredible story of one Russian Jewish family's immigration to the United States. And most of all, it tells the story of a young girl who had to navigate life with a mother who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (largely as a result of the aforementioned immigration) and depression. The young girl not only navigates life with her depressed mother, but goes on ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When Linda Appleman Shapiro was a child, her mother would say and do things that confused and frightened her. In post-war Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, mental illness was rarely acknowledged, and doctors had little understanding of how to treat it. All Linda’s father would tell her was, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Linda grew up believing that she had no right to ask questions, that she should never cause trouble for anyone else—that she had to be perfect.

As a young adult, though, fears th
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just couldn't put this book down! The writer's honesty and simple, unpretentious recounting of her life in a family unable to deal with on-going trauma takes you on the journey with her as she navigates through conflcting realities to ultimately become herself, an insightful, feeling person, an empathic therapist, a wonderful mother and an extroaordinary wife. As her husband, and a narrator of over 1200 audiobooks, I urge you to take the journey with her. Also, check out those wedding pictures t ...more
Melissa Lindsey
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, netgalley
I really enjoyed this memoir of a woman whose mother suffered from mental illness. She captured her younger years very well and I felt the fear and confusion she must have felt as well. The book also has some very touching moments, which showed me that Shapiro's mother really was doing the best she could, given her illness. I left with strong feelings of connections to Linda and her family.

In addition to dealing with the topic of mental illness, this book also does a nice job of sharing some of
Veronica Mary
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"She's Not Herself" by Linda Appleman Shapiro is an exquisitely written personal memoir about growing up haunted by a mother's attacks of mental illness and living with pain and fear too deep to express. Yet this heartbreaking story also bears witness to the author's ability to make choices -- courageous choices that enabled her to move beyond the trauma of her childhood and young adult life, and become a compassionate healer of others. The story is told in vivid detail, rich imagery, and never ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a First Reads Giveaway & so very happy that I did!

This book is wonderful, I couldn't stop reading & talking about it with everyone I know!

It begins with Linda's childhood & her parent's histories and follows her & her family into adulthood. The story is compelling and touching, not to mention well-written & very thought provoking.

I also have a close family member who suffered mental illness during the 60's & on. I found myself with tears through most of the chapters wondering
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a memoir of a Jewish girl named Linda who grew up living in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, NY. She lived with her parents and older brother. It frightened her when her mother was "having a bad day" which was all she was told, she never questioned what was happening and learned to keep this secret to herself. On her mother's bad days her father would not allow her mother to stay home alone and would drop her off with a relative so that he could go to work. Sometimes her mother wo ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
After recently reading a self-help book by a psychotherapist that left me absolutely aghast that the author was counseling others, when she so obviously needed counseling herself, I was reluctant at first to read another book so soon by another psychotherapist. But I always love reading about Brooklyn in the 1940s-1960s decades, so I got this book and hoped for the best. While She's Not Herself wasn't the best memoir I've ever read, it was certainly an excellent one; and ended up being actually ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was interested in this storyline. It has been recognised that there is a higher rate of emotional and behavioural difficulties in children who’s parents suffer from poor mental health. Shapiro has taken this very difficult subject and tackled it with honesty and emotion. Beautifully written account of her childhood and the impact of her mothers mental health. In a world where many are quoted as saying how resilient children are it is so important to realise that this is often not the case. Men ...more
Susan Kiel
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Every so often I go through the Nonfiction titles at NetGalley and discover a book or two which catch my eye. What I read in the description that made me download the book was the author's honesty about the good and bad she experienced as a child. The author didn't use this as an opportunity to besmirch her mother's memory or present the situation in biased light. I felt that she tried to give as much insight into the internal war that her mother was fighting while living through decades in whic ...more
We Said It: Literary Reviews  w/ Ts Blogging
Title: Publisher's Read
She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro

Reviewed by S. Davis
May 16, 2015
4 p.m.

The best thing about memoirs is getting into the mind of another person and viewing the world from his or her perspective. In Linda Appleman Shapiro’s memoir She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness, she does exactly this. The reader gets to grow up along with Linda and understand events as she understood them at various stages in her life.

Ronne Randall
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Linda Appleman Shapiro writes with courage and honesty about a painful subject -- her mother's mental illness, the secret Linda was forced to keep as a little girl growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 50s. Her descriptions of her mother's illness and its effect on her family are absolutely true to life -- I know, because I grew up in strikingly similar circumstances, in the same era, in a nearby part of Brooklyn, and my parents were East European Jewish immigrants like Linda's. Fortunately, w ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overcoming family history

Linda Appelman Shapiro writes courageously of her life as a first generation American Jew with a mother who suffered from severe depression or bipolar disorder. In an all too familiar story, because children live with terrifying, unpredictable parents every day, she writes honestly and openly about the devastating effects her mother's illness had upon her own self-image and self-worth, and of her own journey to understand herself, realize that she was not doomed to becom
Scarlett Peterson
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, giveaways
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. She’s Not Herself is a memoir of a woman whose mother suffered from PTSD and depression. It’s an honest depiction of navigating life with a family member who suffers from mental illness. Although the author was deeply affected by these childhood experiences, she went on to become a psychotherapist and has been able to help others.

This was an incredibly powerful book. Even if you don’t have close family or friends that suffer from mental health issues, I think this boo
Dawn Downey
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who grew up with a parent or relative who suffered from mental illness.
This story helped me fill in some of the gaps in my own memories about growing up in the fifties with a depressed mother. I had more than a couple of aha moments during the sections about the author’s early childhood. I recognized my mother’s demeanor in Shapiro’s description of her mother after shock treatments. The book became less satisfying as Shapiro moved into descriptions of her college days and adulthood, because the writing became more analytical. Still, I recommend it to anyone who gre ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This heartfelt and sometimes harrowing story of a daughter who grew up as the caretaker of a psychotically depressed, frequently hospitalized, and occasionally delusional mother is hard to put down.

The specificity with which the author remembers childhood events and the labyrinthine journey to find out how her mother's illness affected her is fascinating. Amazing that she was able to do it in fewer than 200 pages.

The author became a psychotherapist herself, so she knows intimately the vagaries o
Marie Abanga
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 volules of the resilence imbued in our human nature. Her's is equally a sad story of painful traditions sometimes corroborated by religion, b ...more
Deborah Blanchard
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-review
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I found this book to be a well written memoir on living with someone who suffered from mental illness. I could really relate, as I have bipolar disorder myself, and it can be difficult for the people who have it, as well as those that they love. This was an amazing depiction of what that life is like. I love memoirs that I can relate to on a personal level. Extraordinary book! I highly recommend
Michele Johnson
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was a good read. As the daughter of a woman who also struggled with mental illness and depression I thought I would connect a bit more with this author. I did in many ways but felt something was missing. Maybe she was sheltered more then I or maybe my mothers story was more tragic and violent at times. Whatever the reason I felt the real tragedy behind mental illness seemed to be a bit watered down. Never the less it was a good book.
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
The beginning captured my attention, but convincing the reader that she has had a tragic childhood and an unusually difficult life does not work for me. I found her story progressively boring and annoying, although I did finish reading it. She has had difficult times in her life, yes, but she has also lived a life with the advantages of health and intellect. Even in her worst times, she has always been loved and part of a good-intentioned and caring family.
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I probably would not have given this book five stars except for the fact that it so closely mirrors my own childhood. Like the author I was named for Linda Darnell and like the author I had a mother who was not always herself. Fortunately my father and grandmother helped me to always feel loved and never burdened with adult responsibilities. I have always felt that my mother's depression was a defining part of my life. ...more
Carol Wakefield
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A survival story. First generation Linda with parents from Russia tries to understand a very depressed, sometimes suicidal mother in a family that did not feel a need to explain adult behaviors to children. When healthy mom doted. When in an unbalanced episode she was out of control and went to hospital for treatments. Shock therapy. Linda does not learn the full extent of her mothers sickness til she is an adult and becomes a therapist herself.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent read for those who have mental illness in their family. The feelings expressed by the author are feelings that many can relate to. It is not a fix it but a book that helps all those who have experienced a family member with mental illness to deal with their feelings in an honest way.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, read-2015
Couldn't finish this. The narrative is written in a style of "bits & pieces" with little regard for timelines. The style is a first person POV presented in the form of vignettes. The style was just to off putting. Maybe I'll come back to it another time. ...more
Kris Voyna
Somewhat slow but quotable

The stories didn't always engage me but there were quotes within the book I could connect with - refreshing to hear someone express your feelings as a child dealing with family mental illness.
Vickie West
This book is written with such vivid descriptions the reader can see and hear what is being "said." The writer also gives a very good look into history and lives of the Jewish people. ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an account of a girl growing up in the 50s whose mother suffers from mental illness. I found the book interesting but I ddn't really connect with it. ...more
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Behavioral psychotherapist, oral historian, lecturer, 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 Substan ...more

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