Four Rooms, Upstairs: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness by Linda Appleman Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Linda Appleman Shapiro writes honestly and beautifully about her experience as the daughter of a mother with mental illness, coping with the confusion of the mood swings, her struggle to understand, and the stress and shame of keeping it all a secret. We meet her family members – Linda, her mother and father, and her brother – and soon the dynamic in her Brooklyn home becomes clear – as does the love that prevails.
In addition, we get a nostalgic peek at life in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, back in the 40’s and 50’s, when “hanging out at the beach” was a huge part of a young teenager’s life. Shapiro has the hindsight, now, of a trained and experienced psychotherapist. This, combined with her clearly-depicted childhood memories of life in those “Four Rooms” makes for an engaging, enlightening and ultimately therapeutic read.
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I had the pleasure of presenting with Linda Appleman Shapiro, author of Four Rooms, Upstairs: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness, last week at the library in Ridgefield, CT. Each time I tell Ben’s (and our family’s) story, I see at least one face in the audience that seems to open with relief: Can we really talk about these secrets? Is mental illness really not the source of shame I’ve been assuming it is?
Yes, let’s talk. A mental illness is just that: an illness. It is no one’s fault. It just is.
Great books for practical advice:
When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness by Rebecca Woolis
I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help – Xavier Amador – great info, “system” doesn’t always work, but helps understanding greatly
and – believe it or not, for basics – there are “dummies” books for schizophrenia, bipolar, etc.
What familes need:
Acceptance (Letting Go)
Reality check, Respect, Resilience
Hope – and, yes, Humor
It spells SEARCH.
My son Ben is living a very worthwhile life, filled with love, even with paranoid schizophrenia. Even so, my expectations have changed. It is a new normal. R for reality…