Kimberly Brown reviews Linda Baron-Katz’ memoir Surviving Mental Illness: My Story


What can you say about a woman who was created to take the world by storm, but who was faced with family difficulties from her youth that plagued her through her teenage and adult years. Still, giving up on herself, her family, and her life never became an option for her.

Though affected by mental illness as a youth and into her young adulthood, Linda learned to advocate for herself in ways that not only made her feel like a whole human being, but also led to her becoming an overcomer and a strong advocate for others with mental illness. Through bouts with psychosis, the loss of love interests and close family members, including her own mother, she made sound decisions to keep herself surrounded with people who could help her fashion her mind into a healthy state in times of crisis.

For Linda, being dually diagnosed with more than one mental illness was in short a heavy blow. However, she relied on professional therapists and psychiatrists and medication to guide and heal her on her way to recovery. Recovery became possible for Linda and she found love and married someone who also lives with a mental illness. Her supportive marriage helped give her the strength to face death in her family, shame and loneliness. Linda used her intelligence and determination and what she had learned from certain life experiences to help her to overcome many of the mental illnesses that had plagued her thoughts for far too long. Due to Linda’s breakthrough with her mental illness, she is now able to give back to the world and to many others who are also suffering. She shows us in her memoir that mental illness is not a death sentence nor is a diagnosis a reason to crawl up in a hole and rot and die. Linda shows us that there are resources for those in that situation, as entire professions specialize in helping people with mental illness.

Linda shows us through her walk, that mental illness can be treatable. You can go to school, you can go to college, you don’t have to live in some hospital for all of your life. You can have a career, you can travel the world, you can get married and live a healthy lifestyle. Linda shows us that you can suffer and then be cured and give back to a community where people still suffer from mental health issues. This disease, as Linda explains, can be overcome, whether developed through physical trauma, environmental conditions or genetics.

Linda is strong, she is educated , she is her best advocate, she is smart, she gives back, she is grounded, she is a daughter, she is an author, she is a wife, and she is great. And she overcame her illness, because she became well informed about her condition and she invited change even when she thought change was impossible. Linda complied with the best courses of treatment available and she was compelled, compelled to do great things, and Great is what she became.

Linda’s story inspired me to continue to keep pushing for greatness, though life throws and tosses you here and there. Life can be uncertain and you may lose people that you have known a lifetime. But Linda taught me that you don’t have to crumble under life’s bad circumstances, she taught me that there will always be a source that you can go to for help, and if you want anything badly enough, then you continue to try until you get what you need out of life. I get courage from Linda, even though life’s challenges made her scared. I get wit from Linda, since she used her wits when faced with employment and educational obstacles. I get so much strength from reading Linda’s story, as she pushed out on her own and created this intimate book about her life with mounds of resourceful information to internalize and model. I am excited for Linda and not surprised that she is a success. She kept going at life, until she learned to master it.

You may purchase Linda Baron-Katz’ Surviving Mental Illness: My Story here.