Interview with Linda Naomi Baron-Katz about mental illness

I’m chatting with Linda Naomi Baron-Katz today about two of her books: a memoir, Surviving Mental Illness, My Story and a children’s fiction picture
book, Peter and Lisa: A Mental Illness
Children’s Story.
Linda Naomi Baron-Katz born
on March 21, 1969, by the name of Linda Naomi Baron, raised as a modern
orthodox Jew, where mental illness became a factor throughout her life. It had
started with her mother when she was in the fifth grade. Her mother suffered a
nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with acute depression. This gave Linda and
her family a huge amount of stress. As she was growing up into adulthood, her
mother’s illness affected her in various ways. Linda had difficulties making
friends, developing positive relationships, and maintaining employment. After
she graduated college, she also suffered from a mental illness and was
diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Through the years, she was
faced with challenges that were difficult to overcome, but worked hard to
achieve recovery. As part of her recovery from mental illness, she became
active and volunteered for a variety of mental health organizations.
Linda became a member of
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness or formerly called National Alliance
for the Mentally Ill) and published articles about her life in New York City
Voices, a newspaper for people with mental illness to share their personal
recovery stories. Both of these agencies helped fight against stigma and other
issues pertaining to mental illness. Soon after, Linda found employment working
for agencies that help others with mental illness reach their goals and dreams.
Today, Linda is happily
married, an author who has published two books. One is titled Surviving Mental Illness, My Story which
won a Silver Medal Award by Readers Favorite for best non-fiction/autobiography
and came in first place and won the Life Journeys Award for best
memoir/biography from Readers Views. Through this book she describes all of her
challenges that she dealt with while having a mental illness and how she found
her way back towards establishing a wellness by staying mentally and physically
The second book, titled Peter and Lisa: A Mental Illness Children’s
, which she co-authored with her husband Charles Katz, is about two
adults who struggle with mental illness and get better with medication and
necessary support by family and friends. It is a story that children will love
and understand that with help people can recover from mental illness.
Linda wrote these two books
to show that mental illness is not something to be afraid of and that anyone
can overcome life’s challenges and achieve a happy life.
Welcome, Linda. Please tell us about your books.
My current release is a
children’s book titled Peter and Lisa: A
Mental Illness Children’s Story
. It is about two adults who struggle with
depression and mania as they cope with the challenges of life and get better
with medication and support by family and friends.
The other book, titled Surviving Mental Illness, My Story, is a
memoir of the heartbreaks and challenges I faced growing up with a mental
illness and shows the road that I took to find my way back towards mental
health, what is known as recovery.
What inspired you to write these books?
I wrote both books to
teach adults and children that despite the challenges in life, people with
mental illness can get better with treatment and support (family, friends, peer
group, employment program) and continue to live a life happily that is full of
hope and dreams.
Excerpt from Surviving
Mental Illness, My Story
In 1993, I had my first manic attack. The first time
this happened frightened my family, yet in my mind, I was on top of the world. It
started with Al, the boy that I had an infatuation with during college. I could
not get him out of my mind. I heard a variety of voices in my head, but none of
them were as powerful as those I heard about Al. I thought these voices were
real, so I listened to them. I told my friends that Al was my boyfriend, when
in reality he was not. When I volunteered at Forest Hills Community House, a senior citizen center, I met an
elderly woman who I thought was Al’s grandmother, and a young woman who I
believed was his sister. Once, when the community house took the senior
citizens to Flushing Meadows Corona Park
to visit a museum, another racing thought about Al came to my mind. In this
thought, I believed I was getting married to him and having his five children.
When I told these things to my friend, she told me that Al did not have a
sister and that I was not going to be married to him because he did not feel
the same way. Can you imagine what my friends thought of me?
During that same time, I went to see the Hillel director at Queens College, and
for some reason, told him that Al and I were getting married. I had no idea
what was wrong with me. At Hillel, I
went from room to room going crazy as I looked for him because I kept hearing
him call my name. The director knew that I was not being myself and believed I
was on drugs. He called my father and asked him to come right away. My father
knew immediately that I was suffering from some type of mental illness, the
same way my mother had. He told the Hillel
director that I was not on drugs, but was mentally troubled.
At times, I would have hallucinations, as if I were
viewing them on a TV screen. One hallucination was that Al and I got married
and several of our friends from Queens College were our bridesmaids and ushers.
Of course, this was not real, and after a few sessions with Dr. Nass, I began
to see the light and realize the reality of my situation. This world I was in
was so unreal that when the delusions started to fade away gradually, I began
to wake up, as if coming out of a dream. I could not understand where these
voices, thoughts and hallucinations were coming from. It is hard to understand
how the mind works, but I knew that my mind would not let me do or say such
things, unless there was a part inside me that wanted all this to be true.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I am focusing on
promoting these two books. I am not sure if I will write a third one because
the cost of marketing a book is expensive. However, I think I will write more
articles on mental illness and review other books on my blog.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think when I was in high
school or college that I knew I could write, but I never dreamed that one day I
would write a book and become an author.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day
like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
I do not write full time
but I do work part time as a Certified Peer Specialist in mental health and try
to schedule the rest of my days marketing my book and do speaking engagements
from time to time.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I never really given it
much thought. I am not sure if I have a writing quirk. I just like to write about
topics that represent hope and dreams.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I wanted to be
a teacher but as I grew up I found out that being able to discipline children
was very difficult to do.
Buy pages: 

Thanks for being here today, Linda!

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