243 Surviving Mental Illness – Beyond Stigma – Baron-Katz

mental illness recovery stigma

Surviving Mental Illness

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.
~ Leon C. Megginson

Linda Naomi Baron-Katz spent childhood as a modern orthodox Jew. However, mental illness presented an increasingly challenging set of variables throughout her life. It started with her mother when she was in the fifth grade. Her mother suffered a nervous breakdown with acute depression. This regression gave Linda and her family a tremendous amount of stress.

As she was growing up into adulthood, her mother’s illness affected her in ways that she feared she too would become a severely depressed person. In that challenging life context, Linda found difficulties making friends, developing positive relationships, and maintaining employment. After she graduated college, she also developed a mental illness and was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Her Recovery Plan

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 about mental illness.


Today, Linda is happily married, a Certified Peer Specialist under Ohel’s Mental Health Crisis Respite Program, and is an author who has published a book titled Surviving Mental Illness, My Story. Her book 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 her 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 wellness plan by staying mentally and physically healthy.

Her Perspective

“I am the author of my own memoir titled Surviving Mental Illness, My Story which gives a brief description at the beginning of defining what mental illness is and background and treatment options of three particular mood and thought disorders. Then it goes on to describe resources and organizations that help promote your recovery.

Afterward, I talk about my family’s history of mental illness and how I became diagnosed with bipolar disorder and faced my fears of stigma and overcame the challenges in my life to make a successful recovery. My second book is a children’s book, titled Peter and Lisa: A Mental Illness Children’s Story, which I co-authored with my husband, is about how two people who like each other and face difficulties with their mental illness.  It describes how each of them comforted each other and sought treatment and made their way to live happily ever after.”

Toolkits Matter

In our interview here at CBJ/243, she takes us to her street level, survival toolkit.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash


Books and Additional References

Previous CBJ Experts Report: Mindset & Recovery


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Thanks, Linda, for joining us here at CBJ to review your interesting overview of insights for evolving life’s next steps in the context of mental disarray. Recovery takes a comprehensive plan.

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244 Dr. Jennifer Fraser earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is a researcher, educator, and published author. Her latest book, Teaching Bullies, marks the first moment when she became both shocked and fascinated by neuroscience and the evolution of utilitarian mind-discoveries.

Ever since reading six years ago about the harm done to brains by bullying – as documented and recorded on MRI and fMRI – she has made it her mission to inform teachers, coaches and parents about the neurological scars that bullying or emotional abuse does to brains.

The data us in folks, it’s time to take more decisive action.

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  1. Deborah Poteet-Johnson on 08/08/2018 at 10:11 PM

    This was excellent and very inspiring. In my medical practice, I see many adults with ADHD who also have some co-occurring conditions. It breaks my heart to know that sometimes their own parents are pressuring them to “file for disability,” even though I can see great potential in them and how being employed could help improve their self-esteem. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with issues such as this? I fear that being labeled “disabled” can stifle their creativity and drive to do productive work, plus feed into a sense of being less motivated. I know that there are cases in which having disability can be very helpful, but the majority of my patients who are being told (again, often by their own family members, including parents) to file for disability probably just need to have gainful, meaningful employment.

    • Dr Charles Parker on 08/10/2018 at 5:04 AM

      So true Deborah – it’s a form of giving up if they stay in that glide path and ride on secondary gains without fighting to move forward. Family secondary gains also contribute to a decreased resolution to fight thru. The challenge is difficult because often the complexity of the disability is real – and does require *real work* to overcome – from many resources. The bottom line: don’t take on that identity as a limitation.

  2. Judith Carrington on 08/06/2018 at 4:34 PM

    Linda, your story of how ignorance spoiled your youth was amplified by having both you and your mother suffering with mental issues and the unyielding influence of your Father. Your father is a story of the “stigmatic” approach that is so common. What isn’t common is your amazing fighting spirit and your recovery. You’ve “made it happen” through your creativity and determination to get training and helping others through sharing your story.

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