Samantha Steiner, Eliezer Tristan Publishing Bestselling Author, Of My Bipolar Mind
Samantha Steiner, an author, and mental health activist has graciously agreed to be interviewed about her new book, My Bipolar Mind: You’re Not Alone. For those who do not know about My Bipolar Mind, it is a memoir following Samantha’s struggles with being bipolar and being a recovering addict. Learn more about her book here by reading my book review.
Now onto the questions:
01. What made you want to turn your blog My Bipolar Mind into a book?
To be honest, my publisher, Eliezer Tristan Publishing, contacted me and asked me if I ever thought about turning my blog into a book. So, of course, I said yes since people have told me my blog has been helpful to them one way or another. I was hoping that I would also be able to help even more people by going with the idea of turning my blog into a book. I want to help people who have mental health conditions and their loved ones feel less alone by knowing that they can relate to someone else.
02. At any point when writing did you ever feel like you were sharing too much of yourself?
There have actually been plenty of times I have felt like that. I have already published posts and deleted them shortly after, or I have started posts and them trashed them instead of publishing them. Every time I post something I worry about who I will be offending next or if I will make myself look bad. But then again, sometimes those things don’t bother me at all. I guess you could say it depends on my mood.
03. What advice would you give your younger self now knowing where you are in your mental health journey?
I would tell myself to start therapy sooner and to stand up for myself more. I would also tell myself that talking about things that have happened to me feels more freeing than bottling everything up inside. I would tell myself to learn more coping skills and to not fear inpatient treatment. There is so much that I would tell myself if I could that I would probably be able to write another book just about things I would tell my younger self alone.
04. What advice would you give to someone who just received a mental health diagnosis?
Ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment options. Ask about starting therapy because it really is beneficial. If you get put on medications, ask questions about side effects, dosing times, if the med should be taken with or without food, interactions, and anything else you could think of. Be honest with your mental health care team otherwise, they will not be able to treat you properly. They are there to help you. Talk with your loved ones about your new diagnosis and help educate them about it.
Unfortunately, mental health stigma is still real so telling people facts about your condition and educating them helps tear down some of that stigma. People fear what they don’t know when they really shouldn’t. Always jot down any questions or topics that you want to discuss with your mental health care team whenever something comes to mind so you don’t forget to go over some pertinent information.
05. Do you feel like having an actual diagnosis helped you in your mental health journey?
I think it’s better to know what is wrong with than be stuck wondering why you get the way you do or why you are the way you are. Before being diagnosed, it can sometimes feel like it’s all in your head and that you are just crazy when you really aren’t. Once you know what is wrong with you, your mental health becomes somewhat easier to treat since you know what is going on. So, I would definitely say that having my diagnoses and knowing what it is really going on did help my mental health journey.
06. Your book mentions detailed experiences with manic bipolar episodes, how do you prepare yourself for those now than when you were recovering?
I will pretty much be recovering for the rest of my life, or at least until there is a cure for bipolar disorder. Some times my episodes will seem to come out of nowhere without warning. Other times, I get little warning signs that there is an impending mood change hanging heavily in the air. It’s the little things like starting to sleep less yet still having energy the next day or even eating less can be warning signs for me.
I have yet to fully find an effective way to prevent an episode, but at least when I am aware one is on the way, I can start journaling and writing more to help cope with the emotions that sometimes flood my brain. Or I can tell my therapist and we can try to come up with healthy coping mechanisms because all I can really do is ride the wave until it crashes into the next episode.
07. Going to an AA meeting can be difficult for many people to take that first step, is there any tips you have for people who are struggling to make it there?
As harsh as this may sound, just push through the anxiety with everything you have and walk into that first meeting. Bring a friend with for support if you need too. They have open meetings where anyone can come. Anxiety can really hold us back sometimes, but when I went to my first meeting I forced myself with everything I had until I felt emotionally drained. But after finding out how welcoming everyone truly is, it made returning that much easier.
08. You were also very honest in your book about having toxic relationships, how do you know if you are in one either romantically or platonic?
From experience, you can feel it when you don’t mesh well with someone else. In relationships, the other person should bring out the best in you – not the worst.
09. In your book you mention that writing is therapeutic for you, so what is your writing process?
I seem to write the best at night while the rest of the world is asleep. It is when I am the most creative. But, when I do write during daylight hours, I sit down at my makeshift office (a corner in my bedroom) with a cup of coffee and see where I am at for the day. I tend to write from my emotions a lot, so I have to make sure I am in an okay place mentally when I am writing – unless I am writing up a “venting session” style blog post.
10. Are you going to write more books?
I already have one that I finished (It was written years before My Bipolar Mind was even a thought), I am just debating on whether or not it’s the right time to try to publish again yet. :-D