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Interview with Stefanie Castro

She has always been a person that is always reaching for more. With each achievement, she hoped to feel like she was complete like she was enough. Unfortunately, she never felt like she was good enough. Her struggles with anxiety and depression became a part of her, and she felt shame. In talking about her experiences, she started to shed light on the fact that her anxieties started off early on in life. 

Her depression was deeply rooted in events of her past. This enlightenment was the start of her finding her peace and leaning into the darkness instead of ignoring it. Her story is simply that - hers. And she hopes that this opens the eyes of others that might be feeling the same as she has throughout the years.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I have 3 bachelor's degrees.

Q.2 What inspired you to write I am Enough: A Journey of Self-Reflection?
For years, I ran away from my past pain. The running did not bring peace and actually added to my anxieties and depressive episodes. I felt like the more I spoke about it, the more people rose to say that they had similar feelings but never felt open to sharing. I think the stigma around mental health is always looming over us, and I think letting go of that shame for myself really opened up doors to mental freedom.

Q.3 In the synopsis, you mention feeling disconnected from yourself and living off a script instead of living in your truth. Can you elaborate on that experience and how it impacted your mental health?
Being raised at the time I was, the way in which I had to conduct myself as a woman in the 1980s and 1990s was set by society. To top that, being raised by immigrant parents, there is an extra layer added to the complex nature of the expectations. I felt the pressure that I added upon myself to meet what I thought was expected of me as I became an adult.

Q.4 How long does it take you to write this memoir?
To find time to sit down and write, it took about 2 years. But once I sat down during lockdown to write, I did exactly that and wrote it within 40 days. I had to be diligent with my time and set parameters to reach my goals. Once written, learning the ins and outs of being an indie author was a 2-year process for me.

Q.5 Motherhood is mentioned as part of your journey. How did becoming a mother impact your mental health, and how did you navigate the challenges associated with it?
Unfortunately, I developed postpartum depression with my firstborn. I would not say I navigated that well as a new mother at first. I really felt shame and alone in so many ways. Motherhood brought on many new challenges, but I learned that honesty would not make me a bad mother. 

So, I began to use my voice to bring light to the difficulties I faced. I began to shine a light on the fact that motherhood isn’t just about the smiles and beauty that motherhood brings but really does bring difficulties too for the mother and the family dynamic. Being honest about this allowed me to connect with others so they felt like they could speak freely with me.

Q.6 How did you deal with the book's emotional/sensitive impact (on yourself) while writing it?
I allowed myself to feel the discomfort I was writing about. I feel like that will always be the case for me when it comes to how I look at my past, especially certain instances in my life. But I do feel like I used this as a therapeutic process for me as a whole.

Q.7 What was your hardest scene to write?
Writing about my struggles with postpartum depression. It was hard to write my experiences out.

Q.8 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
I have a large platform on Instagram and have used that as the primary way to get the word out about my book. This is a huge learning process for me, and I will admit I am learning more by the day.

Q.9 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I do! Sometimes I felt I was not motivated. I use music to deal with it for me. I found that music brought out a lot of my feelings and would help me write on days I felt unable to do so.

Q.10 What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring memoir writers?
Trust yourself in this process. It is intimidating and can feel like the entire writing journey isn’t worth it, but it is so worth it. Know that mistakes will be made, but the growth is exponential.

Q.11 How did you decide what to include and what to leave out in your memoir?
I reminded myself that this is my journey, not the journey of those I was writing about. I wanted to be considerate about those I was writing about and kept it respectful to those I had to mention. I made sure that the message was that I interpreted my life in this manner. I absorbed my experiences in a negative way many times, not necessarily placing blame on others.

Q.12 How did you select the name of your book?
While I was reflecting on myself, I really tried to take a step back and speak kindly to myself. Saying I am enough is a huge effort for me and something that took a long time for me to admit to myself.

Q.13 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your memoir?
Writing the book itself is not the hardest part. That is just the beginning, and there’s so much more that comes after you finish.

Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
The Simple Wild and The Comfort Book. The Simple Wild is by KA Tucker. It’s a constant reread for me, and it simply brings me comfort to read when I’m feeling like I’m in a slump. I like that the characters feel real, and the whole series is simply about characters figuring themselves out. It’s a romance and one of the first I fell in love with. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig is simply that comforting. Many of his messages are ones that I feel I need to hear, and I enjoyed how easy of a read it was.

Q.15 How do your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture?
I would say many don’t understand it for the most part. I don’t think anyone truly understands the layers involved when writing a book. However, I do have some very close to me that helped me during this journey and edited the book, and gave me feedback. Overall, I have support and an understanding that this is my story to share.

Q.16 How did you approach the process of organizing and structuring your memoir?
I felt like starting from the beginning was an important aspect of telling my story. Starting in the most recent years was more for people to see where I “ended up,” but that this breaking point isn’t one that just erupted out of nowhere. There were so many layers involved in how I ended up depressed in my late thirties.

Q.17 What do you hope readers will take away from your story, and what impact do you hope to have in terms of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health disorders?
The ability to feel free to talk about it. I think the stigma of mental health lies in the inability to feel comfortable talking about it. I don’t think everyone will simply shed that layer of discomfort, but feeling seen and less alone in this world is all we really want as human beings. So, I hope my story motivates them to be honest with themselves and see themselves as enough instead of feeling as down as they might when they’re hiding behind these mental health struggles.

Q.18 Who designed your book cover? How did you select them?
The photo was taken by my college roommate’s father-in-law. He is such a talented photographer, and I felt honored he would do this for me to achieve this dream of mine. The cover was designed by Books n Moods. I connected with them from an author I adore, Emery Rose. She had used them previously and spoke highly of their work.

Q.19 Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I listen to the saddest songs. I choose those because they pull that emotional side of me, so I can really dive into my writing mood.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
It’s been a rollercoaster. I can’t describe it any other way. It has been so eye-opening and also has brought me so much more respect for all authors because it is such a huge accomplishment in ways I never truly understood prior to starting this adventure myself.

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