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Surviving Samsara

A Memoir of Breakdowns, Breakthroughs, and Mental Illness

Kagan Goh

A frank and touching memoir celebrating the resiliency of the spirit in the face of mental illness, psychotic breakdowns and stigma in society.

“Samsara is defined as the ‘round of rebirth’ or ‘perpetual wandering’ … a continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering and dying.”
Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka Mahathera

In Kagan Goh’s debut memoir, he recounts his struggles with manic depression, breaking the silence around mental illness. From an honest and personal perspective, Surviving Samsara traces Goh’s experiences as he wanders through the highs of mania, the terrors of psychosis, and the lows of depression. From the welfare office to the hospital ward and many places in between, Goh struggles to discern the difference between mental health breakdowns and spiritual breakthroughs. Facing his experiences with courage and authenticity, Goh shares memories of family altercations, pushed to the brink of living on the street, and psychiatrist visits. He explores his diagnosis of bipolar mood disorder not only as a medical condition but as a spiritual emergence—a vehicle for personal growth, healing and transcendence.

With raw language and deep insight, he combats the societal stigma, prejudice and discrimination people with mental health challenges face on a daily basis, and exposes the further damage it can do. Writing and sharing his story of living with a mental illness began a form of self-therapy, and now illustrates Goh’s transformation from victim to survivor to activist. Surviving Samsara tells a deeply personal story of recovery, acceptance and unconditional self-love and humanizes the challenges of those living with mental illness.