Interview with Samanta Souza | Mom, Yogi & Podcaster

*This interview happened on October 16, 2022

Please share a bit about your background.

I was born in São Paulo. The life I am living with my girls and husband is very different from the life I grew up living. My parents barely had money to spare. I remember being around 7 years old and my parents not having enough money to buy rice and beans – the basics in any Brazilian household. My uncles would take turns buying our ‘cesta básica’ / our basic needs. I felt my sister and I were the cause of these expenses although my parents never verbalized that. I do remember them saying we had to follow their rules because they said so and that money didn’t grow on trees. My mom and grandmother hated each other. She was an only child and I don’t remember meeting my grandfather. My mom broke the cycle in a way. She shared recently when she was younger she would hurt herself in order to call attention and have others reach out and offer a helping hand. That’s how she met my father. I’ve done the same but in my case it’s to feel relief.  So I grew up with this financial situation or lack thereof and my earliest dream was to live abroad. I didn’t really know anyone who had done it but whenever I heard someone we knew was going abroad I’d ask so many questions and hoped to stay in touch to learn more. When I was 13 and Spice girls and the Prodigy were around I drew the flag of England on a backpack and was certain that’s where I’d end up although my mom would remind me we had no money for that. 10 years later we were living in Sorocaba near SP where my parents purchased their first home. I was working at a bookstore in a shopping mall and had to take a couple different forms of public transportations to get there. One day, I decided to walk instead of taking the bus and came across a company that was for exchange programs. I went into the building and asked what the cheapest option was to get out of the country and they said it would be to go as an AuPair to a home in the United States. I shared all of this with my mom when I got home and she quickly rained on my idea. Although at that point I was older. My grandmother was the one who provided money for this dream to come true and the reason behind how I landed in DC on the 19th of June in 2006. I planned on living there for a year to learn English and return home to work for a cruise line and earn in dollars to make money for my family. The plan went down the drain about one month after I met my future husband at a Brazilian night club. He was born in Brazil and is of American and French descent. At the time, he was unemployed. Today, he is a director of one of the largest tourism companies in the world. I was an AuPair to a 3 and a half and 5 and a half year old who I am still in touch with to this day.  We began living together in April of 2007 and we are still together until today. He is my true soulmate and best friend.

The US is also where I came across yoga. I was looking for a community to be a part of and one day was driving around and saw a group of blonde ladies with their yoga mats in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. I followed them to their studio and got down to ask for information. I took my first yoga class that I hated but decided to sign up. It was so expensive that I went diligently. I stayed for the handstand practice. I found it looked so cool. In 2009, my husband fulfilled a lifelong dream with his father and took off to Africa for 9 months. They lived in a jeep and travelled all around. I was left alone and experienced what I believe was depression. I couldn’t understand how I wasn’t a part of that plan. One night I went to sleep crying and woke up remembering yoga. I went back to the same studio and was offered a discount as the rates had changed and I told the owners about my experience. I had an emotional class and remember experiencing an out of body moment during savasana where I observed myself and realized I too had dreams that my boyfriend Mica was not a part of and it clicked in me that he truly did love me too. When he came back I had changed a lot and understood that I could be happy on my own as well, which was a very important learning.  I got certified as a yoga teacher in 2012. I also got a degree in child development and taught at preschools. However, we began feeling bored with my husband. Our routine was so set in stone that we knew exactly what to expect in a day, month or year and we both felt we wanted a change.

We almost ended up in France but my husband came for an interview to Brazil and I was about to request my 10 year green card that so many dream of and instead I decided to exchange it for a 10 year visa. Most thought I was crazy. We landed in Rio where I only knew my father in law. My husband had a job and I’d gone from earning 4,000 USD a month to nothing. I thought about applying to teach English but my husband asked me what I really wanted to earn money doing and that was yoga. So he told me to look into events, festivals and find the community. It was a more spiritual community and I felt different. I started applying to studios where I was suddenly earning 35 Reais a class versus my 50 USD in the US. I also started seeing Brazil was big with store launches so I started attending some and getting to know and teach celebrities. I have a list of all the ones I’ve taught in my stories.  But now I want to focus on my podcasts. On being a Mom and a wife. And on this company I’m supporting with social media called bed of nails. It’s a female owned company and we are all around the world – Sweden, Cypress, California and India. We collaborate through Slack and I’m able to earn in dollars which is helpful here. 

How and when were you diagnosed? 

My first wake up call was when I was very pregnant and had to take my older daughter to daycare one day. I began scratching my skin and saying horrible things to my daughter that she had ruined my life. That everything was great until she arrived. I got in my car and wasn’t able to start driving. I have always been very intuitive. I started hearing a male voice on the right side asking me what the worst thought I could imagine and I started seeing a vision of me driving by a bridge and swerving the car towards the water with my daughter and baby in my belly. It was a horrible thought and I immediately started praying and asking for help and asking to help guide me to school. At that moment traffic opened up and I carefully took my daughter to school and drove to the parking lot of my husband’s office where I sent a WhatsApp audio to a women tribe I have where one is a psychologist and they started sending supportive messages. Once Bella was born, I started feeling better but then started having triggers that didn’t allow me to sleep. That’s when I also started hurting myself again and yanking clothes off my body. I don’t know how many outfits I ruined. I also broke toys and objects. It’s like I only felt relief when I hurt myself or broke something. So I looked for help again. In the third appointment I asked her if it was depression and she confirmed that it was. I felt I didn’t have time for that. So I started running, taking more care of myself and taking supplements. After that, I had two or three downward spirals. On Mothers day this year I broke down. I started yelling at my family and telling my husband to celebrate the day as I was a terrible mom and he was an example of a father. That’s what took me to see a psychiatrist who explained these episodes sounded like Hulk syndrome. Ever since then I haven’t had another crisis. I take one medication at night. 

How was it to receive the news? 

It was pretty much a relief and in terms of the need to take medication, I was ready. I knew I needed it. 

What has been your treatment? 

I take one medication at night, I see a therapist once a week and my psychiatrist once a month. I also do lots of exercise mainly at home whenever I can and I’m on a hormonal treatment sent by my gynecologist. 

What are your Doctors next steps? Any plans on removing medications? 

I’m not too sure but we are nowhere near to take out medication. My youngest is about a year and a half. The medication has allowed me to stabilize and to see life in slow motion. I’m not ready to stop taking it.

Any tips or recommendations you’d give others suffering from it? 

Look for help from professionals that come with a reference and that knows how to listen to your experiences. For me it was important to hire a female psychiatrist and a mom. My therapist is not a mom but she is a woman and is great at listening.  

Any resources that you’d recommend for others struggling with mental health?

I’d say to create rituals around simple tasks like taking a bath or making coffee. I also ate lots of apples. I like sweets and it was a way to stay away from them. I also workout with an online platform from home that has helped. I’ve gotten back to taking care of my skin and listening to podcasts. There is one I enjoy by Thaís Roque called De Carona na Carreira where she interviews people that have had a variety of careers.
Samanta Souza

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