Here is what I am reading:
Sarah Wilson, the author of 2018 New York Times bestseller First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (which, she says, is a conversation, not a memoir, about anxiety) was on her own mental health journey in the 1990s when she first read Prozac Nation.
“I was in the U.S. studying at UC Santa Cruz where I was diagnosed with manic depression, as it was called back then,” she tells Bustle. “I remember feeling awkward about how indulgent [Prozac Nation] was. It was the toe-gazing, self-conscious ‘90s and it was not a ‘done thing’ to be so self-absorbed and aware of your plight. At least not in such an earnest way. Things were more acerbic. But I felt it described what was actually going on. It almost provided the language for the discussion in coming decades.”
In a 2017 Guernica article, Charlotte Lieberman argues that mental health memoirs like Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott reduce stigma with “a staunch resistance to shame, a traditional accompaniment to the disclosure of mental health issues.” Wurtzel was one of the first to do what dozens of writers are doing now — tell her personal mental health stories with a “staunch resistance to shame.”All the more reason I want to get mine out there.
Wurtzel closes Prozac Nation with a meditation on the death of Kurt Cobain, another icon of the dysthymia who characterized 1990s pop culture. She wrote that Nirvana "either inaugurated or coincided with some definite and striking cultural moments." Prozac Nation is arguably itself one of those striking cultural moments which ignited conversations about how we struggle with, survive, and sometimes fall to mental illness.I was never a fan of Nirvana (and coincidentally I recently read this book that mentions the '90s grunge band), but in this part of the book she wrote, "...once someone is a clinical case, once someone is in a hospital bed or in a stretcher, headed for the morgue, his story is absolutely and completely his own. ..." Yes, this is exactly what I came to learn. Stories my be similar, but each one has its own details, consequences and such. I came to see what mine were and have them written down. I'm just waiting for the chance for others to see what they are. Another quote from the Bustle piece says:
Literary agent Noah Ballard with Curtis Brown, Ltd. has worked on memoirs dealing with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and grief. "Everyone has a story of pain misunderstood, symptoms misidentified, and often loved ones lost," he tells Bustle. "A good memoir, however, isn’t simply the lived experience of trauma or grief, but rather it is finding in the very specific a universal truth.”
I have since read it a second time and may just do so yet again 🙂
As someone currently on Prozac for depression, I knew I had to read this book to see how, if at all, I could identify with what the author described herself going through. Even though I know that it was written over 20 years ago. Still it was a thought-provoking read. And I did see some incidents in the book that were nearly the same as (if not identical to) what I had gone through before beginning my Prozac last year. Although it took me this long to realize I suffered from depression and needed to seek help. I felt I was brave to have read this.
|The jars on the shelves at Dollar Tree. Those in the|
top photo have inner lids that pop out; those on
the bottom have open-top lids.
|Two other mermaid lanterns and a skull lantern.|
|Fairy in the Moon lantern.|
|Maple Leaf on left lantern. The California flag bear|
on the right.
But it's not just this YA novel that has suffered from such mistaken identity. Just year after the erotic novel was released, this self-published book from a Miami author was released about a dropout prevention teacher, titled Shades of Gray. The author received calls, emails and Facebook messages from people thinking she wrote 50 Shades of Grey. And then there are these titles. And this one, and this one. And read the comment at the end of this article. I bet I can go on all with a search like this.
“The first line of my book is, ‘They took me in my nightgown,’ so people would read that and think, ‘This is it,’ and it went right into their carts,” she said, referring to the erotic bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which was also released in 2011. “I had adults who came to my events wondering, ‘Why are there seventh graders here?’ and parents who were outraged at the school for inviting the Shades of Gray author. Maybe changing the title will actually be a good thing.”