generallyanxious.com

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel – excerpt #5

 

“You don’t need an excuse to be depressed,” Dr. Sterling told me in one of our sessions. “You just are. You have to stop feeling guilty about it. Feeling guilty is just making you more depressed.” “This is going to sound dumb,” I began, far too aware that everything I said was so trite, “but, the thing is, I really don’t feel like I have a right to be so miserable. I know we can look back and say my father neglected me, my mother smothered me, I was perpetually in an environment that was incoherent to me, but – ” But what? What other excuses do you need? I wasn’t feeling gross enough to mention Bergen-Belsen, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and all the other real reasons to be sorrowful. “But a lot of people have hard childhoods,” I continued, “much harder than mine, and they grow up and get on with it.”

Please see excerpt #3 for my thoughts on depression and guilt…

 

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel – excerpt #4

 

Samantha often told me about how depressed and despondent she’d once been, how she used to cry herself to sleep in her boyfriend’s bed in London because she felt so lonely, even lying beside him, and how she’d stand up and walk out in the middle of dinner parties without excusing herself because she needed to burst into tears for no apparent reason. She would tell me these things to assure me that I, too, would get over whatever was ailing me. But it seemed pretty hard to believe I’d ever be as together as Samantha, Samantha who was planning to spend her winter break trekking through Nicaragua and El Salvador on a fact-finding mission for her thesis about postwar diplomacy between Central America and the British government. Samatha couldn’t even speak Spanish, but was somehow unfazed by this impediment. Lying in that infirmary bed, the idea of going anywhere with only a thin knowledge of the native tongue, especially a region where dead bodies have been known to turn up in the bathrooms of bus stations, seemed like a task that would require more energy than I would have to expend for the rest of my life. Lying in that infirmary bed, the idea of going to Central America didn’t seem impossible just there and then – it seemed impossible forever. I couldn’t imagine ever getting better. That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.


When I’ve had the flu, and I’m on the couch watching TV, I see the commercials and think “These people are so happy and they look so healthy. I wonder if I’ll ever be that happy and healthy again.” A little dramatic, I know!

There have been times I’ve had the same reaction to people who have suffered from anxiety/depression and are leading productive lives, just as Wurtzel does here. I think “I am never going to be that healthy. How are they so healthy?” Yet at the same time, I couldn’t help but look at those people and have a glimmer of hope.

Also in this excerpt, Wurtzel does an amazing job putting depression into words:

“A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

Maybe quotes like this might help loved ones of depression sufferers understand, maybe just a little.

 

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel – excerpt #3

 

I’m figuring, if I can just become poor white trash, if I can just get in touch with the blue collar blues, then there’ll be a reason why I feel this way. I will be a fucked-up Marxian worker person, alienated from the fruits of my labor. My misery will begin to make sense. That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful. The idea that a girl in private school in Manhattan could have problems worth this kind of trouble seemed impossible to me. The concept of white, middle-class, educated despair just never occurred to me, and listening to rock and roll all day was probably no way to discover it. I didn’t know about Joni Mitchell or Djuna Barnes or Virginia Woolf or Frida Kahlo yet. I didn’t know there was a proud legacy of women who’d turned overwhelming depression into prodigious art. For me there was just Bruce – and the Clash, the Who, the Jam, the Sex Pistols, all of those punk bands talking about toppling the system in the U.K., which had nothing to do with being so lonesome you could die in the U.S.A.


I think it’s important to note here that guilt can be a component of anxiety and depression. I feel it’s something that should be acknowledged and moved past – spending energy feeling guilty isn’t going to help the situation. So I would say don’t deny it, but don’t dwell on it either.

Also, note the familiar names mentioned in this excerpt. I find it reassuring to know famous people have dealt with these sorts of issues too – not because they are famous, but because they are PRODUCTIVE and that’s why we know them. Maybe I can be productive too.

I plan on posting more about both of these topics in the future…