Elizabeth Wurtzel Quotes

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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.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I don't want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I feel like a defective model, like I came off the assembly line flat-out fucked and my parents should have taken me back for repairs before the warranty ran out.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
If you are chronically down, it is a lifelong fight to keep from sinking
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Some friends don't understand this. They don't understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you're wonderful just the way you are. They don't understand that I can't remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
homesickness is just a state of mind for me. i'm always missing someone or someplace or something, i'm always trying to get back to some imaginary somewhere. my life has been one long longing.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Mental illness is so much more complicated than any pill that any mortal could invent
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Insanity is knowing that what you're doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can't stop it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I need the thing that happens when your brain shuts off and your heart turns on.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I'm the girl who is lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. Just like the Cheshire cat, someday I will suddenly leave, but the artificial warmth of my smile, that phony, clownish curve, the kind you see on miserably sad people and villains in Disney movies, will remain behind as an ironic remnant. I am the girl you see in the photograph from some party someplace or some picnic in the park, the one who is in fact soon to be gone. When you look at the picture again, I want to assure you, I will no longer be there. I will be erased from history, like a traitor in the Soviet Union. Because with every day that goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more invisible...
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Sometimes I wish I could walk around with a HANDLE WITH CARE sign stuck to my forehead.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
At heart, I have always been a coper, I've mostly been able to walk around with my wounds safely hidden, and I've always stored up my deep depressive episodes for the weeks off when there was time to have an abbreviated version of a complete breakdown. But in the end, I'd be able to get up and on with it, could always do what little must be done to scratch by.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
In the meantime, I could withdraw to my room, could hide and sleep as if I were dead
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I start to think there really is no cure for depression, that happiness is an ongoing battle, and I wonder if it isn't one I'll have to fight for as long as I live. I wonder if it's worth it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Depression is about as close as you get to somewhere between dead and alive, and it's the worst.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
...occasionally I wished I could walk through a picture window and have the sharp, broken shards slash me to ribbons so I would finally look like I felt.
Elizabeth Wurtzel
...if you feel everything intensely, ultimately you feel nothing at all.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Sometimes, I get so consumed by depression that it is hard to believe that the whole world doesn't stop and suffer with me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Whenever I talk to anyone I care about, I am always seeking approval. There is always a pleading lilt in my voice that demands love. Even the people I work with, the ones I am supposed to have a professional relationship with, all business, get pulled into my need. I can't help it. I want to be adored.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Sometimes it feels like we're all living in a Prozac nation. The United States of Depression.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Everything's plastic, we're all going to die sooner or later, so what does it matter.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
In my case, I was not frightened in the least bit at the thought that I might live because I was certain, quite certain, that I was already dead.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
It is so hard to learn to put sadness in perspective so hard to understand that it is a feeling that comes in degrees, it can be a candle burning gently and harmlessly in your home, or it can be a full-fledged forest fire that destroy almost everything and is controlled by almost nothing. It can also be so much in-between
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
It's nonverbal: I need love. I need the thing that happens when your brain shuts off and your heart turns on. And I know it's around me somewhere, but I just can't feel it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
In a strange way, I had fallen in love with my depression. Dr. Sterling was right about that. I loved it because I thought it was all I had. I thought depression was the part of my character that made me worthwhile. I thought so little of myself, felt that I had such scant offerings to give to the world, that the one thing that justified my existence at all was my agony.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
How can you hide from what never goes away? --Heraclitus
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Very early in my life it was already too late.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
The moment in The Bell Jar when Esther Greenwood realizes after thirty days in the same black turtleneck that she never wants to wash her hair again, that the repeated necessity of the act is too much trouble, that she wants to do it once and be done with it, seems like the book's true epiphany. You know you've completely descended into madness when the matter of shampoo has ascended into philosophical heights.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I wonder if any of them can tell from just looking at me that all I am is the sum total of my pain, a raw woundedness so extreme that it might be terminal. It might be terminal velocity, the speed of the sound of a girl falling down to a place from where she can't be retrieved. What if I am stuck down here for good?
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Woke up this morning afraid I was gonna live.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I start to get the feeling that something is really wrong.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I mean, if you were to find a shattered mirror, find all the pieces, all the shards and all the tiny chips, and have whatever skill and patience it took to put all that broken glass back together so that it was complete once again, the restored mirror would still be spiderwebbed with cracks, it would still be a useless glued version of its former self, which could show only fragmented reflections of anyone looking into it. Some things are beyond repair. And that was me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Pick a man, any man. Every guy I fall for becomes Jesus Christ within the first twenty-four hours of our relationship. I know that this happens, I see it happening, I even feel myself, sometimes, standing at some temporal crossroads, some distinct moment at which I can walk away and keep it from happening, but I never do. I grab at everything, I end up with nothing, and then I feel bereft. I mourn for the loss of something I never even had.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
And then there are my friends, and they have their own lives. While they like to talk everything through, to analyze and hypothesize, what I really need, what I'm really looking for, is not something I can articulate. It's nonverbal: I need love. I need the thing that happens when your brain shuts off and your heart turns on. And I know it's around me somewhere, but I just can't feel it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
There is a classic moment in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt, and all he can say in response is, “Gradually and then suddenly.” When someone asks how I lost my mind, that’s all I can say too.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
For all of my life I have needed more.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction)
I wasn't just the madwoman in the attic--I was the attic itself. The past was all over me, all under me, all inside me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Hemingway has his classic moment in "The Sun Also Rises" when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt. All he can say is, "Gradually, then suddenly." That's how depression hits. You wake up one morning, afraid that you're gonna live.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
One of the terrible fallacies of contemporary psychotherapy is that if people would just say how they felt, a lot of problems could be solved.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I want to explain how exhausted I am. Even in my dreams. How I wake up tired. How I’m being drowned by some kind of black wave.
Elizabeth Wurtzel
I start to feel like I can't maintain the facade any longer, that I may just start to show through. And I wish I knew what was wrong. Maybe something about how stupid my whole life is. I don't know. Why does the rest of the world put up with the hypocrisy, the need to put a happy face on sorrow, the need to keep on keeping on?... I don't know the answer, I know only that I can't. I don't want any more vicissitudes, I don't want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I've had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I am crying over the elusive nature of love.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
In a typical mental health catch-22, the alienating nature of depression tends to keep its sufferers from finding their way to the very support groups that might help them.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Madness is too glamorous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting, too literary, too interesting in its connotations, to convey the boredom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression…depression is pure dullness, tedium straight up. Depression is, especially these days, an overused term to be sure, but never one associated with anything wild, anything about dancing all night with a lampshade on your head and then going home and killing yourself…The word madness allows its users to celebrate the pain of its sufferers, to forget that underneath all the acting-out and quests for fabulousness and fine poetry, there is a person in huge amounts of dull, ugly agony...Remember that when you’re at the point at which you’re doing something as desperate and violent as sticking your head in an oven, it is only because the life that preceded this act felt even worse. Think about living in depression from moment to moment, and know it is not worth any of the great art that comes as its by-product.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America)
As soon as I was out in the street, I realized I didn't want to be alone after all, I realized I didn't want to be anything at all.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I have studiously tried to avoid ever using the word 'madness' to describe my condition. Now and again, the word slips out, but I hate it. 'Madness' is too glamorous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting, too literary, too interesting in its connotations, to convey the boredom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
But he does insist on a conversation. Goddamn it! Why can't people just do what I want them to do and be gone? It's a worldwide conspiracy to make me be polite when I don't want to be.
Elizabeth Wurtzel
Depression is a lot like that: slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearale. But you won't even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getter older, about turning eight or about turning twelve or turning fifteeen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
And I know, knew for sure, with an absolute certainty, that this is rock bottom, this what the worst possible thing feels like. It is not some grand, wretched emotional breakdown. It is, in fact, so very mundane:…Rock Bottom is an inability to cope with the commonplace that is so extreme it makes even the grandest and loveliest things unbearable…Rock bottom is feeling that the only thing that matters in all of life is the one bad moment…Rock bottom is everything out of focus. It’s a failure of vision, a failure to see the world how it is, to see the good in what it is, and only to wonder why the hell things look the way they do and not—and not some other way.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
My God, I could raise a family of six children and hold down a full-time job with all the energy I expend on depression!
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Into every sunny life a little rain must fall.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I intend to scream, shout, race the engine, call when I feel like it, throw tantrums in Bloomingdale's if I feel like it and confess intimate details about my life to complete strangers. I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy...
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women)
In those pamphlets that they give at mental health centers where they list the ten or so symptoms that would indicate a clinical depression, 'suicide threats' or even simple 'talk of suicide' is considered cause for concern. I guess the point is that what's just talk one day may become a real activity the next. So perhaps after years of walking around with these germinal feelings, these raw thoughts, these scattered moments of saying I wish I were dead, eventually I too, sooner or later, would succumb to the death urge. In the meantime, I could withdraw to my room, could hide and sleep as if I were dead.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
The brief relief of seeing other people when I leave my room turns into a desperate need to be alone, and then being alone turns into a terrible fear that I will have no friends, I will be alone in this world and in my life. I will eventually be so crazy from this black wave, which seems to be taking over my head with increasing frequency, that one day I will just kill myself, not for any great, thoughtful existential reasons, but because I need immediate relief.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Why do anything-- why wash my hair, why read Moby Dick, why fall in love, why sit through six hours of Nicholas Nickleby, why care about American intervention in Central America, why spend time trying to get into the right schools, why dance to the music when all of us are just slouching toward the same inevitable conclusion? The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
if only my whole life could be words and music, if only everything else could slip away.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I wanted so much to forget the past, but it wouldn't go away, it hung around like an open wound that refused to scar over, an open window that no amount of muscle could shut.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Some catastrophic moments invite clarity, explode in split moments: You smash your hand through a windowpane and then there is blood and shattered glass stained with red all over the place; you fall out a window and break some bones and scrape some skin. Stitches and casts and bandages and antiseptic solve and salve the wounds. But depression is not a sudden disaster. It is more like a cancer: At first its tumorous mass is not even noticeable to the careful eye, and then one day -- wham! -- there is a huge, deadly seven-pound lump lodged in your brain or your stomach or your shoulder blade, and this thing that your own body has produced is actually trying to kill you. Depression is a lot like that: Slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearable. But you won't even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getting older, about turning eight or turning twelve or turning fifteen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live. In my case, I was not frightened in the least bit at the thought that I might live because I was certain, quite certain, that I was already dead. The actual dying part, the withering away of my physical body, was a mere formality. My spirit, my emotional being, whatever you want to call all that inner turmoil that has nothing to do with physical existence, were long gone, dead and gone, and only a mass of the most fucking god-awful excruciating pain like a pair of boiling hot tongs clamped tight around my spine and pressing on all my nerves was left in its wake. That's the thing I want to make clear about depression: It's got nothing at all to do with life. In the course of life, there is sadness and pain and sorrow, all of which, in their right time and season, are normal -- unpleasant, but normal. Depression is an altogether different zone because it involves a complete absence: absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest. The pain you feel in the course of a major clinical depression is an attempt on nature's part (nature, after all, abhors a vacuum) to fill up the empty space. But for all intents and purposes, the deeply depressed are just the walking, waking dead. And the scariest part is that if you ask anyone in the throes of depression how he got there, to pin down the turning point, he'll never know. There is a classic moment in The Sun Also Rises when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt, and all he can say in response is, 'Gradually and then suddenly.' When someone asks how I love my mind, that is all I can say too
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I become one of those people who walks alone in the dark at night while others sleep or watch Mary Tyler Moore reruns or pull all-nighters to finish up some paper that's due first thing tomorrow. I always carry lots of stuff with me wherever I roam, always weighted down with books, with cassettes, with pens and paper, just in case I get the urge to sit down somewhere, and oh, I don't know, read something or write my masterpiece. I want all my important possessions, my worldly goods, with me at all times. I want to hold what little sense of home I have left with me always.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Doing nothing is opting for the sweetness of stillness...Instead of fighting with that which you cannot control, you might as well just see it through...
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Radical Sanity : Commonsense Advice for Uncommon Women)
The measure of mindfulness, the touchstone for sanity in this society, is our level of productivity, our attention to responsibility, our ability to plain and simple hold down a job.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
That’s the thing I want to make clear about depression: It’s got nothing at all to do with life. In the course of life, there is sadness and pain and sorror, all of which, in their right time and season, are normal—unpleasant, but normal. Depression is an altogether different zone because it involves a complete absence: absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest. The pain you feel in the course of a major clinical depression is an attempt on nature’s part (nature, after all, abhors a vacuum) to fill up the empty space. But for all intents and purposes, the deeply depressed are just the walking, waking dead.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Just as our parents quieted us when we were noisy by putting us in front of the television set, maybe we're now learning to quiet our own adult noise with Prozac.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I’ve been looking for a feeling like that everywhere I go. I’ve been waiting for someone to see all the good in me at every truck stop and intersection along the way. I’ve been waiting all my life for the moment to arrive when I can just stop. Stop looking
Elizabeth Wurtzel (More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction)
Depression is all about if you loved me you would. As in, if you loved me you would stop doing your schoolwork, stop going out drinking with your friends on a Saturday night, stop accepting starring roles in theater productions, and stop doing everything besides sitting here by my side and passing me Kleenex and aspirin while I lie and creak and cry and drown myself and you in my misery.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
And she keeps saying, how can you do this to me? And i want to scream, what do you mean, how can I do this to you? Aren't we confusing our pronouns here? The question, really, is How could I do this to myself?
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I sit there in my bed staring at the wall, feeling happy, enjoying the way the wall looks, how pink and how white it is. Pink and white, as far as I’m concerned, have never looked quite so pink and white before.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Bitch: In praise of difficult women.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women)
As someone very sagely said during the parricide trials of the Menendez Brothers: anytime your kids kill you, you are at least partly to blame.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
When things get unbearable, I wrap myself into a tight ball and shut my eyes. Every muscle in my body is tense. I open my eyes and I'm still where I was when I closed them to escape. Nothing's changed.
Elizabeth Wurtzel
Banned! My eyes light up, I think I see stars. Anything that has been banned by anyone must be something I’d like.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction)
Why does the rest of the world put up with the hypocrisy, the need to put a happy face on sorrow, the need to keep on keeping on?... I don’t know the answer, I know only that I can’t. I don't want any more vicissitudes, I don't want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
If I were another person, I go on, I wouldn’t want to deal with me, I don’t want to deal with me, It’s so hopeless, I want out of this life. I really do. I keep thinking that if I could just get a grip of myself, I could be all right again. I keep thinking I’m driving myself crazy, but I swear, I swear to God, I have no control. It’s so awful, It’s like some demons have taken over my mind. And nobody believes me, Everybody thinks I could be better if I wanted to. But I can’t be the old Lizzy anymore, I can’t be myself anymore, I mean, actually, I am being myself right now and it’s horrible.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
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 its compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I can see that I imagine all kinds of rejection that never happens. I can see that I beg and plead for love that is freely offered because I somehow believe that if I don't ask for it, everyone will forget about me: I will be a little kid sent off to sleep-away camp whose parents forget to meet her at the bus when she comes back in August. Or else I think people are nice to me only to be nice to me, that they feel sorry for me because I am such a loser- as if anyone could possibly be that generous.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction)
Love is rather impotent and pitiful: My father must have told me a million times how much he loved me, but that emotion - assuming it was even real - hardly had the strength to counter the many other acts of wrong he committed against me. Contrary to romance novels and the love-conquers-all mentality that even those of us who grow up in an era of divorce are - in response to some atavistic instinct - still raised to believe, love is always a product and a victim of circumstances. It is fragile and small.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death. When I look ahead, all I can see is my final demise. And they say, But maybe not for seventy or eighty years. And I say, Maybe you, but me, I'm already gone.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Taking a hypersensitive approach to life had come to seem so much more pure and honest then joining the ranks of the numb masses who could let it all slide by. What I stopped realizing was that if you feel everything intensely, ultimately you feel nothing at all. Everything registers at the same decibel...
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Jesus, I wondered, what do you do with pain so bad it has no redeeming value? It cannot even be alchemized into art, into words, into something you can chalk up to an interesting experience because the pain itself, its intensity, is so great that it has woven itself into your system so deeply that there is no way to objectify or push it outside or find its beauty within. That is the pain I’m feeling now. It's so bad, it's useless. The only lesson I will ever derive from this pain is how bad pain can be.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
It doesn’t matter how many years go by, how much therapy I embark on, how much I try to achieve that elusive thing known as perspective, which is supposed to put all past wrongs into their rightful and diminished place, that happy place where all the talk is of lessons learned and inner peace. No one will ever understand the potency of my memories, which are so solid and vivid that I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me they are driving me crazy. My subconscious has not buried them, my superego has not restrained them. They are front and center, they are going on right now.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Rock bottom is an inability to cope with the commonplace that is so extreme it makes even the grandest and loveliest things unbearable...Rock bottom is everything out of focus. It's a failure of vision, a failure to see the world as it is, to see the good in what it is, and only to wonder why the hell things look the way they do and not some other way.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
That's the problem with reality, that's the fallacy of therapy: It assumes that you will have a series of revelations, or even just one little one, and that these various truths will come to you and will change your life completely. It assumes that insight alone is a transformative force. But the truth is, it doesn't work that way. In real life, every day you might come to some new conclusion about yourself and about the reasoning behind your behavior, and you can tell yourself that this knowledge will make all the difference. But in all likelihood, you're going to keep on doing the same old things. You'll still be the same person. You'll still cling to your destructive, debilitating habits because you emotional tie to them is so strong that the stupid things you are really the only things you've got that keep you centered and connected. They are the only things about you that you you.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
But happiness is a difficult thing-it is, as Aristotle posited in The Nicomachean Ethics, an activity, is is about good social behavior, about being a solid citizen. Happiness is about community, intimacy, relationships, rootedness, closeness, family, stability, a sense of place, a feeling of love. And in this country, where people move from state to state and city to city so much, where rootlessness is almost a virtue ("anywhere I hang my hat...is someone else's home"), where family units regularly implode and leave behind fragments of divorce, where the long loneliness of life finds its antidote not in a hardy, ancient culture (as it would in Europe), not in some blood-deep tribal rites (as it would in the few still-hale Third World nations), but in our vast repository of pop culture, of consumer goods, of cotton candy for all-in this America, happiness is hard.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I start to get the feeling that something is really wrong. Like all the drugs put together- the lithium, the Prozac, the desipramine, and Desyrel that I take to sleep at night- can no longer combat whatever it is that was wrong with me in the first place. I feel like a defective model, like I came off the assembly line flat-out fucked and my parents should have taken me back for repairs before the warranty ran out. But that was long ago.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
And it seemed hard to believe that these people who were so close to me couldn’t see how desperate I was, or if they could they didn’t care enough to do anything about it, or if they cared enough to do anything about it they didn’t believe there was anything they could do, not knowing—or not wanting to know—that their belief might have been the thing that made the difference.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I could not bear the deep freeze settling around my bones at the thought that yet another attempt to get out of my life alive would end in disappointment. Time became palpable and viscous. Every minute, every second, every nanosecond, wrapped around my spine so that my nerves tightened and ached. I faded into abstraction. A self-generated narcosis created a painful blank where my mind used to be.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
The atypically depressed are more likely to be the walking wounded, people like me who are quite functional, whose lives proceed almost as usual, except that their depressed all the time, almost constantly embroiled in thoughts of suicide even as they go through their paces. Atypical depression is not just a mild malaise...but one that is quite severe and yet still somehow allows an appearance of normalcy because it becomes, over time, a part of life. The trouble is that as the years pass, if untreated, atypical depression gets worse and worse, and its sufferers are likely to commit suicide out of sheer frustration with living a life that is simultaneously productive and clouded by constant despair. It is the cognitive dissonance that is deadly. Because atypical depression doesn’t have a peak- or, more accurately, a nadir, like normal depression, because it follows no logical curve but instead accumulates over time, it an drive its victim to dismal despair so suddenly that one might not have bothered to attend to treatment until the patient has already, and seemingly very abruptly, committed suicide.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Nothing in my life ever seemed to fade away or take its rightful place among the pantheon of experiences that constituted my eighteen years. It was all still with me, the storage space in my brain crammed with vivid memories, packed and piled like photographs and old dresses in my grandmother’s bureau. I wasn’t just the madwoman in the attic — I was the attic itself. The past was all over me, all under me, all inside me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
You’re going to leave me, aren’t you? … You’ve had enough of me, haven’t you? You’re probably so tired of all this crying and all these moods, and I’ve got to tell you, so am I. So am I. Sometimes it seems like my mind has a mind of its own, like I just get hysterical, like it’s something I can’t control at all. And I don’t know what to do, and I feel so sorry for you because you don’t know what to do either. And I’m sure you’re going to leave me now.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Forget about the scant hours in her brief life when Sylvia Plath was able to produce the works in Ariel. Forget about that tiny bit of time and just remember the days that spanned into years when she could not move, couldn’t think straight, could only lie in wait in a hospital bed, hoping for the relief that electroconvulsive therapy would bring. Don’t think of the striking on-screen picture, the mental movie you create of the pretty young woman being wheeled on the gurney to get her shock treatments, and don’t think of the psychedelic, photonegative image of this sane woman at the moment she receives that bolt of electricity. Think, instead, of the girl herself, of the way she must have felt right then, of the way no amount of great poetry and fascination and fame could make the pain she felt at that moment worth suffering. Remember that when you’re at the point at which you’re doing something as desperate and violent as sticking your head in an oven, it is only because the life that preceded this act felt worse. Think about living in depression from moment to moment, and know it is not worth any of the great art that comes a its by-product.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I was, after the breakup, what you call a complete wreck. For the first time in my life, my pain had a focus. Any I just couldn't help myself. I didn't care what anyone thought, I didn't care that all the girls in school would say, See, he finally got wise, I didn't care how stupid I would look with teary mascara stains and purple eyeliner tracks down my cheeks, I didn't care about anything except how this was the worst pain ever. I used to weep for never having anything worth losing, but now I was simply resplendent--puffy, red, hysterical-- with a loss I could identify completely. I felt justified in my sorrow and I couldn't stand the way everything about Zachary seemed to be everywhere: Every staircase we'd necked on and lounge chair we'd chatted on between classes was redolent with memories of him. My God, even the lint that gathered on my clothing and still hadn't come out in the wash reminded me of Zachary. I would burst into tears in class and not bother to excuse myself. I cried on the subway. One day, I got mugged walking to the subway, and figured it was as good an excuse as any to go home and stay there.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
We try, we struggle, all the time to find words to express our love. The quality, the quantity, certain that no two people have experienced it before in the history of creation. Perhaps Catherine and Heathcliff, perhaps Romeo and Juliet, maybe Tristan and Isolde, maybe Hero and Leander, but these are just characters, make-believe. We have known each other forever, since before conception even. We remember playing together in a playpen, crossing paths at FAO Schwarz. We remember meeting in front of the Holy Temple in the days before Christ, we remember greeting each other at the Forum, at the Parthenon, on passing ships as Christopher Columbus sailed to America. We have survived pogrom together, we have died in Dachau together, we have been lynched by the Ku Klux Klan together. There has been cancer, polio, the bubonic plague, consumption, morphine addiction. We have had children together, we have been children together, we were in the womb together. Our history is so deep and wide and long, we have known each other a million years. And we don't know how to express this kind of love, this kind of feeling. I get paralyzed sometimes. One day, we are in the shower and I want to say to him, I could be submerged in sixty feet of water right now, never drowning, never even fearing drowning, knowing I would always be safe with you here, knowing that it would be ok to die as long as you are here. I want to say this but don't.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
Depression gave me more then just a brooding introspection. It gave me humor, it gave me a certain what-a-fuck-up-I-am shtick to play with when the worst was over..the side effects, the by products of depression, seems to keep me going. I had developed a persona that could be extremely melodramatic and entertaining. It had, at times, all the selling points of madness, all the aspects of performance art. I was always able to reduce whatever craziness I’d experienced into the perfect antidote, the ideal cocktail party monologue...I thought this ability, to tell away my personal life as if it didn’t belong to me, to be queerly chatty and energetic at moments that most people found inappropriate, was what my friends liked about me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I need to start thinking more like an engineer and less like a scientist: I need to think about what works, not about why. The problem was me. I was it. That's what I believed. I believed I was the everything. The largeness of my disaster dragged others- frankly, everyone- down with me. I was certain that entire rooms of people became vertiginously joyous when I was high and having fun, and that anyone who got near me when I was morose and coming down would have to feel my pain as potently as I did. Whether I was high or low, the intensity was so great and the world became so small- no larger than the size of me and my mood of the moment- that it was hard to imagine that anything else was going on. It was hard to believe that there were things happening in the world that were not about me.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction)
Yes, I want to tell her, and maybe I even do say that, but I am crying because whatever gifts, the pieces of good buried inside and under so much that I feel is bad, is wrong, is twisted, are less clear than the ability to hit a ball with a bat and break the scoreboard or do a triple pirouette in the air on ice. My gifts are for life itself, for an unfortunately astute understanding of all the cruelty and pain in the world. My gifts are unspecific. I am an artist manque, someone full of crazy ideas and grandiloquent needs and even a little bit of happiness, but with no particular way to express it. I am like the title character in the film Betty Blue, the woman who is so full of...so full of...so full of something or other-it is unclear what, but a definite energy that can't find its medium-who pokes her own eyes out with a scissors and is murdered by her lover in an insane asylum in the end. She is, and I am becoming, a complete waste. So I cry at the end of The Natural.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
They have no idea what a bottomless pit of misery I am. They will have to do more and more and more...but they don’t know how enormous my need is. They don’t know how much I will demand from them before I can even think about getting better. They do not know that this is not some practice fire drill meant to prepare them for the real inferno, because the real thing is happening right now. All the bells say: too late. Its much too late and I’m sure that they are still not listening. They still don’t know that they need to do more and more and more, they need to try to get through to me until they haven’t slept or eaten or breathed fresh air for days, they need to try until they’ve died for me. They have to suffer as I have. And even after they’ve done that, there will still be more. They will have to rearrange the order of the cosmos, they will have to end the cold war...they will have to cure hunger in Ethiopia, and end the sex trade in Thailand and stop torture in Argentina. They will have to do more then they ever thought they could if they want me to stay alive. They have no idea how much energy and exasperation I am willing to suck out of them until I feel better. I will drain them and drown them until they know how little of me there is left even after I’ve taken everything they’ve got to give me because I hate them for not knowing.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
The trouble is that when we get around to solutions, it always seems to come down to Prozac. Or Zoloft. Or Paxil. Deep clinical depression is a disease, one that not only can, but probably should, be treated with drugs. But a low-grade terminal anomie, a sense of alienation or disgust and detachment, the collective horror at a world that seems to have gone so very wrong, is not a job for antidepressants. The trouble is, the big-picture problems that have so many people down are more or less insoluble: As long as people can get divorced they will get divorced; America=s shrinking economy is not reversible; there is no cure for AIDS. So it starts to seem fairly reasonable to anesthetize ourselves in the best possible way. I would like so much to say that Prozac is preventing many people who are not clinically depressed from finding real antidotes to what Hillary Clinton refers to as 'a sleeping sickness of the soul,' but what exactly would those solutions be? I mean, universal health care coverage and a national service draft would be nice, but neither one is going to save us from ourselves. Just as our parents quieted us when we were noisy by putting us in front of the television set, maybe we're now learning to quiet our own adult noise with Prozac.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
I can’t quite shake this feeling that we live in a world gone wrong, that there are all these feelings you’re not supposed to have because there’s no reason to anymore. But still they’re there, stuck somewhere, a flaw that evolution hasn’t managed to eliminate yet. I want so badly to feel bad about getting pregnant. But I can’t, don’t dare to. Just like I didn’t dare tell Jack that I was falling in love with him, wanting to be a modern woman who’s supposed to be able to handle the casual nature of these kinds of relationships. I’m never supposed to say, to Jack or anyone else, ‘What makes you think I’m so rich that you can steal my heart and it won’t mean a thing?’ Sometimes I think that I was forced to withdraw into depression, because it was the only rightful protest I could throw in the face of a world that said it was all right for people to come and go as they please, that there were simply no real obligations left. Deceit and treachery in both romantic and political relationships is nothing new, but at one time, it was bad, callous, and cold to hurt somebody. Now it’s just the way things go, part of the growth process. Really nothing is surprising. After a while, meaning and implication detach themselves from everything. If one can be a father and assume no obligations, it follows that one can be a boyfriend and do nothing at all. Pretty soon you can add friend, acquaintance, co-worker, and just about anyone else to the long list of people who seem to be part of your life, though there is no code of conduct that they must adhere to. Pretty soon, it seems unreasonable to be bothered or outraged by much of anything because, well, what did you expect?
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)