A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging--it's essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians.
In her early twenties, while outwardly thriving in her dream job and enjoying warm familial support and a strong social network, award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny found herself trapped by feelings of failure and despair. Her first suicide attempt--ingesting a deadly mix of sleeping pills and antifreeze--landed her in the ICU, followed by weeks of enforced detention that ran the gamut of horrifying, boring, hilarious, and absurd. This was Anna's entry into the labyrinthine psychiatric care system responsible for providing care to millions of Canadians.
As she struggled to survive the psych ward and as an outpatient--enduring the "survivor's" shame of facing concerned family, friends, and co-workers; finding (or not) the right therapist, the right meds; staying healthy, insured, and employed--Anna could not help but turn her demanding journalist's eye on her condition and on the system in which she found herself. She set off on a quest to "know her enemy," interviewing leading practitioners in the field across Canada and the US--from psychiatrists to neurological experts, brain-mapping pioneers to heroic family practitioners, and others dabbling in novel hypotheses. She reveals in courageously frank detail her own experiences with the pharmacological pitfalls and side effects of long-term treatment, and offers moving case studies of conversations with others, opening wide a window into how we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.
“Anna’s the best journalist I know. Her story about the mental healthcare system as seen through her own experiences is an act of monumental bravery. This is a book that will save lives.”—Omar el Akkad, author of American War
“A remarkable book. I am just so impressed by [her] honesty and rigour, her courage, her thorough research, her insight, her wisdom and her sense of humour. I hugely admire what she has achieved. I am sure it will be a great help to many people, and I have come away with new understanding after reading her book.”—Dr. Irfan Dhalla, MD, MSc, Vice-President, Health Quality Ontario, St. Michaels Hospital
“Compelling…This is a very good book. People coping with depression will find it supportive as well as entertaining (Anna has a great sense of humor). I also think it will help educate the public.” Dr. Marcia Valenstein, MD, MSc, Psychiatrist, University of Michigan Hospitals, and Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System
About the Author:
Anna Mehler Paperny is an award-winning reporter for Reuters based in Toronto. Over a decade she's chased down stories ranging from the opioid crisis to migration, from post-quake Haiti to Guantanamo Bay. She's written for the Kingston Whig-Standard, the Edmonton Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, Maclean's Magazine; as a staff reporter at The Globe and Mail; and a reporter-editor for Global News, where she developed globalnews.ca's award-winning Investigative Data Desk. Her work on deaths in Canadian prisons won an investigative journalism award. At Queen's University, she spent most of her time working on the campus newspaper.