Annita Sawyer’s memoir is a harrowing, heroic, and redeeming story of her battle with mental illness, and her triumph in overcoming it. In 1960, as a suicidal teenager, Sawyer was institutionalized, misdiagnosed, and suffered through 89 electroshock treatments before being transfered, labeled as “unimproved.” The damage done has haunted her life. Discharged in 1966, after finally receiving proper psychiatric care, Sawyer kept her past secret and moved on to graduate from Yale University, raise two children, and become a respected psychotherapist. That is, until 2001, when she reviewed her hospital records and began to remember a broken childhood and the even more broken mental health system of the 1950s and 1960s, Revisiting scenes from her childhood and assembling the pieces of a lost puzzle, her autobiography is a cautionary tale of careless psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, both 50 years ago and today. It is an informative story about understanding PTSD and making emotional sense of events that can lead a soul to darkness. Most of all, it’s a story of perseverance: pain, acceptance, healing, hope, and success. Hers is a unique voice for this generation, shedding light on an often misunderstood illness.
"This utterly gripping, sharply written memoir pulls no punches. With cauterizing honesty and a blessed sense of perspective, Annita Perez Sawyer takes you into and through her dark experience to the shores of wisdom." —Philip Lopate, author, Being With Children
"How to mend a psyche shattered by personal trauma? Annita Sawyer seeks answers to that question, first for her patients and then for herself. In prose without a hint of self-pity, yet rich in sensory details and professional insight, she draws a dark history into the light." —Scott Russell Sanders, author, Divine Animal: A Novel
"Annita Sawyer writes candidly — and gracefully — of her vulnerabilities and her persistence as she details her harrowing experience with a misdiagnosis, the hard-won life she forges in its wake, and her ultimate reconciliation with her buried past. Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass is a brave, compassionate, memorable book." —Jane Brox, author, Five Thousand Days Like This One: The Evolution of Artifical Light
"This account of psychiatric misdiagnosis and mistreatment is remarkable for its narrative force, its palpable (and entirely justified) rage, and its fierce honesty." —Anne Fadiman, author, At Large and At Small and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
"Annita Sawyer's Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass is an extraordinary achievement, a memoir of a Yale-trained psychologist's harrowing struggle with serious mental illness and recovery. Beautifully written and full of heartbreak, hope and wisdom, for anyone with a personal or family history of mental illness, this is a must read." —Thomas H. Styron, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine
"A fiercely honest and beautifully written book." —Paul Austin, author, Beautiful Eyes and Something for the Pain
About the Author:
Annita Perez Sawyer has had a psychology practice for more than 30 years, and she is a member of the clinical faculty at Yale University. Her essays have won prizes and been included among the “Notables” in the Best American Essays series. She lives in North Branford, Connecticut.