A Toronto-based Reuters journalist examines her struggles with depression within a larger narrative about mental health and its treatment.
Paperny first tried to kill herself in 2011 by drinking antifreeze. Just 24 years old, the author seemed destined for success. She was writing for the Globe and Mail, her “dream newspaper,” and had the love of a supportive family. However, a profound self-hatred continued to push toward self-annihilation for years after her first attempt. In this multipart memoir/depression exposé, Paperny tells the story of how she fought her way back to functionality while exploring treatment options and the experiences of fellow depression sufferers within the North American mental health system. First—and with a generous dose of sardonic humor—the author traces a journey to (relative) wellness that took her through several hospitals and crisis units. In the second section, she discusses the “fourteen different drugs in dozens of different combinations” she tried to combat her disease, none of which succeeded in completely eradicating her symptoms. She also examines other surgical options, such as electroconvulsive therapy and electrode implantation, and discusses the reasons why pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to invest more in the development of new depression drugs. In the third part, Paperny explores the stigma associated with depression by presenting stories of men and women from a variety of backgrounds and how that stigma affected their lives. The author also looks at the way the mental health system is biased in favor of white and affluent patients and how rates of suicide have spiked among adolescents in the last decade. Paperny concludes with a brief section about the many troubling legal and ethical questions that can arise—e.g., “deciding when someone’s too crazy to make decisions”—as a result of hospitalization. In this well-researched, engaging, and highly readable text, the author demystifies depression and calls for “compassionate, equitable [and] informed” care for what has become “the most fatal psychiatric phenomenon we’re up against.”
An eye-opening and humane book treatment of a difficult subject.