A young man harrowingly details the depth of a two-decade bout with mental illness.
Fitzpatrick’s unsettling memoir begins innocently enough with early memories of summers spent on Cape Cod as the middle child of five in an Irish Catholic family. But his bucolic upbringing was marred by his brother’s rough, mean-spirited version of sibling horseplay, a string of predatory men inexplicably propositioning him and the merciless emotional and physical mistreatment from his cruel, stoner college roommates. This, coupled with the dissolution of an intense, if short-lived, love affair, perhaps precipitated the initial psychiatric breakdown he had in Boston while in his early 20s. Fitzpatrick found mental relief by randomly slicing into his skin, a behavior he justified by claiming that “it just helps me loosen up.” His incremental descent into psychosis sorrowfully continued a familial lineage “spiked with mental illness.” The author provides an extensively detailed chronicle of 17 years spent at the mercy of debilitating mental incapacitation as he juggled eccentric psychiatric professionals, potent psychotropic drug cocktails, questionable alternative therapies, lost, depressive female friends and an exhaustive procession of inpatient psychiatric programs. Aided by a precise drug regimen and thoughtful psychiatry, Fitzpatrick quite miraculously managed to restore his sanity a few years ago. There’s nothing tentative in the author’s intense avalanche of grim histrionics; he writes with a personal urgency initially tapped by author Wally Lamb, who encouraged him to commit his experiences to paper.
Fitzpatrick slam-dunks readers into the grim, murky bowels of his psychotic ordeal, yet provides a promising coda for himself and those jonesing for a “normal” life.