The author of the acclaimed Welcome to My Country describes in this provocative and funny memoir the ups and downs of living on Prozac for ten years, and the strange adjustments she had to make to living "normal life."
Today millions of people take Prozac, but Lauren Slater was one of the first. In this rich and beautifully written memoir, she describes what it's like to spend most of your life feeling crazy--and then to wake up one day and find yourself in the strange state of feeling well. And then to face the challenge of creating a whole new life. Once inhibited, Slater becomes spontaneous. Once terrified of maintaining a job, she accepts a teaching position and ultimately earns several degrees in psychology. Once lonely, she finds love with a man who adores her. Slater is wonderfully thoughtful and articulate about all of these changes, and also about the downside of taking Prozac: such matters as dependency, sexual dysfunction, and Prozac "poop-out."
"The beauty of Lauren Slater's prose is shocking," said Newsday about Welcome to My Country, and Slater's remarkable gifts as a writer are present here in sentences that are like elegant darts, hitting at the center of the deepest human feelings. Prozac Diary is a wonderfully written report from inside a decade on Prozac, and an original writer's acute observations on the challenges of living modern life.
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When the author began taking Prozac in 1988 she was 26 and had already struggled for over a decade with hospitalizations, suicide attempts, anorexia, and self-mutilation resulting from a variety of mental illnesses, obsessive-compulsive disorder the most recent among them. The newly released drug liberated her from debilitating anxiety and pain even as it raised unsettling questions about her own identity, as she had always been defined by her afflictions. "The world as I had known it my whole life did not seem to exist," writes Slater in a characteristically incisive sentence. She was happier, but she found it difficult to write without the inner voices that had sparked her fevered creativity; even the philosophy books she had once loved now seemed irrelevant to her newly healthy state. With utter candor (even about her dampened sexuality) and a surprising amount of humor, Slater chronicles the ups and downs of life on Prozac. A nightmarish relapse when the dosage suddenly proves inadequate ("Prozac poop-out") ultimately helps her discover inner resources to combat her illness in conjunction with the medication. She finds new love and a better understanding of her past; she avoids the equally unrealistic extremes of Prozac boosters who ignore the drug's costs and doomsayers who depict it creating a generation of zombies. Slater's balanced final assessment is voiced, as usual, in exact, lyrical prose: "This is Prozac's burden and gift, keeping me alive to the most human of questions, bringing me forward, bringing me back, swaddling and unswaddling me, pushing me to ask which wrappings are real." --Wendy SmithFrom the Back Cover:
Praise for Lauren Slater's Welcome to My Country
"Stunningly written . . . [Welcome to My Country] is relentless in its mask-stripping, yet instead of indulgence the act of revealing is handled with beauty and bravery."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Evocative and moving . . . Slater is more poet than narrator, more philosopher than psychologist, more artist than doctor. Her views of patients and her painful memories of her own past are presented with lyric intensity. Every page brims with beautifully rendered images of thoughts, feelings, emotional states."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"As finely wrought and as gently introspective as an excellent novel . . . Slater's vision is, ultimately, one of unity and possibility."
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