Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

This was a very difficult book for me to read. In Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny, readers get a first-person narrative on what life is like with depression. In the author’s case, a depression so intense that it caused her to attempt suicide multiple times. It’s a triggering narrative, but also incredibly important. The more we talk about suicide, the less stigma there is, and the easier it (hopefully) becomes for people to seek treatment options.

The book is written as part memoir and part investigative journalism—two styles of writing that I love. It should be noted that the author’s personal experience is used to comment on aspects of her research, and she also interviews other individuals on their personal experiences with depression as well.

One quote in particular really stuck with me, and describes the book’s narrative perfectly:

"It’s an uncomfortable personal exploration of a sickeningly common illness no one likes talking about, one that remains under-treated and poorly treated and grossly inequitably treated in part because of our own squeamishness in confronting it, or our own destruction it wrecks when left to its own devices."

Throughout the book, the author spends a lot of time a lot of time talking about different treatment options, from common medications to more experimental trials, and different barriers people face. Yes, stigma exists, but so do cultural hurdles and physical limitations such as literally being able to see a doctor in person (the latter being a very real barrier for people in rural areas). The author also blatantly calls out Canada, a country that prides itself on “universal healthcare,” for lacking quite a bit when it comes to mental health.

The writing is honest, direct, unashamed, and at times, humorous. One passage in particular had me wanting to cry, because I related to it so much, and also laughing, because, well, it’s something I learned after ruining one too many nice sweaters.

"Pro-tip: Don’t sob on things you can’t machine wash. Learn how to fucking blow your nose and wipe your eyes without getting mucous everywhere."

I’d love to say I’d recommend this book to everyone, but I don’t. If you’re experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, this probably isn’t a good book to read. If your mental health is stable and you’re curious about learning more about the aforementioned topics, check it out, but be wary: some sections deal with very serious subject matter. I should also note that the book does include a list of mental health services for those who may need it.

Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me is not an easy book to read, but it’s incredibly important.

Thank you to the publisher for an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley. Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me hit shelves on August 6, 2019, and is available wherever books are sold.
Was this review helpful?
This is at once a memoir, a history, and a manifesto about depression and suicide.  Yes, it's heavy reading, but it's also incredibly written and well-researched.  This should be required reading for everyone who works in healthcare and health legislation.
Was this review helpful?
In her own experiences with depression and various suicidal attempts, the author managed to bring a lightness into this serious and heavy topic, her tone is witty and quirky at times, but respectful and very honest. It is well researched, highlighted by a great variation of interviews with different experts and health professionals, and accompanied by studies and facts to give examples and a better understanding for what the author is talking about. I find it noticeable that the author addressed the barrier of the many people with mental illnesses not being listed in the systems, and not receiving the aid they need. Furthermore she gives a handful of people a place to tell their own story and experience, letting light on other perspectives. A very informative and helpful book on a topic which needs to be talked about more.
Was this review helpful?
Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person is written by journalist Anna Mehler Paperny, and is both a story of her own personal experiences of suicidality and an in-depth journalistic exploration of depression and suicide.

The author has done her research well.  The book contains information gleaned from interviews with quite a number of experts in fields relating to the topic.

The first section of the book is focused on the author’s personal experiences.  She provided detailed descriptions of multiple suicides.  My personal preference is for a less is more approach to details about suicide methods, but I can accept that she was trying to be totally open.

Regarding her experience on an inpatient ward after a suicide attempt, she writes:

“Surely, few groups of patients are as unpleasant by definition as those whose disease targets their brains.  If it’s weird waking to find yourself in a different stranger’s care each morning, it can’t be much more pleasant to be charged with caring for a cycle of erratic nutbars with sub-optimal hygiene practices.”

She explains that she found herself wishing she had succeeded because everything that caused her to hate herself before the attempt hadn’t gone away.  I’ve written about this before, and I think it’s really important to accept the reality that some people feel regret about now dying rather than regret about the attempt itself.

There were some lines that I quite liked, such as: “No one wants this crap illness that masquerades as personal failing.”  Some quirky analogies made an appearance, such as likening being unable to act out suicidal thoughts to “blue balls, but for death.”

There were also some lines that just didn’t sit with me that well.  Regarding drinking paint thinner as a suicide method: “I tried paint thinner.  Don’t try paint thinner.”  I can see the benefit of bringing a lighthearted tone to serious subjects, but for me this started to cross over into cavalier territory.

The author also observed that: “The DSM’s authors boil down diagnosis of mental illness to something resembling an online quiz: Which Disney Princess Mental Disorder Are You?”  I’m not really sure how that’s useful for anything.

Paperny outlines her own experiences of treatment before moving into the more journalistic part of the book, in which she examines what science has to tells us about depression and suicide.  There are descriptions of medications, psychotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), deep brain stimulation, etamine, psilocybin, and more.

The last section of the book examines a number of different social issues that come into play, including lack of coverage for therapy, the influence of race and culture, the role of police, and involuntary committal.  The author also writes about bad experiences in hospital being a major deterrent to seeking out help for suicidal ideation; this is something I see as a huge issue.

She had a bit of a different take on stigma:

“I am so tired of the word ‘stigma.’  Perhaps it once had resonance.  Maybe its utterance once conjured a concrete, clearly delineated concept.  But repetition has rendered it meaningless, the way a surfeit of swearing robs cuss words of their sting.”  But stigma is “gross and profoundly damaging.”

What I found most challenging about this book was the length.  The paperback is around 350 pages, and I would have liked to see it trimmed down a bit.  The length was also an issue with the paragraphs, the sections, and some of the chapters.  It’s not necessarily a major flaw in the book overall, but depression has not been kind to my concentration, and for me this was a tough read.  It wasn’t that the content was hard to read; it just wasn’t chunked well enough for me.

Overall, though, I think this book offers an interesting perspective, and we certainly need to get more people talking about suicide and what we can do about it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada and Netgalley for a copy of Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paprny for review.

Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me is a combination memoir and non fiction book about depression. Specifically chronic severe depression, the author describes her several suicide attempts in the book.
She also leads us through some of the research surrounding treatments, possible causes, struggles in the mental health industry and even the stigma people with depression can suffer. I found this book to be in-depth but with a personal touch so it was even more compelling a read. The author’s obvious connection to the subject matter made it a much less dry read that some non-fiction books can have.
Was this review helpful?
A down-to-earth, honest and frank look at depression in the memoir cum exploration into the disease of depression and it's many facets. It's hard not to compare this title to Matt Haig's Reasons to Stay Alive in terms of format and content but that does not detract in the slightest. Discussions of treatment options, demystifying the everyday look of depression and offering sage advice makes this a timely. helpful book on a subject that is not talked about enough.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is an extremely insightful and educational book which focuses on Anna's own attempts of suicide and everything that comes along with it. Anna provides background information about depression and the different ways to seek health along with other people's experiences with the stigma attached to mental health. 

This book was very heavy and for me very hard to read emotionally. I'm a long time sufferer of depression and I am currently in the process of getting the help I need. I was constantly putting this book down because it became too much for me to read so I don't think I would recommend this book to people who are currently in the process of seeking help. 

I do recommend this however to people who do not suffer from a mental illness. This book is informative and really aims to remove the stigma attached to it.
Was this review helpful?
This book is part memoir and part journalistic investigation, with a fair amount of acknowledged subjectivity based on the author’s experiences with depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, and various treatments. In trying to explain the contents of this book I couldn’t go past this quote:

“It’s an uncomfortably personal exploration of a sickeningly common illness no one likes talking about, one that remains under-treated and poorly treated and grossly inequitably treated in part because of our own squeamishness in confronting it or our own denial of its existence as an illness and the destruction it wreaks when left to its own devices.”

I found myself cycling between wondering how wise it was to be describing the methods used in so much detail because it could potentially be read as instructions in the wrong/right hands and admonishing myself for wanting to control the narrative because people who live with suicidal ideation are already silenced in so many ways.

It’s difficult to sit and think about depression and suicide for any extended period of time and I did find my mood changing as I read, especially the early sections where the author recounts her “entry point into a labyrinthine psychiatric care system via the trapdoor of botched self-obliteration”. I think I’d be more concerned if reading a book like this didn’t have any impact on me, though. I was able to binge watch some TV to effectively switch the channels in my brain for a while for some respite. I am keenly aware that this is a luxury someone experiencing chronic depression and/or suicidal ideation do not have.

While some of the information contained in this book is specific to Canada and/or America, overall there’s something for pretty much everyone. Given the prevalence of depression, it’s likely to have touched your life in some way, either personally or through someone you love.

This book:
* Demystifies suicide - no, asking someone if they are considering suicide does not cause someone who isn’t suicidal to suddenly become so
* Offers some protective measures - loved ones, curiosity, procrastination
* Discusses various treatment options - “pharmacological treatment of mental disorders has all the precision of surgery conducted with a chainsaw”
* Outlines some studies and research
* Highlights the additional barriers to getting treatment if you’re not white or you’re poor or from a remote community or a child or Indigenous or from a culture that shames seeking mental health treatment or, heaven forbid, any combination of these - “We fail the most marginalized at every level, then wonder why they worsen”; and
* Provides insights into depression and suicide through stories of people who’ve experienced them up close and personal.

I found some of the language used in this book referencing mental illness iffy at best: “nuts”, “crazy”, “nutbars”. While I’m never going to be okay with those words myself, I don’t have the right to tell someone who’s describing their experience what words they’re allowed to use to do so.

“Subsumed by such an agency-stealing disease, we need all the empowering we can get.”

While it covered a lot of information I already knew (I’ve read a lot previously in this area), I learned about some studies and potential future treatments I wasn’t aware of and the details of the author’s experiences in hospital opened my eyes. 

I appreciated the author’s honesty and her down to earth approach, which made difficult topics more accessible for me. The amount of interviews with various health professionals, researchers and others who are consistently dealing with mental illness provided a well rounded exploration, with a variety of points of view.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone whose work involves interaction with people who experience mental illness as it holds valuable insights into what it’s like to have to live with an illness that people silence, shame and shy away from.

Content warnings include suicidal ideation, mental health and descriptions of suicide attempts, mention of sexual assault, self harm, domestic violence and bullying.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
This book can and should be used as a resource for anyone who wants to educate themselves on mental illness, such as depression. The book is a great gateway opener to get people talking about how depression is treated today, the potential it has to take over ones life, and the direction it is heading in the form of treatment. Its important that it is told from the authors point of view, as it brings great detail to the very scary world of mental health in the 21st century.
Was this review helpful?
As someone dealing with depression and anxiety I think it is very important to shine light on this topic. I think it was so brave to share your story with nothing hidden. This book is a great resource and for me personally it made me feel less alone. This gives me hope for the future treatment when dealing with depression and anxiety.
Was this review helpful?
** Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review **
Honesto y desgarrador, pero esperanzador. Es muy interesante como a través de la propia experiencia, la autora ha escrito este libro, que todos deberíamos leer, ya que todos o luchamos o conocemos a alguien que lucha contra esta enfermedad. Ademas del contenido emocional, el libro es informativo. Muy interesante libro.
Was this review helpful?
It feels strange to say I 'loved' this book as its quite dark but such an important read. Anna has attempted suicide multiple times and details them in this memoir. It's an interesting first hand account of her time in hospital but also backed up with statistics and science about mental health and suicide in the US and Canada. I preferred the personal sections of the book but found the whole thing gripping and a necessary read.
Was this review helpful?