Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me
Depression in the First Person
by Anna Mehler Paperny
Pub Date 31 Mar 2020
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An engrossing memoir-meets-investigative report that takes a fresh, frank look at how we treat depression
In her early twenties, investigative journalist Anna Mehler Paperny had already landed her dream job. On the surface, her life was great. Nevertheless, she spiraled out, attempted suicide (the first of more attempts to follow), and landed in the ICU and then in a psych ward before setting out to tackle her recovery.
In Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, Mehler Paperny turns her journalist’s eye on her own experience and others’—in the ward; as an outpatient; facing family, friends, and coworkers; finding the right meds; trying to stay insured and employed. She interviews psychiatrists and other experts to reveal how primitive our methods of healing the brain still are—and provides an invaluable guide to a system struggling, and often failing, to help those in need. At once heartrending and humorous, outraging and serious, this is essential reading for anyone touched by depression—and that’s everyone.
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 HILARY WESTON WRITERS’ TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION
“As gripping a memoir as it is a commanding work of journalism. With a scope that ranges from intimate to panoramic, Anna Mehler Paperny expands outward from her own struggles with suicidal thoughts to explore the dizzying array of medical anti-depression treatments that are available around the world. Personable and passionate—and full of raucous, life-affirming humor—the book casts much-needed light on one of the most persistent and mystifying diseases of our time. This is an urgent read in societies such as ours, where, directly or otherwise, everyone’s life is increasingly affected by depression.”—2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury (Ivan Coyote, Trevor Herriot, and Manjushree Thapa)
“This book documents [Paperny’s] effort to become acquainted with depression, for the sake of herself and others. She is a fine tour guide, with a reporter’s rigour, strong narrative skills and self-deprecating humour.”—Toronto Star
“Raw, frank and dark-humored. It’s not a story of redemption or triumph. . . . But, in its unpretentiousness, the book is a must-read for those who want to understand what goes on in the heads of those who take their own lives each year . . . and the multiples more who, like the author, come perilously close. Ms. Mehler Paperny does a masterful job of delving into the complexities of living with depression, the challenges of getting the help you need and why it’s so difficult to prevent suicide.” —The Globe and Mail
“In this courageous and honest book, Anna Mehler Paperny plumbs the depths of her own acute depression, and also investigates the cultural, social, and historical discourse around despair. She writes with a stunning fluency that belies the narrative’s underlying pain. This is an insightful and important book.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
“This is such an important book. . . . Paperny writes with urgency and intensity because she’s tapping into an essential truth: Everyone deserves dignified mental health care, but systemic injustices create huge discrepancies in how people are treated. I learned so much from this engaging, well-researched, courageous book. It belongs in the canon of ‘must-reads’ to understand mental health treatment today.”—Mark Lukach, author of My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward
“[Paperny’s] skill as a journalist is evident both in the seamless ease with which she moves from one topic to another and in her ability to break down complex ideas into accessible and engaging prose. . . . It’s hard to imagine any group of people who wouldn’t benefit in some way from reading this book. Those who have been through the system will feel less alone in their experiences, and those who haven’t will gain necessary insight into what it’s like. Paperny ends not with the story of a triumphant recovery or a miraculous cure, but a call to arms: let’s fix this broken system. Her work will go a long way toward helping readers understand just how vital that need is.” —Quill and Quire