Prozac Nation is the story of Elizabeth Wurtzel's life, and how she dealt with her atypical depression in the days before Prozac-and how the drug, once on the market, was able to help her live a somewhat normal life. The book covers her life from her early childhood with divorced parents, religious schooling and her life at Harvard, including studies, relationships and her partying.
While I understand that the author's struggle with depression was not due to her life circumstances (really, I only truly understood this in the last chapter, when both we and the author learn she has atypical depression, and not depression simply because her parents divorced etc), I sometimes felt the book was a little too verbose and could have been condensed. I struggled to make it through the epilogue, which in some ways was interesting (very dated, it sums up the grunge culture of the mid 90s). A good book for anyone who has ever been depressed or known someone with depression, but somewhat of a struggle to get through at times.
This is one woman's memoir of severe depression, dating from her teenage years though young adulthood in the days before prozac. Elizabeth Wurtzel was a young, talented, and deeply depressed student and writer in the 1980s. This is a memoir with little happiness and hope, much like depression itself. In order to cope with the pain Wurtzel drowns her sorrow in drugs, alcohol, and sex. She acts out in inappropriate ways. There's no nice ending, at least until the epilogue. Wurtzel's memoir shows how hard and despeate depression can be.
Elizabeth Wurtzel is clearly a very smart woman and a talented writer. That said, the most difficult part of this book to stomach is not the gut-wrenching descriptions of major depression, but rather, Wurtzel's refusal to recognize the significant socio-economic advantages she has had. Most significant of these are her Harvard education and her plum writing internships. The issue is not that she "should have been happy because she had so much," rather, its the fact that Wurtzel paints herself as a disadvantaged young woman, which she simply does not appear to be. Presenting herself as something of a child of deprivation simply doesn't work, and the book would have been stronger had it not made such suggestions. Much more interesting is how the culture of high expectations shaped her depression.
One of my favorite books regarding depression and all that comes with it. Provoking the reader to both empathize and get frustrated with the young Wurtzel as she struggles with her mental illness.