Published by Push on 1st August 2007 (first published on 1st July 2006)
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Memoir
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The harrowing, remarkable poetry memoir about one girl's struggle with anxiety disorder.I'm finding this book very difficult to review, for some reason.
This is a true story of growing up, breaking down, and coming to grips with a psychological disorder. When Samantha Schutz first left home for college, she was excited by the possibilities – freedom from parents, freedom from a boyfriend who was reckless with her affections, freedom from the person she was supposed to be. At first, she revelled in the independence... but as pressures increased, she began to suffer anxiety attacks that would leave her mentally shaken and physically incapacitated. Thus began a hard road of discovery and coping, powerfully rendered in this poetry memoir.
It's not an easy read either. It's a verse memoir documenting one girl's life as she leaves home for college and how she begins to suffer from anxiety. I Don't Want to Be Crazy traces Samantha Schutz's through her college years, from just after she finishes high school, to when she's got one of her first jobs after college.
It shows us Samantha as she keeps trying, time and time again, with therapists and medication, to recover from anxiety; she thinks she gets better but the anxiety resurfaces, worse than before, and grips her again. It's a very intense read. There are detailed descriptions of what anxiety attacks are like for her. It's terrifying and sad and, as the blurb promises, "harrowing". Because recovery isn't a smooth process for her, or for most people suffering from mental illnesses. It's awful and scary to be confronted with the reality of that, of how you take medication and then stop taking it for months and think you're better now only to plunge into even worse anxiety attacks than before.
I felt very empty and depressed reading it. I've always known that this is the reality of things, but to read about it, about one girl's real struggles with anxiety, was really tough. I feel like it's a very important book though, to help and to inform, because a lot of people don't realise that this is how severe anxiety can really be. How it can really take over your life and make you unable to carry on as normal. If you're seeking to understand anxiety more, this is a good read. It's very well-written and the ending is a glimmer of hope. But yeah. It's a heavy read. Very real and devastating at times. Only read if you're prepared for the reality of the way things are.