A great journalist and author recently passed away from breast cancer. Since her death, I’ve been finely combing through her words, which gave me strength to express my truth without fear of judgment.
Elizabeth Wurtzel died on Jan. 7 at age 52. She was a journalist for The Wall Street Journal and the author of several books, with the most prolific being “Prozac Nation.” Wurtzel was 27 when the best-selling memoir was published in 1994.
The author recalled her years struggling with depression and mental illness. The book was adapted into a film, and laid the groundwork for young females in today’s world to write self-concentrated stories with a sense of anguish similar to Sylvia Plath.
Wurtzel wrote painfully and beautifully to describe her feelings of depression and anxiety. Therefore, I believe a column should be dedicated to Wurtzel’s devotion to writing her personal story with impeccable descriptiveness and honesty.
Her words and self-focus bring a first-person understanding to the black monsters which can overcome the brightness of our spirits and drag us into a hole, a deep pit of hopelessness and despair. She also touched on topics of drug use and aging.
“But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. The majority of the days I feel happy and positive. On bad days, I can fall into a form of existential crisis while also managing to sink into a pit of self-doubt. I’ll internally beat myself to a bloodied mess and view the world in a slanted misunderstanding.
At times, I feel suffocated by the truths and lost in the fantasies of what my life could’ve or would’ve been if I had never made the mistakes which changed my course.
There were days in the past when the thought of taking a shower was intensely overwhelming, and crawling out from underneath the sheets, holding me intimately in a safe cocoon, was terrifying.
I’d constantly give myself small pep talks to encourage taking one step out of bed, washing my hair, brushing my teeth or leaving the apartment. To take the next right step; one foot in front of the next, hoping it would lead me somewhere close to happiness. If happiness wasn’t attainable, I hoped for at least a feeling of normalcy.
These aren’t the parts of mental illness people like to talk about, but Wurtzel encouraged me, and a whole generation, not to fear speaking of the uncomfortable, which others might relate to, ridding the feeling of being alone.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for the strength it took to speak uncomfortable truths and provide others with the ability to express their personal struggles with mental health. We must keep on pushing through the tough days and finding hope in the good ones. You fulfilled your wish in saying, “that is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.”
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.