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Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person

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A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging—it's essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians. In her early twenties, while out A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging—it's essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians. In her early twenties, while outwardly thriving in her dream job and enjoying warm familial support and a strong social network, award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny found herself trapped by feelings of failure and despair. Her first suicide attempt—ingesting a deadly mix of sleeping pills and antifreeze—landed her in the ICU, followed by weeks of enforced detention that ran the gamut of horrifying, boring, hilarious, and absurd. This was Anna's entry into the labyrinthine psychiatric care system responsible for providing care to millions of Canadians. As she struggled to survive the psych ward and as an outpatient—enduring the "survivor's" shame of facing concerned family, friends, and co-workers; finding (or not) the right therapist, the right meds; staying healthy, insured, and employed—Anna could not help but turn her demanding journalist's eye on her condition and on the system in which she found herself. She set off on a quest to "know her enemy," interviewing leading practitioners in the field across Canada and the US—from psychiatrists to neurological experts, brain-mapping pioneers to heroic family practitioners, and others dabbling in novel hypotheses. She reveals in courageously frank detail her own experiences with the pharmacological pitfalls and side effects of long-term treatment, and offers moving case studies of conversations with others, opening wide a window into how we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.


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A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging—it's essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians. In her early twenties, while out A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging—it's essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians. In her early twenties, while outwardly thriving in her dream job and enjoying warm familial support and a strong social network, award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny found herself trapped by feelings of failure and despair. Her first suicide attempt—ingesting a deadly mix of sleeping pills and antifreeze—landed her in the ICU, followed by weeks of enforced detention that ran the gamut of horrifying, boring, hilarious, and absurd. This was Anna's entry into the labyrinthine psychiatric care system responsible for providing care to millions of Canadians. As she struggled to survive the psych ward and as an outpatient—enduring the "survivor's" shame of facing concerned family, friends, and co-workers; finding (or not) the right therapist, the right meds; staying healthy, insured, and employed—Anna could not help but turn her demanding journalist's eye on her condition and on the system in which she found herself. She set off on a quest to "know her enemy," interviewing leading practitioners in the field across Canada and the US—from psychiatrists to neurological experts, brain-mapping pioneers to heroic family practitioners, and others dabbling in novel hypotheses. She reveals in courageously frank detail her own experiences with the pharmacological pitfalls and side effects of long-term treatment, and offers moving case studies of conversations with others, opening wide a window into how we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

30 review for Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person

  1. 4 out of 5

    Schizanthus

    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 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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I don’t think I have adequate words to express just how powerful and moving this story was. There were so many points where I just had to put it down for a bit and process what I had read. The content is disturbing and it's not easy to read but Mehler Paperny has a great manner of writing. It’s often dark humour but I did laugh out loud reading this. A book about depression and suicide made me laugh! I never would have imagined. The author is super relatable and for me it wasn’t too difficult to I don’t think I have adequate words to express just how powerful and moving this story was. There were so many points where I just had to put it down for a bit and process what I had read. The content is disturbing and it's not easy to read but Mehler Paperny has a great manner of writing. It’s often dark humour but I did laugh out loud reading this. A book about depression and suicide made me laugh! I never would have imagined. The author is super relatable and for me it wasn’t too difficult to imagine that this horror could happen to someone like me. She was (and still is I hope) a successful journalist with a thriving career until this disease started to destroy her life. I feel like if it happened to her it could happen to any of us. Part of this book is the author’s memoir and oh boy what a tale it is! I can’t fathom the strength it takes to fight a disease that turns your brain against you; a disease that tells you to drink a liter of antifreeze or to hang yourself. This is such a personal, intimate story. It’s raw, real and very, very intimate. I don’t think I would ever be brave enough to share a story like this but it is so important that she has. I hope that people with mental health issues read this and feel seen and understood. I hope people without mental issues read this and become more compassionate and understanding. The other big topic of this book is a look into the mental health care system, both in the past and the present. Mehler Paperny is an incredible investigative journalist and she applies these skills along with her first-hand experience to expose the issues involved in dealing with people with mental illnesses be they institutional, societal, or personal. It’s an eye-opening look into something that I personally didn’t know very much about. I’m pretty sure this book has made me smarter! Lol! It for sure has given me a better understanding of mental illness and a much more considerate view of those unfortunate souls who battle this terrible disease every day. They are true warriors! I received this book for free through a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway but this has not influenced my review in any way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lumos

    If you are struggling with depression or another serious psychological disorder, then I do not recommend reading this book. You know yourself best and if you are feeling triggered or ruminating about self-harm while reading this book, then please put it down, read something wholesome, and return to it when you are healthier because I think it is an important, informative, and compelling read.  Paperny also mentions her concerns regarding this near the end of her book. Because of the If you are struggling with depression or another serious psychological disorder, then I do not recommend reading this book. You know yourself best and if you are feeling triggered or ruminating about self-harm while reading this book, then please put it down, read something wholesome, and return to it when you are healthier because I think it is an important, informative, and compelling read.  Paperny also mentions her concerns regarding this near the end of her book. Because of the explicit descriptions of suicide and candid discussions about mental illness, she was afraid it might trigger some readers. However, I believe she wanted to write about her experiences honestly and part of doing that was describing the day she almost ended her life.  Although reading the beginning of this book was rough, I never felt like she glamorized her attempts. She did a good job at describing how low you feel when you are having suicidal thoughts, the anguish and pain it causes, the damage it wreaks on your life, and the crazy aftermath of it all - telling your loved ones, the guilt you feel, employment issues after a long-term medical leave, and so forth.  The reason I found this book so compelling was because you could tell the author wanted to do this topic justice. I can only imagine how difficult this was for her to write. She was very thorough, compassionate, and contentious in her delivery. She explored various aspects of mental illness (social, political, economic, psychopharmacological etc.) and consulted professionals and patients in the field. Her lived experience also added to the writing. It made the interviews she had with the various people in her book more insightful and intriguing. You could tell this was a topic she was really passionate about. I loved that the author acknowledged the realities of mental healthcare. Often mental healthcare is only accessible for the rich. People who can afford medications, insurance, therapy, and so forth. In the region I live, Where I live, it can take months to access free mental health counselling. If you want to see a counsellor quickly, then it can cost 100s of dollars if you do not have any insurance. And even if you have the money, finding the right counsellor can take a lot of trial and error. People who are poor simply do not have the luxury of doing this. She highlights the various barriers other marginalized populations also face (people of colour, women, immigrants, etc.) when they try to access mental health treatment. There were some interesting statistics in here about people of colour being less likely to seek medical attention until their condition becomes debilitating. The author also addresses the stigma around mental illness. Society still stigmatizes mental illness despite our increased awareness of it. The author reveals she has regretted every instance where she has disclosed her mental health history to someone. Acknowledging that mental illness is a disease is especially important for funding research. Despite being one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the world, our treatment options and knowledge about mental illness remains embryonic. We still need to create more accessible and effective treatments for mental illness.  As someone who hopes to work in the social service sector, this book was a valuable read for me. It interviewed and featured people who have gone through, work with, or have loved ones who cope with mental illness. The multifaceted nature of this book made it a much more enriching and enjoyable experience.  Reading this book made me very emotional. I felt angry (especially by the passage on the anti-psychiatry movement. I can only imagine how Paperny felt as she was interviewing this professor after meeting myriad families and patient who have lost their lives to mental illness and inadequate access to care and treatment), upset, confused, surprised, and just flabbergasted by how serious this disease can be, yet simultaneously, how stigmatized it is. There seems to be some promising research and work out there and I really hope one day we can have better ways of treating mental illness.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    Informative, honest, and perceptive! Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is the first-hand, candid story of Anna Mehler Paperny’s personal, ongoing struggle with suicidal ideation and depression, as well as an in-depth look into the mental health care industry and the limitations, resources, misunderstandings, and treatments that surround it. The writing is clear, moving, and educative. And the novel is an exceptionally researched, impassioned tale of one woman’s battle to ma Informative, honest, and perceptive! Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is the first-hand, candid story of Anna Mehler Paperny’s personal, ongoing struggle with suicidal ideation and depression, as well as an in-depth look into the mental health care industry and the limitations, resources, misunderstandings, and treatments that surround it. The writing is clear, moving, and educative. And the novel is an exceptionally researched, impassioned tale of one woman’s battle to maintain life while her brain consistently tells her to end it. Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is, ultimately, part memoir, part investigation that includes statistical data and interviews with Canadian and North American health care professionals that is a valuable, emotive resource for anyone, anywhere who suffers from, works with, or is affected in any way by this disease that wreaks havoc on over 300 million lives worldwide. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    darce vader

    Everyone who loves me should read this. It's heavy - take care if this topic is difficult for you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    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 pe 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    A well researched perspective on the Canadian medical system, specifically how it often can fall short on supporting people with depression and other mental illnesses. This book feels like a punch to the stomach. Anna Paperny says it herself: "There is no happy ending. 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 c A well researched perspective on the Canadian medical system, specifically how it often can fall short on supporting people with depression and other mental illnesses. This book feels like a punch to the stomach. Anna Paperny says it herself: "There is no happy ending. 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." It isn't entirely hopeless however, and Paperny goes on to say there are ways to compassionate care, as long as we can act like this is something we care about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Noelle Walsh

    A great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about depression, how it's being treated today, and where the potential for treatment is heading (or at least trying to head). This book is also a good way to see how depression can treat the person dealing with it, via the author's own experience with the disorder. *won as a GoodReads Giveaway*

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jen Bober

    Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a moving memoir that delves into the authors own experience with depression and suicide. It also investigates how mental health is treated in Canada. I found it to be well researched, informative, vulnerable and emotional. As someone who works in the field in Toronto the parts that took place in the city really resonated with me as I often travel to those locations and also reach out to those supports. The author really talked about how so often people diagno Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a moving memoir that delves into the authors own experience with depression and suicide. It also investigates how mental health is treated in Canada. I found it to be well researched, informative, vulnerable and emotional. As someone who works in the field in Toronto the parts that took place in the city really resonated with me as I often travel to those locations and also reach out to those supports. The author really talked about how so often people diagnosed with mental illness and in particular depression fall through the cracks in the system. People are not followed up with or given any further support once seen at the hospital for the first time. Marginalized people especially lack supports and so often poverty, race barriers and stigma stop them from reaching out. I know first hand the system does fail people and often get frustrated with the lack of connection between supports and patients. I appreciated how this book really delves into these barriers and where we are losing people. The chapter on Indigenous youth was hard to read but is the grim reality. I also applaud the author for being so open about her own depression and her own insight into what worked and did not for her. Her thoughts on being locked up against her will were especially interesting and insightful. This may be a hard book to read for some so proceed with caution. I encourage others in the field to pick up this book or anyone interested in learning more about depression. I pretty much highlighted the whole book but will leave you with one of the quotes that stood out: " 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."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amber Sherlock

    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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    This book showed a really honest look at what depression looks like in Canada and the US. Despite the topic, I found I really enjoyed Anna’s sense of humour. I found the mix of reporting and statistics with personal stories made the book well rounded.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Javeed Sukhera

    This book should be required reading for every psychiatry resident and highly recommended for every medical student. It is an honest, humane portrayal of everything about serious mental illness that health professionals should know and reflect on. The book is exceptionally well written and astonishingly thorough. I especially appreciate that @amp6 addressed issues like race, power, privilege, and coercion in the way that she did. I also believe that practicing psychiatrists should read and refle This book should be required reading for every psychiatry resident and highly recommended for every medical student. It is an honest, humane portrayal of everything about serious mental illness that health professionals should know and reflect on. The book is exceptionally well written and astonishingly thorough. I especially appreciate that @amp6 addressed issues like race, power, privilege, and coercion in the way that she did. I also believe that practicing psychiatrists should read and reflect on the wise words of @amp6 and many of the people that she interviewed. Our profession must learn from our coercive history and advance towards a more humane approach to treating suicidality. I caught myself page after page thinking of the patients I have encountered who were suffering and so ready to give up. I hope I treated them with the dignity they deserved. They are the inspiration for my advocacy. Our system is messed up beyond words and needs to change. We have to keep fighting together for a system that does better. Why do we accept the ridiculously poor standard of mental healthcare available to most Canadians? “It doesn’t have to be this way. There are pathways to compassionate, equitable, informed care for an illness that pummels too many for too long without respite. But we need to act like this is something we care about...” “...So let’s fix this goddamnit, and move on to bitching about something else.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    As someone who struggled through something similar, I found this book to be deeply triggering. I managed to get about 80 pages in, but found the tone about her experience oscillated between blase and braggart. When it became obvious that this tone wasn't going to change any time soon, and reading became laborious, I gave up.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Peterson

    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 experien 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 not 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    The section of this book that stood out most for me was Chapter 5, "When Diagnosis Makes You Crazy." I can relate to Paperny's experience of resisting the concept of diagnosis while simultaneously being unable to cope with the concept of certain feelings being 'normal.' And, full disclosure, despite (but also in part because of) my own work as a health professional, I've never told my own doctor about the experiences that have made me feel that way. It's complicated. The internal conflict in thi The section of this book that stood out most for me was Chapter 5, "When Diagnosis Makes You Crazy." I can relate to Paperny's experience of resisting the concept of diagnosis while simultaneously being unable to cope with the concept of certain feelings being 'normal.' And, full disclosure, despite (but also in part because of) my own work as a health professional, I've never told my own doctor about the experiences that have made me feel that way. It's complicated. The internal conflict in this chapter pairs well with the final beats of the afterword, on p. 305, discussing the disentangling of what is fundamental to one's personhood (or circumstances) and what is The Disease. Some people find diagnosis extremely helpful. Validating, for one thing. I don't know that I would feel the same way, in part because I don't always feel like I meet or have met the necessary "distress and dysfunction" thresholds. In part it's denial - not of the experiences but because of statistics I sometimes wish I'd never learned, like the fact that, if a person has two major depressive episodes, the odds that they will have another one are nearly 100%, and this correlation holds increasingly true as the numbers go up. (Paperny touches on this on the bottom of p. 101.) I am fortunate enough that my own experiences with mental health problems haven't led me even close to the point of inpatient treatment (though I suspect it may have come up if I'd disclosed certain things to the right/wrong people). But people I care about have been hospitalised, and literally not one of them has had a positive experience. A person I think about often has completely restructured their existence around avoiding any involuntary psychiatric treatment, which for them has also meant avoiding any voluntary encounters with mental health professionals. I worry about them regularly, not least because of another disturbing statistic I read this year: "... up to 78 percent of those who die by suicide explicitly deny being suicidal in their last verbal communications." A lot of what keeps me below those distress and dysfunction thresholds is luck. I was lucky to be born with the privileges that I have, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have just started a job with unusually good psychotherapy coverage - which I wouldn't need to seek a diagnosis to access. (I should say that unusually good, in this case, would still only cover about 7-10 sessions per year and I don't think it's appropriate to congratulate the system for what is still inadequate insurance, but nonetheless that's incredible compared with what most people have access to.) Paperny acknowledges her own similar privileges and spends much of the book writing about the most marginalised people in our society, those most likely to be suffering in this way and least likely to get the right kinds of help. The most heartbreaking and vital parts of this book are the interviews with people and families touched by suicide, and, above all, the stories of the Indigenous children who were (and continue to be) so completely abandoned by the systems theoretically in place to protect them. - With thanks to Canadaland for interviewing the author earlier this year, which is how I heard about this book, and which added a layer of depth and insight into the work

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Great Canadian Literature Alert. I did not know what I was getting myself into as I began to read Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person . The title and cover are jarring. They catch you eye and cause you to pause. It is such a blunt and arresting statement, and yet this is how it feels. This is what people suffering from depression want to scream at the top of their lungs, but nobody wants to talk about it or meet it head on. It is awkward and uncomfortabl Great Canadian Literature Alert. I did not know what I was getting myself into as I began to read Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person . The title and cover are jarring. They catch you eye and cause you to pause. It is such a blunt and arresting statement, and yet this is how it feels. This is what people suffering from depression want to scream at the top of their lungs, but nobody wants to talk about it or meet it head on. It is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. How do you help someone who wants to die (and does everything in their power to attempt it)? How do you talk about it? What does it feel like to think about death once, twice, three times or more a day? Why is there no surefire treatment for such a prevalent condition? If these questions have ever crossed your mind, this book is an invaluable resource to look into. Paperny does an astounding job of discussing mental illness from both a personal perspective and as a journalist/researcher. She admits her own biases while simultaneously laying out the statistical facts and conclusions from her extensive research. Do not think of this as a dry, meandering text-book on depression and suicide, however. Paperny immerses the reader by interweaving numbers with stories. She shares her own personal experience with depression and suicide as well as various stories from both individuals who have suffered from the same illness and those who have experienced the suicide of a loved one. She also interviews psychiatrists, psychologists, scientists and pharmaceutical companies, exploring both the nature of the disease itself (spoiler: nobody knows exactly why our brains suffer from mental illness or what is causing it) and the available avenues of treatment, from traditional psychotherapy and medication (including staples such as escitalopram, and lesser used drugs such as ketamine) to ECT and institutionalization. There is so much to learn packed within this 300-ish page book and it was definitely worth the read. As this book is about depression and suicide, it may be difficult or triggering for some individuals to read. As it stands, however, I think that it is an important piece of literature in the world of mental illness that will help individuals having a hard time understanding the nature of the illness to have more empathy or the ability to digest what it is and how real the struggle is for people who suffer from it. I read this from a trifold perspective: from my own struggles with mental illness, from someone who has had a family member die from committing suicide, and as a healthcare provider (paramedic) who frequently responds to calls for people with suicidal ideation. On all fronts I can say that Paperny is spot-on. It is particularly frustrating to read her discussion of healthcare and how much we fail at helping individuals suffering from mental illness because as healthcare providers we all know it, and yet we don't know what to do. The system is broken. This book does not offer any false promises, but it does bring awareness to all the flaws and how people are being affected, and that in itself is valuable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lizz DiCesare

    “Depression affects everyone on the planet, directly or indirectly, in every possible sphere.” 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 stig “Depression affects everyone on the planet, directly or indirectly, in every possible sphere.” 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Loved this read - well written and very informative. Depression is a silent illness no one wants to talk about. I would recommend this to anyone, particularly to better understand those who suffer with depression/anxiety. It’s a lifelong illness — unlike cancer where loved ones gather to support you, depression/anxiety usually leaves the sufferer alone and feeling unworthy and burdensome to everyone. The focus on mental health within Canada was really refreshing to read about, as I find a lot of Loved this read - well written and very informative. Depression is a silent illness no one wants to talk about. I would recommend this to anyone, particularly to better understand those who suffer with depression/anxiety. It’s a lifelong illness — unlike cancer where loved ones gather to support you, depression/anxiety usually leaves the sufferer alone and feeling unworthy and burdensome to everyone. The focus on mental health within Canada was really refreshing to read about, as I find a lot of stats are just American based. The misconception is that Canada has free health care, therefore those needing help should just ‘go get it’. It’s not that simple on many levels, and the author puts all of the setbacks and hurdles those suffering from mental illness have to go through. I really appreciated the chapter on race barriers within seeking mental health services, very eye opening and sad. Depression never fully goes away, there is no cure-all, and to simply ignore this epidemic is just cementing to those suffering that they’re not worthy and how they feel isn’t valid. It needs reminding that no one who suffers from depression wants it or enjoys how it can completely uproot your life. Compassion and empathy even in the smallest ways can make a huge impact on someone’s life. This book really meant a lot to me on a personal level; I’ve lost friends to this disease, as well as experiencing bouts of depression/anxiety myself. Canada’s access to mental health isn’t perfect, but we have the capacity to change it for the better. This is a must read - the more information and open conversations we can have about living with depression, the more we can implement impactful changes in the health care system and ensure proper resources and help is accessible to all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    I think this book should have a trigger warning for suicide. If you are feeling suicidal, this is probably not a book that you should read. Or, it's not a book that I should have read when I was suicidal. I think this is more a book about suicide, and suicidal ideation, rather than depression. (The subtitle of the book is "depression in the first person". But suicidal ideation and depression are linked, so here we are. The author, who is a journalist, starts out by describi I think this book should have a trigger warning for suicide. If you are feeling suicidal, this is probably not a book that you should read. Or, it's not a book that I should have read when I was suicidal. I think this is more a book about suicide, and suicidal ideation, rather than depression. (The subtitle of the book is "depression in the first person". But suicidal ideation and depression are linked, so here we are. The author, who is a journalist, starts out by describing her own journey with suicide attempts, her recovery, her medications and so on. Then she jumps into discussing treatment options and depression medications. In this section, I got very angry, because the author really reveals how little $$$, effort and research is given to mental illness. She also talks about stigma, and mental illness in terms of poverty, sexuality, gender, and race. She looks into suicide in indigenous communities. Her personal journey is woven throughout her examination. Mehler Paperny is a good journalist, and a good interviewer. She does a great job of sharing information in this book, and I learned a lot. It was very, very hard for me to read because there are a lot of graphic depictions of suicide. I hope that doesn't turn people away from the book. She also practices responsible reporting, and gives a holistic, well-rounded view of the issue. The book also contains numbers for help lines, and additional information. This book was really well-done. I'm glad it was written, and I do recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Stirton

    This book was a devastatingly accurate examination of how the system works when it comes to mental illness and how proper treatment and understanding can be difficult to come by. The author discussed the things nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge, and most importantly, makes it clear that depression is an illness just as serious, if not more serious, than other medical conditions more widely recognized and accepted. This book was a bit of a punch in the gut to read - I haven’t c This book was a devastatingly accurate examination of how the system works when it comes to mental illness and how proper treatment and understanding can be difficult to come by. The author discussed the things nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge, and most importantly, makes it clear that depression is an illness just as serious, if not more serious, than other medical conditions more widely recognized and accepted. This book was a bit of a punch in the gut to read - I haven’t come across such a brutally honest, realistic representation of mental illness and its treatment (or lack thereof) before. We have a long ways to go in navigating, accepting and understanding mental illness, and this book does a great job of clearly stating that as well as recognizing how far we have come, although it is not yet far enough.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Van

    A brave and compelling memoir by an award winning Canadian journalist recounting her struggle with suicide and depression. Young, outwardly successful, Paperny had a large circle of loving family and friends and a job she enjoyed and yet she felt herself a failure and despair. Her first suicide resulted in enforced hospitalization and her first steps into the labyrinthine maze of the Canadian psychiatric care system. The book recounts her struggles to find the right meds, the right treatment, th A brave and compelling memoir by an award winning Canadian journalist recounting her struggle with suicide and depression. Young, outwardly successful, Paperny had a large circle of loving family and friends and a job she enjoyed and yet she felt herself a failure and despair. Her first suicide resulted in enforced hospitalization and her first steps into the labyrinthine maze of the Canadian psychiatric care system. The book recounts her struggles to find the right meds, the right treatment, the right doctor while her journalistic background leads her to interview leading psychiatrists, neurological experts, brain-mapping pioneers and chemists as she finds out how little we known about how to treat a disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ayesha

    This book reveals so much about an insidious illness that many people discount or generalise. I found Paperny's recounting of her personal experiences of depression and her research into the treatment of this and other mental health illnesses illuminating. I have certainly learned a lot and found the book easy to read and accessible for the general public or layperson. I was prompted to read this after reading 'All My Puny Sorrows' by Miriam Toews, in which the author attempts to come This book reveals so much about an insidious illness that many people discount or generalise. I found Paperny's recounting of her personal experiences of depression and her research into the treatment of this and other mental health illnesses illuminating. I have certainly learned a lot and found the book easy to read and accessible for the general public or layperson. I was prompted to read this after reading 'All My Puny Sorrows' by Miriam Toews, in which the author attempts to come to terms with her sister's struggle with depression and suicidality--Paperny's narrative provides a first person view of someone who struggles with suicidality and highlights the many dimensions of any person who is in a similar situation, that this illness can be cyclical and a characteristic but not always the defining one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lulu Hennessy

    An interesting read “So let’s fix this, goddammit, and move on to bitching about something else.” This is the last few words if the book. I think they sum it up nicely. I read this book while going through one of my darker periods. My depression is flared up right now. Reading about others going through a similar experience bring me hope . This book reminded me how many wade their way through this awful condition. The book was part memoir and part investigation. I enjoyed the balance of An interesting read “So let’s fix this, goddammit, and move on to bitching about something else.” This is the last few words if the book. I think they sum it up nicely. I read this book while going through one of my darker periods. My depression is flared up right now. Reading about others going through a similar experience bring me hope . This book reminded me how many wade their way through this awful condition. The book was part memoir and part investigation. I enjoyed the balance of the two parts. I am glad I read it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Haliation

    Huge trigger warning for suicide. That's probably pretty obvious, but it's blunt and non-apologetic. I liked that. Some may not. Well researched, well cited, and well written. It's also surprisingly funny - I laughed more than a few times. It's part memoir part journalistic research. It explores new topics (ketamine!!) and old topics (stigmatization of ECT!!!) and a bunch of stuff in-between. It's relevant in a Canadian public health context, which I really appreciate. I recommended i Huge trigger warning for suicide. That's probably pretty obvious, but it's blunt and non-apologetic. I liked that. Some may not. Well researched, well cited, and well written. It's also surprisingly funny - I laughed more than a few times. It's part memoir part journalistic research. It explores new topics (ketamine!!) and old topics (stigmatization of ECT!!!) and a bunch of stuff in-between. It's relevant in a Canadian public health context, which I really appreciate. I recommended it to all my coworkers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    An honest book about depression written by a journalist who has attempted suicide twice. Raw and real. “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 denial of its existence as an illness and the destruction it wreaks when left to its own devices.” p306

  26. 5 out of 5

    Blair Hodgkinson

    This is a truly insightful book and I found myself strongly identifying with the author's experiences in the world of mental health treatment. The author also explored aspects of mental health care with which I was less familiar and these too were of interest. There's not a dull word. Recommended for anyone who has felt depression or suicidality or knows someone that does.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mabeling

    I loved how honest this book was and that it is Canadian! It did not feel biased for or against treatment. My favourite quote was "I'm not a hopey-changey type. But hearing this inspires both a vicarious, celebratory joy and a murderous envy." This is how I feel about most books about depression (especially the murderous envy part).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book is partly a memoir, but mostly a very thorough investigation of depression - its diagnosis, stigma, and treatment. There is so much mystery, ambiguity and uncertainty in both diagnosis and treatment, and Mehler Paperny explains all of this complexity so clearly and vividly. I learned so much from reading this. Highly recommended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steffy

    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 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. *I received an advance digital copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    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.

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