Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It's Not Just About Klonopin, Dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                      Ever since this book came out in paperback, I have been eyeing it in the stores, wanting to read it, but afraid to do so.  From the cover, and the back, I feared that this novel would be, like Matthew Thomas' "We Are Not Ourselves," one of the most depressing novels, ever.  Let me say, outright, that, compared to both, "The Bell Jar," by Sylvia Plath, is upbeat.

                                       I admired Adam Haslett, ever since his short story collection "You Are Not A Stranger Here."  I wanted to see if he could tackle the novel form, and he certainly can.  No one will respond to this book the same.  I can only offer mine, from personal experience.

                                         I have been on Klonopin for over ten years.  I take the most minimal dosage, and, still I have no tolerance.  My dosage has never been upped, and I see a difference in myself, without it.

                                          I have Anxiety Disorder.  The family in Haslett's novel deal with more than just that.  Father John is clinically depressed, culminating in suicide that, while tragic, was not, in any way, engineered.

                                           But, then, there is older son, Michael, inheriting his father's mental illness gene, for worse, as opposed to his siblings, Celia and Alec.  The youngest, Alec is gay, which automatically made him interesting, for me, though his overall portrayal is that of a Gay Republican.  And we know how dangerous they can be, don't we, darlings??????????????

                                            Michael is so ill he cannot function in society.  Outside of a medical text, I cannot recall a book where the word Klonopin is used so much.  Michael is on mega-doses of this, and many other drugs, including Serotonin.  Already in his late-Thirties, he cannot even function in grad school, and his mother supports him.  Fearing for her, and themselves, siblings Celia (a psychotherapist) and Alec (basically a Guppie!!!!!!!!) come up with an intervention plan to wean Michael off the drugs.  A month, alone in a country house, with Alec running the show.  Sounds easy?  Well, it is not, and this is where I have issues.  Deprived of the mood enhancers, cold turkey, Michael sinks into a deeper hole, culminating, basically, in his suicide.  Which I cannot help thinking--though many will disagree with me--was unconsciously rendered by Celia and Alec, who wanted to be rid of Michael's problems, which they did not want to have to go on and face.  They also wanted to release Margaret, their mother, from the burden Michael has been on her, since birth.

                                                I was not depressed, when I finished this book.  I was flat out angry.  As a therapist, Celia should have known better.  Only a doctor can wean a patient off drugs; I have experienced this myself, and it works beautifully, when done properly.

                                                What kept me from throwing this book against the wall was Haslett's compelling rendering of character and situation.  This may be how one family dealt with mental illness; I am not sure Haslett is saying this is the right way; it is just the way this family chose.

                                                  Upon finishing this book, I pondered my own mental health.  I realize I have had Anxiety Disorder my entire life, only to have it dealt with in the last ten years.

                                                     Reading Haslett's novel made me realize I have to monitor it extra carefully.


Victoria Adams said...

His own father killed himself when Adam was fourteen, his brother suffered from anxiety, He did too but not as severe; the way some people can take unspeakable tragedy and not just survive, but Thrive, gives me hope. And makes me ashamed of the little things I complain about.
AND he is gay, which is Not a tragedy, but some families sure Act like it is. : ((

The Raving Queen said...


Your comments fascinated me.
I had no idea of Haslett's background;
how did you find out?

I wonder how people can cope with
the unspeakable, too. I can attest that,
with anxiety, little things take on bigger
meaning. I often have dreams about
my unresolved school issues.

Victoria Adams said...

It was actually an NPR interview!