Coping with Mental Health

Coping with Mental Health

Prozac Diary
by Lauren Slater
Random House, 1998 203 pp $21.95

In the rich but little-known literature of mental illness, Prozac Diary shines. This slim, elegant memoir, a pastiche of journal entries and meditations, describes the transformative powers of Prozac on Lauren Slater’s life over a ten-year period. She tells her story simply and beautifully, with so few embellishments that its dramatic essence may be lost on some readers.

Some may be tempted to dismiss the book on the basis of the title, because Prozac has become a jokey radio drive-time synonym for cosmetic psychopharmacology. Others may confuse it with Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 story of depression, Prozac Nation. The truth is, we have not heard Slater’s story before. One of the first people in the United States to take Prozac, Slater is a woman whose chronic mental illness prevented her from leading a normal life for her first twenty-six years. Her book chronicles not the descent into depression, but the difficult journey into a world of “normalcy” by someone who had never experienced it.