I Don’t Want To Be Crazy is a book of very personal poems by Samantha Schutz that describes her struggle with debilitating panic attacks and anxiety disorder. The poems are so personal that at times the reader feels guilty seeing them. Ms. Schultz has allowed us a glimpse at her soul in its most vulnerable and painful periods.
Any kind of mental disorder impacts a person in two ways. There is the actual problem itself, and then there is the overwhelming guilt that it is really “all in your head.” Unlike a broken arm or a cut knee, a mental problem is something people feel ashamed of having. In one poem Samantha describes her guilt as follows:
This is not supposed to be how things turned out
There were steps taken, expectations –
a specialized kindergarten and elementary school,
a prestigious private high school
complete with a kilt and knee socks,
summer study programs disguised as camp
This is not
how things are supposed to be.
Samantha seeks traditional help. A series of different therapists and psychiatrists prescribe a series of different medications. We are reminded that unlike other fields of medicine; psychiatry still seems to be very much “hit or miss”. Many of the poems are about the effects of the various drugs.
Being a beautiful young woman, there are also a series of men in her life. Instead of helping, they often just make her life more complicated and stressful. One poem entitled I crave broken men states:
When I try to save other people
am I trying to save myself?
Am I covering up for my lack of strength by putting people back together?
I am tired.
I want someone to save me –
build an intricate web
and place it beneath me in case I fall.
The story does have a happy ending. Samantha is able to dig herself out of her depression and move away from her anxiety. Despite all the input from therapists and psychiatrists and well-meaning friends, it seems that this is something Samantha has done on her own.
It is not that the panic and anxiety are suddenly gone. It is more that Samantha has created techniques to not let them rule her life. In the final poem of the book Samantha states
I am in a house
I am in one room
and my anxiety is in another.
I can feel it.
I can go to it.
But I won’t.
It took real courage for Samantha Schutz to write this book and open herself like this to the world.