This is a true story of growing up, breaking down, and coming to grips with a psychological disorder. When Samantha Schutz first left home for college, she was excited by the possibilities — freedom from parents, freedom from a boyfriend who was reckless with her affections, freedom from the person she was supposed to be.
At first, she reveled in the independence . . . but as pressures increased, she began to suffer anxiety attacks that would leave her mentally shaken and physically incapacitated. Thus began a hard road of discovery and coping, powerfully rendered in this poetry memoir.
“Versifying a novel takes craft and dedication. Versifying a memoir takes courage. I Don’t Want to Be Crazy invites readers inside the head of a young woman questioning her sanity. Author Samantha Schutz must be commended for allowing readers such a personal glimpse of this frightening piece of her life experience.” –Ellen Hopkins, New York Times best-selling author of Crank
“I Don’t Want To Be Crazy is intense, intimate, heartbreaking . . . Its power is in its honesty, which is so profound and affecting, I had to remind myself to breathe.” –Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
“I felt like I was reading my own journal entries from years ago when I struggled with anxiety attacks. Thank you SO MUCH for writing your book. I hope young people who are fighting their own battles with the consuming anxiety and fear will read your book and find comfort. I wish I had read this when I was going through my hell.” –from fan mail
“A young author makes a stunning debut with this poetry memoir documenting her personal battle with anxiety disorder and the incapacitating panic attacks that first struck during college . . . Schutz bares all but is never tedious as she documents the difficulties of finding a good doctor and the right medication while struggling to finish college and set her own course apart from her parents . . . Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 13 percent of the adult population of the U.S., and Schutz performs a valuable service with this firsthand account of the torment they experience.” –The Buffalo News
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Q: Was it as difficult to put such personal information into a book?
A: Writing is solitary business. It’s me and a notebook/pen/computer in my house, a café, or library (actually, right now I am sitting on my stoop with my computer). It’s me and the words. So when I was writing I Don’t Want to Be Crazy, it still felt very private. As the book got closer to being finished and eventually published, the fact that I was putting myself out there became more real. But for the most part, I knew that what I was doing was going to help people, and I just had to take a deep breath and remind myself of that.
Q: Do you think it was harder to tell I Don’t Want to Be Crazy in verse than it would have been prose?
A: No matter what, I knew writing I Don’t Want to Be Crazy was going to be hard. I was doing a lot of digging into a very hard time in my life. Rereading my journals, interviewing friends, and getting files from my doctors brought up a lot of stuff for me. At first all that research made me very anxious (I remember having a hard time sleeping when I first started rereading my journals), but once I was able to realize how much better my life was now, I was able to dig in and start the writing process.
I suppose writing in verse has both pros and cons. It allows you to pick and choose moments, strip things away, really hone in . . . which can make things easier to digest, but all that focus can also make it more intense — more painful.
Q: Do you get intense fan mail about this book?
A: The most repeated phrase in the fan mail I get is, “Your story made me feel less alone.” People are touched and comforted by my story. And in return, they often share their story with me. So I created www.youmakemefeellessalone.blogspot.com as a place for people to share their stories with the public. That way, their story can make someone feel less alone, too.