To cover so much material could have resulted in an unwieldy book, but Montgomery’s keen curiosity guides us through history, social criticism, and the author’s lived experience.…Quite Mad joins several recent works…which, thankfully, seem to be working toward new ways of writing about mental health.” Melissa Oliveira, Brevity
“A wrenching account of a difficult upbringing and a chaotic brain that will leave readers marveling at the author's endurance. . . . The author offers a gripping picture of the real pain and suffering of someone diagnosed with chronic mental illness.” Kirkus Reviews
“Montgomery puts American denial on display, describing why we label mental illness so paradoxically: ‘to talk of disease without cure is problematic for a country concerned with triumph.’ As a country we choose to pop pills instead of accepting the difficult aspects of human existence, medicating ourselves into oblivion. Quite Mad is the wake-up call that we need.” Madeline Day, Paris Review
“Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s Quite Mad is a brilliant, kinetic story of living with anxiety disorder. She captures both her inner struggles and her outer ones, taking control of both herself and the clinicians who put patient needs last. An essential book.” Susanne Paola Antonetta, author of A Mind Apart
“Quite Mad is at once a well-organized history of mental illness, especially with regard to women, an examination of the role of the illness narrative, and a fascinating memoir of a woman’s struggle.” Intima
"An important and incredible debut work of nonfiction, a powerful consideration of our collective thinking about mental health, and a heartfelt unflinching memoir of her own personal fight against misunderstanding and overmedication.” Steven Church, author of I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part
A wrenching account of a difficult upbringing and a chaotic brain that will leave readers marveling at the author's endurance.Prairie Schooner assistant editor Montgomery (English/Bridgewater State Univ.; Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide, 2017, etc.) has tackled the subject of madness in poetry (Regenerate: Poems of Mad Women, 2017) and in her award-winning doctoral dissertation, which grew into this book. Portions of the book first appeared in the literary journals the Rumpus and the Normal School. The author offers a gripping picture of the real pain and suffering of someone diagnosed with chronic mental illness. Diagnosed with severe anxiety at an early age, Montgomery was serially medicated, or overmedicated, with Celexa, Xanax, Zoloft, and Buspirone; add to that some four years of talk therapy. Later, other diagnoses included PTSD and OCD. "The waiting game will continue for many years," she writes, "as I bounce from medication to medication, searching for something that won't injure my body so much, something that will let me off my knees." The author's memoir is rich with details about her troubled family, led by problematic parents who were quick to detect sprouting anxiety symptoms in their offspring and who, over the years, adopted multiple dysfunctional children. Whether by nature or nurture, Montgomery seems almost to have been doomed to an existence marked by mental illness. Her revelations about her own experiences lead to discussions of how thinking about mental illness has evolved. She offers a brief look at the expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, some history of the treatment of females, once labeled with hysteria and thought to be suffering from wandering wombs, and a discussion of once-used asylums. The author is clearly concerned with how anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental disorders have been—and are currently—regarded in our culture.While some readers may view this account as too raw and self-obsessive, it stands as a vivid depiction of mental illness.