Finished Rx by Rachel Lindsay. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“A graphic memoir about the treatment of mental illness, treating mental illness as a commodity, and the often unavoidable choice between sanity and happiness.
In her early twenties in New York City, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Rachel Lindsay takes a job in advertising in order to secure healthcare coverage for her treatment. But work takes a strange turn when she is promoted onto the Pfizer account and suddenly finds herself on the other side of the curtain, developing ads for an antidepressant drug. She is the audience of the work she’s been pouring over and it highlights just how unhappy and trapped she feels, stuck in an endless cycle of treatment, insurance and medication. Overwhelmed by the stress of her professional life and the self-scrutiny it inspires, she begins to destabilize and while in the midst of a crushing job search, her mania takes hold. Her altered mindset yields a simple solution: to quit her job and pursue life as an artist, an identity she had abandoned in exchange for medical treatment. When her parents intervene, she finds herself hospitalized against her will, and stripped of the control she felt she had finally reclaimed. Over the course of her two weeks in the ward, she struggles in the midst of doctors, nurses, patients and endless rules to find a path out of the hospital and this cycle of treatment. One where she can live the life she wants, finding freedom and autonomy, without sacrificing her dreams in order to stay well.”
On the surface, this is a very simple story. Rachel is institutionalized against her will after she spirals during a manic episode. The text and drawings are both incredibly large.
Take a closer look, though. While Rachel is what the eye is drawn to (we’re in her head, after all, and we see her thoughts), we also can see the stricken expressions of the people who are watching her slide ever further out of control.
There’s also the fact that she works for an advertising agency and that her job is to promote mental health drugs. At the same time, though, no one knows she’s been diagnosed as bipolar, so she’s basically marketing these drugs for people like herself. The ethics of this are starting to get to her, which ultimately lead to her quitting. (Well, and there’s the fact that she’s in a manic episode, snapping at people and spending a lot of money.)
This is a profoundly emotional story and it’s one that I think will affect the reader. I think most people now know someone with a mental illness, and this does a great job of showing what that’s like. Hopefully people already have empathy for those who suffer from depression or this, or whatever they were diagnosed with and if not, I think this will help show just how out of control Rachel was and how much it wasn’t her fault.