A journalist faces his toughest assignment yet: profiling himself. Zeman recounts his struggle with clinical depression in this high- octane, brutally funny memoir about mood disorders, memory, shock treatment therapy and the quest to get back to normal.
Thirty-five million Americans suffer from clinical depression. But Ned Zeman never thought he’d be one of them. He came from a happy Midwestern family. He had great friends and a busy social life. His career was thriving at Vanity Fair where he profiled adventurers and eccentrics who pushed the limits and died young.
Then, at age thirty-two, anxiety and depression gripped Zeman with increasing violence and consequences. He experimented with therapist after therapist, medication after medication, hospital after hospital- including McLean Hospital, the facility famed for its treatment of writers, from Sylvia Plath to Susanna Kaysen to David Foster Wallace. Zeman eventually went further, by trying electroconvulsive therapy, aka shock treatment, aka “the treatment of last resort.”
By the time it was over, Zeman had lost nearly two years’ worth of memory. He was a reporter with amnesia. He had no choice but to start from scratch, to reassemble the pieces of a life he didn’t remember and, increasingly, didn’t want to. His girlfriend was gone; friends weren’t speaking to him. His life lay in ruins. And the biggest question remained, “What the hell did I do?”
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, profane and hopeful, The Rules of the Tunnel is a blistering account of Zeman’s twisted ride to hell and back-a return made possible by friends real and less so, among them the dead “eccentrics” he once profiled. It’s a guttural shout of a book, one that defies conventional notions about those with mood disorders, unlocks mysteries within mysteries, and proves that sometimes everything you’re looking for is right in front of you.
The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness by Ned Zeman is an informative, yet entertaining memoir covering the author’s own personal struggles with depression. Zeman writes with a uniquely stylish sense of humor throughout his book, one of the more memorable examples for me being his description of experiences with Adderall. In this intriguing style, Zeman tells how his career and his life as a whole went from success to near obliteration as he succumbed to an illness that, through all the therapy, hospitals and treatments, was only defeated with the help of his friends. Readers will find his style to be influenced by his writing career as a journalist and that his approach is quite honest and does not embellish or sugar-coat his experiences with clinical depression nor with mental illness in general. Perhaps the saying that “laughter is the best medicine” is best portrayed by Zeman’s work dealing with mental illness and having a few laughs while conveying his own personal experience with such a serious illness. I recommend The Rules of the Tunnel to all readers and especially to those not familiar with depression and how it impacts the life of the afflicted.
Ned Zeman is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, where he has covered a wide range of subjects: crime, politics, Hollywood, and outdoor adventure. He has also written for Newsweek, Spy, GQ, Outside, and Sports Illustrated. Two of his articles have been finalists for the National Magazine Award, and he cowrote the screenplay for Sugarland, the forthcoming film starring Jodie Foster. He lives in Los Angeles.
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I received an arc of TheRules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.