“The Rules of the Tunnel-My Brief Period of Madness” by Ned Zeman


Vanity Fair magazine contributor Ned Zeman’s memoir of battling mental illness
is funny as well as harrowing. After years of therapy and medication fail to
lift his mood enough to function well as a writer, he opts for he last resort,
ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), recommended by doctors after he checks himself
into the infamous McLean Hospital (Sylvia Plath, William Styron and John Nash
being ‘graduates’ of that institution).
Despite mild warnings of side effects including temporary amnesia, he is
excited to give it a try, maybe this will be the solution to his sleeping all
the time/not sleeping at all, and persistent thoughts of death. Though his ECT
doctor explained that the possible amnesia is temporary in nearly all cases, in
Mr. Zeman’s it appears it was not. His life is a series of post-it notes
‘Remember-Amnesia!’, and loving friends who read and monitor his emails in an
effort to keep him safe from himself.
At times hysterically funny, readers at all touched by depressive/bi-polar
disorder will find it eerily familiar. Mr. Zeman is to be lauded for his honest
portrayal of mental illness as well as his razor-sharp wit and literary talent.

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