Elizabeth Wurtzel (July 31, 1967 – January 7, 2020), Pluto/Uranus/Venus conjunction. Asteroid Lilith 1st house conjunct south node.
“It was just very interesting to me that certain types of women inspire people’s imagination, and all of them were very difficult women.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel
Remember Prozac Nation, the book that defined a generation of disaffected, depressed Americans who had grown up under the milieu of divorced parents, working mothers, and who inspired the term latch-key kids?
Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, is Elizabeth’s Wurtzel’s testament to her struggles with mental health and increasing dependency on psychiatric medication. In her journey to self-acceptance, she recognises that it is not only herself who is suffering from depression but that the whole nation appears to be under a fog of a chemical addiction.
“Sometimes it feels like we’re all living in a Prozac nation. The United States of Depression.”
Wurzel’s book defined an era of disaffection and burgeoning mental health labels that were managed by an ever-increasing plethora of psychiatric medication. Her generation, known as Generation X, were born between 1965- 1980, between the post war Baby Boomers, and tech savvy Millennials. A transitional generation, they bridged reality and a dawning artificial reality. They were the first generation to have home computers and gaming; many went onto create pivotal technologies in Silicon Valley such as Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. Perhaps the success of those pioneering network platforms were in response to the growing sense of alienation that many of the Generation X felt.
Witten in 1994 when Wurtzel was 27, Prozac Nation was among the first of a burgeoning genre in Memoir Writing. The book received mixed reviews, some of which were a damning indictment of Wutrzel’s so called narcissism and self-absorption. Michiko Kakutani writer for the New York Times, compared Wurtzel’s book to the “emotional exhibitionism” of Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, and said her “self-pitying passages make the reader want to shake the author, and remind her that there are far worse fates than growing up during the ’70s in New York and going to Harvard.”
Nowadays-hopefully-we recognise this “what do you have to complain about” mentality as a form of gas lighting used to shame and silence people into feeling guilty for authentically expressing their feelings, especially feelings that challenge the consensual reality by digging deeper and asking difficult questions. To my mind, this dismissive and life- denying attitude is also a rejection of the dark feminine which embraces the inevitable pain and reckoning of becoming something greater and more vital than our limited selves and exposing the lies of society.
Beyond the primacy- and perhaps because of- the GDP, and insatiable need for progress and growth at all costs, there is much grief to be felt… as well as the recognition in how we have colluded with and allowed ways of being that are contrary to our soul’s deepest needs and longings.
Today we are experiencing an epidemic of denial; freedom of speech and the right to protest has effectively been outlawed.
Still. What if…
We said no to medication, over-consumption, addiction, porn, vaccination, dead food, the prohibition of the right to roam the land… to live on the land, unwarranted social control. What would our true, authentic, organic, and maybe slightly wild selves do and say then. How much closer would we be to a vision of freedom. What if spoke truth and felt our feelings?
I was 27 when I read Prozac Nation, at around the same time I also read Carried Fisher’s (who incidentally had Black Moon Lilith conjunct Chiron, 1st house), Postcards from the Edge, and Susanna Kaysen’s Girl Interrupted. Feeling somewhat lost and alienated myself in a world in which I had difficulty-and resistance- adapting to, I sought out books written by women who were also struggling… although I couldn’t quite quell the nagging feeling that this book, and other icons of the grunge intoxicated 90’s was to some extent glamourising mental instability and heroin chic. Nevertheless, reading books like Prozac Nation eased me with a sense of not being so alone in my suffering, and even that there could be gifts to be found, especially creative ones- though that was far from most people’s reality. As a student of English Literature, I became increasingly disenfranchised from many of the people and structures around me. Growing weary of society, I found my way to the frayed edges where the other -self exiled- misfits lived, I became more comfortable in the sub-culture, immersed in aimless drifting days and wine fuelled nights. I was never prescribed meds though I self-medicated on the most socially acceptable drug of all- alcohol.
As I write about my 27 year old self, the age Elizabeth Wurtzel was when she wrote Prozac Nation, my thoughts also turn to the several famous people who died by taking their own life at that age- ‘The 27 Club’ as they are chillingly known. It would appear that 27 can be a difficult age for some; having not yet crossed the threshold into adulthood, marked by Saturn’s return, this unacknowledged initiation may be too much for some.
The pressure to conform in what felt like an increasingly plastic society was for the most part a painful and silent plight. The voices of disaffection that made it through the channels of main stream media -even while they incurred ridicule as Wurtzel did- were reassuring signs that the dominant narrative, presented as the only reality, was beginning to tear at the seams. Books like Prozac Nation, at least allowed for the possibility of a conversation about why so many people were on anti-depressants in the first place- then as now women were twice as likely to be prescribed anti-depressant medication as men and twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Remember the days of womb removal as an attempt to cure hysteria? Hysteria was a mental health condition applied to women until 1980- the end of Generation X- when the diagnosis was dropped in favour of an array of other conditions that could now be treated with drugs … a far less messy and much cheaper way of controlling ‘difficult’ women.
Wurtzel’s book it seems was a double edged sword, on one hand it opened the channels for a particular kind of confessional writing that exposed many of the ills of American society, while on the other it seemed to pave the way toward the acceptance of psychiatric medication as an inevitable way of life.
Prozac Nation and other books in that genre however were the voice of Lilith, calling from the shadows and exiled places, calling out the hypocrisy, daring to challenge the collective miasma and corrupt power structures- “Wake up! Don’t go back to sleep… don’t wrap yourself up in chemical cotton candy… don’t allow them to pathologize your soul’s longing and inner knowing… don’t accept a label that will allow you to fit neatly into a manufactured society, controlled by those who want as little disruption as possible in their quest for mastery over Nature.” Lilith has spoken.
Hand maiden to the dark goddess, Lilith keeps the score in our bodies and the many psycho- physical, psycho-spiritual illnesses that we experience. She may have fled into exile for a few thousand years, yet she is fully conscious, fully present, and entirely unmedicated. Biding her time and offering guidance from behind the veil, she shows up in the cracks that appear when we accept what harms us or what we know to be false. She comes to us in the life stultifying depressions, primal rages, and acting out; she exposes our addictions, people pleasing behaviours, and pill popping compliance for what they really are… a denial of our authentic self. Lilith wills us to be free from the seduction of an artificial life with its many promises of ease, pleasure, and comfort in favour of wholeness, liberation, and authenticity.
In just over a week, myself and 12 other women will embark on a 7-week journey- Meetings With the Dark Goddess and Finding the Seeds of Renewal. If you would like to be part of a future group, or similar explorations, or if you would like a Dark Goddess astrology consultation or shamanic session, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.