Monday, September 21, 2015

Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton

I'm almost finished reading the book, "Fast Girl" by Suzy Favor Hamilton. It's about her life, her outstanding running career, her family, relationships and her struggle with bipolar disorder. Despite some passages relating to her sexual encounters that were difficult to read in terms of making me feel uncomfortable, I have to admit it's a hard book to put down.

Because I have known Suzy since high school, it was also difficult for me to read about all the pain and mental anguish she suffered. We shared a lot via letters when we were younger, but I didn't know the extent of her struggles.

In one radio interview by John Mercure relating to her book, Suzy was confronted by supposedly hard-hitting questions that were really nothing more than a way for the host to attempt to stir up controversy. He couldn't seem to understand what Suzy was saying, or he simply refused to hear her. Either way, I think Suzy handled herself well.

Mercure was incorrectly claiming that the book is mostly about sex and insisted there were too many unnecessary details about sex and sexual incidents. The truth is that the majority of the book focuses on her life, her challenges, her running career and her relationships, especially the one with her husband. The sexual content is contained within the last one third of the book.

The message of "Fast Girl" is definitely not what Mercure suggests, that working as an escort is glamorous and exciting. If anything, Suzy goes out of her way to describe the many ways in which she was not thinking clearly in the situation, taking risks that she was fortunate to come out of relatively unscathed. Sex was her vice. You wouldn't expect to read an account of a recovering alcoholic's life without reading at least a little bit about his drinking habits. He might even go as far as to say that he enjoyed the feeling of being drunk. Does that mean he's promoting drinking? I think not.

People might assume that there's no correlation between mental illness and an increase in sexual appetite, but if you look at individuals with excessive dopamine levels in the brain, they often exhibit what's called polymorphous perversion or hyper-sexuality. Guess what? Zoloft is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, so when Suzy said that her behavior started to change after taking Zoloft, it make sense to anyone with more than a few brain cells. Probably in people who are simply depressed and not also bipolar, this mechanism wouldn't lead to the same outcome as Suzy experienced.

Having had a backward and intense response to Prozac that made me feel like a completely different person, so much so that my behavior changed in a negative way, I understand what Suzy is saying regarding Zoloft. I believe There's a connection between brain chemistry and abnormal or excessive behavior, be it sexual or otherwise.

If the only message that John Mercure can get out of this book is that having sex with strangers for cash is glamorous, that's sad. It's not Suzy's fault that he is unable to comprehend the words on the pages in a more accurate way, and it just shows that it takes some deeper thought to fully understand mental illness. Suzy's book has the potential to help a lot of people who might be struggling with depression, bipolar disorder, addiction and other mental issues.

One of the most important messages in Suzy's book is that people who suffer from mental illness should't be judged or feel ashamed of themselves.

People will think what they want about Suzy, but I hope that this book will help anyone who is dealing with or anyone who knows someone who is dealing with mental issues feel less alone.

As far as Suzy making money off of this? I don't see anything wrong with that. She made it clear that she is planning to donate at least some of the proceeds to charity, but even if that weren't the case, I wouldn't see a problem with it.



2 comments:

  1. Suzy is brave. I agree that I cannot be easy to step forewsrd before a society loaded of firing squads and tell your story. I believe you're correct, it is not easy to comprehend mental illness and if Suzy's book can help even one person learn about depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, and become less judgemental and more tolerant, then well done, Suzy, well done.
    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much, Karzy. I agree. I really believe Suzy is in a position to help both those suffering and also those who could benefit from learning about mental illness. I also think that writing this book was probably cathartic for Suzy, and I hope that she can continue on a path of balance with more joy in her life.

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