A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITY

Dear Ella and Suse,

I've had an issue swelling for the last nine years or so, and it seems to be coming to a climax. I used to live amid a good deal of strife and was resilient, inspired, productive, mature, intelligent, funny, and interesting. The last few years, however, things have been calm and good: I have love, a few good friends, enough money, space--but I can't seem to find the will to do anything I enjoy. I'm a skilled artist (and writer, I've been told), but I can't bring myself to draw or write. I'm in love with and attracted to my wonderful long-time boyfriend and never feel like having sex. I don't read anymore. I rarely leave the house except to go to work. I  feel vulnerable, self-conscious, cranky, ugly, and boring. I don't call my friends because I don't want to subject them to me. I usually have a
headache. I spend most of my time looking at art, watching films (good ones, at least), and feeling guilty. To be fair, I do still have moments of fun and glory, and I'm never hopeless (I always think tomorrow will be different), but I inevitably sink back into the muck. I'm a 30-year-old woman. Jitterbug Perfume is my favorite book. Any suggestions?

Thank you!

A Slug with Visions of Humanity
Dear Slug,
We feel you need something of a catalyst, a rocket under your deckchair, a book to blast you into action and energy. There are two approaches to this - the shocking-you-into-embracing-your-talents approach, and the inspiring-you-to-re-invigorate-yourself approach. For shock, we give you Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Junior. This book will horrify you with its depiction of two young people sliding ever more into the mire, because they try to hold on to their dreams of painting and creating a happy life for themselves with a cafe to run, decorated with their own art, but go about achieving them in the wrong way - by selling heroine. This novel is so depressing that you will literally kick yourself into grabbing your paintbrush or pen, and making it happen, now. As an aside to this, I would also add that if you haven't discovered Keri Hulme yet, do so now - her interractive art books are really inspiring, especially if you have had a hiatus of non-creativity). Requiem is a painful, but purgative read. Then take the secondary approach to your cure, which is the inspirational one. We love it that Jitterbug Perfume is your favourite book, and that is one that we would reccommend to you- take a leaf out of Priscilla's life, and follow your passion! However, as you have already discovered Robbins, we urge you instead to read Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis. This is a book of poems, a novel of an unusual format, that will remind you to live your life to the max. If Archy the Cockroach can head-butt the keys of a type-writer in order to get his thoughts out, you too must crash through the pain barrier to get yourself out there again. Shed that cockrach carapace, and open your windows again - your friends have been missing you!
Yours,
Ella and Suse
We prescribe - Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Junior
Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE