David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspires readers with his courage, joining the literary ranks of Terri Cheney (Manic), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Marya Hornbacher (Wasted), and Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted).
“A harrowing journey from self-destructive psychosis to a cautious re-emergence into the flickering sunshine of the sane world….Fitzpatrick writes about mental illness with the unsparing intensity of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton but also with the hard-won self-knowledge of William Styron, Kay Jamison, and other chroniclers of disease, recovery, and management…. A must read, remarkably told.”
—Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much is True
Haunted by demons of mental illness that plagued his ancestors, a young man barely out of college finds release from inner torment in cutting himself, leading to 17 years of being a "professional mental patient." In this mesmeric, dire memoir of his agonizing journey through hell and back, Fitzpatrick takes extraordinary care in re-creating the cerebral maelstrom that brought on the first breakdown at age 23. The middle child of five in an Irish Catholic family that settled in Guilford, Conn., the author was an athletic kid who adored his parents and had a keen desire to please others, yet endured being bullied, first by his relentless older brother, Andy, then by his Skidmore College roommates who routinely doused him in liquids milk, mustard, juice when they were all smoking pot. A combination of low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression over a breakup with a girlfriend precipitated the first cutting incident, leading to the first of many incarcerations in the psychiatric wing of hospitals, shock treatments, "psychotropic cocktails" that increasingly bloated his body, intensive therapy with idiosyncratic doctors, and occasional tender acquaintances with young anorexic women patients. After nearly two decades of spiraling mental illness leading to self-injury, the author was finally able to "recapture his mind" with the help of targeted drugs, therapy, family support, and, perhaps most key, a mission (thanks to Wally Lamb's encouragement) to write his dark, affecting human story for "the mentally ill voices who don't ever get to speak, to shout and be heard."