RIP Elizabeth Wurtzel: The Warrior, The Poster Child
To say that Elizabeth Wurtzel was a warrior would be an understatement. But to say that she was a hero and inspiration to so many young women like me… yeah I think that would be an apt description. But I think that she wasn’t even aware of that.
Just to be clear, I’m using past tense here, because I learned of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s untimely death just yesterday. Elizabeth Wurtzel (or Lizzie to almost everybody) died yesterday at the age of 52, after courageous 5 year long battle with breast cancer. I was actually informed about her passing from the Facebook page of another great journalist – Ronan Farrow, and I thought to myself. It seems fitting. From one warrior to another. Tributes poured afterwards, and among the mourners was even Christina Richie. The actress that would play Lizzie in the 2001 movie Prozac Nation.
Which is partially the theme of this post. Yes. Lizzie published 4 additional non-fiction books (her most recent was 2015’s Creatocracy: How the Constitution Invented Hollywood) but it was her debut book- Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America: A Memoir that really made in impact on me. Because in part I was Elizabeth Wurtzel. I was young depressed and hooked on anti-depressants too. I was aspiring to be a bad-ass journalist too. I came from a dysfunctional family too, and oh… let’s not forget. I was a mess too. Not a hot mess, but just a mess. The only difference was the drug. Zoloft was my drug of choice. Prozac was all good and dandy, but I was hard core. Zoloft was the shit for me from even before I turn 18 and continued to be my shit for the next few years. It was my badge of honor, for persevering and for the years of self improvement that followed, and i took a lot of pride in that.
You see…. There’s a passage in Prozac Nation that says – “No one will ever love me,” I will live and die alone. … Nothing will work out.” – Yeah. I’ve had those thoughts too. And just like in Lizzie’s case, I found love later in life. It took me a while, but I found someone to love me for who I am. And in her words… I highly recommend it.
This morning, as I scrolled through the Elizabeth Wurtzel’s personal Facebook profile, I found plenty of more similarities with my own personal life- which made the mourning even harder. We were both dog lovers, we both adored Lou Reed and Bob Dylan and we both loved to cook too. I was saddened to read that at the time of her death Lizzie was separated from her husband, but I hope that she found comfort in the fact that she was loved by so many lost and formerly depressed souls like myself.
But I’m glad that I found her writing at the age that I did. My late teenage years and my early adolescence were not that great, and her words filled me with relatable content. They gave me comfort and hope that I wasn’t the only one going through hard bleak and dark times. Times filled with depression, rejection, and self-destructive loathing… yeah I was withering away slowly but surely. But Lizzie saved me. She was relatable. She was the rock and roll fairy that I never knew that I needed to have my side. She was a feminist before it was fashionable, she was a warrior before it was cool and she was a poster-child to a generation of clueless doped up young people when most of them were killing themselves.
Oh, and the very end of this post let me take my defensive stance at the Prozac Nation- THE MOVIE. Back in 2001 when Prozac Nation came out (it had its wide release in 2005 to be exact), it was panned by critics and fans alike. But almost 2 decades later, I’ll be the first to defend it as a god damn solid movie. Yeah it wasn’t 100% faithful to the original material, but what movie adaptation is? Christina Ricci’s portrayal of Elizabeth Wurtzel was fantastic and Jessica Lange was brilliant in the role of Lizzie’s mother. I loved it back then, and I still love it to this day.
It also had young Michelle Williams, Jonathan Rhys Myers, Anne Heche and Jason Biggs in the other supporting roles, and it was good. Really good.
But I’m just here here to mourn Elizabeth Wurtzel. I’m here to mourn her life, her talent and her body of work. I’m here to mourn her infectious spirit, her no-quitting attitude and her wit. She was a hero to so many. She was a fighter throughout her life and career and she was one of a kind.
She was my rock and roll fairy that I never knew that I needed by my side.