Just stocked up at the library; also digging into Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth for my book group. But read an intriguing review in the Times, and so my list grows to include Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors by Lisa Appignanesi.

The reviewer, Kathryn Harrison, writes:

One of the consistently fascinating and disturbing aspects of [the book] is Lisa Appignanesi’s assiduous tracking of the modishness of what might be mistaken for a sui generis discipline. Of course, as anyone who has visited a psychiatric hospital — or ridden the subway — can attest, crazy is what we call people who refuse to conform to accepted norms of behavior. And the definition of nonconformity must change in step with styles of conforming. …

As Appignanesi observes, “Patients could well find themselves the victims of a doctor’s prejudice about what kind of behavior constituted sanity: this could all too easily work against women who didn’t conform to the time’s norms of sexual behavior or living habits.” That diagnoses conceived by male doctors would be subject to men’s changeable views of women — romantic, patronizing, idealistic, misogynistic: the choices are limited only by the imagination — comes as no surprise; it’s the meticulous and exhaustive account of these theories offered in “Mad, Bad and Sad” that is sobering.

Despicable? Even if it’s just a PR stunt or a viral promotion — or maybe because I suspect it falls into one of the aforementioned categories — the blog of “90-day Jane” makes me want to vomit. It literally makes my stomach churn. After I read it for the first time, I lay on the floor of my bathroom, letting the freezing tile chill my cheek.

What am I talking about? Well, in the words of the blog’s author, “I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It’s simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I’m not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose. My generation has had no great depression, no great war and our biggest obstacle is beating Halo 3. So, if I feel like saying “game over”, why can’t I? Anyway, I hope you enjoy my thoughts as the clock runs out. Also, if blogspot takes this down before i’m gone just go to http://www.90dayjane.com. Please don’t attempt to “help” me. If you want to truly help, please send me ideas on how to do the deed. thx-Jane.”

There are a lot — A LOT — of things wrong with this fatalistic diatribe. But what bothers me the most is that someone thinks it’s funny, or important, or snarkily cool, to promote him or herself by chronicling the last days of his or her existence. For anyone who has seriously contemplated suicide, looked over the edge and stepped back … or, better, as someone who has done so … I hope that in these last 90 days, someone gives you a reason to see another day. I’m an atheist too, and at times, I do feel like saying game over. And I boil in my discontent, I piss and moan and stay in bed for days at a time. And then I get up and keep on going.

Like you, I keep a blog; maybe you’re already reading my last day. Maybe I have 60 days left. Maybe I have 50 more years. But the point is, I’m muddling through. I try to be honest with myself. But I don’t, whatever I do, use my mental health as a bargaining chip — a hook.

And while I’m going here … I know Britney Spears has made herself a target, but must we really cogitate all day on her mental health? Back in my day, what went on between you and your doctor, what you were prescribed, was a private matter. Maybe she’s bipolar. Maybe she’s under too much pressure. Maybe everyone around her is so motivated by the almighty dollar that they’ll sell her down the river so someone will print salacious details of her breakdown.

Or should we all just gather in the glow of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab, feeling better about ourselves for finding some way to avoid falling into a spiral of drugs and sex and neardeath-almostdeath lives, allowing it all become something that happens to other people?