Ann Bracken—Crash: A Memoir of Overmedication and Recovery

Cover of the book Crash: A Memoir of Overmedication and Recovery by Ann Bracken showing the book’s title and author’s name, along with an illustration of a pill bottle and scattered pills of multiple colors and shapes.


Ann Bracken
Charing Cross Press, January, 2023, $18.00
ISBN: 9780578394336, Ebook: 9780578394343

Bracken reports:

In 2016, a video of author Sam Quinones discussing his book Dreamland, which explores the opioid crisis, riveted my attention. I had never realized the grave danger I was in while using potent and potentially addictive physician-prescribed drugs for my severe migraines.

Because these medications never provided pain relief for my headaches, I escaped the scourge of addiction. But I realized I was a victim of the harmful and widespread practice of polypharmacy. Neither of my doctors warned of danger from the headache-depression drug cocktail I consumed for four years: Wellbutrin, Valium, Topamax, Elavil, OxyContin, DHE injections, Migranol nasal spray, and injectable Demerol. Two serious car crashes made me realize Western medicine had failed me.

Portrait photo of Ann Bracken by Morna McNulty

Ann Bracken
Photo by Morna McNulty

Working with an energy healer to discontinue the pain medications and using poetry and journaling helped me to heal fully. I wrote Crash because I know that there must be thousands of people who dutifully take prescription pain medications as directed yet never get well. My mother, who also struggled with depression, was among them.

I love doing research, so I happily read numerous books and journal articles. I found an online cache of psychiatric drug ads from the 1950s and 60s that supported my conclusions about Mom’s treatment.

I wrote Crash before I wrote the proposal I planned to submit to agents and publishers. After two years of rejections, I decided to self-publish.

I worked with a professional copy-editor, content editor, cover artist, and book designer, all of whom I found through my associations with Maryland’s literary community, to produce the finished product.

What sets my book apart from other depression and addiction recovery memoirs is that I interwove my story with my mother’s story. I wanted to explore why I was able to recover while my mother never did. My father’s records detailing 30-years-worth of Mom’s illness held the answers. In many ways, my journey involved solving a mystery as much as writing a memoir. I hope my mother’s and my stories can serve as both a wake-up call and source of hope to others.

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The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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