Trisha Cull will take your breath away in this jarring and revolutionary memoir. She bravely sheds light upon the raw and dark stream of consciousness of a woman struggling with multiple mental illnesses. Cull’s prose is utterly poetic, and her honest story is startling and captivating.
“The depression squeezes my throat, digs in, presses me earthward. . . Negative space is relevant.” Almost instantly Cull takes readers by the hand and reveals the almost unbearable truth about the “intense and immediate experience of mental illness.” Throughout the memoir it is known that Cull struggles with depression, bulimia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, and multiple substance abuse, not to mention highly toxic relationships with men — she uses their love as a way to validate her own self-worth.
Trisha Cull’s The Death of Small Creatures is written in a way that is chaotic and entirely detached from reality. It gives an accurate representation of how mental illness distorts people. There are many artistic qualities to Cull’s prose, especially when she dives into her pain.
“The depression squeezes my throat, digs in, presses me earthward. . . Negative space is relevant.”
— Trisha Cull
Examples include when her and her husband Leigh have a huge falling out, when her two beloved pet rabbits pass away, or when she reflects on the fact that because of her, so many people are in pain. Cull illustrates her experiences with a blur of doctors and psychiatrists, what it’s like to be admitted into a mental hospital, and to completely lose sight of your own identity and will to live.
The only criticism I have for this memoir is that it was not a simple read. The short entries moved along quickly, but they were not in chronological order; they jumped back and forth between the past and present. This was especially the case with Cull’s relationship with Leigh and her other unconventional associations with men. These relationships were unstable and difficult to keep track of in terms of differentiating the present and the past.
Sadly, the better and more loving memories Cull has with Leigh are mostly all from the past, and in her more recent entries readers see that her relationship with him is becoming more and more problematic. That being said, the chaos of the memoir’s order completely compliments the artistic vision that Cull most likely had for the entire book. Taking this into consideration, this story’s disorder could be considered praise of her literary creativity.
Cull’s voice is hopeful and hopeless all at once — depicting the ups and downs of her mental illness. In summary, her memoir is refreshingly unapologetic and courageous for a topic that is still considered somewhat unfavourable. Her writing is generously detailed and unflinchingly honest.
Trisha Cull has somehow managed to do what most people have not,she turned her toxic and all-consuming past into a hauntingly beautiful memoir.