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‘I am impossible’: a collection of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s most famous quotes


by Grace McGettigan
13th Jan 2020
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Best-selling author and journalist, Elizabeth Wurtzel died on January 7, 2020, at the age of 52. Here is a selection of the New Yorker’s most famous quotes


Elizabeth Wurtzel was never one to shy away from difficult or controversial subjects. In her 1994 book Prozac Nation, she spoke candidly of her experience with depression, self-harm and substance abuse, not to mention her eventual treatment with Prozac during her undergraduate years at Harvard.

The New York native later went on to write about her absent father (a man who turned out not to be her birth-father at all), as well as her 2015 cancer diagnosis in articles for The Guardian and The Cut.

A self-proclaimed ‘impossible’ person, Wurtzel was exceptionally creative. Here are just some of her most famous quotes.

On finding her real father

“I have spent my whole life driving people crazy. If you should not say it, I can’t wait to scream it out the window. I am impossible. I never understood why I was so wild. I never knew how come I had to be a firebrand. I thought there was something wrong with me. Then I realised there is something right with me. Now I know I was born this way.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Cut.

On cancer and optimism

“Cancer has made me optimistic. We live in the age of wonders and miracles. Doctors can now cure the incurable. The bad part is the waiting rooms with dated magazines. If you don’t like waiting, don’t get cancer.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel on Twitter.

On cancer and discomfort

“Chemotherapy will show you what you are made of. I am stealth. I know things you don’t.

“Do you know what I’m scared of? Nothing.

“Cancer just suits me.

“I am good in a fight. This one goes on for the rest of my life. But I have been fighting with myself in one way or another all along. I am used to it. I can’t think of a time when my mind or my body was not out to get me. I am at ease with this discomfort. I am a ballerina doing a pirouette with perfect turnout in toe shoes, and it does not even hurt any more. I am elated. I love spinning this way. I would not have it otherwise.

“I am a con artist and cancer is my final con.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Guardian.

On controversy

“I love being controversial, because that’s the closest you get to everyone agreeing with you – the other choice is no one is paying attention.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Guardian.

On choosing your own narrative

“You cannot choose how you feel, but you can choose your attitude… We are human. Unlike other creatures, we live in narrative. We are conscious. If you make up the right story, it will be so.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Guardian.

On her late (and loyal) dog, Augusta

“Dogs do not give up – even on the owners who treat them badly. What a gorgeous persistence.

“Augusta looked me directly in the eye with the intensity of the wolf she descended from. Human beings don’t do that. Human beings have too much to be ashamed of.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Guardian.

On marriage

“Before I got married, no amount of counsel or rumination would have made me see how serious the bargain is, but I now feel the weight of wedded bliss on the other side of ‘I do’.

“It is heavy. It is years and years of figuring it all out.

“It isn’t that I feel I’ve made a mistake: I love my husband; I hope I die before him, because I do not want to be without him. But I thought marriage would be a continuum of our life before it. I must have been crazy to believe that making such a serious commitment would not be transformative.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel for The Guardian.

On depression

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel in Prozac Nation.

On doing enough to get by

“At heart, I have always been a coper, I’ve mostly been able to walk around with my wounds safely hidden, and I’ve always stored up my deep depressive episodes for the weeks off when there was time to have an abbreviated version of a complete breakdown. But in the end, I’d be able to get up and on with it, could always do what little must be done to scratch by.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel in Prozac Nation.


Read more: 20 Dolly Parton quotes that prove she’s the wisest woman in the room

Read more: 8 things we should stop feeling guilty about right now

Read more: Why Jennifer Lopez swears by positive daily affirmations

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