A KIND OF MAGIC – Anna Spargo-Ryan



Coming in 2022

My new therapist thinks it would be helpful to do a Schema questionnaire. This is a type of therapeutic approach that will help us learn which of my brain worms to focus on first. She gives me a pen and a clipboard and several sheets of paper. There are one hundred and ten questions. They offer suggestions like I feel guilty if I make my needs a priority and I do things I don’t want to do in order to avoid disappointing others

I want to win at the questionnaire so I do it really fast. I look at her while I’m doing it. She’s concentrating on her computer but if she looks over she’ll see that no one has ever been as good at the Schema questionnaire as I am. Next to I am good at understanding people and helping others I circle Strongly Agree. When I get to I am fearful that people will betray and hurt me I have to gently push on my solar plexus to stop the burning sensation. 

‘Done!’ I exclaim, one hundred and ten questions later.

‘That was quick,’ she says. She takes the paper. I want her to mark it right away. She tells me she’s not marking’ it and that there are ‘no right answers’ but I know this is something she says so people don’t feel bad when they lose. It will take a week, she says. In the next session, she will give me my results. 

‘Okay,’ I say. I try to remember what answer I circled next to I often feel that my accomplishments are not good enough.

In this sharp-eyed and illuminating memoir, Anna Spargo-Ryan asks the question: how do we make a self when our tools are busted? Against the backdrop of her own experience, she interrogates identity, how it can be fractured, and what it means to lose it.

Powerfully honest, tender and often funny, this book blends meticulous research with vivid snapshots from a life with serious mental illness.

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