Title: Paaz (Paaz 1) by Myrthe van der Meer
Genre: Mental Health
Release Date: October 2012
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When Emma is admitted to the Paaz* she knows a mistake has been made. She has a great job, a great boyfriend and a great life. That she wants to die shouldn’t be a problem. Doesn’t everyone think about wanting to die every day? It’s the start of her search through all the things the Paaz brings. The other patients, the pills, the therapists, but most of all it is a search for herself.
*The Paaz is a psychiatric ward in the hospital in the Netherlands.
** Loosely translated from Dutch
Paaz is a very different book from what I usually read. One of the things that struck me from the first few pages is how completely I could relate to Emma. I recognize some of her specific negative thoughts she has, and her personality in that she avoids confrontation. Also the endless questions that go through her head in the struggle to understand things, to make things clear for herself to gain control is something I recognize. So in that way this was a confrontational read for myself.
Having said that, this book was a mixture of tears and laughter for me. While the topic is heavy there were moments where humor was used to lighten the mood without taking away from the heaviness or importance of the topic. It made the book a bit easier to read, and I think it makes the book more approachable to all kinds of readers. The humor is a mixture of jokes and gallow’s humor. They sometimes made fun of themselves in a way only they could do. It would be wrong coming from someone outside of the ward, but not from the patients themselves. It’s an odd line of humor.
Next to Emma there were of course other characters. I enjoyed the realness of the characters and how other topics that were prominent in news around our country were incorporated. Also the book showed more than just depression. I loved the friendships and relationships Emma had with the other clients, but also with the nurses/social workers and therapists.
The therapists and nurses/social workers were written with flaws, but it was still obvious they cared about their clients. I could also relate to the nurses/social workers in their frustrations. I know how hard it can be to have to deal with aggression, repetitive behavior, feeling like you aren’t helping someone or just the utter lack of communication between the different layers of care. They are also just people after all.
Despite having a bachelor in Social Work I have never been at the Paaz or a psychiatric ward (I choose a different direction) so I can’t quite say whether or not this is an accurate representation of that. However I do recognize the struggle for the right diagnosis of clients, and how therapists can have such a difference in approach to treating a client. The struggle of pills versus therapy. Every person is different and not one way works the same way for every client with the same diagnosis. We’re all different.