I recently read the book "It's Kind of a Funny Story" about a young man with depression. It was a great read--a little bit funny, a little bit sad, but mostly a book that made me think.
I thought a lot about the book itself, about the writing, and the structure and the nuts-and-bolts of the thing, but also about the lives outside of the story .The lives of the readers, and the life of the author. The life and death of the author, actually.
I did a quick internet search on the author after noting the caveat at the back of the book that mentioned he spent five days in a mental health clinic, as the main character does, and that the author wrote "It's Kind of a Funny Story" in the year following his stay.
I also learned the author killed himself when he was only 32.
That happens a lot with writers. A lot of writers kill themselves. A lot of business men and women kill themselves. A lot of artists, and teachers, and soldiers, and dropouts, and shop owners, and dog-walkers, and babysitters, and just plain old people. A lot of people kill themselves.
And while we make movies about suicide, this book itself being more commonly known as a movie, and we listen to celebrities talk about their battles with depression, and we try to bring attention to it, and we all probably know, or knew in the worst cases, someone who struggled with mental health issues, we still lose people.
They slip through the cracks in the healthcare system, we say. We blame it on the political parties. We blame it on not enough time or money. We blame it on ourselves, for not noticing or being able to help. We feel guilty for missing something, for letting this tragic thing happen when it could have been prevented.
But as helpless as the bystanders feel, what about the helplessness of those actually suffering from depression? As someone who has been on both sides of that, I can't tell which is worse. Because sometimes these things can be prevented. And sometimes they just can't.
The monologue below is for someone else. These aren't my feelings, just my words, maybe for someone else who can't say them right now. I couldn't say I needed help years ago when I really did need it, but others saw and knew and gave it anyway. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay that kindness, but I can try and pay it forward in the mean time. Now it's time to help others find their own ways back.
How can I ask? How can I tell you? I'm afraid. It's hard. I don't have a sign to put in a front window. I'm not a store, I'm a person. But I need help. Help wanted. It isn't as easy to ask when I don't have that red and white, that tell-tale mark, that says-it-all.
I'm not looking for a job. I'm looking for help. I'm looking for someone to talk to, someone to listen to me. You don't have to pretend to understand. You can just sit with me. I need someone to sit with me, to let me know I'm not alone. Please say hello to me. Please notice me. I've been sitting in silence so long.
I hate silence. It scares me. I'm lonely, and that scares me too. I'm asking for help to stop the silence, to stop the lonely.
I know I'm not the only one who's lonely. But it feels like I am. Everyone else seems so happy. How can they be happy? How can I be happy? I'm not sure. But it's all I want. This normal I've been pretending isnt' really normal. At least it shouldn't be.
Help wanted. Help to stop the silence, the lonely, the fears and doubts and hate that fill my mind. Help to find my way back to happy. This is my sign, my red and white flash in the crowd.I know I'm not the only one, I can't be. Where are the other signs? I feel so lost.