Dear Ned Vizzini,
Depression is such an ugly word. No matter how you use it, the end of the story usually doesn’t end well. First of all, I don’t want you to think this letter will be about me as the victim. I honestly wouldn’t have any idea how to relate this book to my personal life. This letter will be about me as the observer of my best friend from grade school. It will be about how your book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story has helped me deal with, and understand what happened inside my former best friend’s head throughout her battle with severe depression. It will be about how your book helped me understand that nobody can help the depressed, unless they want help. Your book let me know that it wasn’t my fault.
“Everything is fine.” That’s the sentence I always heard whenever I asked my best friend what was going on with her. It’s vague but it convinced me nonetheless. Like the character in your book, Craig Gilner, she showed the world a façade. She and Craig showed people what they wanted to see. They led on that they were content, behaving and unusually intelligent, when in actuality, they were self-destructive, severely depressed, and were having such extreme anxiety that they worried themselves into getting F’s in school. It wasn’t their fault, but that’s how they perceived it. So, they kept to themselves until eventually, they snapped.
It took my best friend three years to tell people she was considering suicide. Weirdly enough, I never saw it coming. Even when I think back on it, I can’t really remember seeing any red flags. You can compare me to your character, Aaron, when it comes to that. We both had no idea. After my best friend had made her problem known, it went further downhill from there. She started distancing herself from me and everyone else. I didn’t take that as a good sign, but I figured she’d take a break for a while, and then come back a brand new happier person. But she didn’t help herself like Craig did. She didn’t look at the big picture and see what was holding her back like Craig. She made friends with the Aarons and Nias of the school instead. She dealt with most issues the same way as Craig, but some she dealt with completely different. The same way, by thinking that drugs, alcohol and sex would make all these horrible feelings go away. And differently, by instead of distancing herself from the Aarons, Nias, and all those dizzying drugs and alcohol fueled parties, she dove in and made herself at home. Little did she know that she had sent herself on a downward spiral that would last for two years.
When my best friend’s self-destructive ways had caught up with her, she found herself sitting in a cold dimly lit room, known as therapy five days a week. Like Craig, she had hit rock bottom. But instead of being anti-social, basically bulimic, or nocturnal, she had self-inflicted scars going from her wrist to her elbow, she pretty much had permanently dilated pupils, and well, she looked like death. I didn’t know what to do or say at that point. I didn’t know if anything could help her. One thing that Aaron and I definitely have in common is that I never made fun of the situation. Even though I had no idea what to say or do, I never called her names, or made her feel even lower then she was feeling then. After a few months of going to therapy by herself, she invited me to go with her. Something that Craig had never done with Aaron. She felt she owed it to me to have me sit in on her sessions, so that I could get some kind of clue of what had stolen my best friend from me for so long. Soon after we started the sessions together, I felt that I honestly didn’t want to know anymore. Maybe I felt overwhelmed or maybe guilty or maybe I felt angry like Aaron did. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m glad she recognized how I tried to help her, and that I never gave up on her. In the end, my best friend had a better closure with me then Craig had with his best friends, Aaron and Nia by far. And that gives me peace of mind.
Needless to say, after reading your book, I’ve been able to answer questions that have been repeatedly rolling around in my head since grade school. For that I am forever grateful.