It’s a Kind of Funny Story

But I find it overwhelmingly sad.

The value of this book is its window into the illness of depression. The language is raw, but honest.

When I come home from school, I know I have all this work to do, but then my head starts cycling…going over the same thoughts over and over. When my thoughts race against each other in a circle…

I started to work in phases a little bit. For three weeks I’d be  cool, fine, functional. Even at my most functional I washn’t someone you’d pay a lot of attention          to…But I was there, that was the important thing. I was at school as  opposed to home in my bed.

Then I’d get bad. Usually it happened after a chill session at Aaron’s house, one of those glorious times when we got really high and watched a really bad movie, something with Will Smith where we could point out all the product placements and plot holes. I’d wake up on the couch in Aaron’s livingroom (I would sleep there while he slept with Nia in the back) and I’d want to die. I’d feel wasted and burnt, having wasted my time and my body and my energy and my words and my soul. I’d feel like I had to get home right now to do work but didn’t have the ability to get to the subway…

I’m pretty stupid for thinking I could get any sleep tonight. Once I turn off the lights…I get the Not-Sleeping Feeling—it’s kind of like feeling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rear up in your brain and put some ropes around it and pull it toward the front of  your skull. They say,  No way, dude! Who did you think you were fooling! You think you were going to wake up at three in the morning and throw yourself off the Brooklyn Bridge without staying up all night? Give us a little credit!

 My mind starts thr Cycling. I know it’s going to be the worst that it’s ever been. Over and over again, a cycling of tasks, of failures, of problems. I’m young but I’m already screwing up my life…

I don’t know whether it was like that for any of the suicidal teens we had as foster children, whether they would have recognized Ned’s feelings. When the adults who should care, have not been able to, is it different from depressive illness when the family is functional?  Our boys didn’t go as far as suicide, at least not while we knew them.  I had trouble with depression, but never to the point of considering suicide.

For me, the value of It’s a Kind of Funny Story is that it shows me the difference between manageable, reactive depression, and depressive illness that can make life unbearable. Will I recommend the book to my teenage grandchildren? No. Not because I fear it will “give them ideas,” but because it won’t, or I hope it won’t, speak to their situation.  For someone who wants an idea of how a depressed teen might feel, perhaps it is a tool. Perhaps for others, it proves that they aren’t alone and they can find relief.