Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's A Funny Kind of Story

 Author: Ned Vizzini
Pages: 448
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Publication: April 1st 2006 
Age Group: Young Adult (14-18)
Book Source: Borrowed (but must acquire)
Challenge(s)-To Be Read Challenge (2012)

Craig. He doesn't think he is depressed. He knows he is.. It is a fact. Not only does he have not much of a reason to be depressed- he just is. It all started at the end of eighth grade year. Not only did he get into the most prestigious school in his area- his tentacles creeped in and the cycling began. Tentacles- they are just problems and nuisances that wrap their suction cups around him and squeeze,  squeeze until the cycling begins. The cycling is just a process that Craig's mind goes through. He starts thinking about all of his problems, and things he has to do- and he begins worrying and stressing about it until it is too late to even try to what he wanted to do in the first place. The only thing that can save him are his anchors- things that are the same, stay the same and are simple. Like peeing for instance.
But when one lonely night Craig finds himself anchorless and ready to jump off of the Brooklyn bridge- in series of rapid events he is checked into his local hospital- just a few blocks away. Checked in as a clinically depressed suicide patient. Not only is he alive but Craig checked himself in- by his own decision. He is required to stay in the adult department of the psychiatric ward in the hospital- his next five days could make or break the rest of his life. He soon realizes the what the real tentacles are- and who. Maybe it is time Craig rediscovers his true anchor.

First let me note that I just devoured this book. Ned Vizzini is a true realistic genius. The fact that he wrote this book in around a month right after being checked into a mental ward for five days- is undeniably incredible. The real rawness of this book just shoved itself into your face and didn't leave- even for days after reading this book.

This book helped me understand the big D word. Depression. When you see people or talk to people who threaten suicide, or being depressed you cannot just blow it off saying "how can you depressed? I mean c'mon your life is perfect"... That is just the thing- no ones life is perfect and there is nothing you can do to try to fix that. We can't all be heroes.  It also aided my understanding that depression can be a mental disease. Not just mental. The thing is- there is a big difference between people who think they are depressed, or suicidal- and depressed people. The first people who will admit they are depressed are the people who aren't.

Many authors who write novels about such touchy intense issues are in a sense posers- you can research all you want about a mental disease/illness or issue- but never understand. The real reason this book was so legit was Ned Vizzini. He went through it all- figuratively side by side with Craig. Ned IS Craig (in a way).  That simple fact is intensely mind blowing.

A big yet critically hidden aspect of this novel is the secrecy. Craig's parents knew- but didn't have any idea the severity of his fragile mental state... But even Craig's bet friend had no idea of what Craig was going through. He just wanted him to do drugs and "chill".  Craig struggled with his self confidence also... What an understatement that is!!! He thought he was never good enough- he worked his butt off and I the end he was never good enough- worthless. Not only worthless but hopeless too... He thought he had no future and was worthless- with no hope of ever improving.  Sure, every human has been in that state- once or twice in their lives- but all day,  everyday? Could you imagine how miserable that would be?

After reading this book I did a little research on mental illnesses, and people with them. They even have a vast Wikipedia list full of recognizable names with people who would be diagnosed today with ADHD, bipolar depression, manic depression, intense anxiety attacks, ADD, schizophrenia, OCD, intense fits of rage, and many others. People such as Florence Nightingale and Albert Einstein. I mean really? Many of the greats, and geniuses had a 'mental illness'. I wonder if they had been put on medication back then if they would have achieved  what they did- if they would have changed the world and thought differently if they were on medication. Everyone says the medication helps and solves all of our problems- right? Maybe medication is just suppressing us- not allowing us to reach our maximum potential, by encasing our brains in medication and changing the way we think. How many people do you know that are on medication for any minor or major mental illnesses? Did anyone ever think maybe we are meant to be like this- rather than changed and altered?

 “People are screwed up in this world. I'd rather be with someone screwed up 
and open about it than somebody perfect and ready to explode.”
Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story

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