That’s how it feels at first like a wave drowning me and dragging me down. It feels like I’m drenched to my bones with lukewarm melancholy and it weighs me down. When just getting up feels like walking through floodwaters. It’s nearly unbearable but, I do my best to get better and be better.
I think I’ve probably been depressed my whole life. I don’t know when it started but, it was a long time before I knew the words to describe what it was I was going through. It took a long time for me to come to grips and understand just why I couldn’t muster the energy to do things in my daily life and why the thought of getting up off the couch sometimes ruined me. I won’t say growing up was easy for me but, I got through it.
I’m not saying I’m in any way a good role model. I just ride the waves. I still manage to get up every morning and go to work and can more or less get the little done I need to but, I know I could be better. I’ve told people that they should probably go to therapy and I haven’t really followed my own advice. Maybe I’d be in a different spot now if I had. Now there’s medical insurance that’s the hurdle now but, hopefully, that will be easier to get in the next few years.
I’ve had a few pretty bad breakdowns in the past two years. It usually happens around this time cause work amps up, seasonal familial obligations, and not being able to get in that restorative friend time. Seasonal depression is a real kicker. I think I know I can’t do it all on my own but, now I have the skills and the wherewithal to know when it’s coming and try to head it off. Things like not staying too late at work or just doing things to make me happy. It’s not perfect but, it’s gotten me through. I can smile now more often than ever.
I’m so much happier these past years than I have ever been in my life. I have friends who get “it” who understand me when I feel the worst. Understand and honor my anxieties and are willing to be there to calm me down. I’ve been able to be there more for the others in my life suffering because I’m in a better place mentally. I can rise above the waves now.
I remember when I first read Looking for Alaska. It wasn’t the first time my heart had broken from a book but, it was one that would be with me for a long time. I decided to pick up Looking for Alaska again before the show came out and I’m so glad I did. I don’t usually read books multiple times but, something about Alaska got me to read everything John Green ever published. Something about his writing about way too smart teens and overly elegant speech patterns made me secretly want to be a character in his books. They were perfect. Damaged just enough to be lovable. Using big words and perfectly exposing introspective ideals that even if they don’t fit perfectly they convey so much more about the character. You can tell this made me sound not only extremely pretentious but, incredibly annoying. (I apologize to everyone who knew me back then and a few who know me now.)
I fell in love with his characters and I think so far Paper Towns is my favorite by far. Margo Roth Spiegelman is awesome because no one writes about even fluffy women as if they’re desirable. She’s intelligent, daring, and just the person to get me out of my shell like she did for Quentin. Looking back that might have been a bit pathetic. It’s about putting people on pedestals a bit like Looking For Alaska. It’s definitely something I needed to hear when I was growing up.
The thing I like now about John Green’s writing is that the love interest is always a person. They have things they have wants and needs and an entire life without the MC in it. Which brings me to Alaska Young (Kristine Forseth). In the book, she was flirty and mysterious and we never got a look into who she was. Pudge (Charlie Plummer)thought she was perfect and so did we. Everyone’s perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
Returning to the book this last week, I felt bad for Alaska. Knowing what happens to her and really listening to her this time though she broke my heart. Not because of her sudden exit from our lives but, that she was really and truly failed by the people around her. She asked for help with every breath and no stopped to even ask her if she was okay. I remember being like that when I was really going through depression badly. Literally telling anyone who would listen about the pain I was in. I knew I wasn’t faking it well enough for people not to notice but, no one stepped in when there was time to spare for them to save her. Her boyfriend Jake also must have had a terrible time in the book but, we never see what he went through even though they were still together and he’s on a phone call with her only an hour before she dies.
The show takes what is about a six hour audio book to read and blows it up into a full television series. It takes away a bunch of the mystery showing scenes that are completely from Alaska’s point of view and really show us in more ways than one what she was really going through. I think they were trying to make her a more three-dimensional character but, I feel it took a little away from the latter half of the book. It’s only two episodes which encompass the mystery that is Alaska young and kind of ends in an anti-climatic breeze. Maybe it’s not about why she died instead, about the person who died and the spot they used to take up in their lives.
Chip (Denny Love) to me was way more impactful to me in the show. Whereas in the book even though the things he got Pudge to do were engaging Colonel himself wasn’t. We understand he’s mad at the rich people for being rich and being assholes we don’t really get to much more of him than that. He’s angry and he holds grudges. In one of the best additions to the story, we get the Cottilion scene. For the first time, we actually see Chip as a multi-faceted individual. He tells his friends there is a truce during the debutant ball and it’s about Sara (Landry Bender). And it was so heartbreaking watching him come to her rescue for him to be shot down so publicly. I knew I was invested in the show seeing them sitting in the downpour of the sprinklers. And she knows and understands him so well at that moment… It was such a beautiful scene between the two of them. It just hurt to watch them inevitably break up. And watching her get together with Longwell felt like such a betrayal to the audience as well.
One of the major problems I have with this adaptation is the way they handled Takumi (Jay Lee). I think Jay Lee’s performance is spot on my problem I guess is how his character doesn’t really get his moment to shine. In the show, it’s only hinted that he may have feelings for Alaska. In the book, when it comes to light, he says one of the most impactful lines of the book it really frames the whole thing differently. “You don’t have a monopoly on Alaska.” He basically tells Miles he doesn’t own grief. Her memory doesn’t live and die with him. That really hit me ten or so years ago and it was kinda sad not having this scene in the show. It really repositions the book and shows how there’s a bunch more going on in scenes that we didn’t see. Takumi keeping his last memory of her to himself was also a good character moment.
The final character I want to highlight is Mr. Hyde (Ron Cephas Jones). If I’m being frank I don’t know how to talk about him. His backstory is so sweet it makes my heart full and every time he came around I’d hang on his every word. He has always been the wise man in the book but, even more, now he has already to some degree walked all their paths and feels a bit of his own regret that he couldn’t save Alaska. In the miniseries, it’s shown even more how much it pains him to write her question on the board and what it means to see it there.
There’s probably a lot more I want to say about Looking for Alaska. It’s definitely a book I’m gonna keep with me for a long time. I love stories about mental health because I feel that talking about things always makes the burden a little lighter. Like in the book, we all have our crosses to bear but, I think talking about them can put a new perspective on them. Quoting one of my favorite games… “The world ends with you.”
I haven’t been writing that much recently and honestly, it’s due to a lot of small things and a couple big things and it’s really all just excuses. I hope by writing this it means that I’m back for good. I want this. Probably more than I’ve let on. I want this to be the start of me really buckling down to get this going.
I need this if I’m gonna be frank. It keeps me from spending too much time in my own head. I’ve had tons of blog ideas and a bunch of short story ideas I just haven’t put pixel to pixel. This needs to change, for me.
I love this and I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life. I need to keep consistent so that I can continue to get better. I even got a new desk to make it easier to write in my room. Please continue to hold me accountable and I hope there’s, even more, to come from me soon.