before I start my emotional, loving spiel about this book, let me just say this: please read this book.
please please please.
even if you've never struggled with mental illness. even if you don't have family members with mental illness. even if you think none of your friends could ever deal with this kind of thing.
read it and learn. you'd be surprised how many secret sufferers you have around you and you just never saw...because you simply didn't know.
I can honestly say I've never had a book speak to me so loudly as Challenger Deep did. It shouted at me, in a quiet sort of way. It was also terribly difficult to read, but not because it made me uncomfortable or because it was hard to understand. At the beginning, Caden's sea tales didn't make any sense to me. I couldn't flow with him like I wanted to so badly. Instead, my reading was sporadic and jagged...until I got to his unraveling.
Then it all made sense.
Then my heart started to ache.
Then I made leaps and connections.
Then I wondered what my White Plastic Kitchen was, what my Abyssal Serpent was, what my parrot was, what my Challenger Deep was.
So please. Don't give up on this book. It won't give up on you.
I am not schizophrenic, but I do struggle with depression, anxiety, and questioning, just like Caden does. And he's just fifteen. Frickin' fifteen. At fifteen, I was just realizing what depression was. I was getting ready to be plunged into the darkest period of my life--and I didn't know the signs. I just thought I was broken.
I wish I'd read this book then, along with It's Kind of a Funny Story. Not just The Fault in Our Stars, which hurt me in a superficial way at first, because it made me face cancer--something I wanted nothing to do with ever again--but also helped me understand that cancer in my family didn't mean the world was falling apart. We were going to be okay. And I was okay...in that regard. But Challenger Deep. Challenger Deep. So much more lies in those pages.
I'm buying a copy of this book, just so I can mark it up and highlight and love it like my heart needs to. There are so many quotes I want to commit to memory; so many things I want to write upon my arms so I will remember them and show them to the world.
even so there are nights when you can't sleep, because these things you juggle take all your concentration. You fear that one ball might drop and then what? you don't care imagine beyond that moment.
I dig down and try to find the words to explain, but I can't. 'It's not what he said; it's what he hasn't said.' My dad's an accountant; very left-brained, very linear, so it doesn't surprise me when he says, 'I don't follow.'
so what happens when your universe begins to get off balance, and you don't have any experience with bringing it back to center? all you can do is fight a losing battle, waiting for those walls to collapse, and your life to become one huge mystery ashtray.
If pennies become worthless, does that devalue our thoughts to less than nothing? it makes me sad to think about it; billions of copper bits spinning down the yellow funnel into oblivion. I wonder where they'll go. All those thoughts have to end up somewhere.
the more I think the more my head hurts, and lately my head has been in constant overdrive.
look into the abyss, and the abyss finds you.
there are many ways in which the "check brain" light illuminates, but here's the screwed-up part: the driver can't see it. it's like the light is positioned in the backseat cup holder, beneath an empty can of soda that's been there for a month. no one sees it but the passengers--and only if they're really looking for it, or when the light gets so bright and so hot that it melts the can, and sets the whole car on fire.
what do I see when I close my eyes? sometimes there is a darkness that goes beyond anything I can describe. sometimes it is glorious, and sometimes it is terrifying, and I rarely know what it's going to be. When it's glorious, I want to live in that place, where the stars are just marking a vast unreachable shell, like they used to believe in the days of old. the inside surface of a giant eyelid--and when I peel back the lid, there's a darkness that truly goes on forever--and it's not darkness after all. it's just that our eyes have no way to see that kind of light. if we could, it would blind us, so that eyelid, it protects us. Instead we stars--the only hint of light we can never reach.
and yet I go there.
and you know the darkness beyond despair, just as intimately as you know the soaring heights. Because in this and all universes, there is balance. you can't have the one without facing the other. and sometimes you think you can take it because the joy is worth the despair, and sometimes you know you can't take it and how did you ever think you could?
they all think medicine should be magic, and they become mad at me when it's not.
you see demons in the eyes of the world, and the world sees a bottomless pit in yours.
the fear of not living is a deep, abiding dread of watching your own potential decompose into irredeemable disappointment when 'should be' gets crushed by what is. sometimes I think it would be easier to die than to face that, because 'what could have been' is much more highly regarded than 'what should have been.' dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.
everything feels right with the world...
...and the sad thing is that I know it's a dream. I know it must soon end, and when it does I will be thrust awake into a place where either I'm broken, or the world is broken.
and when the abyss looks into you - and it will - may you look back unflinching.
there are just so many thing that I love about this book. I just can't sit down and write an honest review of it. My emotions are just too muddled and on fire about it.
so do yourself a favour.
read it. fall in love with it. understand it.
*post title is from the last sentence of the book. read it to understand. sorry, I'm such a tease.