Boy Meets Depression is a raw memoir written by someone who lived through the depths of mental illness but, fortunately for the world, lived to tell about it. Between relating events from his past, the author pokes around in the dark corners of his mind and it can be difficult to read because of his brutal self consciousness. Breel’s flowing, almost stream of consciousness, writing style probably isn’t for everyone, but I generally liked it because it allowed me to literally step inside his brain while I was reading his book.
Having dealt with a bout of crippling depression when I was at the age Breel describes here, I empathized deeply but also was forced to look through the mirror of my own recollections at moments that I perhaps didn’t want to remember. But, that was ok. Breel’s point is that these life stories and experiences do not define us, it’s what we do with our lives that does.
A few highlights for me:
“You make a better life through example, not opinion. You can’t just think things. You gotta live them out.” pg 167 He found a counselor he liked and this was in one of their conversations.
“The thing about trying to figure out who you are is that it’s big waste of time. You never end up finding yourself, only being a part of the journey which is creating you.” pg 172 A conversation with his mother in which he realizes that he can go to therapy until he croaks but that the point of life is to live it.
“I’m not much a fan of stars, but I am a fan of the idea that sometimes life has to go pitch black before you can really appreciate the light.” pg 174 In this passage, Kevin was talking about the extreme darkness in the Yukon and how it allows people to see stars in the sky that they would not normally be able to see. What a beautiful metaphor for depression and life.
“I used to think that focusing on the here and now was just a cute way of ignoring life. Now I see it’s the opposite: the here and now is life. Everything else is just self-talk.” pg 188 How extraordinary that Breel has been able to come to this conclusion so early in his life. I think that generally it takes folks longer to come to the realization that the world in your mind isn’t real, just a story.
I wish that our society could come up with better ways to address and treat mental illness than what we have figured out so far, but with books like Boy Meets Depression and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson I think that we have at least found a place to start the conversation.
Personal accounts of the darkness that dwells in our minds and the slow climb back into the light of wellness serve a purpose beyond a cathartic release for the author. It lets any of the book’s readers, who may be suffering with the same issues, realize that they’re not alone and that there are ways out. These books are like flashing exit signs to people who may be lost in a frighteningly dark place and I only hope that they find their way at the right time into the hands of the ones who need them most.
I received a free advance reading copy of this book through GoodReads First Reads program. Thanks for reading.