This morning, I woke up to some solid news. An essay I wrote in 2015 that appeared in Narratively was selected as one of their all-time best in their five-year history. Narratively has such incredible writers publishing work, and I’m honored to be included.
Looking back on the piece was strange. It was certainly a hard essay to write, and I often wonder, years later, should I have written it? It’s very personable, it’s intimate, and I probably share too much information on a subject that most people consider private.
But when I wrote it many years ago, my intention was to shed light on an issue that is extremely important: Mental health. I still think that one of the biggest problems in our country is how we treat mental illness. From the stigma still associated with people who are struggling to the quiet conversations we have hidden away in small corners of isolated rooms about illness to the trauma it takes on families, we are nowhere near where we should be as a society when tackling these challenges.
I understand all that. However, when you reveal details about someone you love for a bigger ideal, it’s so easy to tear yourself up for trying to make a point, to share an experience.
But even though I still question whether or not it’s a good idea to share intimate details of family for the sake of art, for stories, for a bigger idea, I do believe there are a couple points from the essay that still really resonate with me, and two years later, it still strikes me in a way that felt honest, good, and true. This one stands out: We will always have breakdowns to remind us we are family.