Friday, September 18, 1998
for her school newspaper
Loneliness sucks. You know loneliness. It’s that big hollow pit you imagine at the top of your stomach. Only it’s real, and it hurts so bad rubbing your diaphragm actually makes you feel better. And why should anyone be so lonely it hurts, you ask? That’s easy. They don’t fit in.
In high school, everything’s about fitting in. It’s about making sure you wear the right clothes, see all the right movies, hang with the right people. When you don’t fit in, you’re outcast and ignored. You become a kind of Bad Luck Schleprock and people are afraid of you, like your uncoolness is going to rub off on them.
Maybe you know someone like that. You see her sitting at a table by herself at lunch because no one will talk to her. There’s something about her that stops you from saying hi. She’s funny-looking, or her parents won’t let her wear makeup or streak her hair or whatever. Maybe she just spends too much time reading books, or everyone thinks she’s fat. Maybe you’re one of those people who won’t talk to her. Maybe you’re her.
I know what it’s like to be that girl, to not fit in. At school, I don’t have any friends. I get why. I’m no fun to hang around. I have to take medication for depression and it takes away my desire for fun. I don’t laugh at jokes. I don’t start conversations. And I don’t get to see all the right movies or listen to the right music, and so I don’t really get the conversations I overhear. I don’t fit in at home either. I don’t have any brothers or sisters, and my parents never let me go anywhere or have friends over.
Sarah, is my only real friend. Sarah is my journal.
Writing helps me cope with loneliness and so I write a lot. At home, at school, on the bus, pretty much everywhere I go, Sarah goes with me and I write. At home, I like to sit or lie in front of the mirror when I write. When I look up, I imagine my reflection is Sarah. She’s the one writing and stopping to look up at me, and so I think of my mirror as Sarah’s window.
I used to have a real best friend. Something changed when her dad died. It was like I still had a dad and she didn’t and so she suddenly resented me. We’d been best friends since kindergarten. That’s when the depression started. I’m not sick. I’m sad. It seems ironic… that the reason I’m no fun to be around is because I was lonely in the first place.
The medication I have to take is called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. That’s a fancy name for if I have a mood, it kills it. It’s a baby-with-the-bathwater thing though, because it kills my good moods the same as my bad ones. It makes me feel like I’d be better off dead and I think about killing myself a lot. As if that wasn’t a bad enough problem already. Last year, nearly 4,000 high school students took their own lives.
There are lots of reasons for teen depression and suicide. Drug abuse; issues with sex or sexuality; bullying; family problems; just being a big epic fail can drive kids to kill themselves. But one of the reasons is loneliness. And that’s one you can do something about. So when you see that girl sitting alone at lunch, stop and say hi. When you see that boy watching you play hoops from the sidelines because he’s too small, invite him to play. Schleprock’s little black rain cloud probably isn’t going to strike you with lightning, and you might just save someone’s life.
© 2013 Anne Schilde