There is no way you can prepare yourself for someone you admire’s apparent suicide. Ned Vizzini was a novelist whose young adult fiction, saved me throughout my teen years. When I was younger, I had a lot of feelings and catastrophic outbursts to match. I was 16, my best friend at the time, attempted suicide and my heightened teen emotions escalated quicker and higher than I could’ve ever imagined. I was scared and I was confused and I didn’t know what to do, or what to think or how to even handle my every day monotonous teen girl life anymore. I wore my combat boots and heavy eyeliner every day as a sort of shield from the outside world and I would repeat the cliche “no one understands me” on the regular, but then I found someone who did understand me. And that person was Ned Vizzini.
“What am I always going to do? I’m going to go home and freak out. I’m going to sit with my family and try not to talk about myself and what’s wrong. Im going to try and eat. Then I’m going to try and sleep. I dread it. I can’t eat and I can’t sleep. I’m not doing well in terms of being a functional human, you know?”
His novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story, based on an incident in his life, tells the story of a young man who entered himself into a mental institution after a suicide attempt and it was one of the most honest books I’ve ever read. The story was real, didn’t apologize, and was humorous in a dark way, that clearly spoke to me, as a angsty teen. And while no one in the world understood me, Ned Vizzini did.
“Things to Do today
1) Breathe in
2) Breathe out”
I later read his books, How to be Chill and Teen Angst? Nahh… and fell deeper in love with his work. I felt like he wrote to me, directly. I would buy coffee flavored yogurt and ding dongs and eat them while reading his books and it felt like Ned and I were just chilling, having this angsty tea party and it was, kind of, exactly what I needed when I was sad.
It’s Kind of a Story, inspired me to write and inspired me to keep on living and to stay positive because *spoiler alert* he leaves the institution and everything is beautiful and he is okay. But thats not the case today. Today is a dark day for young adults like myself who were truly touched by his books, and told that we deserve to live, and that life isn’t so bad.
But the beauty of the written word is that I can still revisit the work he left behind for us. The jokes we shared and the lessons he taught me, will always stay with me. The saddest part for me is that even though the relationship between Author and reader is a one way sort of deal; I really felt like I knew him. I felt like he was my friend, he was always there for me whenever I wanted to escape. But the silver lining in this dark puffy cloud, is that his books still sit on my shelf, waiting to be read again.
My deepest condolences to his family and everyone else who was touched by his work and talents.
Whenever I’m feeling particularly blue, I reread the end of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and it always cheers me up. I find it more appropriate today than ever before:
“Ski. Sled. Play Basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here.
So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live