(Originally published November, 2006)
My Writing Fiction I class is starting to depress me a small bit. It isn’t just the stories. Mind you, it does get tiresome to see nothing but unredeemable bits of sorrow and horror. I’m not talking bad stories. They are good stories about depressing things. I guess I want any darkness in a story to exist for the purpose of glorifying the light in it. As Prince Hal says in Henry the Fourth Part I:
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humor of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.
I resolved today to try and do something about that.
But that isn’t what bothers me. In our tales, others have written (not I) about crazy people. People with real mental issues that bring back rushes of harrowing memories from my past. I mean real crazy people, in the sense that I am crazy, and take medications to ward off my craziness.
Now, I don’t mind stories about crazy people. A good story is good whether the protagonist is sane or not. What I do mind, however, is the way the audience inevitably responds.
“The main character is overly dramatic.”
“The hero just needs to take a chill pill.”
“She is just trying to show everyone that she is the top of the heap, the one with the most problems.”
“Why can’t he just to the right/smart thing? His actions are stupid.”
Apparantly, insanity is the fault of the insane. If they wanted to get well, they could just make up their minds to be better, and that would be it. This is the same crap I hear on the Christian side of the line, only it is worded slightly different.
“If you just trust in God, things will get better.”
“All you need to do is praise Jesus some more.”
“Pray, and he will take it all away.”
“Jesus is my anti-depressant.”
“It’s all a lie of Satan. Read the Bible, and it will pass.”
The brain is a physical object. It is subject to physical malfunctions. Bones break, blood fails to clot, brains fail to work properly. Do you tell someone with a broken bone that their bone should just set itself? Do you tell someone with skin cancer that their skin needs to take a chill pill? If a man’s foot is cut off, do you go around saying “Well, if the foot just did the right thing, and reattached itself, there wouldn’t be a problem, now would there?”
And for the religious folks, here are a few bumper-stickers for you:
“Jesus is my chemotherapy.”
“I’m covered in the blood of Christ. I don’t need a transfusion.”
“Tuberculosis is a lie of Satan.”
Or how about…