There was someone who read my first book and reached out to tell me to say the book wasn’t for them. They said the book was depressing to which I replied, “The name of the book is “Operation Depression.”
What did they expect, pretty clouds and rainbows?
At first, I admitted to being insulted. Then I realized that this person was right. The book was not for them. and maybe this book isn’t either.
Letters From the Eastside is a series of letters that are based on real lives, including my own. My intention is to expose certain truths about self-harm and suicide. Although this book is fiction, everything in these letters is true. This is true to me. This is true to the people who I knew and who I’ve lost throughout the years.
This is true to the stories I listened to while volunteering to speak with people who live with suicidal ideation. This is true to me and many others who never step forward or dare to say what they think or feel.
The intention was to write a series of letters, which I did. Each letter was intended to be written in a stream of consciousness which means that I just let the words go. I used my mind to free the memories and the moments when I had thought, contemplated, planned and even attempted to end myself.
In all honesty, most of this is a compilation from my old suicide notes. However, I think it is valuable to say that today, I am at a different place.
I have learned to replace thoughts with actions. I am a person who lives with medicated resistant depression. I have social anxiety. I live with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and like many others (or more than 70% of people) I live with the ideas of imposter syndrome. And for a while, there was a time when I would write just to stay alive. In fairness, I am a cheery person. I do not walk around with a doom and gloom appearance.
Yet, there was a time when I would write to give myself a purpose. I would spill my thoughts onto a page so that my irrational thinking would not take over.
I have often said that there are things we lose to in life, which is the same way that water loses to a drain. There are times when we feel as if we are being sucked away, like falling in slow motion, and you know it’s coming. You know this is happening and you know the fall is going to hurt. But in the moment, all you can do is endure the anticipation. All we can do is wait for the ride to end and deal with the fallen pieces.
I used to write about this because this was all I could think about. There are times (like now) when my insecurities take hold. There are times when I think to myself how nobody cares and nobody wants to read about things like this and then I show up to a classroom. Or more accurately, then I show up to an advanced psych class in a university where there are a series of desks, organized in a circle. On each desk is a copy of one of my books. I can see where pages are marked with bookmarks to note the pages. I can see where the students highlighted paragraphs. I can see the students’ faces when I am introduced and brought into the room.
The class runs for about three hours which was intimidating to me at first. I mean, who could sit in a classroom for three hours and be interested? More to the point, who would want to listen to me for three minutes let alone three hours.
I agreed with the person who told me that my books weren’t for them. I also agree that Letters From the Eastside might not be for them either. In fact, this might not be for most people. However, I can say without any uncertainty that there are people who will read this and understand. And that’s who this is written for.
Before I close, I want to say that there are a lot of times where I wished I was cool. Specifically, back when I was playing the young man’s single game and trying to get into some of the City’s more exclusive clubs.
Although some of my friends were popular and somewhat influential at the doors to some of these places, I was never popular and, oftentimes, I was unsuccessful at the door of these places.
With that being said . . .
There was an evening when I was brought in for an orientation before creating an empowerment program in a county jail. I had to walk through the corridors with one of the guards who explained the rules to me and the others in this meeting.
As we walked by the window at one of the pods, a few young men ran up to the glass banging on the window and throwing signs up at me.
Friends of yours, asked the guards?
I explained that my work as a recovery specialist has introduced me to a lot of people. When an inmate saw me from down the hallway and screamed out “BENNY!!” the guard mentioned, “You’re a popular guy!”
There was another time when I visited a person in the psychiatric wing in a nearby hospital. I had to wait to be escorted in by a nurse and then brought to a visitor’s room where I could visit with this person.
Along the way, I was greeted by people who knew me from the homeless shelter and the jails.
There was someone else who knew me from when I was deployed to hospitals to speak with patients who overdosed. This person was not someone who overdosed. Instead, this person was on a gurney outside of the room of my client.
It was a busy night in the emergency room. It was standing room only and as I waited for my client to regain consciousness, I stood outside where this person laid on the gurney. He started to talk to me.
Turns out that this person tried to kill themselves that night. One of the nurses called me the next day. They said I was mentioned by name. Said I was influential to this person agreeing to treatment and then I was thanked. As I was escorted to the visiting room, I was greeted by this person with a big smile and a hug.
“How do you know these people,” asked the nurse.
My answer: I’m a pretty popular guy.
So, this is one of my books which is a compilation of letters that are based on true fiction. Although this might not be for a lot of people, I can say that this is not written for everybody.
But this is written for somebody.
This is written for me. This is written for those who feel that they are otherwise alone or unknown. This is written for those who have to wake up, each day, and find a reason to get up and get going.
This is for people who have a hard time seeing a reason or a purpose in life. And no, I doubt this book or any other book of mine will get me through the door of an exclusive club, but in the end, at least I can say that I decided to put it on the line. I can say that at least I’ve done something with my life.
Faults and all, sins and all, and mistakes and all – at least I can say that I have faced myself in the mirror and made amends.
I’ve done something to pay back. I’ve done something to better myself and did what I could to help better those who cannot better themselves.
So, thank you for reading. If this book isn’t for you, don’t worry. I understand.
But if this book is for you, then I’m glad we’ve found each other.
And hello. My name is Ben Kimmel. I live with depression too.
I’m here if you need me. . .