Girl, Interrupted is the adaptation of Susanna Kayson’s memoir of the same title, documenting her two-year stint in a mental hospital in the sixties in New England. She was institutionalized for a failed suicide attempt. Now, I am the opposite of suicidal. I’m so terribly afraid of death that I cling with all my might to life, trying to avoid the ideas of instant, irrational deaths that so often pop up in my mind. The horror of something like a cerebral aneurysm, so unpredictable and unquestionably fatal, has my adrenaline spiking at every random ache and pain in my head. But back to Girl, Interrupted. I have always been drawn to mental disorders and to the notion of insanity, so I watched with a hungry eye for reasons I knew not why. There’s something about the main character, Susanna Kayson. I find her so relatable, to me especially, and this both intrigues and frightens me.
It’s not that I have been diagnosed with depression or attempted suicide myself, it is more the fact that she uses writing as her coping mechanism. Writing is my coping mechanism, too. Although I don’t have such big, heavy things to cope with, I have my own anxieties, fears, hopes and dreams that seem daunting and insurmountable. I often feel isolated, alone and lonely, despite the fact that I am surrounded by friends. Sometimes I would like to be crazy, or depressed, or something out of the ordinary. It is not so much that I want to be diagnosed, but I have always looked for answers to my unconventional mindset, for a reason behind the strange ideas that form in my head.
My age group is distinctly under recognized in fiction and in film. You always read books and watch movies about high school kids or about twenty somethings out of college or about middle aged people with spouses and families, coping with their midlife crises. It is rare, as far as I know, to come across books or movies that center on college aged kids, nineteen through twenty two. I am a member of the hidden age group, the section of society most undocumented, left most alone. Why is that? Is it because we are still such volatile beings, still only the hot molten beginnings of what we will solidify into when we’ve aged and developed a little further? Is it because we are the age group that has secluded ourselves most from the watching eyes of society, having huddled up into our crystalline cocoons in our dormitories and isolated college campuses as we tinker with our inner workings, as we discover ourselves and come into ourselves more fully than we could as high school students under the mindful watch of our parents? Late teens and early twenties is when most young adults, young women in particular, begin slipping into the darker areas of mental health. I always wonder about myself in that context. I have a history of schizophrenia in my family, on my Dad’s side, and sometimes, when I’m working with a new story or a new poem I begin to wonder if anyone else ever thinks like I do. A little inkling of a thought sparks up: “Maybe this isn’t normal, maybe you are different from everyone else. Maybe, in this sense, you are alone.” I do consider myself a rather unconventional thinker. But I would like to think that it will help me in succeeding at what I would like to do–tell stories in a meaningful, different, yet still engaging way, in a way that people will read my work and say, “How did she ever come up with that?”